SNT panel meeting on 13 October 2010

Our venue had been changed from the swish Days Hotel to the Keddlestone Walk Community Centre, which replaced the expected buffet evening meal with chocolate bars. I must say I did enjoy the  flapjacks bites with chocolate covering.

On to the serious matter of the meeting. The discussion went around the function of the SNT panel and that members have no voting choice in what the priorities of the SNT are but have an input function and get reports from the police to keep up-to-date, which is in my view very appropriate because we as panel members do not have an equal say to the police in how they spend their budget and use their intelligence, to which we have no access.

The Safer Neighbourhoods Policing method is seen as a failure because it shows that very few officers are expected to police a geographical area on a shift pattern when they are not always available to do so. Whereby I threw in that as long as crime numbers are down, that this is all that matters to us. It was conceived as important that there are direct discussion meetings with the police over policing methods and also the point of some people not wanting to speak to the police directly was brought up again.

A useful policing strategy is the compilation of victim’s matrix, which involved the wider social scene surrounding a victim. That of course requires that all victims, even those of low level crime, e.g. anti-social behaviour tell all to give a better picture.

We received the police activity report for August – 13 October. This does not include the latest incident on Parkview Estate, whereby a group of youth, stole a parked car from behind Sidney House, drove around the street, broke through the fence behind Sankey House, drove around the small grassed area to exit again and then returned the car to its original parking space. The fence is still  hanging dangerously into the footpath entrance to St. James the Less Avenue. Perhaps that incident was not dealt with by the SNT but the MET police and therefore is not on the SNT report.

The report shows there was no GBH, which is good, the SNT team actioned 284 calls to their mobex, 1 warning letter was issued to a resident, 3 cycles were seized and other statistics, which I will explain at the next TRA meeting on Tuesday 19 October 2010 at the Glasshouse at 7.15pm. All Parkview Residents welcome, I shall represent the Neighbourhood Watch and also be there as member of the SNT panel and of the Tower Hamlets Police & Community Safety Board.

The former priority of St. Peters Estate has been abandoned because problems were calmed down by an excellent SNT operation over a few months. The new priorities are Teesdale Close Estate, Parkview Estate, Cycling on pavements.

Teesdale Estate is well represented at the panel, and I represent Parkview and have spent a long time knocking on doors and holding events to convince residents that ringing the SNT help line or the Tower Hamlets anti-social help line will reap benefits for us.

More plain clothes police officers now operate on Parkview Estate as we suffer from drug dealing and anti-social behaviour, some of it to do with the playground behind Mark House. Yet as I pointed out that this playground is used by the age group of people who it is for, namely children of school age who use it after school and in the early evening. The planters were put in the fashion as they are for mechanical reasons.

Cycling on the Pavements discussion brought interesting results in that the police officer said that whenever he attends a cyclist meeting they complain about the danger from cars and when he attends a residents meeting they complain about the danger from cyclists.

I have experience of both being a resident and a cyclist as I worked as a cycle courier in the West End when it was still open to traffic around Oxford Street and all around London. I can see both sides of the coin.

Now as a pedestrian I think many cyclist behave unpredictable in that they suddenly change direction, move from the road onto pavements, cut traffic lights and cut across pavements and shoot out into the road and never stop at traffic lights or zebra crossings when pedestrians are entitled to do cross as a priority to traffic. Whilst I very much welcome the Mayor’s and Council’s cycling initiatives not enough is being done to put up “No cycling on the pavement” signs. Whilst cyclists think they can control their bikes and move quickly along, negotiating around pedestrians, for the pedestrians and especially old and small people, cyclists appear like a danger and a frightening danger at that.

I think cyclists have to dig deep into their own conscience and behave responsibly, not cutting across pavements, not ignoring traffic rules and not ignoring traffic lights and not thinking that the footpath along Rosebery House is a cycling racing track. On Parkview Estate especially residents have complaint about the parents from Gatehouse School using our estate as a racing track and shortcut with their cycles.

As for the problem of drug dealing I said the problem has to be approached on commercial terms, drug use is a problem of demand and availability as any other product but that people should be made not to want to buy drugs in the first instance. (I will not deal with the health problem of addiction and after-care here).

There is a problem that youth loiter in streets, men and youth buy drink and cigarettes, often under-age and consume it in the street, pubs have been closed down because customers start arguing with each other instead of just enjoying their drinks.

My personal instinct is, that what it needs is a brave commercial investor that will prize away that money that is spent on drugs and street drinking and channels it into well thought out family entertainment. I think the key lays in Holiday camp type entertainment, whereby we get large halls for the whole family with live entertainment and loud (within the decibels prescribed by law) music that keeps people fascinated so that they do not wish to be aggressive and destructive. Those millions that are spent on drugs can be spend on something else, it is just that we need to make it more attractive to people to spend the money differently.

I am completely against legalizing drugs but I am for a different approach to our social needs and because our social needs are not adequately addressed, we have a lot of social problems. Obviously people spend a lot of time at work and then at home but where do they socially mix and meet?

Our social problems today are in my view a result of feeling lonely for many and wanting to mix for others. TV and in-house electronic entertainment is not sufficient and does not fulfil people’s needs and business have to prize themselves away from their business strategy to deliver everything to the home but instead get people out of the home into social areas where meeting is made into a positive experience.

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