Have institutions become too far removed from real life?

The pandemic may be moving into the shadows but we are still living in uncertain times. In Westminster the discussion has been focused on parties at Number 10 for many weeks. Recent headlines have put the police service under pressure once again. And the ‘levelling up’ announcements seem to add little to the discussion about local lives and problems. It has left me questioning whether the big institutions like Government and the Police have become too distant from people’s lives.

In recent days there have been a number of cases that question the ability of the police to maintain law and order. Confidence was further pressured with the report released into behaviour at Charing Cross police station. The abhorrent comments that were made show little understanding or empathy with the people they were supposed to be protecting. It is a world away from early 2000 when I was in the early days of my time working within the police. Community policing was on the increase and ensuring officers really understood and listened to local people was a priority.

As a journalist I spoke regularly to councillors and MPs. Many were amazing people who had lived in communities for years and then decided to stand up and represent their neighbours. They were not always looking for a political career and just wanted to improve local areas. I am not looking through rose tinted glasses but in the political world now I see few indications that people’s ‘real lives’ are understood. What are the issues that really matter to people and why are they not being heard?

The decline started before the pandemic and may be linked to the decade of cuts that shrunk public services and pushed them away from local people. In the past two years the situation has deteriorated and lockdowns made access to many things difficult and almost impossible. The legacy of lockdown is still being felt across institutions. Getting to see a doctor is a difficult task, dentists are not yet back to the regular check ups, the police are seen only when whizzing by in cars, and local services feel distant. At a time when many people are struggling financially and mentally and are concerned about the future the national debate feels a world away.

Who is really listening to people’s concerns? My fear is that the greater this distance becomes the more people will stop trying to be heard and will just accept the situation. My local community and every other community around the country deserve more. They should be heard when talking about the cost of living, the need to use food banks, the health inequalities, the deserted town and city centres, the disappearing green spaces, the lack of public transport, and a struggle to access vital health care. It needs to change now with institutions being ready and willing to listen, and to put public services back into communities.

This is the world I see in my community and hear from others but what do you think? Have institutions become distant and if so what can they do to reconnect with people?

This entry was posted in challenge, Covid-19, development, police and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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