NIGEL THORNTON: 101 phone system needs emergency treatment

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -
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My hero of the week – although he probably won’t thank me for mentioning him – is Cambridgeshire Police Inspector Matt Johnson.

Insp Johnson earned himself national headlines when at at a Safer Neighbour scheme meeting he comented: “Historically I’ve said call 101, but life’s too short,’’ before quickly adding, “I’m not supposed to say that, sorry.’’

The "staggered'' bus stops on Sycamore Avenue

The "staggered'' bus stops on Sycamore Avenue

It has reignited a national debate about the police’s so called non-emergency number and the time it takes to get an answer.

No doubt Insp Johnson was Tasered or at least ticked off by his bosses for his remark but the rest of us should applaud him for his honesty.

The 101 system, which was imposed by the Government, is a shambles but it raises an issue far more important than the understandable frustration caused to people trying to get through. It drives a wedge between the police and the public – in the same way cash cow speed cameras do.

If the ordinary person’s only contact with the police is a speeding ticket or a wasted half hour hanging on the phone then their view of the police is going to be negatively affected.

That’s not good because crime is not the police’s problem – it’s a problem for you and me. And it can’t be tackled by the police alone – the public must be on their side.

If people can’t get through, sooner or later, they are going to give up and not bother. And just look at some of the things the 101 number is for according to the police’s own website.

If a car has been stolen.

If property has been damaged.

Where there is suspicion of drug use or dealing.

To give information about crime in an area.

The only people happy about this will be the criminals, oh yes, and maybe some politicians and senior policemen who can feed us the line once more that crime is going down.

I have enormous sympathy with the police – they have a difficult job and the funding cuts are making it tougher. `Politicians can glibly spout about efficiency and austerity, but they don’t have to pick up the pieces (sometimes literally) at road accidents and crime scenes.

Now, more than ever, the police need the public’s support...they also need the support of politicians.

The problems with 101 are not new. Back in June the problem was raised at a Police and Crime Panel.

The county’s crime and police commissioner Sir Graham Bright responded: “This is something we need to look at.’’

I think it still is.

Leo’s a Great Eastern Runner

I’ve spent a lot of my life running...and no not from the police nor my responsibilities.

But pounding the streets of Peterborough and other places has taken its toll on my knees and ankles.

As a result, I’ve been known to occasionally have ittle moan about my aches and pains.

Next time I do, I’m going to ask Mrs T to bash me over the head with a rolled

up copy oflast week’s PT which featured Leo “The Lionheart’’ Waites.

The brave nine-year-old, who suffers from cerebral palsy, took part in the Great Eastern Run and according to

photographer David Lowndes, who has taken his picture on many occasions, always has a smile on his face.

City council’s staffering claim

I feel the pain of Dogsthorpe resident Mohammed Saraj after Peterborough City Council placed not one but two bus stops outside his home in Sycamore Avenue, causing traffic and other problems .

I’m sure his frustration has not been helped by a council spokesman’s glib comments to the PT who said that after consultation “two bus stops were placed in the most suitable locations, making sure they were staggered apart’’.

I’m staggered that anyone can claim these bus stops are “staggered’’ in any way other than a strictly literal one.

The picture tells the story.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

It had to happen I suppose. After Toddler T’s bout of chicken pox it was only a matter of time before Baby T2 fell fowl (sorry!) to the dreaded lurgy.

He had been his usual sweet natured self but late on Sunday afternoon Mrs T, er, spotted, the first tell-tale signs. By bed-time there was no doubt... and by 3am we all knew about it!

Normally a good sleeper BabyT2, no doubt itching like a good un, just couldn’t settle.

Monday morning was even more chaotic than normal at Thornton Towers.

At least Toddler T was supportive. NOT!

When we told her Baby T2 had the pox she put her face in his and then gleefully proclaimed: “I think he’s got a 100 spots.’’

After that she refused to go near him in case she got another bout of “chicken pops’’.

When Mrs T explained to her that she had given it to Baby T2 she responded indignantly.

“No, I gave my chicken pops to Sarah (her little friend who has also fallen victim to the illness).’’

Everyone’s very sympathetic adding “it’s best you get it out of the way’’.

We should just be pox free in time for the annual six months of colds and snifffles!