Tag: safe

Bad advice

It’s a long time since the jokers at the Swindon Community Safety Partnership have given us anything to laugh about, but now they’re back to their old habits. A bit of advice I was given many years ago — not by the Swindon Community Safety Partnership — was that one should always be cautious about using a mobile phone in a public place, particularly so in those locations, such as the entertainment zone of a town centre, where the risk of theft is high. Alas, it seems that the Swindon Community Safety Partnership may be about to encourage behaviour that’ll lead to a wave of mobile phone thefts. The partnership is going to send messages via bluetooth to clubbers’ mobile phones, giving them safety advice.

Bluetooth is a great, cost-effective way to reach lots of people with relevant bite-size community safety messages…. [I]t will be used selectively to support key awareness campaigns… and people can opt to decline messages, although we’d urge them to pick up the free advice.

I wonder if that advice will include ‘Keep you mobile phone out of sight when in an unsafe crowded area.’

From lollipops to messaging, the record of the Swindon Community Safety Partnership in dealing with Friday night revellers is consistently daft.

Picture this… eventually

Last September, I commented on plans to set-up a central control room to monitor CCTV footage from the town centre that was acknowledged as being of questionable value. Almost a year later, and Swindon’s lollipop fans, the Swindon Community Safety Partnership, are once again talking about setting up a central CCTV control room, plus at least five more cameras to add to the forty already in existence in the town centre.

For someone who’s a volunteer policeman, Mr Palusinski, head of the Safety Partnership, has an almost criminal disregard for evidence.

The new system won’t be a case of Big Brother watching you – it is to tackle issues of crime and disorder in the town while making residents and shoppers feel safe.

Err… regardless of what it’s being used for, unless the control centre is left empty and unused, it will be a case for the big-brother state watching.

These area may be parts of the town that are heavily affected by violent crime, graffiti or purse dippings and aren’t covered by sufficient surveillance.

So that’s CCTV being used to monitor the crimes that the evidence shows it’s least effective in tackling (i.e. anything other than theft from cars in car parks).

The amount of money that will be spent on updating the network will be far outweighed by the savings that will be made by having one central control room instead of having to communicate with several different agencies.

Given that the Safety Partnership’s own report acknowledged that 80% of CCTV footage is of questionable value, it seems to me that the money spent updating the network will be a waste of money.

I’ve been monitoring the ‘initiatives’ of the Swindon Community Safety Partnership for over eighteen months now. I’ve yet to see anything that suggests their naïve leadership are doing anything other than wasting Swindon taxpayers’ money.

Update, Monday, 24 August 2009: To reinforce my point, an internal police report has found that of London’s more than a million CCTV cameras, only 1 in 1000 contributes to solving a crime each year. So Swindon’s cameras are likely to be useful less than once every 20 years.

A gullible partnership

The naïvety of the Swindon Community Safety Partnership continues to amaze. This week the Partnership’s leader, Mr Palusinki, is claiming that invisible marking of property reduces burglary by over 85%.

Effective property marking has reduced burglaries in other areas by up to 85 percent. Goods are less attractive to thieves if they can be easily identified.

Mr Palusinki is guilty of believing the manufacturer’s advertising material. The evidence on which those claims are based is weak.

An area containing approximately 500 homes was identified as being suitable for a pilot test to allow Police to assess the effectiveness of forensic property marking which is based on the principles of human DNA…. Within the ‘hot-spot’, 95% of the properties used the forensic marking ‘kits’, which included a large number of repeat victims, to mark their property. Signage, posters and window stickers were then used to deter criminals from operating in the area as well as significant media coverage…. The pilot was a huge success, with an incredible 85% reduction in domestic burglary, 60% reduction in theft from vehicles, and 50% reduction in theft of vehicles.

So in reality, it wasn’t the marking of property that caused the reduction in burglaries, it was the publicity that accompanied it that had the effect.

Mr Palusinki, it seems, is an advertiser’s dream customer.

Not-so-black Saturday

Palusinski’s fantasyIf there’s one thing you can rely on from the Swindon Community Safety Bureaucracy Partnership, it’s stupidity. The economy’s nose-dived, bookings for Christmas parties are heavily down, yet Mr Palusinski from the Bureaucracy Partnership is not sure why yesterday evening seemed to be just like any other Saturday night.

Considering that some people in the national press were calling it black Saturday, it was relatively calm in the town centre. I am not sure why the numbers were so average but they were.

A quick search reveals that just about the only person referring to yesterday as Black Saturday is Mr Palusinski.

Whether the message we are putting out there is being heeded by revellers, or whether it is the current financial drought that is resulting in people drinking less, I am not sure.

Hint: it’s the economy, stupid.

I consider the operation a success.

I consider the operation a waste of the public’s money.

Now you see the police… now you don’t

Now you see them… now you don’t!The headline on the Adver’s website claims the police were giving safety advice to shoppers… the story says the police weren’t there at all.

The ability to proof-read is a very undervalued skill….

(To see the text in the screenshot clearly, click on the image.)

Picture this

It seems strange that, when police and public are becoming increasingly paranoid about anyone with a camera in any urban location that’s not a tourist trap, 24/7 CCTV surveillance is regarded as essential in protecting Swindon from terrorists. A consultants report for Swindon Community Safety Partnership — the organisation that brought us lollipops as a remedy to drunken brawls — has raised concerns about the uncoordinated approach to CCTV. A report to the next cabinet meeting of Swindon Borough Council concludes

The Town Centre systems that exist are not currently monitored 24/7. The effect of this is that there is no pro-active CCTV cover at peak times. Similarly, if a major incident occurred in the Town Centre, coordination of the existing systems to monitor the incident and response is likely to be difficult.

Hmm… and permanently monitored CCTV would solve that? To quote another part of the same report,

Government’s national CCTV strategy identifies that an estimated 80% of data from CCTV is of questionable quality.

So the report is recommending investing in a central control room, to monitor at all hours CCTV footage that is acknowledged to be of questionable value. It makes as much sense as hiring a conductor for an orchestra where all the instruments are out of tune. It’ll look impressive and coordinated, but the overall result will be barely distinguishable from the chaos that went before.

Be aware, be very aware

Yet another bright idea from Swindon Community Safety Partnership has been announced today, just a week after their last act of genius. Their latest idea is to give revellers boozing themselves to oblivion on Friday and Saturday nights a pack containing a bottle of water, a lollipop, a personal attack alarm, condoms and flip-flops. This ‘survival kit’ will, if the title of the news item on Swindon Borough Council’s website is to be believed, increase said inebriated revellers’ awareness of the effects of alcohol. According to Mr Lovell,

This project is a demonstration of the holistic approach we take when dealing with the night time economy in Swindon to ensure it is a safe place to enjoy.

I have an alternative suggestion for making the Fleet Street area of Swindon safe. The pubs could, as licensing law requires, stop serving those that are clearly drunk, and the local judiciary could take a more serious approach to those found guilty of drunken violence. Just those two things would be far more effective in making people feel safe than a lollipop and bottle of water ever will.

An unbreakable partnership

It seems that hardly a week passes at the moment without yet another local government partnership crawling into sight.

And what has brought them to my attention? Their suggestion, at least ten years after it was introduced in many other towns, that glass in bus shelters could be replaced by clear polycarbonate, to reduce vandalism. It’s nice to see such quick thinking.