Whilst agreeing with the Mayor that we don’t live in Beirut, here are my thoughts.
- The 1st fact is that the old adage that there are “Lies, Damn lies and statistics” still holds true.
- The 2nd fact is that there is no way in hell that any kind of optimistic gloss can be put on 3 serious knife crimes in 3 years in a small town like Holsworthy.
- Put simply there are no such things as prevention and deterrence of crime nowadays. Particularly in predominantly rural areas. The police force is reactive rather than proactive, and the reaction is often slow, too slow. The police themselves and the political authorities from the government down, are failing in their primary duty to protect the public and preserve law and order.
- Reasons such as cuts in budget are advanced. Who’s fault is that? Certainly my contributions have not gone down, and I query if any of us should be paying through the nose for Police officers to be stationed in Okehampton (nearly as bad as Devon docs, but that’s another story!)
- There are other factors to be considered. We have double the population we had when I was a boy, and less than half the Police. How sensible is that? (another day we could consider other deficiencies in the infrastructure). Housing associations have to take some responsibility in this situation, sending problem families and individuals to a town without the facilities to deal with them is just criminally incompetent. We had the same problem with the ‘Green Flats’ and private landlords back along, and we saw what ensued (and I hear that some of the previous tenants are creeping back) is Torridge doing anything about that? or the Police?
- Drugs are a huge problem in the area. At least one dealer is well known, and is also known to use the passageway from the square to the Manor grounds as a dealing site. WHY is this tolerated? I hear allegations about other premises in the town. Are they going to be dealt with? (preferably sooner rather than later)
- With due respect to most landlords in the town, whose premises remain pretty well run, Holsworthy has never had a properly instituted and enforced ‘Pubwatch’. Where disorderly behaviour in any premises leads to a universal ban for example. I remember from my time on the licensing committee that in towns where serious Pubwatches were introduced, that noticeable improvements were noted at once. Failure to cooperate with such schemes should lead to suspension of late night licenses, etc. The scheme should extend to licensed premises in neighbouring parishes. Such measures should help prevent fool hardy, but understandable ‘Vigilante’ actions such as exacerbated the recent problems in town. As landlords could control their clientele more easily (if the landlord isn’t stupid himself).
- Lastly, I plead with both the Police, the crown prosecution service, the Magistracy and the Higher courts to treat despicable crimes of violence, particularly those using weapons, with appropriate severity. Ultimately the government must enforce this. I do not wish to hear about the ‘Human rights’ of knife wielding lunatics. Common sense dictates that the rights of the law abiding majority take precedence
PS: Reporting crime has been made increasingly difficult, I would like the authorities to take their 101 service and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.
These are the private views of Richard ‘Doc’ Brown. Resident of Holsworthy.