Practical Coppering

I had lunch in Tavistock yesterday with a friend who like me, is a scribbler and public speaker. Extremely well known in this part of the world, Simon is also a former copper so we have quite a lot in common.

The middle-aged lady who brought our lunch recognised him and when he told her he couldn’t remember her, she recounted a tale of practical coppering.

At the age of three, her son stole something from a shop. Thoroughly incensed, she took him to the nearest police station where she asked Simon to lecture the boy. Simon did and not only did he lecture, but he took the child down to the cells and showed him what might lie in store for him if he continued to steal.

‘He is twenty-five now,’ she beamed at us, ‘and has never been in any trouble, even when his friends have. He remembers that lesson to this day and often comments on it, so thank you.’

It was a truly lovely moment and Simon looked pleased even though he brushed it off. As I commented to the lady, ‘that is an example of good, old-fashioned and practical coppering but it would not be allowed nowadays.’

Nor would it I’m afraid.

A recent report on front-line policing has found that senior officers across the country believe that modern recruits ‘are not prepared for the realities of policing.’

The Home Office, who are responsible for forty-three regions in England and Wales, were told that millennials’ inability to adapt to the tough work environment is creating a new challenge for trainers. The report came out just after Boris Johnson announced a recruitment drive to add twenty thousand bobbies to the beat. Huh! I wonder what sort of bobbies we will get.

In the report which took evidence from serving officers, one senior figure said that many recruits had ‘no idea what they’re coming into; they’ve lived in a society where they are wrapped up in cotton wool an awful lot . . . their mental health or their ability to cope with certain situations is just not evident from day one.’

Examples were also provided of recruitment interviews where candidates stated that they ‘do not like confrontation’ or were shocked by shift patterns that included nights and weekends. How ruddy pathetic is that? Why do they bother to even think of a police career?

The challenge is considered so serious that forces may have to change their working practices rather than expect the recruits to adapt to the job. That is patently ridiculous damnit! Let the little monsters get used to it or lower entrance criteria to include, practical, tough recruits with honest common sense rather than useless university degrees.

Policing has never been a career for ninnies but it certainly looks as though it is becoming such.

Elsewhere, Judge Sir Richard Henriques who led an enquiry into police handling of the Carl Beech fiasco has written that the senior coppers involved broke the law in obtaining search warrants and should be prosecuted. Yet only last week, the official police enquiry exonerated all those involved.

The police findings should be overruled and those senior cops should be brought to justice as soon as possible.

As should Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson.

Oh for the days when coppers were respected, acted with sound common sense and often administered a form of practical justice that was not in any procedural manual, but worked.

That sort of coppering is what led to a Mother’s gratitude and a magical little moment over lunch yesterday. Well done Simon.

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