Throughout my presently 32 years in public life I have had numerous encounters with police officers. The vast majority of those encounters have been really positive and I grew to respect many police women and men as a consequence.
But I have also encountered police officers who have struck me as being simply the wrong type of person to put on that uniform. I refer to personality traits such as controlling, self-important or remote from the communities they are meant to be serving.
Yes police officers have to be tough and unwavering as they try to keep us safe but they all also require good diplomatic and interpersonal skills despite the challenges of their job.
I don’t know about you but I sighed when I read the Liverpool Echo article above. It’s all well and good apologising but the bottom line is the remark should never have been made in the first place by a police officer. OK the officer has been given ‘management advice’ but surely the officer’s managers must be thinking that this seeming lack of judgement is far more serious than an apology can put right.
Work has now started on remodeling the former youth facility in Maghull Town Hall to turn it into a Police Station and Maghull Town Council seems to think this is worth celebrating. But is it? My letter to the Champion newspaper puts the matter in context:-
Is there really much to celebrate because part of Maghull Town Hall is to become a Police Station soon?
In my view what we have lost far outweighs what we are going to gain. The accommodation that the Police are moving into was specifically remodeled into a youth facility from its original use as a sports changing room not so many years ago. What’s more that accommodation was shared with the Citizens Advice (CAB). So whilst gaining a Police Station within the Town Hall we have lost the last publicly funded youth facility in the area and the CAB.
What’s to celebrate, the match has sadly been lost 2-1.
Poster on Maghull Town Hall noticeboard recently
Having campaigned to bring a CAB facility to Maghull and backed the establishment of the innovative Youth Coffee Bar I am rather saddened by this turn of events, indeed it angers me.
These are the plans (above) that ensure that the youth facility can never be reopened. Surely using this space for a Police Station to serve the Sefton East Parishes part of the Borough (Lydiate, Maghull, Melling and Aintree Village) is a wrong-headed priority. Of course the area needs a Police Station but we also need a youth facility and a CAB.
There are plenty of vacant shop/retail units locally so why take the space that had been specifically converted as youth facility and occupied for that use until recently – it could have and should have been revived.
And to put the tin lid on it we are told that there are concerns about the rise in anti-social behaviour as though having a active attractive youth offering would not be part of the solution to that problem!
Click on the photos and the plan to enlarge them
I have lived in the Maghull and Lydiate communities since I was 10 years of age so I know how crime free our area has always been. Yet in the past year we have had 3 shootings, one at the Recycling Centre, one outside Maricourt High School and one in Rufford Avenue. This is unprecedented in Maghull history as far as I know and deeply worrying for the folks who live here.
I have also worked in Bootle since I was 17 and the worrying trend towards gun crime there, which seems to be associated with gang culture, has to be a big concern for both Bootle residents and the many public sector workers who are employed in its mini-Whitehall quarter.
My objective is to ensure that Merseyside’s new Police and Crime Commissioner knows how concerned Sefton residents are to rid our streets of guns. I am looking for a clear strategy to achieve that and am pleased that Sefton Council Leader Peter Dowd has agreed to pursue the matter following my raising it at Sefton’s full Council meeting last Thursday.
It is vital that we try to rid guns from our communities before we end up with someone wanting to set up a branch of the National Rifle Association locally. It is essential that this battle with guns is given the very highest priority in Merseyside.