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More and more people turning to private security

PUBLISHED: 11:08 18 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:22 07 September 2010

THERE were red faces all round when only four residents turned up for a public meeting with Barnet s chief superintendent on Monday night. Was this apathy on a grand scale, an indication that a cynical public sees these meetings as mere window dressing, o

THERE were red faces all round when only four residents turned up for a public meeting with Barnet's chief superintendent on Monday night. Was this apathy on a grand scale, an indication that a cynical public sees these meetings as mere window dressing, or perhaps a reassuring sign that all is well in Barnet's leafy suburbs?

People usually turn up to policing meetings when they have serious concerns, so perhaps the feeble turnout for the borough commander's talk on the 'policing pledge' was a good thing. This initiative, ironically, was conceived to improve communication between the Met and residents.

Meanwhile, in some parts of Hampstead and Highgate, there appears to be a growing disconnect between the people and the police. True, Hampstead police station has been saved, at least until its market value is restored, but something is wrong when private security firms are being relied on to protect teenage girls on their way home from school.

Is this a lack of confidence in normal policing, a sign that people no longer believe they will be protected against reasonable risk by normal policing methods? Undoubtedly an element of paranoia may be involved following recent high-profile court cases but these cases were not figments of anyone's imaginations - the proceedings were the result of real and brutal attacks which have left many women fearful for their personal safety and that of their children.

This added security of course is the preserve of the wealthy, and not available for financial reasons to most ordinary people. But in turn it is the wealthiest who are most at risk from muggings and robberies. The days have gone when callous criminals were content to randomly rob old ladies of their handbags. Nowadays the thugs are much more painstaking and as our front page story last week revealed, seasoned criminals will carry out many days of surveillance on specific individuals before attacking the most lucrative targets they can find.

Inevitably, the softest targets will also be the most attractive to criminals and it is a sad reflection of modern society that schoolgirls are now perceived to be at such serious risk.


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