Category Archives: Law and order – La Loi et l’Ordre

Raw & Rant – When the police refuse to police.

New section: the raw and the ranting.

My car was vandalised overnight. Stone through the passenger window, glove box opened, a couple of things stolen among which sunglasses adapted to my sight, a little bag full of mini perfume samples, some carwash tokens and an unfinished packet of biscuits…All you need for a perfect Saturday evening, ain’t it?

So that’s stressful enough when someone rings a bell at 9am on a Sunday but you think it’s some Jeovah witnesses and you are readying yourself to have a good time proving them what a loads of bollocks they are saying. No, it’s your lovely neighbour who points out to the shattered glass on the floor and feels sorry for you.

I call my mother, in Paris, and whose car it is, and she says I need to go to the police station and lodge a complaint. That’s where things get a real turn for the worst. Police station after a ride sitting on broken glass, I call on the intercom,  say why I am here, a woman takes more than 5 minutes to open the door just to tell me to come back tomorrow because they don’t deal with that kind of problems on Sundays.

Usually quick to react, I am flabbergasted. I just respectfully bow and ask her some questions I already know the answers too: should I make a list of what they stole? should I take a pictures? I already did. My heart is screaming that something is wrong with she is doing but my brain doesn’t register. It’s overwhelmed and I am in full anxiety mode which, weirdly, makes me very poised and clinical, but unable to think properly.

I return home and realise the extend of what happened after I called the insurance – what a nice, lovely man he was! So I call  the police again and tell them my car was vandalised, went to the police station when I was told it wasn’t the right time to lodge a complaint and should come back the next day. I ask for a police station that is actually working and with, at the least, a smidgen of professionalism.

The guy doesn’t answer my question as to where I can go and start telling me that on Sundays, it’s not the police station but the patrols that take complaints. So what? I am supposed to be standing on the pavement all day waiting for a police car to pass by – which never happens in my neighbour, considered posh. He says they will see the damage on their way. But it’s raining and two hours have past since I found out so I cleaned the car, covered the window and swept the glass of the road and pavement in a street with a lot of people are walking with their little animals…and dogs.

He tries to focus on one detail I said about the absence of cars passing by. “It’s not because you don’t see them that they…” I cut him short. “This is not the point. I asked you something simple, you still have not answered and it’s the emergency number. Some people need you, obviously you don’t think I do so have a nice day. Good bye.” I hung up as he’s speaking.

Now, thieves will be thieves. It’s rarely people leaving a fantastic life in a stable environment. I know it sounds rosy and rainbowy and carebeary but I can’t help but feeling some empathy, somehow.  A packet of biscuits and some perfume samples? Was the trouble really worth it? Did you really sleep well after you broke someone else’s car to get that? I guess the unknown person side of it makes it easier.

My problem is when the police will not be the police. “Not the right moment.” Can we be provided with a timetable of when we can report such and such issues? Vandalism on Mondays, assaults on Tuesdays, murders on Wednesday before lunch…

The media, the politicians are banging about the need for increasing security for the sake of us all but the feeling of insecurity doesn’t come only from terrorist attacks. Today, I am utterly stressed and my anxieties are through the roof because I wonder about my car which I use for a living. All the windows are open and the sightliest noise from the street makes me jump to see what’s happening.

I know it’s irrational but that’s the nature of insecurity. Sure, I wasn’t shot in the head by some mad men in the name of whatever ideology or beliefs but I have been spending the last five hours not knowing what to do with myself as the police is refusing to acknowledge that something happened. At least, until tomorrow because it’s Sunday. What does that mean for all the upcoming Sundays and Saturdays after 5pm. Should we all observe a curfew for our own sake and barricade ourselves and everything we had inside because anything can happen between now and Monday morning?

That’s insane but that’s insecurity for you: the biggest political gain for all parties today.

And it’s not the first time  not is it about Sundays. Years ago, on a Tuesday, when some people broke in the house when I was sleeping upstairs but left quickly after they realised the absence of car did not mean empty house, I went to the police. And during my statement, after a sleepless night of fear, the person refused to write down that I knew they were a group because I could hear different people walking on the glass downstairs.

“Broken glass doesn’t make any sound when walked on it”, she snided. I pointed out her job was to write down what I was saying, not to interpret it, surely not to counter it. I had to demand to see her superior and tell them she was questioning my version of the events for her to finally write down what I was saying. I felt like I was the criminal trying to lie my way into getting more that I should when I was just describing the scene as I experienced it.

The dismissal is not just limited to me nor is it to France. Friends of mine have countless stories about the police dismissing some claims and complaints and in England, after someone usurped my identity to steal £2000 for me, the police told me it wasn’t their job to investigate it, it was the bank. The bank was at fault because they didn’t check as they should so of course they would not investigate. Not matter my taking out the money-side of things and focusing on the usurpation as such and possible consequences, they would not take my complaint and I was left in limbo fearing of what the person would do in my name for months.

Today, I don’t feel insecure because of Daesh or Al Qaida or homophobic politicians lurking around the corner to make me an illegal again, I feel insecure because one of the few times I needed the police, they told me my issue was irrelevant and to come back later when more appropriate. Of course, this time, it’s just glass and some petty theft but still, it’s the kind of everyday crime that people must live with and unfortunately the police don’t consider important. It’s like they are all waiting for the next terrorist attack, nothing else matters. “If you don’t want to take my complaint because you have to be ready for the next Ben Laden, you’re wasting your time.”

Criminals will be criminals and that’s an issue but the real problems start when the people who must protect the everyday citizen against them refuse to act according to their mission of serve and protect and no, a patrol does not suffice, carrying a gun does not suffice, walking around looking threatening does not suffice, frisking some dark-skinned people does not siffice for it does not provide with a real feeling of security.

Today, my whole street is looking at my car, the glass in the gutter and worrying about their own possession. Maybe even their loved ones as we were told our neighbourhood was posh and trouble-free. This feeling of insecurity could be gone within a couple of minutes, provided the police agreed to be the police. They have not and my neighbours are appalled by crime but more so by their inaction.

Today, the police are basically making the feeling of insecurity even worse because the question now is : How bad must it be for the police to do something?

“If you want them to come because your neighbours are ASBOs, tell me you hear screaming, or you smell burning” a former roommate, who was a A&E doctor, told me. “If you have an accident, pretend one of your is badly hurt. They’d never move otherwise.”

That’s encouraging…