Being helpful doesn’t pay

Residents in an area of Dagenham, Essex, were getting a little fed up with not being able to sit in their own back gardens, risking assault or having graffiti daubed on buildings by a group of up to twenty-five yobs.

Calls to the police yielded nothing but a ‘we’ll send someone round’, but they never did. Complaints to the council fared little better. The area is covered by CCTV cameras, but the youths would use two trees as shelter to obscure them from view. It is here that they would congregate, out of sight, to drink, take drugs, have sex and hide, knowing the CCTV cameras were unable to identify them.

One resident, however, decided he would help the local authorities to identify the yobs and, in broad daylight and in full view, chopped down the offending trees.

As if by magic, four policemen appeared at his door and arrested him for criminal damage. They told him he could either pay £80 or be taken to court. Keith Best, who has lived in the street for twenty years, said he would go to court.

The yobs in the area had assaulted a pensioner, beaten one youth and stabbed another, hurled bottles at people and cars, but had never been caught red-handed because of the two trees obscuring the CCTV cameras. The local authorities had shown little, if any, interest in events and the residents were more than fed up with being terrorised night after night.

The helpful act by Keith Best, however, has resulted in him being charged with criminal damage. Coincidentally, since the chopping down of the two trees, there have been no more incidents of vandalism or graffiti.

The way things are going, with criminals seemingly having more rights than law-abiding citizens, the best idea might be to imprison all honest people and let the yobbos, vandals and criminals run wild. That way, the honest folk will at least be guaranteed food, safety and shelter and, for a change, be taken care of. And they won’t get nicked for an overfull bin, dropping crumbs, trying to protect their property or putting the wrong coloured bottle in a rubbish container.

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