Tag Archives: crime

Police commissioner – why I’m not voting

There has been some talk that voting should be compulsory. Yes people died to allow all to vote – but it is an opportunity – it should not become a requirement, with further policing to force us.

 

As I’ve said before I suspect the lack of turnout is the belief that voting doesn’t work: that first past the post system does not mean our choice will even count; or that all the candidates are much the same – and none of them are who we would like or who will make a positive difference.

 

Many people in Britain feel that voting for their local police commissioner is not something they want to bother going to the poll booths for. Candidates mostly stand for a political party and the ones I have read of do not impress.

 

What I fear this move is about is creating pleasing seeming statistics, and more “tough on crime” talk. It could make life hard for both the police and the public.

 

What policing should be about:

‘Police’ is an unfortunate phase, a verb that means to nose and control. What we need is a body who helps keep us safe through laws only needed for protection – and not the powerful few. Laws should not be excuses to collect revenue for governments through fines. They should not be nannying, controlling punitive rules. We should not fear or distrust our police, who should not be curtailing freedom of expression.

 

The Green Party, who did not want this to come to vote, put questions to the candidates, including public accountability and the right to peaceful protest.

 

Nationally, we read regularly of police brutalities to protesters; and in the last week, there has been news that questions the behaviour of undercover police.

 

My local force has recently blasted front pages with their sprees of raids, and threaten more; their ‘message to criminals’ is, when finally deciphered, is aimed at minor crimes and a show of strength. Raids should be about emergency  rescue, not minor drug dealers. It also publicly sent messages to potential kerb crawlers, displaying their car number plates.

 

Meanwhile, it made reporting crime (which was largely down to their lack of doing their duty) more trouble than it was worth and failed to follow up a complaint for inappropriate behaviour.

 

I think many of us have mixed stories of the police, and as we pay for them through council tax, they especially need to be accountable to us and doing something worthwhile.

 

As there is no space on the voting form for ‘none of these’ or ‘I don’t want this’, I am saying it here, and making clear what kind of police force we expect and need, and making a stand against the force we often actually get.

 

I hope the prediction of under 15% turnout is true – do not we have a law that there needs to be a minimum proportion for a vote to count? Most of us don’t want this imposed on us – isn’t that a voice in itself?

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Put an end to our culture of drunkenness

I was going to make today’s entry about Passenger’s Charters on trains – what companies really ought to pledge to passengers, and a code of conduct for passengers to each other. I wrote a humorous column on the latter 10 years ago, but my gripesPut an end to our culture of drunkenness

I was going to make today’s entry about Passenger’s Charters on trains – what companies really ought to pledge to passengers, and a code of conduct for passengers to each other. I wrote a humorous column on the latter 10 years ago, but my gripes remain and have multiplied, especially since portable music and computer games have come back into fashion. I wrote on Hubpages about noise pollution and the needless sounds of electronic equipment; the prevalence of screens; and high decibels in both public and private places. Public transport remains an area where we are subjected to the tastes and activities of others, just as we are in the home, especially in more pleasant weather when windows are opened.

In both noise pollution and anti social behaviour, there seems a claiming of territory where just a few make a noise that is thrust upon the rest of us. It’s only one window in every block of flats, one tish, tish beat from headphones in each train carriage. Now those noises are in the street and our libraries. One ran a campaign called ‘anything but shh’ but some people enjoy the quiet of a library to read and work. Any city centre library I know renders that impossible, and now loud voices, mobile phones and audio visual from the net are rarely curtailed at all.

However, what has really brought me to sit down and write is drunkenness. I have witnessed football fans spoil journeys from 6am til late at night, again because of being addicted to those little ring pulls on cans they can’t stop downing. However, it is not just football that makes journeys rowdy and unpleasant. Travelling at a reasonable hour on a branch line into a city, I was accosted by a train full of young yobs on their way for a night out. I had thought that on a week night the train would be empty and that it was too early for those at the end of a night and too late for anyone going out. Yet this seems prime club time, and those on board where already way past it before they eve boarded. They illegally chain smoked in toilets, (and also avoided fares in there) and were not curtailed at all by staff – eve when there were only a few of them.

What pub or shop or venue would allow such a crowd in without a word?

It seems again that rail staff are more interested in their own interests than that of their passengers. They are more interested in collecting the revenue from unruly passengers – even though many of these are the chief fare dodgers – than turning away decent members of the public.

There badly needs to be training and support for rail staff. The conductor is mostly alone and I have already commented on the lack of transport police. What pub or music area would not have security? What sports stadium? Where many businesses will not open with only one member of staff, trains run permanently like this, even on very long trains and late at night or where trouble is know to be likely.

But there is a greater problem: our drinking culture. Scotland had adverts in cinemas to discourage this and it is something that any country with this problem needs to take up. It was designed to undo the idea that being very drunk is something to boast of or encourage. Although there’s been attempts to stop drink being consumed by getting at places that sell alcohol, the real problem is with individuals. They need to stop the idea that such large consumption is acceptable or good.

