I THOUGHT I’d be nosey the other day.
I logged on to the new police web site to find out how much crime there had been in my area.
I wasn’t the only one. It took an age to access the site as it was so busy.
This was day one in the life of www.police.uk
All you need to do is key in your postcode and it comes up with the goods.
A map appears showing a mile radius of your home. And there are markers saying where and what type of crimes had been committed in the last month.
Nothing to worry about.
Mostly anti-social behaviour.
But I found it very interesting. Even beyond the nosey stage. It gave me a better understanding of what is going on in the area where I live.
It also told me there had been a burglary not too far away, which came as a bit of a reminder to make sure I lock the doors when I go out.
We have a right to know this sort of information.
After all, we pay the police to sort out the problems landed on their doorsteps.
But I don’t think that attitude is universal.
The Star was told by a senior policeman that the force is ‘slightly nervous’ the move could raise people’s fear of crime.
This is a problem the police have been struggling with for years. Until now they have chosen to keep you and me in the dark over the levels of crime in our area.
I well remember when they were more open and told us about every cough and splutter they came across in the course of a policing shift.
People knew they only needed to look in the pages of The Star to learn why a police car was at the bottom of their street the other night or who was involved in the accident which delayed their journey homes that morning.
And I know of a lot of policeman also thought that was the best way to deal with criminal activity - expose it to public scrutiny and let the man and woman in the street play a part in maintaining law and order.
But you can’t do that if you don’t know about it.
I know of cases where readers have complained that there was a police cordon at the end of their street.
One man said he asked the bobby what it was about and was told to move along. Now, if that officer had been a little more forthcoming, perhaps less constrained by rules laid down by coppers who hadn’t patrolled a street in donkey’s years, maybe he would have struck up a conversation which would have turned up some useful information.
However, it seems that there is a thawing of the frozen blockage of information, via a website.
As I say, I think this is a good thing.
Not only because it satisfies my curiosity about what is going on in my neighbourhood. But also because it is a small example that someone somewhere doesn’t think I need to be treated as a child.
They believe that if I don’t know about something, I can’t worry about it.
There is a logic there but it is a totalitarian one.
I believe that withholding information is as sinister as changing it.
We deserve openness in our society and if there is something that worries us then we equally deserve the chance to debate it.
Who knows, we may even have some ideas which could solve the things which worry us.
Let’s have more openness.