Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Education And Enforcement

The news that Reading University has decided to withdraw support for local patrols has been hitting the headlines and sparked a strong response.

BBC Radio Berkshire's Andrew Peach covered the story in his morning breakfast show (first 15 minutes), interviewing Reading student Mark Whiley and LibDem parliamentary candidate for Reading East Cllr Gareth Epps, who has been leading on the issue.

Reading University responded to the criticism by releasing a statement explaining that cuts in central government funding has forced it to look for savings in non-essential areas.

Despite the concern that students are a soft target for crime, without local knowledge living away from home for the first time (especially during Fresher's Week) and the damage this may do to the town's reputation for safety, policing is not considered the highest priority for the educational establishment.

Cllr Epps makes the argument against cuts to front-line services. He has also set up an online petition, which you can just read or sign here.

Rachel Eden advertises the local Labour petition against the central government cuts, which you can just read or sign here.

Rob White has also picked up on the issue, noting that the University/Redlands areas are classified as lower priority policing areas than Newtown. He calls for more direct action to put pressure on the University authorities and encourages readers to email University Vice-Chancellor Tony Downes at t.a.downes@reading.ac.uk

Labour Park ward candidate (and former councillor) Richard MacKenzie prefers direct action the old fashioned way, hand-writing letters - hasn't he heard about the problems at Royal Mail?

Meanwhile, Reading Chronicle reports on the announcement that funds are being made available to allow Police to do outreach work in schools warning about the risks of crime.

New Safer Schools Partner Officer PC Dave Thomas is said to be 'enthusiastic' about his new role giving talks at primary and secondary schools on issues such as alcohol awareness, knife crime and personal safety.

Oranjepan says:
While education and enforcement are twin arms in the struggle to make society better, real economic choices must be faced about who does what and how it should be paid for. It is important not to get confused about which organisations are responsible for each role.


Update: Retired Slough policeman and former teacher Michael Pinkstone was interviewed for BBC Berkshire by Sarah Walker to advertise his memoires 'Tales From Area 51'.

He compares his experiences in different cultures, and describes the surreal sense when there is a complete lack of connection between facts on the ground and the attempts of current political leadership to address problems.

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