Police should issue warnings after sex attacks

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

I’m a big supporter of Cambridgeshire police. I believe all of us should be, because crime, including the prevention and detection of it, is our problem not just theirs.

But sometimes I wish they would give the public more credit.

The lack of a warning to people over the recent sex attacks in the city – including a particularly terrifying one at knifepoint –is an example.

At Telegraph Towers we sensed (we weren’t told) the police were particularly concerned about this attack. Extra patrols were put on in the area and officers were out where the attack took place a week on to gather evidence.

Via social media we learned that officers had visited nearby businesses and told them, quite rightly, to warn female staff.

Bafflingly, when the PT contacted the police they said officers had visited to speak to potential witnesses and view CCTV. Adding security advice would have been given like it would following any attack.

There was no warning, indeed the police appeared to be at pains to avoid giving one. As a father, husband, son and brother I don’t think that is good enough.

The simple if unpalatable fact is that there is a sex attacker on the loose and one who may already have struck again.

The police top brass seem to have an obsession about not scaring people, hence the endless trotting out of cliches such as ‘isolated incident’ when worrying crimes are committed.

They ought to give us more credit. I don’t believe we would see mass hysteria if police handed out a sensible warning.

Being warned to avoid a certain area or not to walk alone for a short period doesn’t equate to not going about your daily business as normal.

I’m sure women in the city would have gone to work, picked up children from school and done whatever it is they normally do.

What’s so bad about being a bit scared anyway? It stops us doing stupid things all the time.

I’d rather my daughter, wife, mother and sister were warned to help keep them safe, even if it made them a little nervous, than become the victim of a vicious sex attacker.

Ironically, a few days later the force was trumpeting the launch of its new website which aims to ‘transform the way the force communicates with the people of Cambridgeshire’’.

In the press release there were lots of buzzwords.

I could warn the police that good communications need more than a sprinkling of phrases such as ‘user-friendly’ and ‘web-chat’, but I won’t.

Cut and paste

I caught a news item on breakfast telly about the resurgent wallpaper industry.

While I’m pleased for the people who work in it I hope I never have to listen again to one employee interviewed who enlightened us as to the reasons for the boom.

She revealed that thanks to social media the firm had never been so engaged with the end-user.

I’d rather watch paint dry than listen to such jargon!

Weather or not

I don’t really mind what career path my children take as long as they enjoy their work.

However, I will be suggesting they take a serious look at meteorology.

Look at the benefits.. a chance to be on telly and pontificate unchallenged. Then when you get it wrong – like on Sunday when we were told to prepare for a balmy 24 degrees and have to make do with 16 – you can just shrug your shoulders with no need to worry about any comeback.

I’m sure predicting the weather is not easy – but if it was we could get next door’s cat to do it.

Coloured view

Talking about weather (well, we are British!) I was disappointed by the national news coverage of Hurricane Ophelia which brought death to Ireland and strange, but harmless, orange skies to parts of England.

If the full force of Ophelia had hit London I don’t think our TV screens and papers would have been full of pictures of orange skies in Belfast.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

Eating like sleeping is a constant subject for debate in toddler households. Usually Toddlernator the Terrible is a good eater... as long it’s something he approves of.

But a bout of antibiotics for a chest infection robbed him of his appetite last week.

He went two days barely eating a thing. Mummy T and I took it in turns to try coax/bully him into eating but he was having none of it.

We took it in turns to reassure each other with platitudes such as “he’ll eat when he’s hungry’’ and “he won’t starve’’. But you can’t help but worry especially as he was already poorly.

He even refused his favourite – although there was a silver lining to that as I’d forgotten what a guilty pleasure chicken nuggets are.

Finally, he broke his fast, thanks to his big sis, who fed him a Smartie and cucumber sandwich. That’s four Smarties sandwiched between two slices of cucumber. Not the most nutritious of meals, but, hey, they taste good. You should try one!