Wednesday, June 27, 2007

We would like you to focus on......

Was round visiting the folks in Countytown the other day.

Countytown is a fairly decent respectable sort of place. My parents live in a decent area, happily living a much quieter existence since their offspring cleared off and got places of their own. (An aside- I am immensely grateful I was able to buy my place when I could a few years back. I couldn't afford my own place now. How anyone is supposed to buy their own place these days without fabulously wealthy parents or a lottery win is beyond me)

Their particular corner of Countytown has its own residents association. I was leafing through their newsletter when I was over. In amongst the expected articles of middle class indignation "We really don't feel it necessary for people to park with wheels on the pavement" and preparation pleas for "Countytown in bloom" an article caught my eye.

They were appealing- again- for people to attend a local community meeting to meet their new neighbourhood community officer (PCSO) and tell him (or her of course, can't remember) of their concerns.

I say again, as for the last two meetings nobody had bothered to turn up.

This gave me a rueful smile. This part of Countytown is a reasonable place where people by and large work for a living, pay their taxes and probably vote in local elections. But their response to the governments grand hugely expensive scheme of neighbourhood police and "ownership" of local neighbourhood teams has fallen somewhat flat on its face in precisely the kind of area the government would want it to work (i.e. with people who vote and pay tax).

I must admit where I live there is a local residents association too. I'm not too fussed about joining it. To me it has imagines of Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet, darling) types filled with self importance and their own little empires. I of course may be quite wrong, but haven't really felt any great desire to prove myself wrong.

My views of my local police are fairly simple (I don't live and work in the same part of the force area, by the way). If I need police, then I call 999 and have a reasonable right to expect a reasonably quick response. When I don't need them, I'd trust the local lot to know for themselves what the real problems would be.

I say real problems. Back in Suburbiaville, I know of one the local SNT/NPT outfits in a nice part of town. Their "neighbourhood policing priority panel" or whatever the hell its called have set their Neighbourhood Team the priority of issuing parking tickets on the school run. When it was pointed out that actually the crime patterns indicated this that and the other, it was ignored in favour of the 15 minutes each day where the school run brigade dare to partially block Mrs Jones's driverway.

Most of the crime that happened was school kid robberies, and theft from builders vans. But because the members of the Neighbourhood Policing Panel (Hyacinth Bucket types and wannabe local politicians) weren't affected by these things which happened to other people, they didn't care. They wanted to be able to get out of their driveway unimpeded.

To me, its another example of how the practical application of a good theoretical idea (Neighbourhood Policing) simply does not work in reality.