Law and Order is always high on the Public Agenda, so when Nottinghamshire Police receive a statistically insignificant response to a Neighbourhood Priority Survey then it is perhaps appropriate to review if the rise Social Media has comprehensively eclipsed the traditionalist approach to local dialogue.
Simply ignoring the wealth of positive outcomes that the Police deliver on a daily basis and attributing undue significance to one dud survey would be foolish in the extreme. Unfortunately, however, it is quite easy to be overwhelmed by the view that folks addicted to the information superhighway are always one step ahead of those who champion a broader and more inclusive approach to local democracy. In truth, both groups probably have complementary benefits.
It is impossible to cover every aspect of this issue on two sides of A4 but it may be useful to consider my observations visiting family in Western Australia. Social Media Dialogue and Fibre Broadband Coverage are similar to the UK but traditional initiatives are still very much a part of the local culture. See the images above.
When you witness a corridor of 100 wheelie bins, fortnightly, lobbying local motorists to slow down, this highlights a grass roots aspect of community cohesion that is inherently much more inclusive of all local residents than Social Media will ever be able to fully replicate.
All the – ‘Vote With Your Wheelie Bin’ – Safer Neighbourhoods Priority Surveys are initiated thanks to a range of free stickers promoted by the Council. Full analysis of all the data is instantly available for anyone and everyone to collate, by the roadside, on Bin Day!
Typical themes are: –
1) Slow Down – Reduce Accidents
2) Doorstep Traders Not Welcome
3) Please Park Considerately
4) Help Reduce Burglary
5) No Open Liquor on Our Streets
6) Report Suspicious Activity
To complement this street level activism all the Bin Lorries and similar vehicles carry a support logo ‘The Eyes on the Street’. Most folks are of the view that Broxtowe has equivalent, much more discreet, monitoring arrangements but perhaps a less low key approach might encourage more vocal appreciation of public sector employees’ efforts in this respect.
Closer to home, I notice that the London Boroughs use temporary lamp post signs a lot more than appears to be the case in this area to supplement Twitter and Facebook. Specifically, on each street where a burglary has taken place, warning signs are placed for around three months following the crime.
In conclusion, Social Media has delivered amazing benefits for many aspects of everyday life, including Safer Neighbourhoods. The difficulties arise with maintaining a sufficiently high profile in a very crowded environment and retaining a grass roots appeal to folks who, for whatever reason, have yet to fully embrace the Information Superhighway.
Dovecote Neighbourhood Forum