Saturday, 14 November 2009

Darlington's Private Police Force top BBC story

Getting ready for work this morning with the tv tuned in to BBC news, who should I see appear on my screen: none other than Fearless Francis Jones, patrolling the streets of Darlington in his "Street Safe" hi-vis jacket.

The BBC has picked up the Darlington private police force story and made it their second lead in the morning's news bulletins, as a number of current and former senior police officers make their views known. Sir Ian Blair, never one to shy away when there's a microphone or camera nearby, said there should be no role for the private sector in patrolling our streets. Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, also speaks out, saying there could be confusion of roles and a lack of accountability.

The comments from the public on the BBC website already number over 500 and climbing rapidly (1.30pm). Whether he anticipated this or not, Francis Jones has certainly stirred things up a bit and put Darlington in the headlines, though perhaps not for the sorts of reasons we might like. I don't like seeing Darlington portrayed as somewhere with "lawless streets" where residents have to pay out of their own pocket to get protection from rampaging youths.

It really is time we heard some positive stories about crime and policing in Darlington from the police and Council. This is becoming a bad PR story for our town.

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