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Letter: We need more bobbies on the beat

SIR – What a sad sight the headline was in your issue of Friday 14th May (Police warn against town vigilantes).

I am sure that Sgt Kat Smith’s concern is well meant, but it carries the wrong message.

When I was a beat officer in the '50s we very often welcomed (relied upon – no personal radios in those days) the intervention of public-spirited bystanders to assist in an arrest.

A year or so back I did exactly that here in Christchurch, sitting on the legs of a struggling young man whilst the uniformed ‘bobby’ got the ‘cuffs on his wrist.

The police need the support of the public; they get little enough support in other ways.

Of course, one may get hurt when assisting the police.

But surely that risk is little enough when weighed against the good that can be done.

Perhaps Sgt Smith has forgotten her training days when the history of crime prevention is explored?

Prior to there being a police force, crime in the community was dealt with by the village elders raising a ‘hue and cry’.

They gathered the men of the village together and pursued the felon!

History did not tell us the result of a capture but I’ll bet my police pension that the criminal thought twice before committing another crime!

Policing today is a much more difficult job than it was in my day. We need more ‘bobbies on the beat’.

Perhaps then we might expect less cycling on pavements and louts dropping litter, as well as the occasional excitement of an arrest!

Roy Harvey,

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