Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Links litter incident

Cllr Graham Kerr of West Community Council is a vociferous proponent of stronger action on litter and over the last two meetings of his organisation he has questioned the police representative present, Sgt Olga Hansen, on litter matters. At the most recent meeting he related to Olga a recent incident that he’d heard about from one of his constituents:

“The lady was crossing the Links near the bandstand and there were some youths in there drinking and throwing the bottles out of the bandstand. She asked them to refrain and pick up the bottles to which she got some foul and abusive language. Fortunately she was actually on the phone at the time, it was her sister that was on the phone, who said, “Get yourself out of there and get home.” She phoned the police and her sister phoned the police. The police went down to the Links
by which time the youths had moved across to the swings but the person who they abused lived nearby there and was able to stop the police car and point them out. The police car went down and got the youths and sent them back to pick up the bottles and then drove off and the youths went skipping and dancing back to their friends.”

Olga asked him what the point he was making was and Graham continued: “When you’ve got somebody who clearly is identified as the culprit[…] surely an example can be made?”

Olga responded that the youths didn’t admit to being the culprits but did go back to pick up the litter. She said: “Quite often dealing with youngsters it’s more humiliating for them in front of their mates, to go and pick up what they may have dropped and tidy plus if they are under 16, they are not going to be reported to the procurator fiscal it is going to be a court children’s panel.”
She then explained how while she was quite happy for officers to actively check litterbugs during quieter periods police resources were often stretched and she illustrated how often they will be going directly from call to call on issues such as assault and child protection.

Graham continued to press his point and Olga then said, quite rightly to this observer, “You weren’t there, the same as I wasn’t there, so I’m not going to criticise any officer and the way they dealt with them at the time.[…] You’ve got somebody’s view on it and I’ve got someone’s view on it.”

The Councillor had more to say though, including: “But the bottle would be lying on the ground and the fingerprints would be there for you to get.”

The Chair Rosemary Young then intervened, “Graham you can take this up if you want to, go along to the Police Station and take it further,” and turning to Olga and Graham in turn she continued, “You’re absolutely right, you weren’t there, you weren’t there. There’s obviously witnesses, but I don’t think this is the place to be airing it. I think we do have a problem occasionally with litter. It’s nice to know the police did turn up and the youths did pick the bottles up.”

Some people would obviously like more done on the subject of litter and what they consider the bad behaviour of some youths in Nairn. It’s worth here perhaps how a question of feral youth played out at the hustings in the run-up to the Highland Council elections earlier this month, here’s a video on a question raised about feral youth.

Are some in the community perhaps too critical of our young people and compared to some places are we getting off lightly?  I mentioned Graham’s tale to a friend recently and he had quite an interesting response:

”Kids are kids but the young people in Nairn really are kids compared to many in larger cities who would take a knife to you in the way that they might swear at you in Nairn. There's plenty of roaming space in Nairn that is not policed all the time, impossible to do really unless we get another few hundred CCTV cameras, and even there are going to be places out of the way. Maybe we need drones that fly around Nairn armed with anti kid missiles controlled by the West CC of course

Maybe we're heading towards a US situation whereby walking on the street is no longer acceptable, and the police will stop and question you as a matter of course

Kids are only doing what many adults do but in an outside public place, namely drinking, getting pissed, and then taking on the world, but I expect drinking fine wines and shouting at the TV is OK!”

Yes some of our young people are getting pissed but by no means all of them, if there were a couple of thousand youngsters roaming the streets blind drunk every weekend we’d soon be in massive trouble. We live in a society were you can still just about fill a wheelbarrow full of bottles of cheap cider for around £20. Are those youngsters that are causing problems simply following the signals that our society is giving them?
It can’t be easy being young in 2012. As the world changes and our economy declines compared to other parts of the world then it could be argued that many youngsters will not enjoy the opportunities that a lot of us had when we were younger. If they go on to higher education they are saddled with debt when they exit, often to find they are unable to find work after three to four years of studying for a degree which was once the passport to a better job and lifestyle. As they see the rest of us, generally comfortably off compared to what they have to struggle to attain, is it any wonder that a few of them get pissed and make a nuisance of themselves? As a society, yes we should deal with the more unruly ones, but let’s try and offer the youth a bit more. 

The Daily Record states: “THE number of young people who are long-term unemployed has shot up by 1155 per cent in less than five years.”  Scottish unemployment is around 8% and the youth figure almost three times that according to other online sources. We’ve got a long way to go before we reach Spain’s 50% plus youth unemployment but we seem to be heading down that route. How much can the fabric of our society take if this continues? Can we just leave the young to rot and not expect consequences from that?  So far there are just one or two broken bottles on the Links, maybe we should be grateful for that?


