Yesterday afternoon as I was out and about in Clacton, there was yet another stabbing.
I don't know the full facts. But I know enough to know that enough is enough. There have been far too many violent incidents in Clacton over the past year or so - many involving knives.
For too long we have been told that the problem is one of perception about crime. It isn't. The problem is too much crime - and too much tolerance of the low level disorder that breeds it.
The local criminal justice system needs to recognise there is a real problem - and start to deal with it.
What needs to change?
There is far too much tolerance of drunken disorder in the town. Only yesterday morning, a local mum sent me a message on facebook saying she no longer felt she could sit by the fountain in the town square because of the drunks.
What happened to the order prohibiting drinking in the streets? Why is it not enforced? How many people have been nicked for being drunk in the centre of town over the past month? If none, then why?
How many people have been arrested and prosecuted for drug dealing in the district in recent months?
If we abandon the centre of our town to trouble makers, to the extent that a local mum feels she cannot sit by the fountain with her small children, we are asking for trouble.
I would welcome more initiatives in schools to warn young people of the dangers of carrying a knife. But it must not be a substitute for changing the way we police the town. Perhaps we should ask why the police not use their considerable stop and search powers as a deterent too?
Several local officers I've listened to tell me that part of the problem is the Crown Prosecution Service. The reason they don't always do more, they imply, is that the public prosecutors won't follow it through the courts. If this is so, then we need to start holding the public prosecutors directly to account.
Clacton is a wonderful town. Things do not need to be the way they were yesterday afternoon. If the criminal justice system responds to local concerns, we can make sure they aren't.
Of course there are broader social issues involved. But the most immediate response must be to change the way Clacton is policed - and the way wrong doers are prosecuted.
This November, local people will have the power to elect a local Police Commissioner with the power to ensure that we change the way we police Clacton. Let's make sure it happens.blog comments powered by Disqus
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