Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Square Deal for Birchington

I’ve just come from a small get-together at the Powell Arms in Birchington, which included my fellow Gazette columnist Ewan Cameron and four of our local councillors.

While we were there, I couldn’t help but notice the number of “Hoodies”, teenage boys congregating on the square, darting about and playing football across the mini roundabout that marks the entrance to the village.

What happens next I wondered and was pleasantly surprised to see a police car with two officers appear and stop outside the pub, one of them leaving the car to talk to the group of teenagers, dressed in their thin tracksuits in what was by now a temperature below freezing.

I asked one of the bar staff if this happened much. The police presence I was told is the exception rather than the rule and apparently the kids will often greet a passing police car with welcoming shouts of “oink oink pigs pigs.” The police it seems rarely stop unless they really have to.

After the near fatal assault in Minnis Bay last month, I was told that the hoodies had been less visible but now, they are building-up their confidence again and new trouble is most likely brewing.

I should add that you need to know what I'm writing about in the context of recent local problems and that the teenagers in the square tonight were not causing any particular crime beyond the reckless use of a football. However it’s their presence and unruliness which is intimidating local people. Thanks to the criminal justice system they are almost ‘bullet-proof’ and they know it, which doesn’t inspire an atmosphere of confidence in the local community, which will very soon, I’m told, will have it’s policing directed from Canterbury.

But if these lads are causing a consistent nuisance and I’m assuming the police are on first name terms with them, then isn’t this one of the reasons that government gave for the creation of ASBOS? Prevent certain known groups of teenagers gathering outside the Powell Arms or do the police prefer to have them occasionally running amok there rather than somewhere else where they can’t see them.

I’m sure one of our Birchington readers or perhaps an anonymous member of the police can tell us more about this. I was just lucky enough to be around to see it all happening for myself tonight.


Anonymous said...

String em up
birch em
hang em
asbo em
flog em

there that should keep a few happy !!

solve the problem...... No

Anonymous said...

The current and increasing wave of antisocial behaviour, total disrespect for police, parents and any kind of authority is being perpetrated by 6 to 16 year olds.
All who have grown up in the culture of Blairism ie; Blairs children. enough said

Steve Kilbee

james governor said...

blimey simon. you do say yourself that they werent actually doing anything wrong. an ASBO just for meeting your pals on the village green? doesn't really fit with civil liberties does it?

"I am assuming the police are on first name terms with them"... what would the assumption mean- is that down to good engaged policing or bad boys? not necessarily the latter, surely/

its not such a heinous crime to say oink oink to some policemen.

wearing a hood - its actually quite cold out, isn't it?

DrMoores said...

Quite right James and as regards civil liberties I would be reluctant to lose anymore. I think however that one has to examine the pattern of behaviour and intimidation and ask whether it is in the public interest to allow certain teenagers to congregate at ceratin places in the community at certain times, if their behaviour is not condusive to public safety and order. I don't like the idea very much, it's close to teh American blue laws that restrict teenage activity after dark in some states in recognition of a similar problem that goes back to the very beginning of recorded history, when a thick ear from the local policeman would normally do the trick!

Andy Pandy said...

I find it hard to blame politics for the current situation we are in. Surely it's the parents fault, were they bough up by Blair ;) I dont want to live in a world where the Government and Police bring my children up.

There seems to be a growing gap between youth and adults and it would appear that the media is helping to fuel the situation. If you feel intimidated by walking past a large number of youths it's probably because you understand nothing about their culture. This of course works both ways however the older party should know better. I never feel uncomfortable around a large group of youths. Even when the mouthy one shouts something out I can always find common ground to strike up a conversation. We're all in the same boat after all.

The kids need something to do other than being locked up in their homes.


Anonymous said...

anon again!

but, don't you think that kicking a football across a main road, is rather silly.... There are places to go to play football, and there are quiet streets in the vicinty... and if they went around the corner, there is a virtually unused car park in Albion Road, opposite where the heating firms park on double yellow lines all day without getting parking tickets. I mention this, because adults break the Law more often than kids do!

Anonymous said...

When an acquaintance of mine is still recovering from a beating by youths similarly dressed to those outside The Powell Arms and yesterday's papers ran pictures of similarly dressed youths in the process of kicking a man to death, then I'm not surprised people are wary of pods of hoodies gathered in one place. Yes we do have a problem of easily accessible activity facilities for our young people in Kent. Did you see the state of disrepair to Riverside Youth Centre in Canterbury? Have you seen the state of Quarterdeck and looked at KCC's budget for youth @ Community? Neglect of our youth by parents and the Local Authorities makes an evil combination. However, if and when our 'youth' break the law, a bit of FLOG'em and BIRCH'em would not go amiss.

Anonymous said...

Having met a friend for an early meal out in Birchington on Saturday night, we then walked our seperate ways home. With all that has occurred in and around the Birchington area lately I must admit to feeling very unsafe walking home alone.
We even text to ensure each other had reached our homes safely.
What a shame to have to feel like that in a once sought after village.
As you say, it is the intimidating presence of these 'hood-rats' that makes you feel unsafe.