Police face dilemma over emergencies

CYCLIST Denis Bailey died in a road accident on the A12 last week - now it has emerged that the police had been warned some time earlier that a cyclist was riding on the main road with no lights .

CYCLIST Denis Bailey died in a road accident on the A12 last week - now it has emerged that the police had been warned some time earlier that a cyclist was riding on the main road with no lights . . . and no reflective clothing.

Police controllers asked their patrols to look out for the cyclist - but no one was asked to take any specific action.

This tragedy sadly illustrates an increasing dilemma for the police in an age of instant communication.

Mobile phones are a tremendously valuable tool for the emergency services, enabling people to call them instantly in the event of an accident or a fire.

However it has increased dramatically the number of calls they receive about every incident - and sometimes it must be very difficult to work out exactly how much priority must be given to each call.

No one can know for certain whether the person seen on the Copdock junction was Mr Bailey. The police did not know that there would be a tragedy less than an hour later - and their control room may receive dozens of calls about cyclists riding without lights during winter months . . . most of which do not result in tragedy.

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So when a call comes into to the police control room, it creates a real dilemma for officers to know how to deal with it.

It is impossible to sent rapid response vehicles to every call - doing that would risk taking front line officers away from where they are really needed.

What is needed now, though, is a rapid investigation into all the circumstances surrounding the accident so lessons can be learned by all those involved - not the least by cyclists who use the road during the hours of darkness.

It would be a real shame if the inquest did not take place until high summer by which time the evenings are light and cycle lights are not really an issue.

PROPOSALS to crack down on persistent criminals in Ipswich town centre are being led by the private sector BID company Ipswich Central working together with the police.

While this should allow a more rapid response, it does show how the management of the town centre is increasingly being taken over by a private company, albeit one that firms across the area subscribe to.

The borough seems to have largely withdrawn from the town centre - now justice has been privatised along with the rest of its management.

If that really makes the town centre a better place for shoppers and general visitors that will be a most welcome development - the “banned from one, banned from all” principle has worked well among pubs and clubs.

However any such privatisation of justice has to be closely monitored - and no one should ever forget that the only people with real authority to enforce justice on the streets of Ipswich are the police.

WHEN Age Concern lost its Ipswich drop-in centre three years ago, many people were left very disappointed and without anywhere to meet their friends.

So it is very good news that after decades of disuse, years of talk, and months of building work, St Lawrence's Church is about to be reopened as a community centre in the heard of Ipswich.

It is good to see another of Ipswich's fine historic churches being brought back into use - alongside St Stephen's, the Tourist Information Centre, St Nicholas', and the soon to be restored St Peter's Church.