Saturday 18 December 2004

Bottling Anger

Cents and pennies calling on thousands
Two weeks have past since I was the victim of utterly senseless and unprovoked violence at the hands of drug-fed demented animals masquerading as humans on the streets of Amsterdam.
Whilst, one can say most of what happened has been put behind and one looks forth, the memories of the unfortunate incident transcended the effects of the physical pain and humiliation when I mentally tallied up the cost of this event in basic monetary terms.
My bicycle was damaged whch means I have to replace the bell, the gear assembly and have it serviced, that could be 50 Euros or there abouts.
I ordered a replacement pair of glasses which is taking about 2 weeks to pass through the system, meanwhile I am using last year's spectacles - cost 200 Euros.
Two days off sick recuperating from the event - cost around 1,000 Euros.
The bitterest pill of all was the 4 hours I spent in the Accident & Emergency section of the hospital out of which I was attended to for less than 30 minutes and the treatment just involved gluing up the cut to my eye-brow and ascertaining that my jaw was not broken by having 2 X-rays taken, since the first was considered too light.
Anyway, that bill came to just under 200 Euros.
A mental calculation puts the total cost at 1,450 Euros - for an event that lasted less than 5 minutes, effected by 3 unknown persons who have wreaked havoc and walked away with no consequences for their actions.
To that, add the possible damage that was done to the bicycle thrown at me, the unfortunate owner of that bicycle inadvertently intertwined with my episode by the coincidence of fate and not any wiser of the bigger picture.
This represents basis quantifiable costs of being inflicted with actual bodily harm, however, this is never accounted for in any of the crime statistics that get bandied around by politicians.
Manifesto unmanifest
Ones pique is rather more inflamed with the misguided idea that the introduction of compulsory identity cards would prevent crime, how that logic works out escapes me, though it is becoming the accepted view in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Crime and punishment is such a political football, however, it is time for the electoral to see through the intentions and perceptions created to the realities and facts on the ground.
The police are just not interested in fighting real crime when it is easier to place them on the Metro to catch fare dodgers and on bicycle paths to fine night-riders without light.
Gosh! I am beginning to sound cynical.
It then becomes utterly laughable when the new initiative "Towards a Secure Society" [1] tries to inform of how to protect oneself from crime and violence.
The accompanying English Summary [2] suggests a number of strategies which offer a good grammatical construction full of intent but lacking in activity.
One such is under the title Safety strategy
Priorities in the criminal approach
This means that incidents occurring in public spaces, such as assault, mugging, acts of vandalism, anti-social behaviour on public transport and offences committed by young offenders will be tackled by the police and the judiciary.
Then the use of certain unorthodox methods to achieve the objective of a secure environment which includes
Less administrative work for the police, so that they can spend more time out on the streets and can start more investigations;
And the coup de grace is delivered with these intended results
Intended results
The government has high ambitions. The aim of its policy is to buck the trend. Current trends in criminality and disorder, particularly in the categories of behaviour that have a direct impact on the individual, must be reversed.
It is the firm belief of this government that concentrated targeting of these categories will be more beneficial to society, which will actually be made safer by the end of 2006 as a result, not only from an objective viewpoint in terms of figures, but especially from a subjective viewpoint, i.e. as perceived by individual persons.
For the record, this certainly does not mean that criminality and disorder will be banished for good.
What it does mean is that by the end of 2006, according to current opinion, the conditions will be in place to enable the individual to enjoy a considerably higher degree of safety in (semi-)public spaces.
A reduction in criminality and disorder in public spaces by (for example) around 20% or 25% from 2006 onwards must be the target figure.
Lacking opportunity
I am probably one of the many who have been frustrated by the police in the quest to lodge a report about a crime and have been fobbed off with some unspeakable bureaucratic measure that just beggars belief.
For instance, the fact that having just walked into a police station straight from the hospital opposite the road to report a crime that happened in Amsterdam and being told it had to be reported to the station in the precinct of the crime was just too incredible for words.
I was at that hospital because it was the only Accident & Emergency ward for the whole of central Amsterdam, the insensitive of the police to my situation cannot bear scrutiny.
Basically, I gave up on reporting the crime knowing that I would probably spend another 4 hours sat there waiting to be attended to, and I could not for the life of me remember who attacked me or what they looked like.
Typically, reporting a robbery could take a few days, since one has to book an appointment to see the police and arrange to offer a statement, the police station is hardly what you might call customer-friendly.
Placed in the future to arrive a lot later
2006 is the golden year, a reduction of criminality - I beg to differ; there were over 10 witnesses to the event when 3 people beat me up on a well lit street. At least 5 of them were onlookers rather than just passing by.
It is the intolerable face of tolerance, that society cannot act together to prevent an injustice. The whole concept of individual space and freedom now includes a quiet indifference to societal ills as long as one is not the involved party.
Times have past when the first person to speak up was the leader, now you speak up to your own peril together with being branded a maverick.
Things have changed so much so, it appears the only appearance of society that works as we should know it is in Africa, what we now see in the West is neither civil nor civilisation, it is a weak society propped up on drugs and given to lasciviousness, savagery and attitudes not even becoming of animals.
Hence, it is a mindset of values that needs to come upon this society, not another set of formulas, laws and attention grabbing statutes.
When it comes to crime, the future is just not good enough, people do not want to wait 2 years to be sure they would not be beaten up in public places - they would rather not get beaten up, today, tomorrow, yesterday or ever.
[1] Nederlandveilig - Safety in the Netherlands
[2] Towards a more secure society

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