A combination of spring and the upcoming Diamond Jubilee made me think it would be nice to do a series of England themed posts about things, people or aspects of life here that make me happy and that I think of as particularly English.
First up ... we have a police force in which it is the exception not the norm for officers to carry firearms (this of course also applies to Wales and Scotland, not just England). While there are designated armed response units and certain specialist forces carry arms - police with machine guns at airports are now routine, for example - most policemen and women do not. Todays police force isn't in the Dixon of Dock Green era any more, but it is one of very, very few in the world that is not routinely armed. The only others I found in a quick search were Iceland, New Zealand and Norway.
Dixon of Dock Green, the lead character in a gentle British TV series which ran from 1955 to 1976. Dixon fought petty crime in the East End of London armed only with his trusty truncheon! Each programme began with the catchphrase "evenin' all" - which police in certain forces are no longer supposed to say, as apparently the word "evening" is subjective. Huh?
A few English police facts:
- The first English police force was set up in London in 1829 by Robert Peel. The nickname "bobbies" for policemen came from his name.
- Police cars were traditionally black and white, so became known as "panda" cars.
- Some police patrol on bicycles. The Metropolitan (London) Police force has 1500 police bikes.
- The last policeman killed in the line of duty was PC Gary Toms of the Metropolitan Police in April 2009.
- In 2010 there were 143,743 full time equivalent officers serving in 43 police forces in England and Wales.
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