Sunday 22 October 2006 2.02pm
As a former muggee on Bermondsey Street
and a 10-year resident at Leathermarket Court, I was mildly elated a couple of months back to discover bobbies (or at least one) on the beat in my neighbourhood. And with the massive inflow of yuppies this year, I had begun to think the dodgy days of my 'hood were pretty much over.
But just now I've been unsettled by:
1) A black, hooded youth on a bicycle clearly scouting out the cars (and maybe doors) on what he hoped was a quiet Sunday afternoon. Since I was returning home on my own bike I cycled close to him for a few moments to let him know he wasn't alone. But becoming suddenly nervous that he might turn on me I phoned 999, as I have done on a number of occasions before and since my mugging. The police are supposed to encourage such pre-emptive behaviour, except that ...
2) the woman I was put through checked her database and said she had no record of Leathermarket Court. She had a Leathermarket Street
and a Leathermarket Gardens
. I said this was the first time in my 10 years living here that anyone at her end had had a problem with the address.
The conversation went rapidly downhill as she accused me of hassling her, or something like that. Since it will have been recorded, I'm confident that a replay would show nothing of the kind. I was stunned by the amateurishness of it all: the operator seemed to have no idea what part of London I was calling from and equally seemed in no hurry to find out. I was depressed by the fact that this is no way to stop any potential thief, or worse.
The youth appeared to have gone while we were talking, but I was left with an unpleasant, time-wasting altercation. So I brought it to an unsatisfactory end, wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do next time I try to be a responsible citizen??!
PS - Remember that news story the other day, about the woman in Hampstead who called the police when an intruder broke into her home? They were too busy to come.
What a complete shambles!