19 April 2024

Caring about our community

For this week’s feature on the forthcoming Blue Light Weekend, I headed to both Withernsea Police Station and Withernsea Fire Station, where it was great to meet local representatives of both services who will be playing a part in the event.

There are so many strands to the weekend (August 12-13) that I must have written thousands of words in the past few weeks, covering everything from stunt pilots to the RNLI – and it’s been utterly fascinating to do so. So much so, I’m going to miss writing about it once it’s over!

It was clear within seconds of meeting PC James Stothard – the only uniformed police officer designated to Withernsea – that he was fully behind the event. As he said, this isn’t just because it’s a great shop window for the police, but as a local lad with connections to many people involved it means a great deal to him personally.

One of the things he said that resonated with me was that people tend to complain a lot on social media about local issues and then expect the police to do something about it. There’s far too much whinging on social media, and people seem ever more reluctant to engage with authority these days.

I mean, I can see why this would be, up to a point, because various “authorities” – on a national level at least – haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory in recent years, and it’s fair to say a lot of people harbour a deep mistrust of the government, the police, utility firms, etc.

You could add journalists to that list – but I think there is a comparison to be made between local community police and local community journalists, both of whom might rightly feel a bit tarred by the brushes of others further up the chain.

I keep feeling as though I have to tell people that, no, we are not like the national tabloids – we’re not about to ruin people’s lives for the sake of clicks. We live among our communities and care deeply about them, just like James and his team of PCSOs do.

Of course we don’t get it right all the time (don’t mention the chuffing crossword!).
Like the police, our resources are limited, and sometimes we make mistakes – we are only human. And, like the police, we can’t be everywhere, so we ask that people work with us. In our case, this is to help us to help them tell their stories, which might not otherwise be told. We don’t bite, honestly (well, most of us don’t).

I’d also like to give a shout-out to our columnist Bill Jardine, whose words of wit and wisdom you may have missed last week. As you will read this week (page 10), he’s had a brush with the NHS – and its hospital toast.

We’re all hugely glad that he’s on the mend, and wish him well as he works his way back to drinking full pints of bitter. Cheers, Bill!