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Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Safety in numbers

A bag in front of my house. Inside are bank cards, make-up but any cash is long gone. A quick look on the security camera – and there are the two female thieves dumping the evidence of their crime. The footage is perfect. I put it on a memory stick. It turns out my local police station is no longer open to the public but there’s one in a neighbouring borough I can go to. The woman on the front desk reluctantly takes the bag but does not want the footage evidence or my name. “It’s terrible but we just don’t have the resources”.And in London – and most of the UK – it’s true that they don’t. And, of course, when terrorism and violent organised crime is so prevalent, petty thievery is of little consequence. Yet big cities that give up on the everyday policing risk a lot – a return to people leaving the city core in pursuit of safety when they have children or grow old. It also risks dislocating the relationship between police and community.The resources stretch is the same reason, no doubt, that when you walk through Cambridge Circus in the city’s West End you will see kids waiting to see the Harry Potter theatre show – and a crack deal going down. Or why the manager of a central London supermarket tells you that they no longer call the police when they have shoplifters – no point.Anyone who believes that London’s police have all the resources they need is probably driving in a ministerial car with a nice police escort. They can’t see any shortage. But in London it’s shaping daily life.

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