Thursday, 23 September 2010

Law and Order

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has produced an interesting report (pdf file) on Anti-Social Behaviour.  It sets out the situation well that in terms of law and order the focus has been upon law while the harm of disorder de-prioritised.

"The truth is that despite its high public profile in recent years, ASB does not have the same status as ‘crime’ for the police. There are consequences to this.

Very importantly, the public draw no meaningful distinction between crime and ASB.  They exist on the same spectrum of bad or very bad behaviour. The public find it immaterial that the most insidious individual incidents of ‘pestering’, ‘taunting’ or ‘targeting’ individuals – including the most vulnerable - may not qualify technically as “crimes” with a prospect of prosecution. They dislike ASB, worry about reporting it,and are intimidated in significant numbers when they do.

However, for some people in policing and some outside, dealing with issues that qualify as crime is ‘real police work’. After all, for almost 20 years the police record of accomplishment and failure has been expressed, increasingly strongly, in terms of crime statistics. Meanwhile, the “non-qualifying” ASB issue, and its variants, that signal lack of control on our streets, have grown and evolved in intensity and harm."

Locally, there is no reason to believe that the PSNI's ability to deal with the issue is any better than their English and Welsh equivalents.  This inability has a broader ramification for Northern Ireland as it is a means of dissidents inveigling themselves into communities.

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