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Come Back Papa Tango Charlie

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives British Government

Come Back Papa Tango Charlie

Geoff Maxted
DriveWrite
September 2, 2013


Classic British Police Car
Once upon a time you could always rely on a British Bobby. The firm but fair constables, reliably pounding their neighbourhood beats day and night in all weathers; the wily detectives feeling the collars of miscreants everywhere and the senior officers, steadfast in their duty and steeped in years of practised thief taking. Whatever happened to them?

The nature of society has dictated that everything in the world should be run by accountants. Like some sort of secret alien invasion the bean counters and log stackers are taking over the world. They already control the police force. This is why the sight of foot patrols have vanished from our streets and traffic police seem to be disappearing. It is even becoming increasingly difficult to get stopped for speeding even if you try really hard.

Under the banner of ‘Safety Camera Partnerships’ the speed camera and other devices ruled and many motorists suffered the consequences. When the funding ended many cameras were switched off and, although some are still functioning, the impetus to catch unwary drivers seems to have been lost. Even those anonymous white camera vans have all but disappeared. Although it is a contentious point, it does seem that all the talk about road safety was disingenuous. If it was public safety and not lucrative income that was the driving force, why should it stop because a funding channel has dried up? Hmm.

Whatever; the heat is off but the problem now is that driving standards appear to be dropping and speeding is on the increase as certain drivers ignore the rules. Whether we like them or not traffic police are crucial to ensuring that road traffic law is enforced and that bad or illegal driving is targeted. So where have they all gone?

We know that police forces are having to review their budgets and that balancing the books is seen as more important than the actual function of the thin blue line. Traffic cops are a rare sight these days; in fact, their numbers have dropped by a staggering twenty nine percent in the last ten years. So although the police are still recruiting and the numbers overall seem to have stabilised, our roads are being neglected. There is no standardisation - levels of traffic officer activity vary from county to county.

In the old days drivers would see police on the streets. Proper coppers would sit in their motors at the roadside and deal with bad or illegal driving as it happened. They did not rely on cameras which cannot differentiate between poor driving or a simple error. A real live policeman could make that judgement.

Motorists had respect for officers who dealt with the situation on its merits and didn’t tar all with the same brush. As a result, a firm warning was often all that was necessary and the errant driver appreciated that. You can’t stop progress but sometimes the old ways are still the best.



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