Paul Stainton: Time to win the public’s trust

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Maybe it is just me but I think that there is something inherently wrong with a society where the elderly or infirm can be attacked on an increasingly frequent basis, at will, without fear or consequence.

When people are too frightened to go out of their house after dark or too afraid to venture into what they conceive, are “no-go” areas of Peterborough, surely it is time for somebody to sit up and take proper notice.

There will be those in positions of power that argue that it is no more dangerous on the streets of Peterborough today than it has ever been, that crime is falling and that everything is rosy in platitude land. The trouble is that large swathes of the public are not buying it –for them the reality on the ground does not match the rhetoric, for them the fear is real and many feel that their voice is just not being heard.

They see the police doing a hard job in difficult financial circumstances but they choke on their Cheerios when the Police and Crime Commissioner, Sir Graham Bright (still not talking to me), claims that the huge increase in violent crime is just down to more people reporting it.

People like, Richard Sandon perhaps, an RAF veteran from Woodston, who claims it is now not safe to go out on your own in some parts of the city after dark. He should know, after all he has a shattered right arm, three broken ribs and a number of bruises following an unprovoked attack on the path by the River Nene, near Asda, last Friday.

This is a man who has done his bit for King and country, a man who should be admired and respected for his service, a man just trying to walk his dog. Instead he was beaten to a pulp by a yob who couldn`t have cared less if Richard had lived or died.

Others called the BIG Conversation this week, on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, to tell tales of their run- ins with gangs of young men in that area. They bemoaned the lack of police to deter this sort of behaviour and the soft sentences given to these thugs when they are eventually apprehended.

Angela was one of many who said that she was afraid to venture out of her own house when the sun goes down, due to the constant threat that she believes exists in her area, whilst many other people claimed that they now avoid dimly lit underpasses and some of the city’s cycle routes.

I was genuinely taken aback by the scale of the mistrust that people had towards all of the political parties and the criminal justice system, when it came to dealing with violent crime.

But surely it is wrong that some sections of our society, that have fought for this country and in many cases, paid for this country, should feel like prisoners, confined to certain quarters, until sun-up.

This is our city and these are our streets and it is time they were all re-claimed for the masses from the cancerous, cowardly scum that exists in some of its darker recesses.

In order to do that we will need the police, the judiciary and politicians of all colours to devise a new, tougher, co-ordinated approach to tackle the problem head-on and win back the public’s trust.

The time for nice words and the burying of heads in the sand is over – the people of this city have spoken and it would pay to listen.

I am holding my breath.