Yesterday morning I went into Tavistock and was confronted by a rare sight - a policeman! He was standing on the kerb by one of the town's mini roundabouts and couldn't be missed. As we had to walk by him after I had parked the car we had a chance to question him about what he was up to. Believe it or not the local police do like to be seen, as he said it is reassurance for the law abiding public and gives a little jolt for those driving past who might be using a mobile for instance. He made the valid point that they are about more than one may think, as he said if a policeman walked past your door and you didn't look out during that 10 second time frame you wouldn't have been aware of that patrol. I should have asked him what proportion of his time is spent on paperwork, I believe it can be about 50% in some places, though probably not in relatively crime free west Devon.
While on the subject of police I notice that the Royal Cornwall Hospital, who have plenty of money problems, are going to retain the two police posts which are permanently at the Hospital and have been for the last seven years. It is a very sad reflection on society that a hospital needs to shell out money for a permanent police presence: it must be distressing to go to casualty for instance, to patiently wait your turn and then have a violent drunk turn up. Additional trauma not required! If my memory serves me right the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital have, or at least had, two officers under a similar arrangement.