The Antisocial Plague (HMIC report)

Watching news coverage today of the HMIC report on the epidemic of antisocial behaviour has been very difficult for us as victims.  It’s probably fair to say our treatment has been worse than that suffered by the Pilkingtons, without the utterly tragic ending.  Our harassers for more than 7 years were a violent, criminal couple dumped into the house next door by Bolton Council.  They already had a long history of crime, harassment and intimidation in the area.  They moved a year ago and we are still not recovered.  They have just been convicted of affray (her) and intentionally harassing and causing distress (him) in Bolton Crown Court.  These matters do not involve us.  She has also been convicted of a serious assault, though an arson prosecution may have been botched.  She was found in breach of an antisocial injunction on 20 points.  He had an ASBO (breached), a two year sentence for drug-dealing, repeatedly failed drug testing, there was constant noise, domestic violence (between them and against their children), many threats, including death threats, assaults, fighting involving other people and so on.  We have records of over 200 visits to their property by GMP and BMBC officers.

We were repeatedly put in harm’s way and driven (at a time when we were otherwise ill) to clinical depression, thoughts of suicide and almost total collapse.  Our MP (David Crausby) was cruel and should face deselection, our councillors hapless.  Complaints systems don’t work, other than to make matters worse.  We have been subject to character assassination and even an attempt to criminalise us to cover up bungling by police and the Town Hall agencies.  CPS, Local Government Ombudsmen and the IPCC are frankly fit only for dissolution and do not get to the facts.  My partner was an IPCC investigator in the middle of all this and even this did not help.

There is no sign whatsoever of any investigation that could address the facts and start to put matters right.  Our new local police inspector (a nice enough guy) promised the couple would not be allowed to continue their activities from their new address, but it is obvious this is just what they have done (the recent convictions concern their involvement with others).  I’ve been to ‘crime fighting’ conferences (Louise Casey et al) at which speaker after speaker preach ‘success stories’ that totally evade the true situation – no victims are invited to speak and when I have spoken from the floor I’ve been given ridiculous promises broken within days.  The classic is about ‘community impact statements’, supposed to bring the kind of devastating problems people like this couple cause to light in court.  They are not really being done and we have not been invited to make any in respect of this couple.

It’s the nastiness of the official system that is the worst thing.  One only has to think of what must have been in Fiona Pilkington’s mind, abandoned as she was.  We have actually faced worse and it is almost impossible to express the bureaucratic cruelty, or what one feels when politicians spout their nonsense about what is available to help.  Round the corner an Asian family is now subject to racially-linked harassment, we have had to withdraw our grandson from a related assault case, and response cops still turn up saying things will only get worse for us because they can’t really do anything about the problem families.  We know our local cops are trying and a few doors have been booted in recently, 7 years too late.

I found a mature student friend in the pub a month ago, visibly shaking.  His partner and her kids are now being terrorised by a drug dealer next door.  My friend said he now knew why I had been so devastated by what had happened.  His story, in an adjoining police division, is the same and just starting.  I know of a woman with MS facing her fourth year.

The politicians are not being faced with the real problems on the news.  They get into evasions that are just party political broadcasts.  Some buffoon was on about how crime has been reduced by 37%, but this is just a lie.  Police blogs are full of how crime is being cuffed, nodded and otherwise fiddled to meet targets that produce Senior Management Team bonus criteria and other dud targets,  In the last BCS (last year’s), there’s a table showing no movement whilst police recorded crime is showing big drops.  If crime was really going down, it would be hard to support all the spending on a police force twice as big as when I was a cop 30 years back.  I see no sign it is falling and don’t meet anyone who thinks it is.

Why are there no victims giving the experience of their plight directly on the news?  No politicians facing them?  Blair did years ago, before our problems, and made many promises.  None of these have been  kept, yet the stories of the victims then would be the same now.

One answer is very simple.  Victims should be given immediate, independent representation and be able to sue police and Town Hall agencies for losses and damages incurred.

Another is also simple.  Involve victims in forming policy and procedure right through the legal system and our police and Town Hall bureaucracies, tracking cases in terms of victim impact and resolution.  We have the opposite, with people who never face the real problems because they can buy into more protected lifestyles making decisions in their interests (such as dumping antisocial criminals amongst people with the least clout and resources) not the interests of those suffering the problems.

Our MP, telling us he’d deny it if we ever brought it to light, said we should stop making trouble and move.  We could do with a simple solution for him to.  The real truth about the cruelty meeted-out to victims is not being told.  The Pilkingtons were not an exception, but the rule.