Dixon of Dock Green On-line
I mentioned a few weeks ago that -- after our backyard crime -- we had registered for e-cops. This is Cambridge's attempts to keep the police in touch with the local community by sending out email news of crime in your area and what the boys in blue are doing to apprehend the offenders.
I had been rather looking forward to this. But the first few weeks it was deeply disappointing. Was there so little crime in leafy Cambridge that all they could put in the emails was invitations to crime education events? Or were they keeping something from us?
"Once more we will be celebrating Valentine's Day -- helping people in need of some crime prevention" ran the e-bulletin on 28 January (urging us to come and find out about more about window locks). This was quickly followed up by a message suggesting that we might like to put an 'In Case of Emergency' (ICE) number on the contacts of out mobile phones.
Nanny state stuff.
But recently things have looked up. Particularly exciting was the Sergeant's blog that arrived on 11 Feb.
Paul (for that is the Sgt's name) explained to his flock that he'd been a bit busy for blogging recently, working on two ASBO applications. But he was now back online. There had been, he went on, an upturn in "dwelling burglaries", but the good news was that two felons had been "recalled" to prison. And this was followed by a tally of road traffic penalties in our area: 38 penalties for no seat belt worn; 27 penalty notices for using a mobile phone; 7 vehicle rectification defect scheme notices; 5 speeding tickets; I penalty notice for using a bus lane etc etc (it wasn't clear what the period for this was.. a week? a month? a day?). Finally came the report of "four 'days of action' at the Fen Drayton Nature Reserve to tackle mini moto and off road vehicle nuisance". ("As is a Sergeant's lot I sat on the side lines whilst Phil and Dave had their fun in the two BMXF650 off road bikes . . .")
In less than two weeks, there was another blog. This time Sgt Paul had been doing "a bit of hiding behind walls" in the Histon area and (oh dear) had "had a productive hour" in the village centre "finding four people with cannabis" (four people with cannabis wandering round sleepy Histon, in a single hour...??). Then there was more good news about burglary arrests, some intelligence about possibly rogue cold-callers in Swavesey -- and a mysterious "potentially volatile community situation within Cambridge City", which had got the Sergeant up early in the morning ("resolved . . .very quietly").
At first, I confess, I had rather chuckled at all this. It was all too like Dixon to be true. But then I kicked myself for my snooty lack of generosity. Because, actually, Sgt Paul's commitment to the job came across loud and clear. He is obviously a decent chap who (apart from those four poor cannabis users, and the unfortunate ASBO victims) is doing a great job. And, yes, if I had a burglary I'd be happy to see him knocking at my front door.
Which I guess is the point of e-cops.