The concerns expressed in the previous chapter about the fate of the ‘village bobby’ are by no means unique to Prestbury (albeit that they take a particular form in that place). Residents of Macclesfield too often speak of the police as if referring to an old – though perhaps no longer quite so reliable – friend. In the main, our (adult) discussants evinced high levels of attachment to the police as the principal source of local social order and possessed often great expectations as to the kind and level of service that they ought properly to receive. Yet their talk is also emotionally charged with dismay, frustration and disenchantment at the service that is actually delivered, and – among many – with sentiments of loss regarding what in the post-war period has happened to ‘our police’. The upshot is that demands for order are frequently couched in terms of desiring a ‘return to’ (as one established Weston resident put it) the ‘old type’ of police officer, the person who:
Wandered around the estate, and the kids knew him, and people knew him, he walked past and he said ‘hiyah’ and good morning to people that were gardening, or a good afternoon, evening, whatever it were. He was the local bobby.