‘The bobby on the beat’ is a policing catchphrase that’s so old it’s practically prehistoric. With good reason though; everybody worries about crime, and wants to be reassured by the sight of someone in uniform patrolling a street near their home or place of work.
Even though Weston is one of the few places to have got more police over the last five years, because we persuaded the top cops that we’d been shortchanged by Bristol (again) and they needed more people in Weston to put the balance right, we can always do with more.
So last week’s announcement of 137 more police for Avon and Somerset next year, with more to come in 2021 and 2022, was really welcome.
It isn’t just country-lines drugs gangs and other ‘traditional’ crimes either. These days modern criminals are just as likely to be online as onstreet. Digital scams like hacking, ransomware, phishing or cryptojacking are more common nowadays than old-fashioned burglary. And if you don’t know what phishing or cryptojacking are, don’t worry – you aren’t alone. It just shows how much things have changed.
The weird thing about cyber-crime is that the less we hear, the better the ‘good guys’ are doing. MI5 stopped 19 major terror attacks over the past two years, for example. I’m not sure if that’s reassuring or terrifying, but it shows where the new law-enforcement frontiers really are.
That means those 137 new officers may not be the traditional ‘bobby on the beat’. They could just as easily be nerdy computer-cops, patrolling online instead. But providing they keep us safe somehow, I doubt many of us will complain. My challenge will be to make sure Weston and the villages get our fair share of the new recruits, rather than being short-changed by Bristol. I’m on the case!