Monday, 26 October 2009

How to Fight Anti-Social Behaviour

Last week I attended the regular Northwood Police and Communities Together (PACT) meeting. Thanks to Rev. Chris Skingley at St. Mark's Church who facilitates this and many other coommunity activities. Pictured are Steve Ladyman MP who also attends regularly, with PCSO Dan Mimran. Dan lead the meeting covering a whole range of matters.

I am interested that some other councillors think the way to tackle anti-social behaviour in their areas, is to broadcast problems as widely as possible. The problem with this approach is that it can mean that an area is talked down, whether it be for shoppers or people thinking of moving into a street.

Publicity is such that it can be 5 minutes to win a bad reputation, and 5 years to lose it. So if there are one or two roads with a small scale problem does it benefit people living there to seek the maximum media coverage? I do not think it does generally. What is important is that those affected are advised by knocking on their doors, and delivering leaflets. Indeed the best form of policing is when a community shares information and sets standards amongst itself, knowing that it can work closely with the police.

Those engaging in anti-social behaviour thrive on creating a climate of fear, and I would suggest sometimes media coverage can exacerbate this, so that certain areas are avoided even when problems have been resolved. I am reminded of a survey which showed that it took almost a decade for all M1 users who were frequently stuck in traffic to learn that the M40 was another parallel option for many of the journies from London to Birmingham. People are creatures of habit, and it can take quite a while to change patterns of behaviour once habits are established.

I am also disappointed when I hear lazy and untrue statements by Council officers saying that a crime problem has been resolved, when I know that is not the case as do many others. So what I am trying to say is that Northwood like everywhere else has problems from time to time, but sensationalising them is not the way to address them. Local people working together with the authorities is.

3 comments:

  1. I was amused to read that over in Westgate the removal of a bench signalled the end of anti-social behaviour according to one of the local representatives but reading the Gazette on Friday things didn't seem so hunky-dory.

    I don't think I read anywhere about the role of the local PCSO who in my own area has taken on board people's concerns about a particular street and has quietly dealt with it. A previous PCSO tackled some vandalism by visiting the family whose children were causing mayhem and again dealt with it at home without any self-seeking publicity. The current PCSO has increased patrols in areas of concern and made himself widely available to chat to residents. No need for TDC officers or councillors to get involved and problem, hopefully, sorted, at least for the time being.

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  2. Mark all I can say is I am still waiting for my councilor to drop a leaflet through my door but then Panama is a long way to come.

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  3. Anon 8.32 I think Westgate is an interesting example but this is not a party political point as I know there are some Labour representatives who can at times think of self publicity ahead of the best interests of the community. It saddens me that Simon Moores hypes up Westgate as being a place with alcoholics, street drunkenness and regular anti-social behaviour. I know some businesses and residents there depair at this negative publicity, knowing it will drive casual shoppers away and damage the community's wider reputation. All these things happen, but the way they are reported is in my view out of proportion to the actual problem. It also seems to miss the point that I know when dealing with similar youths elsewhere that they are trying to provoke a reaction, and enjoy reading about themselves in the paper or on the web, see bebo for gangs behaving badly. It is not easy, but there is a balance to be struck and publicising incessantly relatively minor problems rather than reporting them and resolving on them is not the best way.
    Every community will have the occasional person who is out in public the worse for wear, indeed some of them are even councillors!

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