01 October 2008

Not getting involved

I read today about a man who was killed on Sunday after stepping in to stop someone being attacked. I find things like that quite upsetting, because it means that you can't risk being a good citizen about anything any more. No matter what you see, vandalism or an attack or any antisocial behaviour, you have to think "no I can't get involved, it's too much of a risk, I could get killed".

When did we slide into having so little respect for each other? Most people are still good and decent aren't they? I wouldn't dream of attacking someone or verbally abusing someone or trying to steal things. So it's just a small minority of people who have learnt that you can probably get away with any behaviour, because the police will never arrive in time and no-one will intervene to stop you out of fear. And somehow they have no empathy, they don't care how they affect other people and they have no respect for them. I'm sure it would be a different story if their own grandmother got mugged and raped though, or if someone smashed their car up just for a laugh.

I came home a week or so ago in the evening, and as I walked into our building I realised there were two or three men doing some form of drugs (the one where you heat up a teaspoon, I don't know what that is) in the park at the back, right by our back gate. I was appalled; children live in our building, and they were doing it right there, and barely spared me a glance. But what was I going to do? If I'd told them to clear off out of it, they would either have ignored me or become aggressive and shot me or something. So I went inside and thought "I'll call the police" - that's all you can do these days. Not 999 of course, it's not an emergency, so I just rang the station. After ten minutes on hold waiting even to report it, I gave up, and a few minutes after that the men were gone anyway. Even if I had got through, the police would never have arrived in time to do anything about it.

I think it's awful, really really bad. The Conservatives have recently announced plans to make it less likely that you'll get prosecuted yourself if you step in to stop a crime. But what good is that going to do exactly? I know it's ridiculous that if you apprehend a mugger you might get charged with assault, but changing the way the law works can't make stepping in any safer. You could still get yourself killed. So people will continue to walk on by for their own safety.

I'm beginning to see the attraction of living in a gated community. Other people are horrible.
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