Anorak News | The Thick Blue Line

The Thick Blue Line

by | 4th, November 2005

‘MORE power to Diederik Coetzee, the cop on a mountain bike who’s just broken the record for the number of arrests made in a year. So far, he’s made 309 arrests, and by the time you finish this article, the figure is sure to be higher.

And Coetzee is not without ambitions. He aims to have felt at least 380 collars by the time 2006 kicks in, the landmark year when he’ll crack the magical 400. A few vomitous binge drinkers and some public urinating on New Year’s Eve and Coetzee should be off to a flier.

He’s a hero, especially to the Middle Englanders who pine for the days when the local bobby on the beat knew all the villains by name and commanded respect. Coetzee has earned a nickname on the Mansfield estate where he works: Mountain Bike Maurice. He’s no idea why they call him that either, but prefers it to “wooden top” and all the usual stuff police are called

And he’s a shining example to his peers. Against Coetzee’s 309 arrests, and counting, are the 9.5 arrests a year the average policeman makes.

This figure takes in all the desk-bound coppers who won’t normally be on front line duties. But even so, it seems remarkably low. Perhaps the average copper doesn’t understand the job? Perhaps the paper work, without which Coetzee says he could double his arrest count, stumps them? Coetzee once nabbed 11 criminals in a single day. Do the maths, if you can. Write the reports. Show your workings. Check your spelling.

Coetzee is not just efficient, he’s clever, too. Something you don’t need to be to join the Force.

The Policing Matters: Recruitment, Training and Motivation report, written by Politeia, an independent think tank, says the police entrance exam is too easy.

The report’s authors, including Anthony Howlett Bolton, former deputy chief constable of Bedfordshire, and Chris Woodhead, former chief inspector of schools, say the modern copper need not be all that bright.

The entry level exam taken by anyone who wants to join the thin blue line is easier to pass than a GCSE. And because GCSE’s are now available free with six or more alcopops, this is not heartening news.

The police service is suffering. As the report says: “Poor standards of general education, literacy and numeracy may make routine tasks more time-consuming and the overall job more taxing and difficult than it would be for an abler person.”

Add to this the difficult job of everyday policing, breathing – mouth open or closed – and hair growing, and you have the makings of a disaster.

This might explain why a new report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary says the police are taking more than two days to respond to calls from the public. How can you race to the scene when you can’t read the street names?

But the police are not alone. Let them not think we are picking on them. The police are only parts of the larger picture. As the aforesaid Mr Woodhead explains: “It is pathetic, but standards of literacy and numeracy among the public at large are pathetic.”

This might explain why the number of arrests on average is so low. And why the brainless Midsomer Murders has replaced the more thoughtful Inspector Morse and Poirot on TV.

So, as we say, more power to Diederik Coetzee. Make him the head of the police service. And while you’re at it, make him the Secretary for Education, too…’

Posted: 4th, November 2005 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink