Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Train Games

I'm surprised at the number of people who have called or emailed me from as far afield as Ramsgate, over my comments on policing on this weblog in last week's Thanet Gazette.

The prevailing sentiment appears to be one of abandonment; that where vandalism and anti-social behaviour are involved and which often cause the greatest personal stress, "the police don't come" or "don't care" This provokes real frustration. when all the victim has to show, is a crime number for the insurers; that's if they have insurance.

In writing this, I have no intention of attacking our hard-working local Police service but as a Councillor, I believe I have a duty to reflect and report what people tell me and what they feel strongly about and vandalism and anti-social behaviour in Thanet, many see as immune from any real deterrent or possibility of being caught.

I had a meeting in London's Portland Place yesterday morning and caught the 08:20 train from Westgate to Victoria. Outside the station, it appears that one of our local characters 'J', with chronic mental health issues, has returned to the town from his last 'holiday' and was screaming abuse at passers-by. A thin, malnourished woman, who I'm told is his new partner, was busy experimenting with her personal chemistry set on the bench outside the hairdressers. Traders tell me today, that that the police were called a little later. A quick update, reveals that 'J' is now remanded in custody, which is a good result, at least until the revolving door of our overloaded criminal justice system, spits him back out again.

I was surprised to find that the train was already quite full when I boarded but I took a window seat and settled down with my Kindle reader for the the rest of the journey.

By the time, the train left Herne Bay, it was nearly full with families on the way to Stratford and Hyde Park, with a good smattering of Union Jacks and Olympic sportswear. By Sittingbourne, the train was quite full and by Chatham, the station tannoy was asking people to wait for the next service as it now resembled a Central Line underground train at the height of rush hour.

I could never have imagined that the train service from Kent could come under so much pressure for the Games and if you multiply this by every train heading to the main London stations, then the inflow of crowds must have been enormous.

Reaching Bromley South (pictured) about seven minutes late, people on the platform were becoming quite angry that they couldn't board the train and their were calls for passengers to 'Move along down inside.'This might work with a service carrying mostly adults but the train I was on was about a quarter full of children from the youngest toddler-upwards, push chairs and all and you can imagine that after ninety minutes, some of these were becoming quite fractious; the loaded expression, 'cattle truck', springing to mind.

When I finally cleared a very crowded Victoria Station concourse, I found that my destination, Oxford Circus, was very quiet indeed, like an early weekday morning after opening time. To give you an idea, I walked straight into Costa Coffee and ordered a drink and I was the only person at the counter; normally there's a queue and no seats inside.

Coming home at 15:50 was a little better and I only found a seat because I managed to board the train when it arrived at 15:40. Once again, it was a packed service on the way home but from the conversations in the carriage, everyone had a great day out at the Games, despite the travel challenges in between.


Anonymous said...

My, how Bromley has changed.

Anonymous said...

You are right, 8:13, I actually thought it was Lewisham or Deptford!

Anonymous said...

Simon, I have the pleasure of staying in one of the Olympic boroughs Monday to Thursday- tower hamlets. Anti social behaviour in the park I overlook is constant. Every night youths are out until 1, 2am drinking, shouting, making life for the residents around them unbearable. The council say its the polices responsibility. The police say it's low priority, and the council's nobody cares. It will take a death for any action by either of them. I've had similar experiences with thanet police and local junkie thieves making life a misery with drug dealers tuurning up throughout the day and night. Again, the police blame the courts or the council, and the council blame the police.

With thee attitudes where nobody is accountable, it's no wonder the criminal activity flourishes and victims of crime get frustrated.

Maybe politicians needs to step up !