Friday, 22 January 2010

Fear of crime is a real problem

At the risk of looking as if I'm sucking up there are two really excellent posts on Brockley Central today. I'll talk about schools tomorrow.

The other article is where they point to the reduction in the crime rate in Lewisham. This is something that is well worth highlighting to counteract some sections of the press and political parties who try to whip up fear of crime for their own short term gain (readers or voters respectively).

Lewisham (and Crofton Park specifically) is not a high crime area. There are problems, of course there are, mainly low level anti-social behaviour but more serious crimes too. It's important that we don't try to make political capital out of these events which are thankfully, still, rare.

There's nothing more nauseating than a would be politician excitedly salivating at a local incident, using somebodies personal tragedy to try to paint an unrealistic picture of what society looks like.

Last month I had someone on the doorstep who said to me "Was it the Greens or the Lib Dems who put out that leaflet that really annoyed me?" I knew the answer to that one, looked him straight in the eye, and said "Sir, that was the Liberal Democrats."

It turned out it was (whew!) as they've been pumping out literature that really focuses on crime, making people feel there's a crime wave going on. There isn't, and thankfully many residents can see that.

It's serious because the solution to crime is a strong community that looks after each other. The fear of crime, where people look on each other with suspicion, undermines that leaving everyone more vulnerable. The only long term solution to social problems is a more social society. A sensationalist approach turns every group of lads chatting on the corner into potential muggers when really they are far more likely to be potential neighbours.


bob said...

Good post.

Lewisham has one of the lowest crime rates in inner London, and Crofton Park is one of the safer areas of Lewisham.

But it is hard to escape the sense of danger in this sort of urban area. In the winter, I stopped a burgler from smashing my neighbour's window in the middle of the day, as I happened to be working at home to nurse a terrible cold. The week before last, my walk home was extended half an hour due to the whole of the main road between Brockley and Crofton Park being closed off. A kid had been stabbed in rush hour. As a watcher of Silent Witness, my other half, who went past the next day, told me the blood spatters were pretty extensive. And then at the weekend walking through Ladywell Fields, I wondered why there were so many other people, until one of them told me that Catford Bridge was closed due to another stabbing, I think of a minicab driver.

Many liberal types tend not to think crime is a big issue - because they don't live in inner city areas.

Jim Jepps said...

Thanks Bob. I hadn't heard about the Catford Bridge stabbing.

Crime is a serious issue but how we try to deal with it can make life worse rather than better.

These stabbings are good examples because it's very bad if you've been stabbed, or it's your loved one that's the victim - but that have a far wider impact because they also make everyone feel unsafe and worried about strangers.

It's only natural and I'm certainly not immune from that.

I think what I'm trying to say is two things, dealing with crime as a social problem rather than a simple issue of policing is going to be more effective in the long run.

And building that sense of community helps makes us all safer - but is also a very worthy aim in itself.