Byline: DAVID JONES
HAVING read Steve Green's devastating attack on soft Sixties values and the lawless yob culture he believes they have caused, meeting the Nottinghamshire Chief Constable comes as a surprise.
One expects a table-thumping firebrand, only to be offered tea by an earthy Yorkshire bobby with an infectious chuckle and a fondness for jogging and Sheffield Wednesday.
'I'm not going to get painted as Attila the Hun, because I'm not,' he says more than once, as he justifies his indictment of 'namby-pamby' liberalism.
'I'm just an ordinary bloke - a boring ordinary bloke, in fact.' Perhaps so, but there was nothing boring about the police chief's tirade last week.
'It is one of life's great ironies that the tolerant, understanding and empathetic approach which has marked post-war society has not bred tolerant children,' he wrote in a fiery letter to his local paper.
'The evidence is there every day: youths screaming four-letter expletives into the
faces of police officers, youths yelling at pensioners; groups of youths intimidating shopkeepers and chanting racist abuse; kids threatening violence against anyone who challenges their aggressive behaviour.
'The gentle touch has created many monsters whose only interest is that their needs be met. If they can't afford it, they'll steal it; if they want your mobile phone, they'll punch you to get it; if they're drunk and pass a shop window, they'll smash it; if they don't want to pay, their bus driver gets it; if they're bored, they'll lay obstacles across the railway track and drop bricks on car drivers from motorway bridges.' Mr Green has no doubt where blame lies for this depressingly familiar slide in values.
He wags an accusing finger at soft teachers (though presumably not his wife, who teaches), self-serving defence lawyers, lenient magistrates and judges, and lax parents.
In today's climate, senior policemen aren't expected to express such views.
But the Chief Constable - an avowed family man with a ten-year-old son - says he was simply voicing the concerns he hears while shopping, or sipping a pint in his local.
He didn't know how the public would react to his remarks, which were soon picked up by the national media, but says the response was 'phenomenal'.
The Nottinghamshire Police switchboard has fielded callers from all over Britain. Every last one has applauded.
'We went out on the streets with a TV crew filming and people were waving and saying "Well done",' he says, a touch bemused. 'I didn't set out to achieve that, honestly. It's not my job to be populist, but I think it is my job to reassure people.' Doncaster-born Mr Green, 48, is entering his fifth year in charge of his force, and acknowledges he has not always had such praise.
Last year, an Inspector of Constabulary said Nottinghamshire Police were among the nation's worst. Those living in the county were said to be more likely to become crime victims than anyone else in the country.
'I ain't got anything to hide from,' Mr Green says, flattening his Yorkshire vowels, when one suggests he might have written his letter to divert attention from this criticism.
'The problems in Nottingham police are historical and well-documented, and they weren't my creation. I came to a force that needed massive investment and modernisation. I'm not running away...I'm about to release crime figures next week that are stunning.' He claims to have cut all crime by 15 per cent between April and June this year, with robberies down 30 per cent, burglaries and car-related offences down 25 per cent, and violent crimes down nine per cent.
He has achieved this with 2,400 fewer officers than Merseyside or West Yorkshire, but just as many serious incidents to deal with. How? 'By taking the force apart and rebuilding it. . .making officers accountable, making them justify how they're spending public money, measuring outcomes and achievement. …