Spurred by the "I was wrong to use a gun..." thread here, I realised that I haven't seen a real copper for at least 8 months. Yes, including frequent trips through various UK airports, days in London and other major cities; I have not seen one single real Policeman in all that time (except the undercover, spooky, counter-terrorist ones who are presumably carpetting the land, invisibly). The last one I spotted was in December 2007. I visited Lisburn PSNI station a few months ago on business and was dealt with in entirety by a contractor. I have seen a number of the pointless "Community Service Officer" community. In Oxford Street yesterday there were two of them, apparently responsible for patrolling the entire length and breadth of the tourist area; one was a very small black lady of about 19 years and the other an aging and not particularly authoritative figure, also challenged in the height department. Both were attempting the Hill Street Walk, unsuccessfully, amongst the surging crowds. Twenty years ago, there would have been a Met presence there, 6' and tit on head, providing both native and visitor with a reassuring sense of security. No longer. I'm glad I don't pay bloody taxes.