I find it astonishing how the image of Dixon of Dock Green still lingers on in today’s society. It seems to be deep in the public unconscious.

I can understand why this is true of older generations who saw some or all of the 432 episodes that ran (on black and white TV) from 1955 to 1976. Jack Warner, who played the leading role, was an attractive and warm personality. We would happily share a cup of tea with him round the kitchen range.

But I can’t think why ‘Dixon’ is still there even among the generations that have never seen a real life PC Dixon. Yet whenever I ask people across South Yorkshire what they want of their police, they all too often answer that they want to see the ‘bobby on the beat’.

The trouble is, the skills that PC George Dixon had won’t take a modern police officer very far.

Dixon plodded round his beat in East London. Crime and anti-social behaviour was low level. And Dixon could often avert it with a dash of common sense and good humour. Small time villains melted before his avuncular gaze.

In today’s society the police officer – who is just as likely to be Georgina as George – is called upon to deal with very different situations that call for a bigger range of skills.

Yes, neighbourhood officers may join with PCSOs walking round their patch. I spent sometime recently with officers in Burngreave, where they were greeted enthusiastically by local residents, pleased that neighbourhood policing is coming back.

But not all criminals succumb to humour and a reasoned argument. Some have to be tackled with determination and force. I have seen some of the weapons that police officers have been confronted with.

But that is not the only type of issue a police officer contends with. The next incident may call for  a range of ‘soft’ skills – dealing with a young woman traumatised after a serious sexual assault, or finding and bringing home a confused elderly man suffering from dementia, or taking someone with a mental health problem to a place of safety.

Different skills and also the ability to recognise what is being presented to you and how you must react to treat the person appropriately.

South Yorkshire police have not always got things right in the past. That should not stop us from acknowledging and thanking them when they get them exactly right in the present.