The Remote Police Commissioner

So just who are these police and crime commissioners anyway? A scrap of (future recycling) paper dropped through my door that told me how to find out. Go to a website, perhaps even follow them on twitter. Yes, I could go to a website to find out who these people (who are all going to work tirelessly to represent my interests) actually are. It would be better if they came to see me, but a sparse twitter feed and a website of empty platitudes is all you need these days (by the way Kingsley Smith, shouty bold capitals are never good). I suppose I am asking to much that the candidates might actually want to meet the people who’s interests they so earnestly what to represent. Perhaps they look at us down the cameras that seem to have replaced beat bobbies in Durham.

I don’t know if other residents of Durham have noticed but cameras seem to be the way to police these days. Walking through Durham centre cast your eyes skywards in the Market Place, down Silver street, and up Claypath. Large cameras watch us from up high, making sure we aren’t getting up to no good. The pattern is the same in the suburbs. I live in Gilesgate Moor, apart from the odd sighting of a police car scuttling through I have never seen a police person (we don’t discriminate in Gilesgate). We do however feel snug in our homes, comforted by the ever watchful eyes on polls that maintain ‘constant vigilance’. Watching the local children kicking footballs at houses, tipping bins over, and trying to push people of bikes. I’m sure a seat is being kept warm in the ‘control’ room for the new commissioner of crime (and policing).

The problem with cameras is that they become normal and then melt away into the background, we forget that they are watching. This is bad for two reasons. Firstly, being under constant big brother surveillance becomes normal which doesn’t seem like a good thing. Secondly, the criminals forget that they are there too, and then I suspect they stop working as a deterrent and are only useful to pick up the pieces later. Actual real beat bobbies are different, they could turn up randomly, talk to the residences (tell children off for trying to assault cyclists). Actual real police and crime commissioners would be better too. Sadly, its much easier to trick yourself into believing that you are engaged with the public with a twitter feed and a website.

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Complex systems theorist, applying complexity theory to the operations of organisations.