Friday, 1 August 2008

More Violence Disrupts Our Community

It is becoming almost the norm to pick up the Glasgow South & Eastwood Extra and to find yourself confronted by yet another tale of violent crime in once peaceful East Renfrewshire.

This weeks edition, (July 31st 2008), details two serious assaults in the Thornliebank area over the course of the past week. In the more serious of the two incidents the victim remains in a stable condition at the Southern General Hospital and police are asking residents to come forward with information because they "would have heard the disturbance or the car driving off at high speed".

The thing that really strikes me about this report is that police believe local residents have information they are apparently not willing to volunteer. This is something that somehow does not seem surprising in today's society and yet in years gone by the thought of not doing ones public duty, by coming forward to give vital evidence to the police, would have seemed ridiculous.

So, how do we ensure our police and local communities become closer to one another? I believe this is as simple as continuous 'dialogue' and making the Police directly accountable to the communities they serve.

One vital first step toward better communication is getting more "campus cops" into our schools, so that young people grow up both seeing and communicating with police officers. The things you learn in your youth help shape your attitudes in later life and I can't believe our Labour led Council voted down the Conservative 2008 budget amendment that would have put more "campus cops" into East Renfrewshire's schools.

The second thing we should do, to improve society's attitude to helping police, is to make our police far more accountable to the people they serve. I have previously advocated, on this blog site, the election of Chief Constables, citing the experience of communities in the USA in support of this policy. I don't want our police to become politicised but I do want local people to know whether their Chief Constable shares their law and order priorities and I want them to be able to pass judgement on whether they believe their Chief Constable has succeeded in delivering better policing to their local area.

I don't believe local people don't want safer streets, better communities and to feel they are able to help their police. It seems to me our police are simply experiencing a crisis of confidence in their ability to effectively protect those willing to come forward with information and to improve the security of local neighbourhoods. I believe we must start a two way dialogue between police and community at an early age and continue this in later life by making our police accountable to their local communities. After all, we all have a vested interest in the success of our Police Force!

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