Tuesday, 14 August 2012

London Imaginatively Defends Itself Against Crime

Following my recent post on vandalism in the capital, Woolwich shopkeepers have come up with a unique way to discourage vandals from damaging their property. They have painted babies’ faces on their shutters in an effort to dissuade the perpetrators of potential vandalistic naughtiness from smashing up their shop fronts, and move on to destroy their neighbours’ shops instead. The thinking behind the apparently stupidity-fuelled scheme is that the hearts of even the hardest of criminals will be softened by the images, and that instead of smashing property they will be persuaded to go home and crochet a pair of booties or write a children’s book regarding a bunny rabbit’s first day at school.

Another almost infallible South London crime fighting strategy is to wear down potential vandals with happy-crappy bum-noted tedium. The innovators of this ingenious plan are none other than South London’s answer to the sex pistols, the Croydon Intercultural Singing Project, or CRISP to give them their ‘street’ name. The Croydon based crooners have launched a competition to write a song about the positive response of Croydon residents to last year’s riots. They are hoping that someone from the area will come up with something so arse-clenchingly, tambourine-bashingly self congratulatory that local ne’er-do-wells will be physically unable to repeat last year’s disorder due to the constant need to cringe. 

"I'm a fire starter, twisted fire starter..."

If that doesn’t work, perhaps we should all take a leaf out of the residents of Canbury’s book, and actually talk to each other. It seems like a dramatic and, let’s face it, pretty repulsive step to take, but plucky Canburians have given it a go, and it appears to have paid dividends in terms of unfounded speculation about crime figures. Nicola Duffey, chair of Canbury ward panel, has been delighted with the perceived success of the ‘meet and greet scheme’, which, from what I understand it, is not so much a scheme as a few people in sensible clothing telling other people that they must bellow ‘hello’ at those unfortunate enough to stray within their vicinity.

“It is going good at the moment,” flibbered Duffy happily, “And remarkably crime, especially in Canbury seems to be relatively low, which is lovely.”    
Lovely indeed.

A passing cyclist gives an elderly neighbour a cheery wave in Canbury yesterday

But if, like me, living in London has rendered the thought of conversing with another human being with whom you have had no prior contact seem akin to exposing your genitalia during itchy season and tearfully screaming “I only want to be loved” repeatedly, then why not invoke memories of genocide in your fellow man as a form of defence against crime? This is what the manager of New Malden’s branch of HSBC tried recently when he displayed a Sri Lankan flag outside his bank after hearing that all Sri Lankans are partial to a bit of bank robbery. There were numerous complaints by the po-faced Sri Lankan community, who said that the flag reminded them of the horrors of their country’s civil war. The flag was eventually taken down, but call it a coincidence if you like, the bank wasn’t robbed – by Sri Lankans or anyone else for that matter – the whole time the flag was mounted upon it.

It's something worth thinking about; that’s all I am saying.      

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