The Yorkshire Post says: Police patrols in perspective '“ there's more to policing than old-fashioned leg work

IN fairness to Yorkshire's four police forces, the context is critical to new research '“ published today '“ which suggests nearly half of people in England and Wales have not seen an uniformed officer, or community support assistant, on patrol near their home in the past year.

Should there be more uniformed police patrols?

Those surveyed may not have seen the patrols – or are fortunate to live in peaceful areas that enjoy a low-risk of criminality. Though preventing crime is paramount, and uniformed officers do still provide a reassuring presence, the deployment of resources will always have to be prioritised.

And while the relationship between the police, and the public they serve, is fundamental to maintaining law and order, there does need to be an acceptance that the demands of today on the county’s constabularies are very different to previous eras when crimes were solved by the intelligence gathering of beat bobbies.

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Now it’s the digital expertise of non-uniformed officers who are on the frontline in the fight against all those offences, from online fraud to social media abuse to the sexual exploitation of young people, that have been made possible by new technology and the internet.

Yet, paradoxically, it is the internet – and social media – which is critical to keeping communities across Yorkshire safer for all. After all, it will be interesting to note in future years the proportion of the population who have had contact with their local officer via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter which are being increasingly relied upon to raise public awareness instantaneously about suspicious behaviour.

Though the public’s desire for patrols should be respected, old-fashioned leg work can only achieve so much in the technological age and out of sight does not necessarily mean out of mind – let the police be judged by response times and conviction rates.