Riots, compensation and political nonsense

This week has seen some rioting in the streets.  I am pleased to say that despite smashing up pretty much all of our neighbours my office on Mare Street, Hackney was left untouched.  I can only assume that having the massive words "CRIMINAL DEFENCE SOLICITORS" in the front window helped.  In fact, when I showed up on Tuesday morning the windows looked as though they'd had a good clean over night, which is nice if somewhat strange.  The offices appeared on the news throughout the night and during much of Tuesday - you probably caught a glimpse although there's no reason you would have realised it was a solicitors office from the TV.  If you saw the pictures of Ladbrookes being attacked in Hackney then we are a couple of doors along, mostly just out of shot.  Although, I have been wanting to check out our roof for a while as we have a leak and the HDTV shots gave me a great chance and happily it all looks good.

Having watched the TV coverage on Monday night, I rode my motorbike to work on Tuesday morning expecting to be met with scenes of devastation.  As I went along Cambridge Heath Road and then on to Mare Street I passed groups of people waving brooms and other cleaning equipment.  When I got to Mare Street I thought that they were going to be disappointed as it appeared that the Council had already tidied most damage away. 

Our immediate neighbour, an independent optician, was completely cleaned out.  By which I mean they broke her windows and stole literally everything from the shop.  Unlike the big chains that have already reopened her shop remains closed.  I don't know if she has insurance or not.  But it made me think about what do you do if you couldn't afford to insure the contents of your shop for some reason, which is the position one family I saw on the TV were in.

A quick bit of research and I discovered that the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 allows the victims of riots to recover their losses from the compensation authority of the local police area.  This authority should pay out the costs of repair and loss.  If you have insurance that does not cover the full amount then the compensation authority will still pay out but less any payment made by the insurance company.  I circulated this information around our local press and shops earlier in the week.

It is very important to note; however, that you have just fourteen days to make a claim!  This period can be extended to 42-days if you make an application to the compensation authority within the initial 14-days.

Turning now to the final part of the title, which is political nonsense.  I was going to call this political bollocks but that somehow seemed too rude... I suppose that doesn't matter now I've written the word in the text.

David Cameron PM, decided to come back from his holiday to offer up some criticism of the police, put out some soundbites, ruin all the other MPs holidays and otherwise not do very much to help the situation.  At least Bojo picked up a broom after some face to face heckling.

One thing that Call Me Dave said in Parliament was that police chiefs had admitted to him that there were not enough police on the streets for the first few nights of the rioting.  I agree, there weren't from what I saw.  But lets just recall that Dave's Government has already cut back on police overtime and shed a number of front line police officers, I think it's 1,500 have gone since he became PM and is proposing the loss of many more - I've just read a suggestion that it could be up to 12,000 less officers!  This is a point that I think is lost on some people.  Over the past few days I've seen more police officers on the streets patrolling than I have ever seen in my life - not riot police either.  Hackney has been full of normal police officers in normal uniforms patrolling on foot.  I do not believe for a moment that high levels of policing would not deter crime.  I've been saying for years that having more police on the beat will actually cut crime!  In the past, I've made suggestions such as employing professional civilian gaolers to man the cells thus freeing up police officers and having dedicated trained civilian interviewers to conduct police interviews and thus free up officers.  They did actually introduce this, sort of any way, when they brought in Case Progression Units but they were staffed by police officers, most of whom hated being in the CPU and because it was police officers it didn't free up any officers at all.

Successive Governments have been obsessed with increasing conviction rates, usually by allowing in what has been inadmissible evidence for centuries or by cutting legal aid to prevent people receiving a fair trial.  But, what they don't seem to get is that they can cut the legal aid bill by reducing crime!  They also don't seem to get the point that high conviction rates are not a sign of a Government that is tough on crime.  It is a sign of a Government that allows people to commit far too many crimes!  If we had a high conviction rate coupled with a fair and balanced system (which includes equality of arms) where few crimes were actually committed then I'd say the Government is doing a good job.  But we don't.  We have a system where we have a relatively low conviction rate - depending on offence and the court where the case is heard - coupled with a high crime rate.  Basically the Government has got it all arse about tit.

There endeth the rant.


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