Soft targets make good numbers

Priorities of the authorities in the UK need a serious shake-up.

The Government has developed an addiction to metrics, targets, measurable improvements and statistics. They say that if there are no numbers, then how can they prove they're improving things? Fine, fair comment, but it doesn't help if those that create the numbers are then targeted if their number aren't up to scratch – their attention then switches to numbers, instead of their real jobs.

Campaigners proudly point to the millions of automatic fines issued by speed safety cameras, claiming that catching and convicting speeding drivers is improving road safety, so the police are busy tackling speed, and any other offence that can be tracked and deposited on driver's through the use of cameras that read registration numbers and alert officers to suspect cars, to stop and investigate their drivers. This is fine, and is an excellent way to shut up critics like me, as the debate stops before it starts as I am accused of condoning dangerous driving. I don't, I just want the real dangerous drivers off the road, the high speed speeders and car thiefs that avoid the automated detection systems, leaving the easy targets to be 'fed to the lions' and divert attention from them. There's also the other thing they don't want me to say, and that's that scameras safety cameras have been largely ineffective, as the road accident statistics are largely similar to they were before they appeared. They are effective at the point only where they are installed, and should be used that way, not as a general 'fix-all'

Tonight we had a documentary about a crime that leaves people traumatised, injured, in fear of their lives, and even dead! Better still, the perpetrators have little chance of being caught.
Increasing car security means that stealing a car is getting difficult, and car-jacking has come to the UK. Any car is fair game, obvious high value items for export, but ordinary/unnoticeable cars are wanted too, for day-to-day crime. At the sharp end, the thief gets 5-10% of the car's value, £5,000 for a car worth £80,000. That's a good income, one a week and only a few minutes work for getting someone out their car, a good knife or a sharp screwdriver and most folk won't argue.

Better still, even an unharmed victim won't get much of a look at their attacker, and they thief takes most of the evidence away with the vehicle. The crime's an opportunist one, so there's not likely to be any police around, and they're simply not able to turn up in time to chase or do anything.

Not a soft target, and not likely to get caught, and not likely to foul up the crime statistics either. Car-jacking is just recorded , so doesn't appear as a more serious, unsolved crime in the numbers.

People like me are now wary of even going out in our cars, wondering what automatic infringement will be spotted by a camera and generate a fine without human intervention. The criminal however, couldn't care less, driving about in someone else's car, they won't be the one that get caught.

A closing thought – we are now advised not to drive through a red traffic light (even if we stay on our side of the junction) to let emergency vehicles such as ambulances or fire engines pass through. The courts have ruled that this is not sufficient reason to disobey the red signal.


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