Monday, 22 November 2010

Planted evidence?

Last year the Accounts Commission criticised the Tayside Police Joint Board for "weak" scrutiny of the force and accused councillor members of not understanding their role, naturally to a collective harrumph from the board.

I wasn't aware that there was any real attempt at scrutiny at all, but perhaps if a recent Courier report is anything to go by then it ably demonstrates what the commission was getting at. A councillor asked, "if there were statistics available to show links between crimes and drink and drug abuse and unemployment."

Well I suspect the dogs on the streets of Dundee know the answer to that one, but of course it gave the top brass at Tayside Police a chance to strut their stuff. But this looks like the kind of planted question that we hear from politicians from the governments' sides in PMQs and FMQs. If that's the best board members can come up with in terms of scrutiny, should they really be on the board - they should be able to construct some semblance of an answer to a question like that by themselves, surely?

On the other hand, the chief constable's answer does help set things up in the board's favour if crime rises due to the deteriorating economic situation - get the excuses in early - while if the crime figures stay on course then cue even more self-congratulation and backslapping than usual. It's a win-win for all concerned.

Meanwhile, a former Labour candidate in Dundee's troubled Stobswell (Maryfield ward) area writes to the Tele to say that the problems of crime, prostitution and ASB won't change because there are three SNP councillors in the area and thus no contrasting views.

What a load of nonsense. For as long as I've been following these matters there's been little evidence of any distinctive views from any of the parties in this regard. Instead it's just the usual something-must-be-done, we're-doing-all-we-can, we'll-never-give-up, sort of thing.

Indeed, a recent press letter on the issues from the SNP's latest councillor could have been written by any councillor of any party in the last decade or so - at least - and surely no one except the most blinkered partisan would notice any difference. In fact the same could be applied to just about any statement from any councillor in Dundee on such matters.

For example, guess the party of this councillor who made this statement to the press regarding the vandalism of a newly-built house intended for use by the disabled:
This is not just an isolated case, but an example of a problem that has been going on for some time. The same thing happened to the house next door recently. This kind of behaviour demonstrates a total disregard for people and property. It's the sort of thing that causes the community to lose heart — and our people deserve better than this. The police must also give the community its fullest possible support to help stamp this out.
Answer in the Courier's report. Actually, it isn't, but would it really matter if it was?

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