Shropshire Star

Political column – March 11

The other day I sneaked up to a police station and peeked through a window to see what the "back room staff" were doing.


They were sitting around chatting and drinking coffee, some were holding a table tennis competition, and others were playing darts using photos of local scroats as targets.

And if you believe any of that you must be one of the politicians who during the era of the Cameron-Osborne-Clegg austerity axis approved of saving money on funding the police by trimming back on the so-called back room staff, while at the same time assuring the public that they were retaining the "front line."

In reality the reason that police need so-called back room staff is that successive governments have piled so much administration on them that if it wasn't for the back room staff they would be so busy filling in forms that they would not have any time to catch criminals.

The same applies in the NHS, where you often hear politicians speaking up for doctors and nurses and trashing the management strata, saying there are too many managers and they are leaching the service of money. In fact good management is key to saving enormous amounts of money, and in the NHS non-clinical backroom staff are essential in providing an efficient service.

Somebody in a position to know told me a little while ago that if the public knew how many police were on duty during the night they would rightly be very worried. Best to keep it quiet then so you can sleep soundly.

Anyway, I venture into the subject of the police, for whom there has never been a doorstep clap of appreciation, because at the moment there is a fashionable narrative in which the angle to look for in any story is one which bashes the rozzers.

"Police have been criticised for..." is the way to get under way. So Nicola Bulley goes missing, police respond immediately and by diligent inquiries conclude that a number of sinister possibilities are less likely and she has probably fallen in the river, and they get it in the neck, despite the sad outcome showing that they had been right all along.

A homicidal pervert is employed by the Met and given a whole life term for murdering a young woman, and is then in court again for indecent exposure, which serves no purpose in terms of imposing an additional sentence but does give a platform for a whole load of further criticism.

Five youngsters go missing in South Wales and are found in tragic circumstances, having been in an accident in which the car ended up hidden in trees. The criticism rains down. Why didn't the police find them earlier?

The reality of police cuts has found its way into TV drama. I've been watching the new series of Unforgotten. It runs to six episodes, but based on the tone of what I've seen so far it no doubt would have run to eight had it not been for years of austerity from the wicked Tories.


"I love a rumble. What man doesn't?" "Governor Wallace was an ********, is an ******** and will die an ********." "I have had more porridge than Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and I’m sick of it."

Just some snippets from long serving prisoner Charles Bronson at his parole hearing. The parole board will decide whether he is fit for release. I'm sure we all await the result with bated breath.


10, ping, 11, ping, 12, ping, 13, 14. The young lad behind the checkout then held up number 13 and 14.

"These won't go through," he declared, in a manner which made it sound as if it was obvious as to why not.

Nevertheless, I asked why not.

"Because you're only allowed 12 of anything," he said.

The anything in this case was those little dog food pate things, of which I was buying a week's supply for the mutts at my local supermarket.

"The only exceptions are flour and eggs for some reason."

I didn't catch whether this was because the rationing for those was more strict, or that they were not on ration at all.

I blame, in no particular order, Brexit, climate change, and Matt Hancock.

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