9:16am Friday 16th March 2012
Likening to sort of low-level crime we face in Falmouth with the mean streets of New York may well sound ridiculous, but there is a lot of sense in the steps being taken in the town.
The famous 'broken windows' policy introduced in the US city in the 1980s was a lesson to us all in how you can affect major changes by tackling what at first appear to be insignificant problems.
The thinking behind the plan, which was first put forward by George L. Kelling in 1982, suggests that, by immediately repairing minor damage such as broken panes of glass, you prevent an escalation of problems.
The book suggests: “Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows.
“Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.”
Now the issues we face in Falmouth are certainly not quite on the same scale as those in Brooklyn, Harlem or the Bronx during the 1980s.
However, the same principles certainly apply as much in Falmouth in 2012 as they did in New York back in 1985.
The spate of low-level antisocial behaviour in the Gyllyngvase area may not be classified as serious crime - but its effect on local residents can be just as devastating.
Waking up to smashed-up bus stops, or being kept awake by loud music and shouting from the beach is no laughing matter.
These are issues that need tackling now before they get any worse. Allow those responsible to continually behave in that way without repercussions, and you are simply telling future generations it is fine to do what you want without having to think about its impact on others.
Now the police simply do not have the number of officers required to police the area effectively, as resources must be aimed towards higher-profile and more serious crimes.
However, the street wardens team being created for Gyllyngvase can do just as effective a job, simply by making youngsters think twice before they act.
A quiet word from someone highlighting why you should be a responsible member of the community will hopefully cut problems off before they actually occur.
It is the broken windows policy working in a different way - instead of repairing minor problems as they appear, you are actually tackling them before they become an issue at all.
Falmouth and the surrounding areas are a fantastic place to live, with very low crime rates and a strong sense of community.
Let us hope these new measures can help it stay like that for a long time to come.
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