17/04/2010

Manhole madness

Posted in Crime at 2:55 pm by henrysgauntlet

There seems to be an epidemic of manhole theft going on.   Strange, but apparently the metal is worth selling for scrap.

59 covers have just been stolen in the Maldon area, some of them from quiet villages.

What a shame it is that those who perpetrate these crimes  –  because that’s what they are  –  never think about the consequences.

A car hits one of these spots, may end up grounded in the hole as manholes are quite large, or could bounce and shoot across into an oncoming vehicle.   At the very least might burst a tyre or damage the springs.   Motor cyclists and cyclists could be thrown off their machines.   Pedestrians trip and injure themselves, or fall down the hole.   So could cats and dogs.

Not just property crime, but very dangerous.

 

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09/04/2010

A host of golden daffodils – not if these people nick them

Posted in Crime, Life at 9:11 pm by henrysgauntlet

As I drove through the Avenues area of North Grays today I thought how lovely the gardens looked.   Spring bulbs in full bloom, and above them, magnolias and cherry blossom.

After that, on the way back from Chadwell St Mary, I saw two cars pulled up in the layby at the big roundabout near Palmer’s College.   Two women and several children were milling around.   At first I thought they were feeding or just admiring a number of horses in the adjoining field.

Then I saw what they were actually doing.   All of them were holding large bunches of daffodils.   There is a considerable area of grass between the field and the layby, and at the moment it has swathes of daffodils nodding in the wind.   And these people had taken it upon themselves to pick them.   I don’t suppose they intended selling them.   They were probably for their own homes.   They just thought they would take them for free rather than grow their own or buy flowers at a shop.

But that isn’t right.   The flowers are on public property, presumably supplied and planted by the Council.   Being public, does not mean people can cut them and take them away for their own use.   That denies the rest of the residents the pleasure of seeing such a splendid sight.   And the women are setting a shocking example to the children in letting them think they can just take whatever they want, whether from private owners or from publicly owned sites.

14/03/2010

Anti-social behaviour, no it’s crime

Posted in Crime, Law 'n order, Police at 8:50 pm by henrysgauntlet

Henry is not always in agreement with the pieces written by Michael Casey in his Your Thurrock website, but he is spot on with this one, which asks when and how crimes came to be rebranded as anti-social behaviour.

Henry particularly liked this quote:-

“What the bottom line should be is that the police and associated agencies still use as their mantra the reason Robert Peel started the modern police force back in 1829.  Peel coined the phrase “The maintenance of public tranquillity”.”

As Mr Casey says, statistics are being used by the powers that be in an attempt to lull the public into feeling that crime has been considerably reduced.    Whereas we residents, (not just in Thurrock but across the country), use our eyes and ears to register what is going on around us;  to read in local newspapers and on websites of the string of crimes being committed: assaults, rapes, car jacking, house breaking, and more;  to notice that people are frightened to walk the streets after dark, even where there are street lamps;  and to watch people crossing the road to avoid groups of men, or young people of both sexes, who are, rightly or wrongly, perceived as a potential danger.

Henry agrees with Mr Casey that the police are not to blame, or at least not the only culprits.   They are indeed the victims of the terrible tick box culture, where they are required to hit constant targets.   Henry has often wondered about, for example, targets for the number of arrests.   If that nirvana were ever reached where there is no crime, how could they fulfil their targets.   Even now, we all believe that the police give less attention to difficult crimes like burglary because it is so much easier to fulfil the arrest target by persecuting the poor motorist.   After all he is easy to identify by his vehicle registration, and in recent years myriad new offences have been created to attack those who have the temerity to drive their own vehicles.

So, as Mr Casey and Henry believe, let’s ditch the blurred and vague anti-social behaviour and get back to calling it what it is, crime.                

24/02/2010

Should security staff have police powers?

Posted in Crime, Law 'n order, Police at 9:04 pm by henrysgauntlet

The BBC reports that an Essex-based security company is to be given powers to hand out on-the-spot fines.   The idea is that door supervisors working for the company have some of the powers that the police have to tackle anti-social behaviour, (how I hate that phrase).

The company provides security staff at shopping centres and over 200 door supervisors at venues in Basildon, Chelmsford, Harlow and Colchester.   The company’s staff will carry identity cards issued by police under the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme, and then will be able to hand out the on-the-spot fines.

Well, most of us don’t like yobbish behaviour in shopping centres, around clubs and so on, but this does seem a step too far.

Last November I was at Lakeside Shopping Centre on a Friday evening when a gang of teenagers of both sexes made a huge nuisance of themselves.   They were in the lesser populated side walkways, and were harrassing shopkeepers, and throwing themselves against plate glass windows.   Lakeside makes good use of CCTV cameras, and the splendid security staff arrived very quickly.   They escorted the group to the nearest outer exit, but it wasn’t very long before they were back again.   This happened three or four times, and then the Police were called.   Again, they reacted quickly, and this time the youngsters were ejected and didn’t come back.

So, should Lakeside’s security staff have had the power to issue fines?   Well, it might be a quicker response, but almost certainly the youngsters would not have the cash to pay the fines.   Then there would be a long-drawn out process of trying to make the parents pay, probably unsuccessfully.  So it seems a rather pointless exercise.

But, even more importantly, I can’t condone extending police powers to other people.   Already there are too many instances of  “authorities” having the right to enter our homes and boss us about.   I don’t want to live in a police state, and giving “security” staff police powers, albeit in a small way, is a step in the wrong direction.