Northampton Town Centre Watchdog




The following comments were expressed in 2012 and are still felt to be relevant.

Policing is an essential part of this requirement, and because Northampton is a microcosm of the nation, this page largely refers to the needs of the nation.

It is considered essential for ALL town centres to attract all occupation groups, and all age groups, during both the daytime and night time, if they are to be regarded as successful.

To achieve this, by having people travel in from the suburbs and the surrounding villages, it is paramount that town centres benefit from an effective policing service.

For years, Government officials told us that Britain didn’t have a problem with crime. What it had, they said, was “a problem with the perception of crime”. The official statistics had consistently shown that while the fear of crime was up, actual recorded crime was down.

Then, in 2010, a devastating report from Sir Denis O’Connor, Her Majesty’s Chief  Inspector of  Constabulary, revealed  that this paradox was an illusion.

It found that the police had largely “given up” the fight against antisocial behaviour. Many forces deemed offences such as bullying, obscenity-shouting and vandalism not to be “real police work”. Even though they caused misery, they were not treated as a priority-- some forces even had systems for screening out calls dealing with them.

“Crime” may have gone down, but only because the police were ignoring millions of incidents categorised as “disorder”.

This report came as no surprise to communities where lives had been blighted and where yobbish behaviour had been allowed to flourish.

It had been clear for years that the public wanted more bobbies on the beat, yet O’Connor pointed out that at any given time, just 1 officer in 10 was available for “visible patrolling”. He reported that over the previous 20 years, police forces had “retreated from the streets”, leaving some areas as “surrendered territory”. This had nothing to do with money, as it had occurred during a time of unprecedented investment, with record numbers of officers. It was more about “priorities”.

It is a fact that antisocial behaviour is a problem with “several roots”:

  • poverty.
  • poor parenting.
  • blighted housing estates.
  • poor schooling.
  • lack of condemnation by both the police and the general public.

It is surely reasonable for the police to take a lead, and to set an agenda that resonates with the electorate.

It is bound to cause friction if the police are perceived to spend a disproportionate amount of time ticking off cyclists, motorists and fare-dodgers, but seem to shy away from the crimes that the public fear, such as mugging, stabbing and burglary.

Having said all of this, the vast majority of the public, hugely appreciate the difficult job done by the bobby on the beat, and admire the bravery needed to do the job. Young men and women often expose themselves to very unpleasant situations in order to make the quality of our lives better. It follows that it is the responsibility of management to give inspired leadership to their front line workers.

A number of people have suggested that the morale and prestige of the police would be greatly improved if they adopted a style for the general public that was:

  • Formal as opposed to informal.
  • Polite as opposed to “matey”.
  • Assertive as opposed to appeasing.
  • Free of gum-chewing.

The public tell us:

  1. It is a fundamental responsibility of government to provide law and order with justice.
  2. On the social axis, people don’t want an authoritarian state, but nor do they want the state of anarchy that comes from lawlessness.
  3. People are very very worried about the law and order situation. Politicians would be wise to listen to, and target, the increasingly influential grey vote.
  4. More than 95% of the population are decent and subscribe to the charter of human decency. Less than 5% are disruptive criminals. Why in a democracy, do we let the 5% hold the 95% to ransom.
  5. We must have a caring and compassionate society. At the same time, society must be ruthless within the democratic framework, in protecting the large law-abiding majority.
  6. We need to understand that freedom from state interference is dependant to some extent on us regulating ourselves. Failure to do so, requires the state to do it for us.
  7. It is generally believed that there is more unreported crime now than ever before.


This wish list is not just focussed on town centres and is kept as brief as possible in the hope that it will be read.

