Take care at the police drive-in

By Charlotte Hofton

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

 

The closure this week of Ryde Police Station has already occasioned an outcry in the town, with councillors demanding an urgent meeting with our police and crime commissioner, Simon Hayes.

The public perception of the police being already somewhat tarnished of late, this might not be the best time to shut up shop in the Island’s largest town.

Ryde, moreover, does not always have a reputation for quiet gentility and it would be nice to think one could dash through the doors of the police station into the genial arms of a burly copper when the town’s more exuberant element is on the loose.

So the immediate reaction is perhaps to join the councillors in outrage and to endorse Cllr Charles Chapman’s assertion that the police "are distancing themselves from the public by closing the front office".

Is there perhaps something in what he says?

Has it all gone to pot since Dixon of Dock Green went to that great Policeman’s Ball in the sky and officers of the law were no longer allowed to administer a clip round the ear to errant children?

I’m sorry to disappoint those who long for the days when little old ladies could trip into the police station to report the loss of Tiddles the cat or dutiful citizens went to hand in the pound coin they’d found on the pavement but I don’t really think this closure is, in fact, particularly outrageous.

The public’s use of Ryde’s police station has been less than nine per cent of that at Newport and equated to less than three people visiting the office each day.

Without wishing to generalise, I think it possible that among those three people were the sort of customers who — how can I put this kindly? — were not entirely in touch with reality.

Police stations, churches, the seat next to me on the train, all these attract people whose wits are harmless but, shall we say, a little delusional and who wish to talk at length.

And if Ryde Police Station were manned, we all know what they’d be doing in the long hours when they weren’t attending to the three customers. Tippety-tapping on their stupid computers, that’s what.

I would much rather see our police on the streets, where, even Charles Chapman would have to admit, they are actually distancing themselves less from the public than if they were back at the police station, tucked behind a desk, tippety-tapping away.

However, if you’re still dissatisfied, here’s a possible compromise.

There may be only one police station left on the Island open to the public but those speed trap vans are everywhere. They’re big and solid and they’re always manned.

They’ve surely got room for a front desk, a collecting tin for the policeman’s ball and a few warning posters about pickpockets.

It would be like Dixon of Dock Green all over again, except with radar guns. Evening all and mind your speed.

Anything you want to know about the stars, I’ll look up

I shall not have a spare moment this weekend, so please do not disturb me. It is, of course, festival time, which means I must polish up my cred by studying form on the programme of events.

Usually I have something of a grasp on a few performers in the line-up and could even hum along with their more celebrated numbers but this year is very taxing.

I’ve only sort of heard of two on the list — Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kings of Leon, though I know absolutely zilch about either of them — and shall have to do a lot of homework to join in the festival buzz.

Still, it all looks very good and by Sunday night’s finale, I shall have everything at my fingertips.

You want to know about Naked Fridays? Just ask me, only not yet because I haven’t yet looked them up.

Nor have I researched Biffy Clyro, which sounds like a new design of dustcart but I’m guessing probably isn’t.

I have, however, ascertained that Jesse Clegg, who appears on Saturday, is no relation to Nick Clegg. So that’s all good. We wouldn’t want our festival associated with lost deposits and deep unpopularity.

The next thing I know nothing about is World Cup football. I almost feel there is no need to study this one, except you can’t get away from it and it might be more interesting if one were better informed.

I turned on the radio this morning to find Evan Davis, who usually bores me with economic stuff, is now boring me by being in Brazil.

OK, Evan, I’ll give it a whirl. So far all I’m aware of is that England will be playing, only they might as well not, because apparently they’re rubbish.

I don’t know who else is in the competition. Brazil, probably. Is Pele still around? Wasn’t he rather good? Could we give him a passport and get him on our side?

Anyway, I’ll know all these things after my researches. By Sunday night, you’ll find me head-banging with Biffy Clyro. Either that, or explaining the offside rule.

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