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.                

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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.