Machynlleth

Last week was a difficult one for Dyfed Powys.

A dark and horrible thing happened in Machynlleth when April Jones disappeared from outside her mother’s house. Campaigning for election suddenly seemed of microscopic importance by comparison.

At the same time, though, it reminded me of why this election matters. Our police have done us proud over the last few days. Their handling of the media has been particularly impressive. I know from serving in Iraq how difficult balancing the demand for information with the need to concentrate on the real job is.

As one journalist once told me, “you have to feed the press beast or it will forage for itself.” That may be true, but it’s hard to manage when information is sketchy and rumour abounds. You have to get on with the real job whilst dealing with immense pressure for immediate news, answers and action.

We’ve been reminded how important policing is. Like many of our public services, it becomes so much a part of the background that we forget it’s there. Sadly, it seems to take bad events to show good people. April’s abduction, the London riots, acts terrorism or even war – we’d be better off without all of them, but when we face them we see the heroics of good people helping out.

It’s little consolation for the family, but let’s remember that we have seen the best of people in Wales, Machynlleth and our police over the last two weeks. If the time comes for me, it will be a privilege to serve them.

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