Last night I spent five hours with our local police force.

It was a pretty wet and miserable night, but Shrewsbury was still alive with (mostly young) people out celebrating, or simply going about their business.

I was impressed by the courtesy shown by all the officers concerned. And I don’t mean here just the courtesy they extended to me, they showed courtesy to everyone they dealt with. I was left with the feeling that they were caring for our local community in a way that I find very familiar in the NHS.

I was reminded of the professionalism that I have observed in previous dealings with the police. Much of that, of course has been as a doctor, either in casualty or as a GP, and often in rather sad circumstances such as a sudden or unexplained death. But I have also been involved with Community Police Officers when we have been investigating residents complaints about speeding traffic near schools and in residential areas.

Another thing that I noticed that the police have in common with the NHS is the need to keep accurate records. We talk of the burden of paperwork, and it is clearly a key objective for those planning and managing the service to stop the needs for record getting out of hand. There is, however, a real need for the police as for the NHS to keep accurate and timely records and for those records to be kept safe. As with the NHS the records need to be available later to those that need them, but not available to all and sundry.

There are some real dilemmas here, both in terms of civil liberties and in terms of the best use of police officers’ time.

An interesting visit.

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