NIGEL THORNTON: Armed & dangerous?

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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We live in a scary world, and nobody knows that better than police officers.

They go to work knowing sooner or later in the course of their duties they will be in harm’s way.

Thankfully, cases like the Merseyside Pc David Phillips, who was killed recently when he was hit trying to stop a stolen car, are still rare.

Police officers have a right to expect protection for themselves but I can’t fail to be concerned about the increasing common sight of armed officers in full “Robocop’’ outfits being deployed on our streets.

Our society has long resisted the temptation to arm the police albeit we have got used to it for certain high risk places and occasions such as airports and major events.

But we must guard against the police being armed becoming the norm through the back door.

In Peterborough, in the space of a week, we have had two high-profile armed police responses.

In the first, gun cops were on the scene in Bretton to deal with a potential hostage situation. It’s hard to argue against the necessity there.

Imagine if you didn’t know the area and you just happened to be passing by.

If you saw the armed police would you think “this is a place where I’d like to live’’?

In the second incident, armed officers locked down a jeweller’s in the middle of the day on one of the city’s busiest shopping streets.

Details are sketchy but police say they had reports of a possible crime which they now believe was false.

The deployment of armed officers was, they say, a “precautionary measure’’.

I’m not going to attempt to second guess the officer who made the call and presumably they had info that armed raiders were set to strike. But did the sight of cops tooled up on our high street make you feel more or less safe?

Police officers are human and they make mistakes.Police officers with guns are also human.

I have a close relative who is a police officer in the Met. I expect her bosses to do all they can to ensure her safety.

But I hope they don’t give her a gun – for her safety and for everybody else’s.

The last dance

What a remarkable story it was of Peterborough dad of five Rick Barton who, wrongly diagnosed with cancer, began planning his own funeral even down to what songs would be played. These days pop songs are often played at funerals and why not,but I wonder if there are any rules? For instance if you’re a fan of extreme metal bands such as Slayer or Nepalm Death would you be allowed to play one of their tunes?

It might not be deemed good taste, although I’d be equally squeamish about a One Direction or Take That song.

I wonder if my choices would be allowed – Pixies’ Monkey’s Gone To Heaven or Breaking Into Heaven by The Stone Roses.

I hope so it could be the first time in my life I’ve been dead cool.

First class

I don’t often travel by train but I had to the other day. I nipped out one lunchtime to buy a ticket at Peterborough train station.There is, of course, a bewildering array of options and prices.

The gentlemen on the desk was fantastic, friendly, patient and knowlegeable - a credit to his organisation.

Wrong answer

I was sad to see that Ask has closed its doors in Priestgate. Of all the medium-range- chain restaurants, of which Peterborough has so many, it was my favourite. No doubt it is a victim of the proliferation of similar offerings in the more centrally located Cathedral Square. Such collatarel damage is not unexpected but still a shame particularly for those who lost their jobs.


MP’s a disgrace

People losing their jobs seemingly doesn’t bother James Wharton. Who he?you ask.

Well, he’s an MP and a junior minister. He’s had a spat with his local newspaper the Northern Echo. Mr Wharton is refusing to speak to the newspaper (his right) but has also urged his constituents not to read the paper.

Of course, nobody will take a blind bit of notice of his childish advice, but if they did it could result in people losing their jobs. And that from an elected MP and government minister is an absolute disgrace.

Don’t bank on it

The good people of Peterborough Civic Society have attacked the plans for the £120million South Bank, er, I mean Fletton Quays, development saying they are not good enough.

Underwhelmed by plans for homes, offices, restaurants and a hotel, they say it lacks vision and ambition. I tend to agree and while the words “long awaited’’ hardly do the scheme justice, so many years have gone by it is surely better to get it right as this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Dare I mention the words “concert hall’’ again?

Diary Of A Bad Dad

Most parents have hopes and ambitions for their children. Toddler T is surely going to be a film star, she’s certainly dramatic enough. And Baby T2 will be a box-to-box midfielder (like his dad only with considerable more skill and athleticism) leading out Leeds United at Elland Road.

Really though, I’d settle for them being happy and healthy. So far so good then, but Toddler T gave us a real scare last week.

She was laid low by (we think) a nasty virus and from having a typically common toddler cough it quickly escalated into a distressing shortness of breath. To cut a long story short, an ambulance journey and a stay in Jungle Ward at Peterborough City Hospital A&E unit followed.She’s well on the mend now, but it was a salutary reminder of what might be round the corner.

The care she received from the paramedics and the “Jungle’’ doctors and nurses was excellent and me and Mrs T are very grateful to them.

I’ve been very critical of the NHS (although 99 per cent of that has been aimed at politicians and managers) but it remains a fantastic institution full of some fantastic people.

That’s why it’s vital those politicians and managers don’t mess it up.