I very much disagree with Superintendent Steve Harrod that anti-social behaviour and low level hooliganism is not the responsibility of the police. I don't know who rules the streets in Leicestershire but I would hang my head in shame if a similar case happened on my patch. He is not picking up on what's important here. The silent majority are suffering from swaggering youths and want them to be tackled, but feel ignored. Those comments do not do much to instill confidence in the police do they?
I take his point about the inept criminal justice system and punishments handed out to young people in the form of reprimands, but does that mean we should do nothing? There are things that can be done and working together with the local authority can actually be more effective than the criminal route. I don't know what they did up there, but one of the best meetings I used to attend was our anti social behaviour one with the housing officers. We would discuss local problems and you could gauge where the demand was coming from. A few extra patrols and a few words in the right ears was often enough to nip things in the bud.
When that didn't work it was a case of getting out there and taking the ground. Youth gathering points would be visited to identify the likely culprits. This caused conflict with the kids whose usual riposte was "we ain't got nowhere to go" "we ain't doing nothing" "why are you always harassing us?" You could pass the names to the local authority who could send out warning letters but this is only a first step to deter them.
I've always found the best way was to covertly record their antics. This would mean getting a RIPA authority to conduct surveillance. I would only use this after pro-active patrolling had failed to stop the unruly behaviour. These kids will hang out every night and police teams due to shift working just can't put out the same presence on a regular basis. Sledgehammer to crack a nut? Well it is certainly an awful lot of paperwork, but if everything else has failed what else can be tried?
I received a lot of complaints about kids throwing eggs, smoking dope and being noisy on one of my estates. Nobody rang me direct and they rarely called 999 because by the time units turned up the kids had gone, if anybody actually came. They would however stop and tell me on foot patrol.The evidence was all over the back windows of the houses that backed onto the estate. A bit of door knocking, and some of the residents told me how bad things were. They were kept awake by shouting and swearing but when they shouted at the group they got abuse back, followed a few days later by eggs thrown at their property. One lady even had her window smashed splintering glass over where her baby usually slept. Bloody disgraceful, now tell me again that this isn't conduct that police should tackle.
A few days of filming showed a group gathering sat on railings outside of a sheltered housing block. The railings were about three feet from an elderly lady's back window. I filmed continued spitting on the floor so it actually formed a small puddle, smoking of cannabis and general noisy screaming and shouting. OK nothing too outrageous from a criminal view point and definitely seen as low level anti-social behaviour but to the other residents it was living in hell. I got a statement from the old lady who was at the end of her tether and had previously contacted the housing office to complain. She however chose to just live with it too scared to go to bed if the group were outside her window. Tell me again how this is not the responsibility of the police to deal with it. I would hope that Mr Harrod would not try and pass this off if he dealt with these people and would actually do something to help them.
The video was not pleasant viewing and some of the parents of those identified were invited in to the housing office to see it. They were really ashamed and thankfully in that case it was enough to solve the problem. I've seen the same tactic used where the behaviour was more criminal. All the culprits were summoned to a youth clinic to be reprimanded. Some police officers out there do care because they can see what's wrong and will work hard to do something for the silent majority .. it's called taking responsibility.
RIPA - Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 .. Authority to be granted by superintendent for covert surveillance activities. Lots of writing about proportionate use and necessity so not to infringe the human rights of those who don't give a shite about anybody else.