Monday, March 17, 2008

They want your pod! Apparently

After the small but perfectly formed national demonstration to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq I tootled up to Lewisham, parts of which have recently been redecorated by the police with these charming signs.

"Beware! They want your pod!" Absolutely hilarious.

"They" want your "pod" - it's like something out of the invasion of the body snatchers. In what seemed like a pleasant area with decreasing crime our boys in blue clearly have nothing left to do apart from put up signs trying to scare the bejeesus out of everyone and justify their own existence.

The "pod" thing in particular fascinates me. Was this some hip dude cop who's too cool to call them iPods? Or perhaps it was a group of old duffers who were collectively tutting saying things "Oh yes, they always go for the pod wotsits don't they, and those walkman thingummies."

Or perhaps they just don't want to infringe iPod's copyright so feel compelled to warn people about having something stolen that doesn't even exist. Freaky. These people are less muggers than they are soul sucking demons from the abyss hoping to steal your innermost pod.

Something else, the poor bloke having his pod pinched in poster one has become the mugger in poster two - clearly a lesson for us all that those who are victims of crime become hardened and embittered, going on to commit crime themselves - a sad tale subtly told.

We've had people trying to whip up the fear of crime round my way but there doesn't seem to be any evidence that this actually works in preventing crime - only in making people apprehensive. Posters with groups of friends laughing and smiling would have more effect at undercutting crime than this scaremongering tosh.

My friend Dave, who lives in Oxford, was telling me that the police in his area published a list of the top five crimes that they were cracking down on. Number one? Cycling on the pavement - but this doesn't stop both Lib Dems and Labour leading their local election material with pledges for more police, even though the cops themselves are not asking for more uniformed personnel. Does it really take political guts to occasionally say "you know crackdowns are not appropriate right now"?

Creating concern about crime is a political act that does little to make the community safer but does act to undermine social cohesion, leaving some local residents feeling isolated and vulnerable. Everyone wants their area to be safe but few people find a constant police presence reassuring as it only acts to make us feel that it is force alone that prevents crimes taking place.

In fact the police have an impossible job to do as no matter how good they are at "crime fighting" they will never be as effective as economic stability, community spirit and social justice.

If we keep turning our neighbours into "they" it actually undermines the long term project of making our communities safer and gives us false hope that there is a policing solution to anti-social behaviour. In the mean time keep your hand over your pods at all times!


Leftwing Criminologist said...

ah, politics and law and order - they whip up so much fear that they have to be seen to be doing the measures that they have suggested will solve it even though they won't do anything about it.

Alice said...

Great post! They'd be improved quite a lot if someone drew alien eyes and antennae on the pod people, perhaps with tip-ex and marker pens...

Have you seen the ads in bus stops all over London which say "Secure beneath the watchful eye"?

They're designed and commissioned either by someone who has never read Orwell's 1984, or by someone who has - I can't decide which is the worst possibility.

Jim Jay said...

Oh my god Alice - thanks for pointing that out (I think) I google imaged for them and here they are

Be warned - not for the feint hearted.