So much for enhanced local policing!

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Sunday 22 October 2006 3.02pm
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!
Sunday 22 October 2006 8.51pm
Vicd, I'm sorry you were the victim of a mugging, and also sorry that you had a bad experience with the police operator on this occasion. But play this recent incident back in your mind. Are you sure there's nothing you'd rather have done differently? Like politely telling the operator: "Leathermarket Court. It's a development off Leathermarket Street". And what about the way in which you reported it on this forum? Why exactly did you tell us that this would-be car-thief (burglar, mugger...) was black?
Sunday 22 October 2006 10.47pm
VidD - I had a not dissimilar experience on calling CrimeStoppers. The operator demanded to know my name and other details, despite it being advertised as a confidential and anonymous 'service'.
Sunday 22 October 2006 11.50pm
Richard S, please don't patronise me. It goes without saying that I tried to be straight-forward and polite, as any recording of the phone call will attest.

But you may be familiar with ye olde expression "time is of the essence", especially when you are concerned that you personally may be about to be attacked. And when the 999 operator continually repeats that they don't have your dwelling place on their database - and don't seem willing or able to offer any further help - then no amount of "politeness" will make any damn difference!

I mentioned his skin colour because I believed it was a relevant fact. I'll let you into a secret: my Bermondsey Street mugger was b...k and so was my brother's mugger on Weston Street.

But we wouldn't want to go advertising that awkward fact, would we, Mr. Politically Correct?

Oh, didi I mention that I once spent hours in the Amelia Street police station giving a statement about a WHITE youth whom I caught thieving in Leathermarket Court?

Does that even it up a bit??
Monday 23 October 2006 12.15am
vicd wrote:

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.

"Leathernarket Court" is an official street is it? Isn't it the name for a group of buildings on Leathermarket Street?
Monday 23 October 2006 1.03am
It certainly is. And most address databases have had it clearly on their records for donkey's years. That is why it is so bizarre, and depressing, that today's 999 operator was so adamant that it wasn't listed. Because without overcoming that little hurdle our conversation could not proceed.

Such are the delights of barking-mad bureaucracy.
Monday 23 October 2006 12.29pm
These posts often remind me of the 70's film Network.

"I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE"

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but thought crime is only punisable in the worlds of George Orwell and Philip K. Dick.

If it was an arrestable offence to look a bit shifty,I would be writing this from Bellmarsh.
Monday 23 October 2006 1.00pm
nigel - the thought you have offered should definitely be classified as a crime.
Monday 23 October 2006 1.27pm
vicd seems to have a thing about the police...

http://www.london-se1.co.uk/forum/read/1/48326/page=8
Monday 23 October 2006 1.38pm
VicD, maybe you're not aware of this, but it is not illegal to wear a hooded top; neither is possesion of black skin and offence.

I should hope we live in a society that does not seek to judge whether a person is guilty of a crime, or guilty of having the potential to commit a crime, because of the way they look.

You offer no evidence that this "black" "hooded" "youth" committed any crime. And yet, you called 999, which is a service for people who have either witnessed a crime, or are in a genuine emergency.

Simply being prejudiced about the way a person looks is not what I would call a genuine emergency.

I am simply basing my opinion of this matter on the tone of your post, and the way you described the situation. Perhaps if you could elaborate a bit on anything about the boy's behaviour that could be used to "reasonably" assess whether a crime was about to take place?
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