Community crime fighting?

Firstly, let me apologise for the lack of a blog post yesterday. A combination of unforeseen circumstances that completely ruined my schedule would be a nice way of putting it. However, I will discuss today what I meant to discuss yesterday. Anti-social behaviour conflict training.

 

Some of you will have read about this. The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) have said that members of the public should be given training to tackle anti-social behaviour. Author of this report, Ben Rogers, has said, “With the real prospect of traditional police patrolling being scaled back, now is surely the time to focus seriously on agreeing the core skills that active citizens need – individually or collectively – if they’re to step up to the mark. The Coalition Government has signalled its determination to encourage and support citizens to ‘have a go’ and intervene to stop criminal behaviour. But to do this – citizens need training – and the Government needs a strategy if these emerging ideas are to be supported and developed.”

 

Personally, I’m in favour of the theory. The report says that we’ve become a nation of people who walk on past trouble and ignore it. I identify the fact that society and a sense of community have become so fragmented as a key issue here. There used to be an incentive to keep neighbourhoods free of bad behaviour, there used to be that little thing called stigma which tarnished the families involved. These days that stigma is used almost as a badge of honour, much like Anti-Social Behaviour Orders were themselves. Saying that ordinary people need to get involved is not rocket-science but Ben Rogers is right to say that government support is needed. The sting in the tail comes when the report admits that the police don’t currently have the resources to offer the training which, in turn, is made all the more necessary by the fall in police numbers. I’d laugh if it wasn’t such a serious issue.

 

Community needs to be at the heart of everything. It’s the only way I can see to make people feel like they’re a part of something and give them an incentive to keep their area crime-free and pleasant. Perhaps one way you foster community relations is by giving communities decision-making powers or at least make them feel as though they’re involved in decisions made about their area. Localism, as offered by the current government, is supposed to help this but I’m so far failing to see the impact. If you have experience of Localism in its current form please let me know in the comments.

 

The peril of advice such as this is that it will backfire. Sometime, somewhere, somebody will be hurt following this advice. Only then, I think, will we see the true impact of the advice on local communities. Either things have to get worse before they get better or we’re in a downward spiral that won’t end – I honestly don’t know which it’ll be.

 

Lucy Brown

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