2012 articles

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FRIENDS battled to save the life of a former police community support officer who collapsed and died in Colchester’s High Street.

Jake Geere, of Arnold Way, Colchester, collapsed outside the Town Hall on Tuesday after feeling unwell on the morning he was due to sit an exam.

Members of Harlow’s Security Industry Authority training group, of which Mr Geere was part, put him into the recovery position before two nurses, who were on their way to work, stopped to help.

But the married 33-year-old was declared dead at the scene.

One friend said: “It all happened in minutes.

“He was laughing and joking, and then he started making these noises and we just thought he was joking around.

“When he collapsed to the ground we realised he wasn’t. We put him in the recovery position and tried to help him.

“The nurses said we had done everything we could. But they said there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent it.”

Tributes have been paid to Mr Geere, who had been training to regain his doorman’s licence and had previously been a PCSO in Colchester town centre for a number of years.

select for exact article Gangland violence casts an ever darker shadow over our cities. With depressing regularity we hear the wail of emergency sirens as the cycle of thuggery claims yet more victims in another stabbing, shooting or murder.

If there is one poignant symbol of what has gone wrong in our cities – where too many young criminals are out of control – it is five-year-old Thusha Kamaleswaran, the little girl hit in the chest and paralysed by a stray bullet. The addiction to swaggering violence of those responsible, and their indifference towards human life, is monstrous.

Sadly, the Stockwell raid that ruined Thusha’s life is hardly unique. Where I live in South London, the incidence of knife and gun crime is remorselessly on the increase.

In the streets of my neighbourhood, the climate of fear is palpable, as feral gangs of young men frequently attack each other or innocent bystanders in their blood-soaked fights for territory and status.

But this is not a problem confined to South London. Most other parts of the capital have experienced such savagery, as have many of other cities, especially Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham.

Nor is this essentially a race problem. It is true that most of the assailants – and their victims – in South London are black, but that partly reflects the make-up of the local population.

In Glasgow, where the incidence of knife crime has also rocketed in recent years, most of the juvenile gang members are white. The same is true of Belfast, which, having seen the end of the Troubles, is now suffering a spate of car-jackings.

It is just as mistaken to demonise all young people in our condemnation of urban gangsterism. As I know from my own work as a volunteer mentor in South London, the vast majority of youths are hard-working, decent and responsible. They want absolutely nothing to do with the violence, not least because they are often its biggest target.

select for exact article No, this is about culture rather than skin colour. What is happening in urban Britain is that a minority of young men – black and white – have been drawn into a brutish world where machismo reigns supreme. It is a cruel, self-centred world that values easy money over hard work, that glories in promiscuous sex rather than meaningful relationships, that celebrates aggression over compassion.

Occasionally, we hear politically correct policy-makers and campaigners trying to excuse the violence with hand-wringing rhetoric about urban deprivation, inequality and lack of state support. But this will not wash.

Most of the young gang members are not truly poor in any material sense, certainly not compared to the genuine poverty endured throughout much of the developing world.

What they suffer from is a tragic poverty of aspiration and personal responsibility. And making excuses for them only feeds both their unjustified sense of grievance and their aggressive materialism.

It is telling that those twin themes were at the centre of the recent Channel 4 drama Top Boy, about the lives of young people on a Hackney housing estate.

As so often with programmes produced by members of the liberal elite, it came dangerously close not only to justifying gang culture in the name of spurious victimhood, but even to glorying in it.

This culture is exacerbated by other factors such the breakdown of the traditional nuclear family, which means that too many boys are now growing up without positive male role models or awareness of proper masculine boundaries.

In a perverse sense, the gang become a substitute family, the focus of a twisted code of discipline and loyalty. Just as disturbing is the reluctance of the adults to challenge poor behaviour by youngsters, partly from fears about accusations of racism, partly from the misguided belief that troublemakers are really victims who need support rather than punishment.

We see this attitude everywhere, whether from enfeebled teachers unable to control recalcitrant pupils or from liberal judges terrified of imposing tough sentences on young offenders.

But it is a disastrous outlook, which simply worsens the arrogant invincibility of the gangsters.

What we have to do is to break the stranglehold of the macho culture rather than feeding it.

That means far more robust jail terms, a greater presence from the police on the streets and moves to strengthen the traditional family. The State must no longer be so worried about telling parents – and especially wayward, juvenile fathers – that they must accept responsibility for their children

Today, there are too many ‘babies having babies’, to use the words of the Jamaican ragga singer Shabba Ranks.

select for exact article Above all, we should stop pandering to this culture. Among those who have a duty of promoting social responsibility, there is a desperate eagerness to make everything ‘relevant’ to youth instead of trying to elevate their horizons.

