THERE IS a real danger in discussing a subject such as anti-social behaviour (asb) that you can drift down the rambling grumpy old man/angry of Purley road however the whole subject has reached something of a crossroads in the UK and Thurrock in particular.
Last tuesday at a Health Committee, Council Officer Lucy McGill announced a series of proposals to combat anti-social behaviour in the borough now that Thurrock has been identified as an area of high priority.
We understand that one of the plans, the council has, is to establish who has responsibility for what.
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 tranquility”.
The perception of the public is that on too many occasions, people are abnegating their responsibilites.
In Scotland they do things rather differently.
Should the police receive a complaint of noise, they can enforce Section 54 of the Civic Government Scotland Act 1982. Failure to turn the music down can lead to the police forcibly entering your house (without a warrant) and arrest you and take your stereo with you. It is as simple as that.
A few years ago, YourThurrock was told by a senior police officer that “noise is a question of perception” Critics would say that yes, it is a question of perception, when you finish your shift and drive off to a little village outside Chelmsford.
We are not saying that crashing the door is the answer to every problem but how on earth we got to this situation where the public feel so dis-satisfied and so fobbed off?
The question is: when did certain crimes become anti-social behaviour? Is it something New Labour invented or rebranded? Whatever the source, it is clear that the recent report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate think that the ever growing number of crimes that have been rebranded as asb neeeds to stop.
The public perception is that it is all part of a cunning plan to massage statistics. That is why people simply don’t believe the police when they say crime is falling. As long as you use statistics, you lose the public.
Statistics, as the man said, are like bikini’s..what they reveal is fascinating, what they conceal is vital.
This is not to blame the police. Their political masters have created a bureaucratic maze for the police where it is easier to not arrest than find yourself drowning in a sea of paperwork, keeping you off the streets for hours. They also have limited finances. The fact that they have to go cap in hand to community forums for bikes for PCSO’s.
It will be interesting to see how matters develop and policies change. There will continue to be a series of programmes and engagement days etc but it will be interesting to see if there is a cultural shift away from the blurred and vague asb and a return to calling it what it is: crime.