There are no police on out streets any more and we cop the consequences
Among all the useful, interesting stuff I’ve done this week, I also paid a parking fine.
ONE HUNDRED and TEN pounds. For being two minutes over the period I’d paid for. I hadn’t deliberately evaded a thing. And yet I was criminalised. And punished.
This took place just three minutes’ walk away from Clapham South, my local tube station in London, now the location of a floral, candle-lit shrine in memory of 17-year-old Malcolm Mide-Madariola, who was stabbed to death there last Friday evening.
I remember exactly where I was when the news flashed up on my phone because I texted a friend, who, like me, has teenage boys.
We’d been talking earlier that day about how our local Common increasingly resembles the Wild West, with muggings and theft almost commonplace.
“Jesus!” she texted back. Indeed. And there’d be more chance of Jesus cruising around our neighbourhood than a serving police officer. There are hordes of traffic wardens, like mosquitos on their mopeds, punishing people for simply forgetting, or overstaying their welcome, but no visible police presence whatsoever.
I now walk past the memorial to Malcolm Mide-Madariola each time I travel into town, a daily reminder of how, in the current climate, it could so easily have been anyone’s child.
The day before it happened, my youngest son’s friend was mugged and had his bike and phone stolen. This is now commonplace, yet I can’t remember the last time I spotted a police officer. I think it was when my eldest son was around four or five years old (he’s 19 now) and he was behaving badly, so I marched him into nearby Lavender Hill police station.
Luckily they knew me, so they gave him a tour of the cells and sent him home with a bad behaviour warning and a Metropolitan Police helmet! He’s still got it.
That police station, along with most of the others in the area, is now closed. There is no noticeable police presence whatsoever, despite the huge increase in muggings and murders.
However, there are armies of traffic wardens. There are meters everywhere. We have to pay for costly resident parking permits to park outside our own bloody houses. But no local police stations.
There are many causes for the increase in knife crime and gang culture, but it doesn’t help that while heartbroken, bereaved families inhabit their own personal hell, our Tory-led society blares out the chillingly hard message that profit is king, working-class life is disposable and public services are for losers.
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