  1. As a long term strategy, front load education for pre-teens to give them a foundation for life. Teach them:
     - Literacy
     - Numeracy
     - Right and Wrong
     - Suitable role models
     - A value system
  2. Prioritise the needs of the victim over the criminal.
  3. Imprison repeat offenders for longer periods : 3 strikes and you’re out. If this increases the prison population – so be it.
    It is not reasonable or acceptable that in 2010, non custodial sentences were given to 13,000 repeat offenders who had more than 30 previous convictions. It is plainly wrong to give jail time according to the availability of prison accommodation.
  4. Have pilot schemes for zero tolerance policies in town centres. These schemes to be targeted at anti-social behaviour.
  5. Stop having zero tolerance for parking, speeding and drinking, but generous tolerance to yob culture and litter dropping. Strike a more consistent balance.
  6. Use more undercover police to combat organised crime.
  7. Use more police specials.
  8. Increase local Neighbourhood Watch schemes and Crime Watch programs on TV.
  9. The bigger the crime problem: the bigger the response that should be used. It is not acceptable for there to be no-go areas in inner cities. The full range of national assets should be deployed if necessary.
  10.  It is said that there are many underclass, uneducated, repeat offenders, who are producing large numbers of feral children. If true, should they be given incentives to have fewer children?
  11. Make very welcome, those immigrants who work hard, obey the Law, pay their taxes and respect the host culture.
    Make ALL immigrants serve a 10-year probation period.  Repatriate those who get a criminal record. It is for politicians to overcome the “Human Rights” obstacle that often prevents this.
  12. Evaluate the effect of The European Human Rights act to establish whether it is frustrating parliament, and the Criminal Justice Scheme, as well as favouring criminals and criminal       lawyers.
    Then make an appropriate decision.
  13. Stifle the compensation culture, which is almost becoming a form  of crime.
  14. Stop the practice where a drink driver loses their licence for 12 months and has a 400 fine, a parking offence generates an instant fine of 60, whereas, the shop window breaker who steals stock,  only gets a caution – because there is no previous record!
    The law would be more respected if there was a more level playing field with more consistent punishments.
  15. Establish the culture that criminals WILL get caught and WILL get punished.
  16. Ensure that the punishment fits the crime, and that there is more consistency with the level of punishment.
    When sentencing – always consult the victim.
  17. Sentencing to be more easily understood.
    The sentence given should actually be served:
     - No time off for good behaviour
     - Conversely, add time on for bad behaviour
  18. Introduce mandatory sentencing as per parking and speeding offences e.g.
     - 5 years for carrying an illegal gun
     - 5 years for assaulting a police officer
     - 5 years for corrupt police and prison officers
     - 30 years for an acid attack – this crime to be stopped in its tracks!
  19. Develop 1 star, 2 star and 3 star prisons.

    1 Star
     - Very, very basic boot camps, which are easy and inexpensive to construct, and which are not dissimilar to the accommodation used by our armed services whilst serving on the front line.
     - Clean / harsh / minimalist conditions based on solitary confinement.
     - Very disciplined but compassionate regime.
     - Repeat offenders are housed here.
     - Bad behaviour in 2 star prisons is relegated to here.      

    2 Star:
     - Softer environment.
     - Softer regime, but still very disciplined.
     - Prisoners can be promoted to here, subject to availability.
     - Prisoners are eligible to do useful public work in under funded areas e.g. The environment and recycling.
    3 Star:
     - Rehab programs to be the main purpose of these units.
     - Prisoners can be promoted to here, subject to availability.
     - Prisoners can be relegated FROM here for bad behaviour.

    Bullying, physical abuse, hard drugs and vandalism in any grade of prisons are totally unacceptable –   zero tolerance in these areas to be strenuously implemented.
  20. As we already “out-source” manufacturing, call centres and   surgical procedures to other countries – why not “out-source” certain prison services, e.g. Repeat offender’s prisons to Eastern Europe where large financial savings could be made by the UK whilst boosting the economy of another EU country. There already exists a reciprocal arrangement regarding prisoners, between Sweden and Norway.

    We were told in 2010, that around 20% of prisoners in the UK did not hold British passports. It is not reasonable for the British tax payer to carry this burden.

  21. Strip assets from repeat offenders and organised crime offenders who have accumulated material wealth. It was claimed that this would be standard procedure, but there is doubt as to whether it is always happening.
  22. ‘LEGAL FUNDING’ - All business’s in general, but pubs and clubs in particular should be granted legal funding so that they can easily initiate legal proceedings against antisocial behaviour in general, but the physical abuse of people and property in particular. Individuals should be made to take full responsibility for their behaviour when they have been drinking.

This site is sponsored by The Church Bar & Restaurant