Friday 24 September 2010

The Bronx, Bad Behaviour and Bottles

Three news items on successive days: (1) recalling how the pre-80s Bronx was a derelict no-go area, virtually a "war zone" where houses could not even be given away (they are now changing hands for millions); (2) yesterday's report from the Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Denis O'Connor saying the Police "did not regard anti-social behaviour as real crime", and (3) today's report that Dr Alasdair Forsyth, from the Glasgow Centre for the Study of Violence, is calling for city pubs to stop serving drinks in glasses and use plastic instead.

I can't be the only person to see a link here. The O'Connor report shows how important it is that the Police act on anti-social behaviour, which they "[do] not regard... as real crime and [are] slow to act [on]". The public don't agree: 45% (3.5m) of calls to the Police relate to it.

The New York story shows the ultimate consequence of ignoring anti-social behaviour: you end up with a war zone where citizens (and even Police) can't venture. How was it reclaimed? By cracking down first on "low-level" crime and anti-social behaviour.

Today's call to ban glasses illustrates another, more insidious consequence of failing to Police properly - the suggestions that we all suffer in order to reduce the availability of 'weapons' to the tiny minority.

The O'Connor report says the Police need to 'reclaim the streets'. It is about time they did - and the Government need to back them to do so. The (many) laws against anti-social behaviour, public drunkenness etc. need to be enforced. It is a slippery slope towards the (pre-80s) Bronx - and deciding to ban beer glasses rather than crack down on drunkenness and brawling may be a step down that slope.

Spivs and Gamblers...?

Vince Cable got some easy cheers by railing against City "spivs and gamblers" - how comforting to be able to blame our ills on those nasty fat cats.

The banking bailout, on current figures, looks as if it will break even or even make the taxpayer a profit. Meanwhile banks and finance contribute a huge proportion of UK taxes - and now salaries and bonuses will be taxed at 50%.

What would you call those who run an organisation for years, borrowing £1 for every £4 they spend of shareholders' money, leaving others to pick up the tab in the future? The man in charge of the purse strings of this organisation for a decade was fond of using the word "prudence" in every speech. Some might say that they were nearer the "spivs and gamblers" end of the spectrum.