Paul Blart: Internet vigilante


Official secrecy about schools’ exam results; official secrecy about climate data; official secrecy about  the European Union; official secrecy about the ethnicity of malefactors; official secrecy about the true teachings of Islam – who can be surprised if our masters want to censor the facts about the distribution of violent crime about the nation’s capital? If we knew all about important stuff we’d likely do something our owners in the corridors of power might regret.

Here Dumb Jon’s subtle knife exposes official secrecy in the dirt under the Metropolitan Police’s fingernails. He’s concise, but brevity is not one of my vices.

The very idea that our paid, professional protectors are loath to co-operate with a charity (I think it’s some kind of victims’ pressure-group, but let’s let that pass) that simply reports incidents of violence will need some explanation.

In a statement, the Met said: ‘We do not endorse the reporting of street crime through the MPS website or any other third party website.’This is predominantly due to concerns over victim safety and the importance of deploying officers in person as quickly as possible to scenes of serious street crime.’Street crime is taken very seriously by the MPS, and in order to reduce street crime and catch offenders, the MPS urges victims to contact police in the quickest way possible by calling 999 or speaking to an officer on patrol nearby.’

Of course, some of today’s Twitter and Facebook-addled youth might just be stupid enough to believe that posting a crime report on the Net is as good as calling the actual police. They’ve been ill-educated enough to think their feelings matter above all other things including what we adults fondly call ‘reality’, so may believe that publishing their pain is being just as good as being an active citizen, and if so that seems a fair enough concern for the Met to have.

Except… What’s that ‘predominantly’ doing there? What else might worry the professionals?

As Jon hints, it might be that such a map might show some disquieting patterns after a few months of use. Perhaps – and you’d better hold on tight here because it could get rough – it would show an uneven distributions of violent crime reports. What if (to choose absurd examples for effect only – do NOT try this at home) Golder’s Green and Kensington and Chelsea showed a disappointing lack of violent street attacks but that, oh, I don’t know, Brixton and Tower Hamlets sprouted a veritable forest of little flags? That wouldn’t be fair, would it, because it’s unequal and inequality’s the worst thing in the world EVER: real Room 101 stuff, yeah? Perhaps to even up certain social inequalities thus exposed it might prove necessary to accentuate the crimes that are never punished because no-one in power cares. Someone could add flags for hurtful snobbery, or not renting spare rooms to welfare claimants, or being visibly religious – amongst the Left’s most feared and most untouchable ‘real’ crimes.

Or somebody could add in the positives in cheerful colours to break up all those tedious patches of red and orange – cool blues and soothing greens, perhaps – for posts such as;

“It was 3.30 AM on Tuesday and through my bedroom wall and along all the joists in the roof and from the very foundations of the house I could suddenly hear the sunny sounds of merriment as music redolent of warm beaches and rum-filled pineapples. This replaced my anxious dreams about tomorrow’s early shift at the warehouse with a comforting reminder of multicultural reality here in London,”


“It was nine-thirty PM on Saturday and I was followed from my home by a group of good-natured youths who very vocally and charmingly complimented me on my modest good looks and the glittering dress I was wearing for a night out dancing, and who invited me to party of their own. At one point, their flattery became quite insistent.”


I think a likelier explanation is that the Met is concerned that somehow cyber crime reporting will be inauthentic. An online poster of crime would miss out on enjoying the true experience of reporting assaults against person and property in today’s professional law-enforcement environment. Perhaps high-ranking police officers are convinced by their own personal experience that a virtual event enjoyed crouched in front of a PC or Apple Mac is likely to be less rich and engaging than the real thing with all its sights and sounds and smells; such and the tactile joys of Police Station plastic benches pressing up against the tired thighs of a freshly mugged pensioner. If any single group in the land knows the difference between online and real world experience personally, it’s likely that London’s New Labour-endorsed Met hierarchy is it.

Perhaps the clever people at Witness Confident should ask their techies to make more real for their customers. After all, in an industry that produces games where you mow down hundreds of realistic-looking zombies or race virtual Ferraris around London’s smooth, unblocked streets, surely’s functions could be redesigned to fit in a five hour delay for posts to appear on the browsers of the capital; only then to be wiped an hour later and require re-posting with all the fun of filling in endless fields and ticking boxes all over again – and maybe then it still inexplicably fails to post? Perhaps after two days they could send the victim a helpful email sympathizing with their plight and offer them a phone number for victim support? And after that no more communication from, ever?

The Witness Confident spokesman seemed to think so.

Mr Dehn added: ‘As a way of telling the police you can help, the site is a welcome alternative to hanging behind at the scene, standing around at a police station or waiting in line at a call centre.’This matters as there’s little chance the police can make our streets safer if witnesses don’t come forward.’One of the things that has been lost in recent years is engagement with police … If you want to help police, this allows you to contact them 24/7 at the convenience of your computer.’


On reflection I think my own musings and Mr Dehn’s  might be more than a little naïve.

If Witness Confident were to market the website to the Met as the culmination of the decades-long evolution of police work and crime reporting from its primitive and barbaric past they might win a greater acceptance from the professionals at the Met.

They should look wryly back together to an unlamented past when police officers physically pursued criminals (how quaint that judgmental old word sounds today!) with the intention that a combination of the evidence, witness statements and the process of the law and sensible magistrates and twelve good men and true would come together somehow to put a miscreant off the streets for a long enough time to a regret hurting other folk. As if that ever worked at all!
Then the Met would realise that could be the final step towards the intelligent design of the Last Men who (ong ago warned off by the Police against defending themselves by ‘having a go’ or ‘taking the law into their own hands’ and intimidated against becoming that supreme evil; a vigilante) will simply passively enter the tragedy of their crime-ruined lives where they can become anonymous online statistics as is right and proper. Isn’t this what modern public sector policing actually wants from us?

At least the fat bloke had a mission statement (however gentle) to combat rowdiness in his New Jersey shopping mall by calling for official backup;

Detect, Deter, Observe, and Report.

 What’s the Met’s long-term plan for those poor bloody cockernies on the street?

Complain, Endure, Ignore, and Forget.


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1 comment for “Paul Blart: Internet vigilante

  1. February 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    This is predominantly due to concerns over victim safety and the importance of deploying officers in person as quickly as possible to scenes of serious street crime.

    It’s the spin, the lies, which gall. The assumption that explanations like that suffice.

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