Effects of the cuts: a first hand experience

Almost every day, when listening to the news, you hear stories about the impact of the cuts to public spending. Frontline services such as the NHS, the police services and schools are being asked to do more and more with less and less money. Whilst, to uphold the ‘will of the people’, cabinet members travel to and from Brussels and swan off to smooze European leaders to deliver the Brexit we deserve… hmm.

We are almost desensitised to the cuts, we hear about them so much. Today, we experienced the impact of the cuts first hand. My wife and I live in a part of Norwich that has two very different communities living side by side. On the 27 June a 19 year old was shot in the back, in a drug related incident, in a park very close to our house. Every day we have people walk past our window who are either under the influence of an illegal substance or who are taking their daily trip to the pharmacy to collect their methadone.

On returning from our walk and stop off for a sneaky half at our local pub, my wife noticed some suspicious activity involving a group of four people and another individual. I urge ‘A’ to call 101. The process to speak to someone was tedious: phone ringing for a long time to reach the switchboard; decision made to connect us to the local constabulary; phone ringing for a long time to eventually to speak to an officer. ‘A’ told the officer everything she witnessed and gave detailed descriptions of the individuals. Everything was logged and a crime reference issued.

The officer then told my wife that she needed to call the local school – the area where the incident happened backs onto a school – in order for them to check their premises for any evidence of drug misuse, as well as they local council in case the area needed cleaning up. ‘A’ questioned why she had to do this. There was been a strong community police presence since the shooting; surely someone could pop by and check this out? The officer apologised and cited ‘cuts to policing’ as the problem.

Why is it our responsibility to make further phone calls to notifying other organisations about the potentially illegal goings on? Surely this convoluted process is only going to deter people from reporting suspicious or antisocial behaviour, not encourage it? It seems a pity that community safety relies upon the integrity of the community members alone, rather than alongside the community police who should be empowered, not redundant.