Having taken a 14yo girl to the Borough police station a couple of time because she has been harrassed and assaulted I consider them a complete waste of time.
The officer behind the desk, away from where you stand, cannot be bothered to move from where he is. It is a real joy watching a 14yo with egg still in her hair being told it is the lowest form of harrasment and they cannot be bothered to deal with it. Or even be bothered to log the complaint from what I saw. I guess there must be some entertainment value watching someone tell how they have been humiliated and assaulted with no regard to confidentiality and to belittle the victim.
But they are happy to respond because someone does not like teenagers sitting near where they live and are happy to harras them and move them on?
I realy am not surprised there is a problem in Southwark with this sort of issue, no one seems to want to know until someone gets killed or is seriously beaten up. The kids think its a joke because they know nothing will happen if complaints are made against them, and for some their parents just don't care, kids will be kids.
The odd occassion we have called the police in they turn up a few hours later when everything has blown over and there is nothing they can do.
>The main thing is, don't let them see you taking pictures or get yourself linked to the police<
Sadly it seems the real thing to do is to ignore what is going on around you and keep quiet. Oh sympathise with the victims when no one can over hear you, but don't do anything which might attract attention to yourself. Even mumble and groan among yourselves but don't get involved directly.
Yes the police do have a role to play, and these things should be reported. But experience elsewhere has shown it is when the community decides to reclaim it streets back and to stand up to these bullies (not assault them) that changes realy happen.
Having children in this area was an eye opener. There are very few accessible facilities, and those that there are (Family Links, SE1 United, and the Neighbourhood Nursery and after-school and holiday provision, indeed the new swimming pool leisure complex) seem centred around Coin Street and elsewhere there is very, very little.
I am acutely aware that though our kids are now old enough to access some of the area's world class facilities such as the Tate Modern, the War Museum, the Imax, and the Aquarium, they still spend a lot of time going out of the area for more ordinary things (kids club cinema at the Clapham Picture House, Battersea Park, the Queen Mother Leisure Centre etc.) The kids you are talking about probably don't do any of these things.
Long term members of the Forum will know all about the campaign, started by a group of us who met at a play group, to save the largest park in SE1. In 2000 there were serious proposals to turn it into a private tennis centre. It is blindingly obvoius that if you take away the little that those with least have, they are not going to feel part of our society. In order to be able to articulate this wider need by a group who, inevitably, had a pretty middle class membership, we started outreach activities, like open days, Easter Egg hunts, and a football scheme. The latter, delivered by Fulham Football in the Community has at times attracted up to 80 kids, and there was an immediate follow through in that kids across the area seemed to be kicking footballs. (Not great on estates, but better than hanging out.) Fulham noted that a number of teenagers were willling to get out of bed and be there at 10.00 on a Saturday, which they saw as proof that there was nothing else.
We fund-raised and got money from a host of different sources for about three years. I loved it in that kids hanging out in the street, the sort of scarey ones, would say hi. A group of 18 year old hoddies on the bus were a lot less threatening when I recognised one as the lovely and caring uncle of a child my son's age.
Currently there are complications in that the local SRB then agreed to provide longer term funding. (It only costs £6,000 a year and has to be good value for money, several kids have had trials and a couple at least have got into Fulham's academy, whilst Fulham have trained coaches as part of a youth unemployment literacy and numeracy programme, and have employed them. The coaches have also been quick to control bolshie behaviour and have intervened when school bullying has carried across into the scheme. ) However one condition was that they wanted someone else to run it.
As long as there is funding this does not matter. But the funding runs out in March 06 and I cannot get an answer on whether I will be able to start fundraising again. Fulham, as I am, are keen to keep the scheme going, but you need to start bidding now if funding is to be in place by March. I also need to find a vehicle to fund-raise through as I am not sure our group has since gotten involved with other things and this may no longer be a priority. Classic SRB problems. The programme was target driven and so schemes have had to adapt to meet the targets, but long term sustainability depends on low cost bases and voluntary support.
The message is that there is scope to do something positive instead of just calling the police. There are a host of good organisations who are struggling. Blackfriars springs to mind, but also lots of church run and other stuff. Organise something and stick a few notices by the bins on your local estate and the kids will come. Many of the Friends of Parks groups in Lambeth have done similar, supported by Fulham, and the uptake has been brilliant with borough wide tournaments and so on.
AND.....I suspect that I will be asked to start fundraising again for the Archbishops Scheme. (The park is in Sports Action Zone, so it is their call. Equally they may have other funding.) If anyone out there knows of a local firm who might be interested in providing either a one-off grant or longer term funding, this is a really good way of delivering real change and opportunity. If SAZ are able to keep the scheme going without volunteer involvement , Fulham can use the money to run holiday schemes. Again a good way to keep kids off the street during the long summer holidays.