Ruraltown is always cold and dark. The local economy has not declined during the recession because there never was a local economy. Physical disability, poor mental health and general despair are the default positions for people here. Everyone else is gone, including me.
The Russians are here in large numbers. UKBA sometimes raid their maisonettes on The Swamp, but they abscond and return later, with strange haircuts and a new set of fake papers.
The town centre is a one-way concrete wasteland too terrible to describe. Even my Satnav cannot cope.
Ruraltown is where the people of Ruralshire go to die prematurely.
People travel miles to jump from our multi-storey carpark. The multi-storey is attached to our ‘great shopping experience for all the family’, known as the ‘Reservation’, due to the danger faced by anyone who goes there after about 3.00 pm.
‘The Rez’ is now mainly burger bars, betting shops, charity stores, and in the current climate the particularly inappropriately named ‘Payday loan’ companies.
If you have a dozen screaming kids, tattoos on your face and neck, a slot machine addiction and you love undercooked frozen chips and microwaved pizza, come to Ruraltown.
Last night alone, 60% of all the emergency calls we received on F Division (which includes Ruraltown) were nothing to do with crime.
Attempted suicides, successful suicides, ‘concern’ calls, child neglect issues which turn out to be tit-for-tat revenge missions by discarded former booze and sex-partners, madness and drug-induced public acts of psychosis. Car crashes both literally and metaphorically. Missing people, closed roads, people on railway tracks and hospital absconders. No crime at all.
This is our bread and butter in Ruraltown.
It is hard to be told that our mission is ‘nothing more or less’ than to cut crime.
Our customers are the public, usually via A&E, the ambulance service, probation officers and social workers all of whom they have exhausted before coming to us with a final desperate act of self-destruction or attention seeking.
We are the opposite to a commercial business. The people who use our services never pay; the whole undertaking is funded by people who live far away and who rarely need us. This is the real reason for the disconnect between the silent majority and the police. Most people don’t live in Ruraltown, or visit the Rez after 3.00 pm. People who do both those things have plenty police visibility, believe me!
I try to make it like an army of liberation instead of occupation, but we are always so undermined by the weak sentencing which destroys any effort put in by us and local people when offenders walk free with some meaningless (and never completed) so-called community sentence.
The wonderful, motivated, cheerful, tough and compassionate youngsters on my response team and in the beleaguered Neighbourhood policing unit spend every day and night of their working lives swimming against the tide of these foul circumstances. Trying to do some good and having it thrown back in their faces by Magistrates, Judges, senior police ‘performance managers’ and newspaper reporters. If we can save one decent person for ten minutes then the whole ten hours is worth it.
Policing is not what you do it’s what you are. That is all.