Crime

Full list of Essex Police & Crime Commissioner candidates 2016


Essex Police

Disclaimer: Your blogger’s views on Police & Crime Commissioners are unchanged from 2012. They are a waste of time and money, politicise the police (regardless of whether you vote for a party or an independent candidate), and have so few powers as to be useless in any meaningful way. However, elections are decided by those who turn out to vote, and by not voting you are only increasing the volume of the voices of others.

Along with the close of local election nominations, nominations have also closed for Essex Police & Crime Commissioner candidates.  The incumbent, Nick Alston, is not seeking re-election, so whoever wins on 5th May there will be a new Commissioner.

Meet the candidates…

Will the last copper out of Southend please turn off the lights?


Essex Police

So the declining size of Essex Police cannot have passed by anyone who lives in the county, or certainly not in Southend. Round after round of vicious cuts has hollowed out the numbers of frontline officers, PCSOs and support staff, leaving those few with a thanklessly difficult job.

Time and again we are reassured that there is no impact on the service provided, and that policing is as robust as ever, but even a five year old can figure out that if you keep taking and taking away from policing resources then it will be impossible to maintain the same standard of service (Might be one to remember, for the near future -Ed).

A particularly potent example reaches your blogger’s ears of anti-social behaviour in a residential Westcliff street one night last week. Persons of ill-repute were apparently knocking the wing mirrors off parked cars, and when residents called the police, they were unable to help because no cars were available.

In other news, the Essex police precept is going up in 2016/17, and Police & Crime Commissioner elections are on 5th May.

05 “The Present” (Minority Report season 1) [SPOILERS]


minority report tv series

I think Minority Report‘s card may be punched.

I realise I seem like a continual prophet of doom on this subject, but Fox have cut the series order from 13 to 10 episodes. That, generally speaking, is not the sort of thing you do when you think you have a runaway hit on your hands.

Is it fair? Well, I don’t know. Part of me still sees the vast potential of what a Minority Report TV series could explore, the places it could go and the ideas upon which it could expound. That part of me wants this to be a piece of extreme over-caution on Fox’s part.

There’s another part of me, though, which I suspect is the bigger part, that knows that Minority Report has not punched as hard as either it could or needs to. And TV is not a game where you can afford to pull your punches. New series fall by the wayside often enough that their corpses should be road signs for the up-and-comers.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers…)

04 “Fredi” (Minority Report season 1) [SPOILERS]


minority report tv series

I hate to say it, but Minority Report has not won me yet.

That isn’t to say that I’m not enjoying it. I haven’t outright hated any of the episodes so far, and there are clearly a lot of worthwhile ideas being proposed here. What I can’t shake, though, is that it lacks a little bit of something holding it together as a series and giving it a spark.

Really, we’ve reached the point where we need to be going beyond pure worldbuilding — which the series has done very well so far — and into building some significance into the narative web and the characters. I like the world, I even like the people we are following around it. But, at the moment, I don’t care if everything goes to hell for them.

Which I really need to.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

03 “Hawk-Eye” (Minority Report season 1) [SPOILERS]


minority report tv series

After the second episode, I’m feeling a little reassured that Minority Report might have some clue what it is doing.

It’s not yet entering the pantheons of televisual greatness (Hell, it’s not even safe from first season cancellation yet -Ed), but where the first episode splashed around in the shallow end of some interesting concepts and ideas, I felt that the second looked like it was learning to swim.

Doggy-paddle, maybe, but progress is progress, and if Constantine has any lessons for new TV shows, it’s that you can’t waste time in laying down your direction of travel and setting out your pitch to audiences.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

“No go areas” and holding power to account


nick alston

It is, I suspect, a mark of how far into the realms of political geekery I have slipped, that fair game as Friday evening entertainment is watching recordings of public meetings on YouTube. For those worrying for my sanity, I should point out that my evening has also included a trip to the library, and may yet feature a film or two.

The meeting, though, in question was a public meeting from last week with the Chief Constable of Essex Police Stephen Kavanagh, alongside the Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex Nick Alston, and his deputy Lindsay Whitehouse. Thrilling, eh?

I didn’t attend the meeting, but given that a crime and policing is — in my opinion — shaping up to be a big issue in Southend as budgets are cut away to nothing (a subject I mean to return to in future blogs) it is something I am happy to make time for.

