Friday, August 25, 2006

He's Back - Ask Sandy

He’s back! – It’s “Ask Sandy”, our council leader rested from his cruise around the Caribbean on his luxury yacht, now safely berthed at Ramsgate Marina.

He writes:

“This morning, as I write, someone or some group has taken considerable effort to knock over the palm tree pots along the seafront. We've heard a great deal on the council's efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour but reader comments on this site suggest that the "customer service" needs improving in regard to both availability and response.

Given concerns that the local police presence is also in the process of reduction, and the overall sense of a growing culture of random violence across the island, what can the council do, if anything, with local elections not far away, to address a problem that is high on the list of local concerns?

Let’s clear something up first – I’ve certainly not been lounging around on my yacht in the Caribbean over the last few weeks. If only I owned a yacht! I’ve been in Thanet, enjoying the wonderful summer and all the great events here.

Now on to business. Anti-social behaviour. It’s something we hear a lot about and the impression seems to be that there’s a quick fix to this problem, something that can be provided by local Councils and the police. That’s not the whole picture though. I know some people will say this is a cop-out, but the truth is to tackle anti-social behaviour, there’s a third party that is perhaps the important in this and that’s the local community. Without your support, we’re not going to get anywhere on this problem.

The first thing is making sure that we’ve got the information to tackle the problem and we know that doesn’t always happen at the moment. Some people are too scared to report incidents and some feel that they’ll be passed from pillar to post when they do report it.

That’s why we’ve introduced a new number to report ongoing problems of anti-social behaviour that’ are blighting your community. You can call our Anti-Social Behaviour reporting line on 577 888. Give us as much information as you can about what’s affecting your quality of life in your neighbourhood and, provided you leave your contact details, one of the officers in the new Safer Cleaner Thanet Unit will call you back and work with you to resolve the problem. Calls to this number will be logged and monitored for progress by the Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Coordinator, so you will see results.

The new unit’s been created to be the central point of contact and to coordinate the response to anti-social behaviour, but we need information to take action. Let’s take the example given about the palm trees on the seafront. Our Safer Cleaner Thanet Unit would want to know which seafront is being talked about, when the incident happened and if it was reported to the police. Without this information, we’re not going to stand a chance of finding out who was responsible. That means an unsolved case and the Council picking up the bill for any damage.

So let’s all work together on this. If everyone supplies us with as much information as they can, then we stand a lot more chance of being able to take action and tackle the problem.”


Anonymous said...

Are the cameras not manned at night? I should have thought the CCTV should have seen the offenders?

Anonymous said...

What is going to stop a vandal from doing this kind of damage on the way home with a skinfull? CCTV is inconclusive in most cases. A bobby walking the beat? What chance does he/she have? They cant call for back up - there is none! So we catch the culprit. They stand up in court and have such a tragic picture painted of their life that they are let off lightly. What if a member of the public steps up to his/her civic duty and comments on the bad behaviour? They get assaulted and possibly killed (read the national papers) or a group of people detain the culprit - then THEY leave themselves open to charges of assault. We are becoming a community - nation - of people who would rather just look at the ground in front of our feet and keep on going. This is no help I know - but this problem is extremely complex and far reaching. The police mount concentrated operations to catch road tax dodgers and people with unsafe vehicles - why do they not randomly spend a week patrolling the streets, high visibility, at vulnerable times and catch some of these people? Then when these people come to court they should be severely dealt with. The flip side of that coin is also to educate, involve and provide the public with the means to stamp this problem out. Everyone has a mobile phone these days - instead of dialling 999 perhaps another number similar to the one posted, can be dialled at the moment the vandalism or antisocial behaviour is taking place. Have posters printed and distributed all over Thanet "Stamp out Vandalism - call this number when you see it!" If you ask the public to engage in a long series of visits, interviews, involvement and possibly face to face accusations then I am afraid that Thanet will become like a Lowry painting with people looking down at their feet walking straight ahead.

Pedagogue said...

Yet more initiatives and "systems" to be set up by Local Authorities. A "safer" Thanet is the responsibility of the Police and a "cleaner" Thanet is Sandy's Lads; they should not be mixed.

All the ideas of policing on the cheap, Community Wardens and Community Support Officers do not address the root cause of the problem. We lack sufficient Police Officers and are not prepared to punish offenders. This week the sentencing guidelines authorities have issued instructions that shop-lifters(thieves) should not be given custodial sentences.

The best deterrent to low level crime that has now been downgraded in Newspeak to "anti-social behaviour", is increasing the chances of being caught and once apprehended, the swift administration of punishment. The United States have given us a clear model to follow in New York.
Its quite simple, really.

So Sandy, whilst its nice of you to get involved in these issues, we would be better off with our Local Politicians confining their activity to keeping Thanet Clean. Its not glamorous but vital and avoids the bane of not sticking to primary and core functions and meddling in other areas that is the cause of such inefficiency in Government and in our Public Services.

Anonymous said...

In another recent strand, you - Dr Moores - covered the story of the Thanet Community Development Trusts's intention to impose a massive rent increase on the Revolution Skate Park in Broadstairs. I am sure the park makes a significant contribution to keeping a percentage of youngsters out of trouble, and is therefore relevant to this post.

Outrage over the increase from most of your readers including Councillor Wells, who posted his customary well-crafted comments expressing his concerns and, er, outrage.

Odd that he has said ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in resonse to the subsequent posts that have a) pointed out that two of his Tory colleagues from Thanet Council - Spencer (a Cabinet member no less) and Bayford - SIT ON THE BOARD OF THE TRUST, and b) have urged him to ask them what they have been up to, and to call them to account.

Perhaps, rather than exchange rather cosy comments with you about where he has been on holiday - who gives a ***t anyway - Ezekiel will answer for Wells. Is it another case of the right hand of the Thanet Tories not knowing what the extreme right is doing, or is there something more sinister here? Several readers questioned the integrity, salaries etc., of Trust officials, but perhaps there is even more to seek some assurance over?

Anonymous said...

I would formally ask you, Doctor, to raise this whole issue with Ezekiel when you next put questions to him. What is the official Thanet Council, and within that the Tory Group's, attitude towards the skate park? What have his two Party representatives on the Trust's Board - Bayford and Spencer - said and done within the Trust to argue against this planned rent increase? Or have they supported it? If they have supported it, what does he think of Wells's comments and views? Does he believe there is something more sinister here? You may have further questions.

DrMoores said...

OK.. I'll put a question to him as requested.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dr Moores. I shall look forward to seeing his reply.

Chris Wells said...

I believe I have answered your point on the other comment thread, at least as far as I am willing to right now.

Anonymous said...

Is it true the CCTV camera in Westgate is switched off over the weekend? If indeed it was on you might get some footage of the appalling attack this evening on the foreign students, and the footballs being kicked at the traffic, public and bus windows... If indeed the cameras are working, switched on, manned, in focus... up to the job?