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Rachel Conner Wednesday 28th March 2012
POLICING in Bromley faces being without its "fair share" of cops after almost half the PCSOs in the borough were selected to become police constables.

The Met has been on a recruiting drive to boost numbers but with the success rate of applications from Bromley PCSOs at six times the London average, safer neighbourhood teams will lose out until new officers can be recruited.

Out of Bromley’s 119 PCSOs, 49 have been accepted to become police constables.

A recruitment process started in February to fill the vacancies, but it will be the end of August before all the new officers are trained.

There are 180 PCSOs available to be redistributed among the 32 London boroughs until new officers can be recruited but only six have been allocated for Bromley.

Bromley Council's portfolio holder for public protection and safety Councillor Tim Stevens said "We are extremely angry about the response we have had. We have lost six times the amount of PCSOs as other boroughs but we are not getting that number back.

"It’s not good enough. All we are asking for is our fair share."

PCSOs support police officers by performing routine duties, carrying out patrols and reassuring the public.

A Bromley police spokesman said: "There are no plans to reduce the number of PCSOs serving on our safer

Private firms set to take over core probation services
Alan Travis, Tuesday 27 March 2012 14.30

After all the furore over the proposed radical extension of the role of the private sector in policing, what should we make of G4S and Serco advertising to recruit probation officers?

The role of private security companies in the prisons has been well-established for nearly 20 years but the core work of probation services has been sacrosanct. Indeed, the 2007 Offender Management Act, which was designed to open up probation services to potential voluntary and private sector providers, specifically reserved the provision of advice and assistance to the courts for the public sector.

So it is something of a surprise to see that G4S is looking to recruit probation officers to work with "public sector clients". The security company says the typical work undertaken by its probation officers will involve providing pre-sentence court and bail information reports, assessing offenders' risk and threat to the public, and overseeing unpaid work programmes for offenders.

The justice minister, Crispin Blunt, sent a shiver through the world of probation earlier this month when he told the Probation Chiefs' Association that he was considering repealing section 15 of the 2007 act, which reserves the production of 175,000 probation reports for the courts to the probation services.

Blunt was warned by John Fassenfelt, the chairman of the Magistrates' Association, that the courts would not be impressed by such a development. Fassenfelt says he worries that a privately employed probation officer might be tempted to give advice that favoured their company's local tagging and curfew programme. He says such a loss of confidence because of a feared conflict of interest could result in more courts playing it safe and jailing more offenders.

When the consultation paper on the future of the probation service was published on Tuesday that specific option was not included, but the paper does envisage large swaths of probation work being put out to tender. The new options include the management of low- and medium-risk offenders in the community and many innovative "payment by results" pilot partnership schemes waiting for the green light. The only other area reserved for the public sector probation service appears to be the management of high-risk offenders.

The scale of the reforms facing the probation service is reflected in the radical proposal to allow probation trusts to significantly reduce the 35 probation areas should they feel it is necessary to organise competition contracts on a regional, rather than a local, basis. Even this has been the subject of a behind-the-scenes struggle between the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, and Theresa May, with the home secretary bidding to give the new police and crime commissioners (PCCs) a decisive role in commissioning probation services.

23 March,2012 This is Gloucestershire
POLICE Community Support Officer Sylvia Lane has been nominated for this year's Heart of Gloucestershire Awards 2012. The Citizen is once again looking to highlight and promote the work of the county's unsung heroes and we are calling upon you to nominate those most worthy.

select to see exact article Now in its sixth year, the awards, which replaced the Pride of Gloucestershire Awards, have been given a one-off rebranding to celebrate the Queen's 60th year on the throne.

People across the county are invited to nominate friends and loved ones for the Caring Hero category – to celebrate those who have gone that extra mile in looking out for those around them.

Podsmead PCSO Sylvia Lane has been nominated by Podsmead Road resident Mair Humphreys for this year's Public Sector Hero – Uniformed Services.

She admits that the nomination came as a shock when The Citizen broke the news.

"I really didn't know anything about it at all," she said.

"It feels very nice to be nominated though, although I am a little embarrassed to be totally honest."

Sylvia has been working as a PCSO for six years and has patrolled the streets in the Forest of Dean, Tuffley, Linden and now Podsmead, a place close to her heart.

She added: "I used to live in the Tuffley area so I know the people really well.

"Before this job I worked for the constabulary, but in the calls department. This job gives me that face-to-face contact which I was after.

"I love working with people and there is a real mix here in Podsmead.

"I like to think I bring that 'bobby on the beat' aspect back a bit

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