All entries for Friday 17 November 2006

November 17, 2006

How Crime On Campus Has Been Crushed

It’s amazing what you learn when you listen to people. It’s just a shame some people don’t listen. Here’s another Warwick Boar column which has no real moral or point.

Here’s a short brain teaser to test your Russell Group worthy brain – what piece of legislation do our very own campus security credit as the biggest single factor in reducing crime on campus in the last few years? Surprisingly it’s not the anti-terrorism laws being used to incarcerate the residents of Old Rootes in Belmarsh, nor is it the Human Rights Act (1998) forcing the inhabitants of Coventry to recognise students as actual human being rather than annoying primates in scarves and Converse. No, apparently it’s the recent laws which allow for the crushing of cars which are being driven without insurance or other essential documentation.

These are the sort of cars which see the speedometer sign on University Road and decide to get the high score. And they’re the sort most likely to be involved in the university’s most common crime, the drive-by yelling of “twat!” at some sensitive English student who has a 2500 word essay due tomorrow which they have not started, and who are now too traumatised to even think about ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’. It’s also the sort of car where your laptop ends up when you leave your ground floor bedroom window open in full view of the local kleptomaniacs.

It’s a clever little rule which appears to be the result of someone noticing that those who commit crimes like stealing ipods and upsetting the sensitive arts students, are also likely to be committing other crimes. Also it’s hard to commit a decent crime when you live far away from the university and don’t have a car. If the students are failing to get to their 9am lectures for the lack of decent buses, then it’s somewhat unlikely that the thieves are going to make that arduous journey themselves. And it’s more effective than blanket bans on hoodies, a measure which would result in a large number of students here walking around, lost and scared, unable to identify other members of their tribes… I mean, societies or clubs… no, I mean tribes, and we all know that.

But this sort of joined up thinking, a sort of holistic approach I guess, is so often effective and attractive. Rather than, say, simply throwing everyone between 15 and 34 in jail or letting David Cameron hug them, why not think about the reasons they are causing crime in the first place . Anyone who comes from any of the thousands of soulless commuter towns and bland suburbs which litter this country, can tell you that building Barratt homes all over local football pitches will breed more drug taking and petty crime amongst the young. In my case if it wasn’t for the fact we had frogs in our backgarden to torment I would probably be writing this article for the Styal Women’s Prison newsletter whilst on remand for murder. Maybe.

When the Lord Chief Justice stuck his neck out this week and queried the future, and in his view most likely negative, perception of our current prison system he was shot down by the tabloids. But he may well be proved right. If jail really is the best antidote to crime why do people repeat offend, and why bother with any schemes to try and help young people who are at risk? Obviously we can’t hope to keep everyone in the country entertained or out of trouble all the time. But if we can work out why or how people are causing trouble in the first place then we might be along the right route. Then it will only be the buses aiming for the high score on the speedometer.


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