Read on…

Sabotage – A Review


sabotage

Occasionally, when watching Arnold Schwarzenegger in a film, I recall that this man was until recently the governor of California. That’s the Terminator, the guy from Predator, from The Kindergarten Cop, for crying out loud.

But if it was remarkable that he made the transition to serious politician, it must be equally — if not more — surprising that he has made the journey back to the screen. Last year I saw and reviewed Escape Plan, which saw him team up with fellow aging action hero Sylvester Stallone. It was cheesy, but enjoyable, which is pretty much what I would expect from an Arnie action film.

As impressive as the Governator’s career trajectory is (bodybuilder, actor, politician, actor/cultural icon), there is always the worry that he is one unhinged rant at an empty chair away from becoming Clint Eastwood. But as long as he’s still making good films, who gives a toss?

And is he? Still making good films, I mean?

Read on…

“Path of Needles” by Alison Littlewood – A Review


path of needles alison littlewood(Jo Fletcher Books, 394pp, pb £7.99)

It is, I think, good to expand your horizons on a regular basis. That applies in all aspects of life, but especially (in my opinion at least) with reading and writing. It’s all too easy to box ourselves in to what is comfortable, what we know we like, and before we know it we end up stagnated in — to use a rather clichéd example — Tolkeinesque high fantasy.

Path of Needles then, being a crime novel, is a bit of a departure from previous form and favour for both myself, as the reader, and Alison Littlewood.

I read, and rather enjoyed, her debut novel A Cold Season over a year ago. It was a horror novel both easily accessible and eschewing the easier monster-based paths of horror for a creeping and lingering chill. But Path of Needles is cut from a different mould, so even as I opened the cover I knew that I would have to put my preconceptions aside to see what waited within

Read on…

Theresa May: playing politics with the police


I was listening to Theresa May’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham earlier, and although there was only one brief mention of cats this year (I can’t think why), there was something she said which took me by surprise.

While Labour candidates use [the Police and Crime Commissioner] elections to play politics, and the Lib Dems try to make up their minds whether they should even take part, our candidates are talking about how to help their communities by getting tough on crime.

Sorry, what? Labour are playing politics? That sounds odd. It seems to me that holding elections for the heads of police forces instantly politicises what previously was an independent and impartial — not to mention important — role.

I also seem to recall that it was a Conservative policy to introduce them, one which Labour opposed due to concerns that it would be…erm…playing politics with policing.

Policing in the Northern Parishes


The Royal Oak pub, in Ruscombe, where two masked would-be robbers broke in and attacked the landlord and -lady last week.

Rather startling news on the front of this week’s Wokingham Times. The Royal Oak pub in Ruscombe was broken into by masked robbers, who attacked the landlord and landlady with a replica gun and taser before being chased away empty handed.

This would be dramatic stuff anywhere, but in such a tranquil area as northern Wokingham it’s almost unheard of. Thankfully no serious harm seems to have been done, but in small, close-knit communities like those which make up Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe this is a hammer blow to peoples’ sense of security and safety.

Wokingham is a safe area, relative to other places in the country. To try and claim this is evidence of the collapse of society would be madness. What it does illustrate is that we can never be complacent about serious and violent crime. The fact that such events are a rarity is a blessing, but not one to be taken lightly- because from time to time it does happen.

The government cuts to police budgets is of concern here. We’re repeatedly treated to claims that the cuts won’t hit the front line, but what does that actually mean? It’s unclear, but my interpretation so far is that it only applies to officers on the street. Not to the people answering your call to 999, not the people who direct the officers to where they need to be, and a whole host of other roles that allow the police to do their job.

In Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe, our policing needs are covered by a couple of Police Community Support Officers, and the nearest station is in Twyford. Except not really: that station is manned by volunteers and open extremely odd hours. Not to demean the contribution of those volunteers, but you can’t pitch up there and expect to see an officer.

Policing is already stretched pretty thin here. One serious incident does not, as I’ve already said, indicate a crisis. But the danger exists that if cutbacks need to be made, policing presumed “safe” areas like here will be considered superflous and expendable. And that, in my opinion, is the quickest way to turn a “safe” area into an “unsafe” area.