It is official: police in Blandmore are doing A Superb Job. At least, so I was informed last week by the woman who gives out the parking permits. Not especially surprised to discover that Belinda is now the person I most need to impress with my team's crime reduction and detection skills, I further read the happy news that all crime has dropped since this time last year. It appears this is being entirely credited to the hard work and diligence of Blandmore's erstwhile bobbies - in and out of uniform.
It turns out, the message is not actually from Belinda, but has come via her from the Area Commander. As well as possessing the sole key to the drawer containing the combination safe containing the pass-key to open the encrypted laptop that gives out electronic fob access to the car park, Belinda is also the only person allowed to send out all-user emails. Which means that our superintendent - a man with over twenty years' dedicated public service behind him - has to get her permission to send his workforce an email.
It's not that Belinda would ever refuse the request. But even she has days off. Still, I'm not complaining: it's thanks to HQ's latest crackdown on misuse of the email system that we feds down here on response can go a whole weekend without hearing a peep out of anyone above the rank of inspector.
The only other task awaiting me when this latest chirpy message fell into my inbox was to begin the mammoth task of trawling through Blandmore's fourteen missing person reports. I therefore took the time to read the Boss's email in its entirety.
It turns out, the detectives on Operation Softly Softly Catchee Thiefee, in an astonishing display of accuracy, have actually caught several thiefs this week. It also appears that two or three response bobbies have attended domestics and not only managed to identify the offenders via their names, dates of births and family photographs, but have startlingly also arrested them immediately when they were found hiding in their own homes. All this has led the Super to conclude that it is entirely the brave work of front-line heroes, working of course under his guidance and strict adherence to force policy, that has resulted in a gargantuan drop in crime over the same period last year.
Personally, I'm attributing it to the fact that last week, last year, was half-term. This year, it was a week later.
I'm not diminishing the fine work of the Op SSCT lot, nor the brilliant murder-aversion skills of us response bods. But to suggest that any of us have more than a fleeting influence over which week, which year, the baddies will choose to strike, is akin to claiming that the weather is decided in Monday morning's management meeting.
From my time in Blandshire Constabulary, I've seen good men and women fall and rise, all based entirely on the weather. If and when I ever decide to start scrabbling for the next rung on the ladder, all I can really do is buy an umbrella, and hope.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.