Why are Bristol police so desperate prove Bristol is safe.
Several years ago I was told by a police officer, Bristol is getting more dangerous, especially for youths. He told me that young gang culture, especially among young girls was on the up and police just did not know how to deal with it.
Recently I wrote two stories for Western Eye regarding several instances of sex attacks across the Bristol area. I spoke to the police to get advice for young females on how to stay safe fearing for the safety of our females heading off campus. Chief Superintendent Andy Francis told me, ‘Bristol is very safe, don’t forget!’
Taken aback by this comment… I thought hang on, what’s changed then!?
On the 16th December 2008, with these thoughts in my mind, I came across a large gang of police officers with guns and sniffer dogs in the centre of Cabot Circus early in the morning. I walked past thinking, what now a suspected terrorist attack, a shooting, a large scale robbery of one of the new shops!? It was happily none of these. Nor anything my over active imagination could have dreamed up. The real reason the police were there was to put on a show, to introduce themselves, their dogs and specialist equipment to Bristol’s Christmas shoppers. They aimed to illustrate how safe Bristol is with a set of smartly dressed armed officers, who were, to be honest not doing an awful lot.
It is clear that the Bristol police from numerous press releases and increased contact with the public are trying to encourage us to feel safer in our community. Yet their desperation to prove such a thing is not very reassuring. Speaking to the Bristol public it is clear that certain areas are still feeling neglected and crime is prevailing over police action. A young resident in Staple Hill told me how his flat has been burgled several times over the last few months; as a result he is now living alone as his former flat mates have all moved out in fear. Distressingly the police have never caught the people continuously raiding their house, and seem to have made little real effort to.
There is no doubt that a general feeling arose from seeing several burley policeman leisurely strutting about the city centre, stopping for question time occasionally, actually led to anger and frustration for many Bristol residents.
Aside from what could be seen as a waste of police resources. There aim in itself appears mislead. Feeling secure in your own society is a great thought. Yet feeling extremely secure in some areas of Bristol can only be ignorant and dangerous. For example, a lady who was recently attacked in the Fishponds area was led out of the safety of a well lit area, by a person asking for help, only to find herself a victim of a gang sex assault. I am not saying good will or being a trusting person is a bad thing, but I do think police, over any organization the police should not be encouraging naivety.
I think a little honesty about the problem areas of our town would go along way. Why not admit there are areas the police struggle to keep safe, but show they are doing something, by doing something, not by showing off in the middle of the day in the middle of a swanky new shopping centre.