The media first coined the phrase ‘the silly season’ because in news terms, it was the time of the year when little of note happened. With Parliament in recess there would be no big announcements and with schools out and family holidays in, the feeling was that most people weren’t interested anyway.
It meant that ‘skate boarding ducks’ and sightings of ‘big cats in the wild’ achieved greater prominence than they might have done at other times in the calendar.
The question is, are we experiencing the silliest season ever? Or is the plethora of recently announced initiatives an indication of a new approach to policing and justice? Is it silly season hype or the exception that proves the rule because from my standpoint the last few weeks have been anything but run-of-the-mill?
As I have said before, 20,000 new police officers after a decade of cutbacks is welcome; but there’s still been no word from the Government on the supporting structures needed to get them onto the front line where they are desperately needed.
Furthermore, another £85 million is pledged for Crown Prosecutors but no mention of Gloucestershire’s crumbling courts; then there’s the plan for 10,000 more prison places when fixing the 80,000 cells already in existence before so many became unfit for purpose might have been money better spent.
Don’t get me wrong, the extra investment is welcome as further cuts that were definitely in the pipeline less than two years ago would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. So while it is my job and that of the Chief Constable to make sure Gloucestershire remains safe, I hope there is real substance to these stories and not just eye catching headlines.
Finally, I cannot finish without paying my own tribute to the brave young officer who lost his life last week in the line of duty. I never met PC Andrew Harper but he was the embodiment of the thousands of officers, many of them working in our county, who face danger every day to protect us.
It is a warped logic that blames the police for crimes committed by others. And with the police expected more and more to fill gaps in society they were not intended for, PC Harper’s sacrifice reminds us we should never take them for granted.