Belfast Telegraph

Picture this, a police service which is out on the beat, rather than chasing laughs in the world of virtual law enforcement

By Lindy McDowell

In the aftermath of that shocking story about the violent aggravated burglary that left an elderly lady in Aughnacloy fighting for her life, a striking picture of PSNI officers appeared in some media reports of the follow-up investigation.

Striking, because it's not how we're used to seeing our police portrayed so much these days.

A group of officers are shown seated around a table being addressed by a senior detective.

The photograph has been taken from behind so you don't actually see the officers' faces. But there's something about the set of the shoulders. The air of quiet resolution and firm determination.

I'm not exactly sure of the precise context of the briefing. But it was almost like that scene from all those television cop shows we're so used to.

The one where the man or woman in charge of the investigation into some horrendous crime has just updated the team in the predictable restrained language of police speak.

And then there's a heartbeat's pause and he or she barks dramatically; "Right. Let's go get these b******s."

And the officers nod. And we, who are watching, nod because that is exactly what we want them to do.

Get out there and get them.

Around the same time that photograph caught my eye there was another policing story in the news. Less serious, thankfully.

Police had uncovered a haul of stolen brass items prised off the doors of churches and private homes in the Armagh area and were appealing, via social media, for owners to come forward and claim their property.

Or, as the posting put it with some degree of schoolboy innuendo, "various knockers, knobs and ding dongs".

Laugh? As the man said, I never thought I'd start.

This is the public image of the PSNI we've become more used to in recent years. The "service" part of the title played up in the matey online banter between police and public.

This is the positioning of the PSNI as your friendly neighbourhood keyboard cops. More hipster than holster. Less about feeling collars than feeling the love.

And yes, of course there is sense and worth in this. The PSNI would be foolish not to capitalise on the valuable asset that the online platforms represent.

Resources as we know, are gravely stretched. Here in Northern Ireland there is the added, unavoidable burden of dealing with a Troubled past.

But currently there is also a sense that the real heavy lifting of policing, the work of those brave officers who perform the most challenging, frontline roles, is almost being subsumed by the online outreach.

Put simply, the fact is most of us would prefer to see our police on mobile patrols than police on our mobile phones.

And this is not just because it would provide more reassurance to the public, especially the elderly and the vulnerable. (And how many have been left terrified in their own homes as a result of reading about what happened to that poor, defenceless lady in Aughnacloy?) It's also about flagging up to criminal lowlife that the police role is as much about stopping them in their tracks as it is about bringing them to book in the aftermath.

These days it's maybe not so fashionable to view the police as a "force".

But it might do us all more of a service - the public as well as the police themselves - if the PSNI were seen more often to play that part. To be visible in that role.

Not just as the investigators determined to go out there and get those b******s.

It wouldn't come amiss if there was also a bit more effort in trying to stop them in the first place.

Trump-bashers are to blame for his success

Another week, another luvvie love-in of celeb virtue signalling. This time via white roses, see-through couture and Trump-bashing at the Grammys. It’s got to the point where you start to wonder if the famous ever talk about anything other than Trump. Each awards do gets more like a Democratic Party Convention. Hillary was even there to read excerpts from Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury. (I’m reading it myself. It is brilliantly written.)

The American media with their Trump obsession helped put him in office. American celebs with their anti-Trump fixation will help keep him there.

Divorce demands from Ant are a bit rich

Ant from Ant and Dec (he’s the one with the larger forehead) has revealed he and his wife are set to divorce. Reports claim that his ex may be able to claim not just half his earnings to date — but half his future earnings.

Such are the sums being cited (he’s currently said to be worth £60m, which may grow to £115m) I don’t think we need to worry overly about Ant’s bank balance post-divorce.

He should still be able to get by on what’s left. But should any former partner be entitled to future earnings? I think not.

Proof that all’s not always fair in love and war.

Belfast Telegraph

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