Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Under the Counter

I walked around Westgate today to have a word with different shopkeepers about the re-introduction of CCTV in the village. The impression I received, was that they would like to see it back and a willingness exists to chip-in, if necessary, if the costs exceed the available budget for its re-introduction. One good idea, I thought, from one young lady, was to have a box in each shop, that local people could contribute to as well but I suspect that procedurally, this would offer a problem but I will explore the matter further.

One concern revealed today, involved the secondary sale of alcohol from off-licenses. This is prevalent everywhere in Thanet but the shop owners recognise the problem and would dearly love to see some pro-active policing to prevent the onward sale of booze to under-age drinkers outside the door. A single number to call to report this crime was suggested as one good idea, as I found zero confidence in calling the police at Maidstone with no real hope of the offenders being prosecuted either. The other side of the coin here, is that if there's no confidence in our overworked and thinly-streteched police turning-up, there's very little reason to report the problem. Ipso facto, the problem doesn't exist!

There's very little point in prosecuting smokers when we have children drinking themselves into oblivion on our streets. Tomorrow then, I'm going to write to the Chief Constable of Kent and ask him, under the Freedom of Information Act, how many people have been prosecuted in Kent - or better still Thanet - for supplying alcohol to minors on the street. If the answer is greater than zero, I'll be surprised but on a collective basis, I know my colleagues share with me the recognition that we need to take positive action in trying to stop this rot in our community, so let's start with a letter to Michael Fuller.


Cllr David Green said...

You tread a long and weary trail I'm afraid, that many of us have trod before. A few years ago we reached the point under the previous Superintendent for Thanet where ward councillors insight into local concerns was appreciated. We even reached the point where Councillors were invited to the multi-agency meetings that co-ordinated efforts to improve action against crime and antisocial behaviour.
I think the dose of reality this provided to some of the other agencies (who seemed more content to develop various policy documents on this and that) proved too much for them. There was the invitable "reorganisation" and "improvement" which left the agencies talking comfortably amongst themselves with their graphs and flip charts. Councillors were placed firmly on the end of the phone or with a monthly meeting with a council officer (the very few that bother).
Then we had the police reorganisation, so that Thanet policing was improved by being run from Canterbury. Now, it looks to me as though the Police are withdrawing from co-operation altogether.
Government intentions towards neighbourhood policing and the respect agenda are fine, but when they get in the hands of these people they turn to dust.
I wish you luck, but am I disallusioned and bitter, yes I am.

Anonymous said...

Our Community Warden, Tony, is a great bloke but he is no longer allowed to pop out after hours when alcohol re-sale is at its height. We thus have no effective 'home-beat' policing in Westgate and I doubt if there is a police-man on the Isle who has a clue about 'local-players' in Westgate; who they are; who they mix with or what they are up to. Kent Police seem to have abandoned the initiative on our streets leaving Tony our Community Warden as probably the only person who knows what is going on at street level.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid any ccharity collecting box in a shop gets stolen so that idea is a non starter.

As a trader in Westbrook where we have CCTV, and in the road in Cliftonville I live in - where we have CCTV - I personally haven't found it to be of any use whatsoever.
Everytime I mention it to a PC investigating the latest crime committed against us they just shrug and say we better not think we can rely on CCTV for evidence of identity or crime, it has to be working, someone has to be watching, the villains have to identifiable, to go back over countless hours of recording (if it worked in the first place) takes manhours which are not available.
After my patio paving slabs were stolen from my back garden in Cliftonville recently I reported it to the Police last week but am still awaiting any contact from them.
I suppose the thieves will be laying the slabs near the greenhouse and wendy house they also stole from my back garden.

Yes we do have CCTV which would cover the road but one of the empty houses in the street has a large tree in the front garden blocking the view down the road, TDC can't cut it as its on private property.
So thats a waste of the CCTV money for that camera.

What chance do we stand?

More beat coppers are the answer, and not just during the day but at night.
I see groups of youths vandalising in Cliftonville, often on a nightly basis but if I telephone the Police the operator just says they are too busy.
So I don't bother any more.

Florence said...

As far as I can see, all those that wish to contribute to CCTV costs, be it councillors, TDC or the general public, don't winge about the lack of police on the streets. By finding the funds for the cameras, you are actively helping the police not to bother. Cameras are not the answer, bobbies on the beat is the only way to go. If the money can be found for cameras, why can't it be found for police officers, support officers or community wardens ? We are one of the most spied upon nations in the world and it hasn't made an iota of difference to crime rates. If cameras are so effective, why have the police issued a request for the public to be vigilant in light of the latest terror attacks, come on people, get real. They don't work.