How would Dixon of Dock Green cope today?

Not a usual post for me but a discussion, occurring on another social media platform, (twitter) made me feel I can add value to. Here, television presenter Nick Knowles was mentioning how we should value the police and the job they do.

One issue is the confrontation police have to deal with and I have heard many a comment like ‘The police today don’t know how to talk to people and stop violence occurring’. The over riding theme is that in the golden days of policing (under Sergeant Dixon of Dock Green Police Station) the friendly old copper knew how to communicate with others and talk them out of causing violence.

One of the ‘game changers’ here was the creation of instant communication where, in the ‘good old days’ officers were dispatched to pub fights, or incidents that we getting out of hand, via the police box and other means. They then had to either run or catch a lift on the local bus to the location. This invariably meant officers arrived once the main violence had ceased (but not always though). I recall an experienced officer telling me, not long after I joined ‘The Job’, that with telephone communication and the use of cars (this was in 1973) officers found they had arrived at the scene of violence either as it had just started or just about to. The inference was the officers stood no real chance of persuading anyone to cease or modify their behaviours and that ‘fighting fire with fire’ became the only viable action to take. Imagine here taking a call from the local publican informing the station officers that such and such was in the bar and had a bit to drink and was likely to start trouble. Officers then arrived when that ‘likely’ had turned into ‘just started to’. Even the most blessed peace-maker would have a problem.

I don’t wish to defend anyone, especially the police, who dish out violence for the sake of it. All officers need training, reflection and continual improvement but there may be times when we can forgive officers for doing what Sergeant Stan Jablonski (Hill Street Blues) used to tell his officers at roll call ‘Let’s do it to them before they do it to us’.


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