High Street Problems and Hill Street Blues!

After the Riot - High Road Tottenham
Image by Alan Stanton via Flickr

One week on from the malaise that so violently hit our High Streets up and down the land, in such a tumultuous and intensely grotesque fashion, where do we actually go from here?

Despite the (tenuous) correlations between the problems faced by the MPS last week on Tottenham High Road and the issues faced by the 14th Hill Street Precinct et al, our set of ‘Blues’ are (mostly) a whole different ball game!

Tottenham may be getting back to normality now but there has already been a myriad of (mostly) knee-jerk comment as to the cause of those miserable events. However, all the subsequent political and sociological talk about “the way forward” after “lessons learned” is likely to result in little more than all the previous clouds of hot air that generally emanates from our Parliament in Westminster. Despite their often and vociferous indignation to the contrary, many of our political leaders are sadly and woefully out of touch with the realities impacting upon the majority of their electorate.

As I explained previously in my piece on community, in many respects the recent events have shown we are rioting down the road to hell. The majority of public-spirited and level-headed intelligent individuals are desperately searching for answers to stop the rot in our social decline. These people must be encouraged and supported (financially where necessary) by us all, especially if we have any realistic expectations that the correct answers are to be gleaned from their endeavours.

Communities cannot “arrest their way out” of gang crime, the prime minister’s new crime adviser, US “supercop” Bill Bratton, has warned…(bbc.co.uk)

Although the media is making much of the value in consulting with the likes of Chief Bill Bratton and Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the States, all they achieved needs to be taken in context. It would be totally wrong to look at the experiences of a nation such as the USA in isolation. Many good things may have been born from the methods they employed however; it has to be remembered and understood, much of their community and neighbourhood policing methods were modeled on the inventors of that original ideology… The British police service, before it lost its way that is!

Most British perception of policing in the USA actually comes from our TV screens, be it one you actually paid for or looted from Argos! Importantly, most of it is fiction and although often based upon fact, it is designed solely for its entertainment value. In general the likes of Dirty Harry, Serpico and the team at Hill Street Blues allways succeed in their often unenviable task, to clean up the streets, get the bad guy and put him/her behind bars.

It’s the fictional stuff of idealistic dreams, political rhetoric and dogma; good prevailing over bad but realistically, that nirvana only ever gets close to reality when we ALL pull our weight. Politicians, Police Officers and the communities they serve, ALL working tirelessly and seamlessly in harmony for the common good of ALL. Without personal agenda!

Today many of us (in particular our youth) live life in an almost constant state of virtual reality. Hidden behind a TV or computer screen, or playing out make-believe existances via their X-Box. Totally out of touch with any of the issues and problems that actually impact upon their quality of life. The only issues that spark any reaction tend to be those of a materialistic nature. We need to get real, unless our desire is to replicate Paul Kersey’s Death Wish that is, simply because we have failed in our social duty.

If we are to have any hope of preventing similar occurrences in the future, there has to be a sea change in the ideology of our political masters. In addition, there also has to be a massive change in the methodology employed by many Senior Management Teams within the police service. The days of self-serving political point scoring and self-promoting career advancement must come to an end.

The policing process has to be freed up from all the bureaucratic shackles that stymie its performance. More importantly, politicians and the public at large must get behind the methods employed by a highly trained and professional organisation, one whose sole aim is to protect and serve them… Without all the benefits of post incident hindsight.

The question is; do we realistically want to be able to learn from theses events, understand all the underlying causation factors and move forward for a change? Do we want to actually repair our broken society or, as many appear to be happy with, just muddle along in our own small self-centered worlds?

Whatever we decide to do and however we do it… Let’s be careful out there!

2 thoughts on “High Street Problems and Hill Street Blues!

  1. I suspect all that was ‘new’ in this lot of riots was the intensity of the attacks past a hard to define tipping point. I haven’t heard much sense. My suspicion is the problem is ever-present in certain areas, but the targets less ‘obvious’ and bagged up as ‘anti-social’. In a strange way, these riots may have attacked the ’cause’ more directly than miserable vandalism and focus on disabled kids and the like. I’d guess 70% of places hit by police since the events could have been taken down anytime.
    I note ‘broken windows’ is totally misunderstood as a response – a recent statement from West Midlands being particularly vain and stupid.


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