I don’t want lots of laws and fines and people being questioned and hauled off by police in militia style. After today’s news about the public anger at police kettling protesters and the 30 year anniversary of the Brixton/Bristol riots I do not advocate any change in policing or law that lends itself to more of this. We want to be free to enjoy our activities. C clubbing and sport are not bad in themselves. However, drinking has become a sport in itself, and the dancing or the game sometimes are not what the evening is about. For some, it’s about picking fights; for others it’s simply getting hammered.

A stronger attitude in work places would be a start – that a serious hangover is a disciplinary offence and that it is not something to share without shame. That, as the Scottish adverts said, we let people say no to another alcoholic drink; and that soft and hot drinks all night every night is never sneered on. Bars keeping hot drink machines on later helps – I note they are often switched off early in the evening and staff can grumble if customers ask for a latte. I realise they take longer to make and the machines need cleaning out, but staff are able to accommodate coffee making at other busy times – why not late at night? Aren’t cocktails time consuming to make?

Places of education could also assist; instead of assuming that drunken students are inevitable, take the attitude of a posh school: that this is not the advertisement you wish to make for your prestigious establishment. Is this how you want your company to be seen?

Football clubs want to attract people and be synonymous with their city, but poorly behaving fans mark against the city ad the club. The same is true generally of bad behaviour. My recent trips make certain towns yob cities in my mind now, regardless of how others might behave and all the attractions they have. Football and other sports clubs should also work to discourage their supporters from spoiling it for all those majority of well behaved people who also enjoy spectating.

The argument that drink makes a venue money untrue as alcohol is often cheap and not much more than a soft or hot drink. Whereas venues need to make enough to keep in business, it is wrong to do so by encouraging antisocial behaviour which is also damaging to those undertaking in it.
The Quakers newsletter recently featured an old temperance poster about football and alcohol. One wonders if temperance oughtn’t return. There is nothing wrong in drinking in moderation, but so many people seem to have no idea how to do that. Without being prescriptive and controlling, isn’t it time we helped them?

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Sherlock

Why Sherlock is immoral and we are for watching it

I have bemoaned that mystery is a genre where death becomes a 3D crossword puzzle; morals and emotions give way to macabre entertainment and dehumanisation. It is never so true than of Holmes.

The police – at least ought – to do their job to keep society safe. Even Gene Hunt , with all his prejudice and brutality, clearly has pride in keeping his city free of ‘scum’ and some of his brutality is down to his anger at what the criminal has done. And perhaps many of us could share that; believing we are sharing a room with a torturer, rapist or murderer – particularly if we have seen the distress of victims or mourners – we may want to exact retribution. Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars is one of the better crime shows because it does show caring and justice in its plots.

In Spooks, the spies believe they are defending their country against terrorism. People in the army believe they too are serving their people and keeping them safe.

However one might feel about the actual behaviours of these roles, the official principle is an admirable one. We could add doctors and lawyers as people meant to give a service to assist and make the world better.

But Sherlock’s work isn’t even like Batman who though wracked with his own vengefulness, still wants to make his city safe, as does V in V  for Vendetta.

Sherlock seems to be a consulting detective just because it gives him kicks. In the BBC most recent series, he actually says he doesn’t care. Although Watson is upset by this, he is not upset enough to walk away from his friend. Sherlock says that caring is a mistake as it doesn’t help save the victims any better. This is rubbish: for some, caring is exactly what drives them. Emotional involvement is a different issue but caring doesn’t mean weakness or inaction. Superman’s enemies often try and trap him in this way, but Superman remains a hero who continues to win, not one who is lesser because he cares – but the reverse.

To get off on the dead is necrophilia, but it seems not only the fictional mystery solvers but all their fans see dead bodies as something to be excited over.

The thoughtlessness for victims and loved ones, the lack of respect for the dead are shocking. We would not like the police to deal with us like this. Yet we accept it in fiction.

The Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock is the most unpleasant one of all. Why is such a popular hero so arrogant? He is well called ‘the freak’ by one of the police, and a sociopath. So why make him a hero? He is even less pleasant than Jonathan Creek and unlike Liesbeth Salander, has no past and demons to wrestle with.

Unlike Stieg Larsson’s stories, the films of Sherlock have no social point, no alert of real life corruption, no moral conundrum. This is not so with the books where this is frequently the case and  Sherlock does also care about justice and people in his own way.

Arthur Conan Doyle used his popular stories to bring up issues, such as the unfairness of divorce law for women; the poor heath and safety of miners; and I read Hound of the Baskervilles as having animal rights potential – an idea I will be exploring. There is frequently a moral conundrum in the plot. The Sherlock of the books is a warmer and more worthy character and this BBC updating has done the iconic detective no favours at all. In not being issue based, it has come furthest  – not closest – to the author’s original intentions.

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