David Blackburn

The police retreat from the streets

The police retreat from the streets
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Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has published a crushing verdict on the police’s handling of anti-social behaviour. It finds that the police simply aren’t sufficiently visible on the street, which concurs with the conclusion of an earlier report into value for money policing.

There’s an old copper’s joke about holidays. ‘I’m going where there’s not a copper in sight.’ ‘Moss Side?’ comes the reply. HMIC’s central finding is that deprived areas are utterly benighted by constant antisocial behaviour, and the police have steadily withdrawn from these ghettos, thinking that tackling antisocial behaviour is 'not proper police work'.

Fear of reprisal discourages public neighbourhood schemes. 71 percent of respondents to a survey claimed to have witnessed antisocial behaviour, and 32 percent of respondents (and 43 percent of disabled respondents) experienced intimidation after confronting yobs in the absence of the police.

Realistically, the prevalence of antisocial behaviour is too much for the police to contain. Its reported incidence stands at 3.5 million a year versus a total crime incidence rate of 4.3million. This report’s implicit and depressing upshot is that there are certain parts of the country which are no-go areas for the people who live them.