I am going to start this blog off by comments made by Greater Manchester Police in relation to the murder of Indian student Anuj Bidve. As a former police worker in Lancashire where police in the UK have needed to address issues which have included institutional racism, institutional homophobia and institutional sexism and hearing the news that GMP are to lose 300 front-line officers I think we need to become rightly concerned with policing in Salford.
In my blogs I have challenged GMP to their analysis that crime is reducing in our city. GMP Chief Peter Fahy can spout off as many figures as he wants but in my opinion they are cloud-cuckoo figures that do not reflect the number of crimes and seriousness of crimes in our city.
Its all very nice "pretending" all is well, crime is being reduced when in reality we are seeing killings on a very regular basis and many people are the victims of crime and do not even get recorded. Also crime in our city is already on average higher than many cities in the United Kingdom.
The latest from GMP following the conviction of Kieran Stapleton is that the killing is not racist. GMP maybe trying to reassure the minority communities in Salford which I applaud but I believe in doing so, they are really trying to kid our "minority" communities that this attack was not racist when even in trial a prosecutor said to Kieran Stapleton and I quote "This was perfect, absolutely perfect. You wanted to kill someone and nothing could be better than a group of foreigners on your patch. You shot that man and killed him. It worked like a treat and you ran off laughing?"(Guardian26/07). We know the student is from India and not of white origin and even if Mr Stapleton denied any element of racism I am sorry GMP but its not rocket science to many that race did play a part unfortunately, in Mr Bidve's death. GMP do our community a disservice by proclaiming otherwise and many will and should be taking extra precautions as a result of this terrible act and rightly so.
Then no doubt to appease many in Salford from ordinary members of the community to leading figures in my opinion, GMP state also the murder of Anuj Bidve is not a reflection on communities or society in Salford where this murder took place ? I want to be clear that the vast majority of residents in Salford are law-abiding people but to make such simple statements and not to acknowledge the serious failures in our communities as though they do not exist I think is probably a sad reflection of policing in our city that such a young man could so easily get a weapon and kill someone on our streets so easily ?
The following is written in same Guardian article "The man who was with Stapleton on the night of the murder, Ryan Holden, said he could not go to police with an anonymous tip off as "if I had done, I would have been dead in a week". There was "not a chance" of him being a "grass", as his family would also be in danger. The 20-year-old, who gave evidence behind a curtain said the gun was not his and he had not known his friend had a weapon on him."
A human being is killed in the most callous manner and someone who could have come forward even anonymously failed to do so because he says if he did he would be dead within the week and GMP have the audacity to make such stupid statements where this clear evidence contradicts and simply highlights graphically the serious issues that need to be addressed in our city. Their crass statements do not fool me and do nothing to change my perception that there are serious problems with policing in our city.
Around 18 months ago in the community where I live in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon two people were involved in a serious brawl where a knife was drawn, a whip was used, arrests were made but NO charges were brought and therefore NO crime on the official statistics. It was a horrific assault but it was so convenient for the police officer concerned not to pursue because if they did another crime on our statistics I am in no doubt.
These issues make me extremely worried indeed about policing in Salford. I believe there are serious issues where we are given figures which are clearly not correct, statements which are made to reassure but contrdict clear evidence and crimes that are committed do not get recorded. In the meantime, more people are killed, gun crime still occurs and we see less policing on our streets. I am pleased our city has a Mayor as crime out of control will be his responsibility to get a grip and I support the governments introduction of Police Commissioners whom we all elect in November which bring democratic accountability to our policing services which I believe are long-overdue.
There has been some serious criticism aimed at Ian Stewart, Salford's first directly-elected Mayor. Already, many are criticising the system of local government for the values of one man ? So our Mayor is offered £69,000 PA and it seems he is taking every penny. In doing so, many are criticising the system rather than the man himself ? I supported the Mayoral system and I overwhelmingly still do.
The Mayor doesnt have to take what is offered to him. Many City Mayor's have taken much less than what is offered. Our Mayor has so far failed to do so. Don't criticise the system for the values of one man. If you dont like his values then dont vote for him next time around ?
A campaign has been set up to save The Salford Victoria Theatre. Recent video's and reports by Salfordonline have demonstrated what a beautiful building this is. I wish the campaign well in their endeavours.