History, Politics & Society
The 1950 film The Blue Lamp was an instant box office hit. The main character PC George Dixon was a friendly avuncular copper, diligently working his lonely night beat around Paddington Green. The film was followed by the television series, Dixon of Dock Green which ran on prime-time TV for twenty-one years. To many people at the time, and today, George Dixon was, and is, the archetypal police officer who should be patrolling our streets. Until the late 1960’s, The Blue Lamp was shown to every recruit constable as part of their training.
Today, the George Dixon style of policing is viewed by the police establishment, at junior level and by their bosses, as something between an embarrassment and an anachronism. Modern policing, they argue, is about targets and performance, about fast cars and body armour. They do not want to see a return to patrolling beats in all weathers and having face-to-face encounters with the public. But the decline in standards of policing in these islands has now reached a tipping point. The rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer, attitudes to race and civil liberties, and failing leadership, has forced us to look over a precipice. We cannot continue in this way. The only solution is ‘root and branch’ reform
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