BEARING in mind the words of Edmund Burke, that ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’ I wonder where that leaves our police force?
A couple of months ago there was a spate of vandalism in Batley town centre. A number of businesses had their windows put through, ours amongst them.
In the case of one neighbouring building, there have been four such incidents over the past 12 months.
It makes you wonder about the purpose of those ubiquitous CCTV cameras that festoon basically every town centre in the UK. Are they even switched on?
The answer to that, as we discovered eventually, is a resounding ‘yes’ – just don’t expect anyone in authority to bother taking a look at them.
Well, not unless there’s a dead body on the ground, or a senior office gets a bee in his bonnet about slamming someone who’s put his nose out of joint in a cell.
Get up the wick of a Kirklees police inspector and I reckon he’d scour a thousand cameras to discover how many times you’d picked your nose on any given day.
Flick a bogey in public and you’re nicked, sunshine.
But be the victim of what the police perversely consider a ‘victimless’ crime and sorry pal, you’re on your own, as Birstall businessman Clarke Rothwell has discovered this week for the fourth time.
On the day Tommy Mair murdered MP Jo Cox, the police managed to conjure up images of virtually every step he took outside his front door on that fateful day, including the murderous attack itself.
Throughout that Old Bailey trial we sat and listened to copper after copper patting himself and his mates on the back at how clever they’d been in swiftly bringing Mair to justice.
(They still haven’t a Scooby-Doo how Mair got the gun that had been stolen on the other side of county months earlier, but don’t expect them to volunteer to discuss that any time soon. That involves actual detective work, as opposed to finding an assassin whose idea of a getaway plan was to take his hat and coat off and run in the opposite direction from his house).
Clarke Rothwell was actually a witness to Mair’s cowardly attack that day in Birstall. He came forward, gave a statement and took time off work to travel to London to give evidence.
Through his company CR Gas, his joint ownership of the Priestley’s Café Bar and until recently Joe’s Bar too, plus his unstinting support of Birstall Victoria ARLFC, Clarke is everything about an upstanding Birstall citizen that Thomas Mair wasn’t.
Or, in other words, someone our 21st century police force can treat with anonymous disdain.
An inconvenient occasional drain on their resources. In Clarke’s case too frequently clearly these days. It makes you wonder if the limit of the police application of intellect in such a case isn’t finding some way of lumping all the robberies under one crime listing, so as to keep the stats down.
After all, the key principle of modern British community policing sometimes appears to be cover crime up, not prevent or solve it.
It makes you suspect that if Clarke Rothwell ever asked whoever runs Kirklees Police these days – and shamefully, I have to admit that I don’t – they would quietly ask him if he hadn’t thought about shutting up shop?
Well, through their neglect of our towns and communities, the police are doing their damnedest to effect exactly that.
WHEN our windows were put through we asked about the street security cameras.
What we got back from the police, after they went to Kirklees Council who operate them, was that yes, the CCTV was on, but no, they couldn’t help.
Why? Well, unless we could give them a specific time window when the offence occurred, they didn’t have the resources to check.
I’d have happily gone to their office and run through the tape – at night in our street it would be fast-forwarding through a lot of nothing until we got a flurry of brick throwing – but of course that’s not an option.
Too much like hard work for someone with something far more important to do, presumably like picking his nose and finishing a crossword.
It would probably risk violating someone’s human rights, or contravene data protection.
But this isn’t just about CCTV cameras. It’s about an institutional attitude problem.
Take the numerous other pubs, bars and clubs that have been systematically raided in recent months.
Many of those hard-working, honest citizens probably believed themselves isolated victims.
Maintaining their ignorance of the scale of the problem is a strategy that assists the police in their determination to pretend the streets haven’t been given over to criminals, who can walk round attacking and thieving with impunity, knowing they’re more likely to bump into Lord Lucan galloping down the road on Shergar, than an actual working police officer.
It takes someone like Clarke Rothwell to speak up and highlight the fact that we’re out there on our own, folks.
“I wish I had caught them red-handed,” Clarke said to me. “I’d have handed out some justice.”
Careful Clarke – don’t put it past them to nick you for speaking out of turn. That’s the other thing you see, the police never hesitate to put the boot into easy targets like the honest general public. Beat up a burglar? You’d soon find out what real British justice is.
The bottom line is that if the police aren’t willing to even pretend to deal with the villains, I think it’s fair to say they are part of the problem, not the solution. In Burke’s philosophy, by doing nothing, they propagate evil.
In the case of today’s story we went through the useless routine of asking the West Yorkshire Police press office about any arrests, charges or developments in any of the cases we highlight on page one today.
We knew what answer we’d get, but you have to go through the pantomime anyway. “Unless you have a specific date/time/crime number etc we can’t tell you anything”.
No matter – the answer would have been the same as in the Priestley case: “Investiga-tions are ongoing” and “we would ask any members of the public with information to ring 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-whatever.”
I hope someone tips off the victims of these thieves with names and addresses of the culprits.
We are living in an age when ordinary people can no longer tell who’s on our side.
I LAUGHED out loud when reading that a Muslim group from Bolton was planning to open a boys’ school in our district which would “offer only 50 per cent of places” to applicants based on their Islamic faith.
The other 50 per cent would be made available to Protestants and Catholics, Pagans, Rastafarians and presumably the far bigger proportion of Xbox and PS3 generation kids who could give a flying fig. Who are these people trying to kid?
I loved the quote from Idrish Patel, chief executive of Bolton Muslim Academy Trust which is the company behind the plan, espousing noble words about the educational attainment of all people regardless of faith or background. Tell you what Idrish, give me a buzz when you accept an intake of Ahmadiyyan Muslim students.
You see folks, despite all of the nice noises this isn’t a moderate Muslim group, it’s a hardline Deobandi faction, of the strain that underpins Savile Town and Mount Pleasant’s religious ultra-conservatives.
Given that Savile Town is run largely by the Patels (like the BMAT) there was a nice touch when I saw that another BMAT director, Faruk Yakoob Patel, is a director of a company called Birkdale Property Investments.
Birkdale High School … it has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?