Saturday, 12 December 2009

Looking Out For A Local Hero

This is the first year in many that I'm not personally dealing with community complaints. As the dark nights draw in, the local kids my way would invariably start hanging out in the communal well lit blocks resulting in calls from distraught residents.

I suppose these residents were no different from Mrs Sick and Tired who has started a blog about her frustrations with police inability to deal with youths blighting a local park. As we are all now citizen focused I'd be surprised if these community problems were not the number one priority in all police areas across this country.

I'm not aware of her specific situation other than groups of youths are gathering late at night, drinking and affecting her quality of life. Her anger is directed towards the police, and one assumes that's a negative point for the local force if she's filled out a customer satisfaction survey.

I know that a call to my force would probably result in no police attendance from response. The call centre would put it out on the radio if the local community team was on, but just print the complaint for a later follow up if they were off duty. Unfortunately as no crimes are being committed it's not seen as a high priority. We are indeed too busy attending the houses of probably the said same youths to deal with their parents for minor domestic squabbles, which are also not crimes but require us to compile comprehensive records. Sorry about that but a non-crime domestic between people scoring points trumps a non-crime gathering of youths making your life hell. I can assure you Mrs Sick and Tired that we'd rather come and help you out.

We would of course be pretty powerless to do much other then move them on or try to. Unfortunately even then it's more down to persuasion and a will of minds. This achieves very little because they're be back the next night. Mrs Sick and Tired wonders why we can't take the kid's home in our cars. I think somebody palmed her off with the old not covered by insurance line. Human Rights legislation dictates that we can only take young people into police protection which is a detention, if they are likely to come to "significant" harm. I doubt that covers a street wise juvenile drinking in public.

I think the best course of action in her situation is for the community team to get off their backsides and show some presence. I would have posted my team there in the park stood right in the middle of the kids. This would have been to identify them and get my message across. They are probably there because the location gives them somewhere to sit and is well lit. I would look to have the lighting turned off so they would be in darkness. The seating could be relocated or changed.

One thing I know is that having improved things for that community the youths would move on to another lit place with seating. My ideal solution would be to find a location away from residents in the park with shelter where they could hang out to their hearts content and not annoy anybody. It would of course need policing re alcohol drinking to keep a lid on things. I'm not suggesting appeasing the youths but sometimes it's better to accept we can't solve everything and should try something different to give everybody a quieter life. I'm sure Mrs Sick and Tired just wants them gone.


Anonymous said...

I have these problems on the estate where I live. One of the many reasons I joined up was to hope that there would be some sort of community karma in my area resulting from working in a nearby one.

MarkUK said...

Exactly SC.

I have asked the foul-mouthed Fed Up why she doesn't become a Special.

Dandelion said...

Isn't loitering with intent illegal?

Anonymous said...

I don't believe loitering with intent still exists as an offence... it certainly isn't current offence wording.

I agree with SOC's sentiments for the majority of this post.

From my experience though, the groups of youths ALWAYS congregate in areas where they're going to draw attention. It makes me wonder if it's attention-seeking behaviour... and that in fact it's deliberate. I often ask them why they don't pick somewhere quiet and secluded to drink and gather, while I pour their beer down the drain... and they never have an answer for me.

Hogday said...

Dandelion: Loitering `with intent` was something of a `ways and means` to shift someone, backed up by very little in the way of real legislation. The original law was The Vagrancy Act 1824 introduced to deal with indecent exposure, begging, `flashing` and certain acts of `loitering`. But look at the date, 1824 - before there was even a police force! It was a `post Napoleonic War` reaction to countless former soldiers, cast off into society, penniless, who were showing off the stumps where their arms and legs used to be, in order to gain pity and a few pennies. You may recognise it by its more commonly used title, the `sus` law. Abuses saw that one off. But times have changed......