I resent being treated like a toddler by the police

Kathryn Osgood

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The police are one of the public services I usually feel admiration for.

They are integral to society, and we bring our children up to believe they represent safety.

Last week, I saw suspicious behaviour outside my house.

A neighbour of mine had also noticed and although I am not going to describe it here, suffice to say we are not talking about a couple of schoolkids having a sly drag on a cigarette.

I wondered what to do about it because the behaviour was such that it was concerning, but not an emergency, so I decided to call 101.

My husband phoned 101 a while ago to report that a public bin had smoke pouring from it. However, all it resulted in was a call back saying the fire service couldn’t find it and inferred my husband was making a nuisance of himself. So I rang with some trepidation.

Once I had been put through to Hampshire Constabulary, I explained what I had witnessed and that I had been unsure as to what to do.

I became increasingly perplexed when the woman I spoke to asked me whether I had asked the people in question what they were doing, because ‘that’s what I would have done’.

I resisted the urge to reply that perhaps that was because she was a police officer, but I did respond saying that I had no inclination to confront a bunch of strangers, especially given that I am a female with two tiny daughter sidekicks.

I also made clear that I had little appreciation for being spoken to as though I’m a toddler, bounding out of my first day at nursery clutching a glittered bog roll in one hand and a gold star sticker in the other.

After this, I am sorry to say, I hung up.

The only reason I am sorry is because something needed to be done about what I had seen – especially as I had made it clear I was reporting a fairly regular occurrence.

I am sure the majority of police people are helpful, caring and I know they do a tough job with (if it’s anything like teaching), paperwork that practically pours out of their eyeballs.

However, society and community should be a joint effort and being spoken to as though I’ve rung 999 to report a leaf hanging at a dangerous angle from a tree is going to help no-one.

Verity Lush is a 38-year-old mum-of-two who lives in Portsmouth.

She is a tutor in philosophy, English and maths and has written a book for newly-qualified teachers, plus textbooks and articles for teaching magazines and supplements.
Follow her on Twitter @lushnessblog