AuldSkater said...

This is why I enjoy reading the Gurn, most other sites would have been off on a rabid rant about the 'feral' youth. Nicely written and well reasoned.

None of this is new either, it's the same thing I did 10 years ago sitting down at the links. I can't imagine much has changed in Nairn since I left and there was very little for us to do back then.

The sentiment from the Councillor regarding fingerprints on the bottle is utterly ridiculous, does he really think this is a good use of resources? Next it will be DNA profiling dog poo from the beach. Incredibly out of touch.

west isn't best said...

It seems to me that in recent times some West Community Councillors want to increasingly move their area towards a full Police State. The call for roads to be blocked off to the general public, and now Cllr Graham Kerr having the temeraty to harass a Police officer for not showing as far as I can see greater interest in a litter problem which by all accounts was dealt with by the Police. Maybe not however to Cllr Kerr's satisfaction.
What will be the next public order issue? A call for CCTV cameras on every street corner in the West end, gated communities?
Compared to many communities the crime rate in Nairn is very low and yet here we have elected representatives of our community wanting to impose feudal controls over the rest of the population
As Auldskater said a thoughtful article from the Gurn, maybe time the rest of Nairn divorced itself from the West?

Alec said...

From my own observations, there's a temptation in such situations to adopt a tone with the Po-Po which the speaker never would get away with on the street.

Misplaced anger, sort of thing. You think blogs are bad?


Alec said...

Also, given that Kerr is a community councillor, I would have thought CC or CCer was a more appropriate abbreviation; as opposed to Cllr which, to my mind, suggests a local councillor.


Graisg said...

Graham Kerr is elected by voters in the West CC area Alec. Some of our Community Councillors in Nairn (love them or loath them) put in a tremendous amount of work into community campaigns and projects. Some of them I would suggest do more than some paid Highland Councillors have done in the past. I personally think them worthy of being sddressed as councillor and a lot of them enjoy the same standard of respect in the Community's collective eye.
When you go and analyse how many votes some councillors on the West, River and Suburban have received you realise that they often surpassed what some Highland Council candidates got for first preferences.

I wasn't there either said...

So here we have a complaint about what is in effect young people showing disrespect for their community by allegedly dropping litter, and yet we have a community councillor who seems to find it perfectly OK to show by the same token very little or no respect towards a community Police officer. In days of old she could have given him a clip around the ear and sent him on his way. I for one would fully support any such action by PC Olga
Just who does community councillor Kerr think he is to act in such an ignorant and bullying way? Oh yes... a West community councillor incapable of building bridges with his community outwith the west end?

Graisg said...

Bullying and ignorant? - that's too deep an interpretation I'd say. I would say vociferous and determined to cross-examine Sgt Hansen on litter and the incident he related. OTT? It depends what hits the spot for you, maybe you should be there next time.

Alec said...

It wasn't a criticism of the office of CCer... more a query about nomenclature.

Do I take it that the CCs in Nurn are hotly contested? Thurso's was one of many in which all got in uncontested, and has even fewer after a brace of resignations and one death.

Bower CC almost had to be laid down, and that aint as bad as the (?) Wick paths committee which Wick CC has broken links with as it's down to just one member.


Graisg said...

This time round West and Suburban were contested and River had one below the line for a contest. I actually stood for River but didn't take it up as I didn't want to be any sort of rep for the community without being elected. Some of those that were elected to River CC however had the Kudos of having previously been chosen by the voters.
Here there is a lot of interest in CCs given the friction between Nairn and centralised central command in Glenurquhart Road. Here's hoping the new administration manages to reverse some of the Invercentric policies of the past regime.

Alec said...

>> I actually stood for River but didn't take it up as I didn't want to be any sort of rep for the community without being elected

That was very decent of you, but has it not perpetuated the torpor? You could have hung-around for one session and put your heart and soul into it (just as many volunteers are in community association roles which don't even allow for an election process) with an awareness of your lack of mandate in the hope interest picked-up for 2015.

Now, as I see, River CC has three co-opted members who didn't even consider putting themselves forward for possible election.

>> Here there is a lot of interest in CCs given the friction between Nairn and centralised central command in Glenurquhart Road.

Similar in the Hyperborean North, of course, (with the hope it'll change with new plans [1]), but iirc there were none contested. So what's different, I wonder.

Relative affluence of West and Suburban? Presence of established community structures and organizations?


[1] http://efrafandays.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/area-committee-for-caithness-and-sutherland/

Graisg said...

Yes if the 3 co-opted members had bothered to stand a ballot would have needed to have taken place. Actually the 3 co-opted members of River have more votes than the rest of the members. 5 people put themselves forward and there was a secret ballot among the councillors that were returned unopposed to chose 3 of them.