Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Kirklees Local TV ltd.
By Dan Antunes
Whether it be a role like police officer or bouncer, the priorities of those in these, or similar, positions should be to protect and minimise the distress of an innocent party effected by problems they can’t enact repercussions upon.
Despite the trust meant to be put into these people, there is often an air of uncertainty and lack of communication between public parties and authority. With so much distrust aimed towards authorities like police, members of the public normally try to deal with problems in their community internally instead of turning to appropriate sectors. This normally leads to echo-chambered results where an ethos of silence develops in an effort to protect your community from unwanted intervention, cutting off the opportunity to pour resources and help into that community.
Mirroring the rise in violent gang-related incidents in London, the attitudes of police in Huddersfield have been ‘too haphazard and inconsistent’ when dealing with the 25% rise in crime around West Yorkshire. Instead of promoting open discussion to fix community issues, the council have increased the number of police officers in the town, many of which have little empathy when it comes to working with the public, which isn’t helping the issue.
I’ll speak subjectively for a second, as some coming from an area outside Huddersfield, I’ve seen crews of 5+ officers and around 3 horses surrounding a single, non-threatening black male. I’ve seen a woman harassed and disregarded for suffering from a panic attack because it was seen as a public nuisance. I’ve even been taken out of line myself at Camel and searched, something I’ve never seen happen to anyone else because I fit a certain ethnic aesthetic.
The developing authoritarian perception of the town, through standoffish attitudes projected by police and other related parties, will result in the stagnation of the town’s nightlife and the general flow of tourism coming into the town. With club’s like Tokyo/Courthouse having already deteriorated through knife crime issues as well as Huddersfield being voted the worst town to live in in 2018, it’s a worry as to whether the recent £7.3 million funding to help tackle violent crime will be effective if the core traits in the town aren’t revamped.
A lack of outlets for young people from vulnerable or less wealthy backgrounds leads to them being more susceptible to gang activity through not having safe spaces to escape problems like gang pressure. A lack of apprenticeships or mentorship programmes denies those in less affluent situations the chance to develop beneficial life skills with the draw of quick money being more appealing in the absence of these schemes. Less youth, sport and creative spaces also mean that avenues to focus aggression or project the problems youngsters face in everyday life aren’t an option, resulting in them being more likely to express their problems in a negative way.
With criminals deliberately targeting young people in vulnerable situations, ‘including those in care, those excluded from mainstream schooling and those with learning difficulties’, their needs to be more done by the council to ensure its youth isn’t neglected.