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Insensitive policing in the aftermath of the Tornado

local residents | 30.07.2005 00:55 | Analysis | Repression | Birmingham

Local residents this afternoon at the police cordon of Birchwood Crescent, Balsall heath (by what remains of the monkey steps), were asking the Chief Structural engineer questions, when suddenly out of the blue PC N. Lighton proceeded to photograph residents who were intent on finding out any information about their homes and their possessions. Senior officer M. Shaw, present at the time, wouldn't comment on his actions, but the photographing did eventually cease because of interventions by concerned residents.

PC N. Lighton
PC N. Lighton

show some sympathy!
show some sympathy!

Is this a bit insensitive? After a quite reasonable evening yesterday, where people were ruminating over the aftermath of the tornado. Police were quite helpful and their tone in communicating with local residents was good. In contrast with today, (friday afternoon) where people who have been affected the most, who have spent a night of not knowing what structural damage has been done to their homes and who have probably spent the night at friends or at the Sports Centre with no clean clothes etc. In Balsall Heath we have seen a definite change in police presence and a noticeable heightened influx of policemen in black, wearing stab jackets.

Their presence and taking photos of a group of diverse people, of course raises questions of what, and why they are they doing this. Especially when people are just concerned about their future, homes and possessions. Yes, there is tension on the streets and people are extremely worried on an emotional level because they are not getting any answers to obvious questions. Some people are suffering and showing signs of post traumatic stress such as tearfulness and stunned confusion. Where is the professional support? Is it wrong to expect a sympathetic, caring approach?

When questioned about why he was taking photos, PC N. Lighton responded with, 'This is a public area and I can!' and that the photos were for 'training purposes'. A local resident tried to point out that on an emotional level people are feeling strained and stressed, worried and concerned and with the latest panics around terrorism his insensitive action could exacerbate an already tense situation. PC N. Lighton did not seem capable of showing any empathy let alone even trying to understand some of the emotions and anxieties that are flying around this wounded community. He walked away stating 'If you don't believe what I have said then I don't care...'

The lack of presence of any authoritative officials other than police was felt by residents to show their lack of compassion for the most affected, especially those who cannot afford insurance. These people feel they are being judged as not worthy of access to emergency funding.

Why was it that a year ago the community of Boscastle in the flash floods received on the spot support and access to national emergency funds? We may not be Balsall Heath or Sparkbrook by the sea... but we are nonetheless all humans having to endure a devastating disaster.

local residents


Display the following 3 comments

  1. Unfair Police Criticism — Zahraa
  2. crime and investigation — white lunar
  3. police and thieves in the ghetto — MK47