Monday, 18 February 2008

Talking CCTV cameras to scare away yobs

Residents in Barking and Dagenham may feel safer now that the local Council has installed talking CCTV cameras in the borough.

The cameras have audio cards and loudspeakers which are activated by officers in the Council’s CCTV control room.

From there the officers watch what’s going on in the area and can speak directly to people they feel are acting irresponsibly and also ask them to stop doing something.

But just how effective will the cameras be?

On the one hand the talking cameras may be compared to the Trasnport for London’s polite posters you find at the station asking you to be considerate and not play music too loudly. All words, no action really.

Or imagine if a thief is snatching a woman’s handbag: does he suddenly drop it and flee when the controllers voice booms ‘Now, please drop that bag immediately young man!’

But on the other hand, the cameras may make a difference. Known yobs up to know good may be reminded by the booming voice that they are being watched and scuttle, as opposed to a poster that says ‘Anti-Social behaviour will not be tolerated in this area.’

That’s assuming the voice will indeed have a boom.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Prisoners pay-back scheme: how does a community welcome them back?

Jack Straw has launched plans to offer prisoners the opportunity to do community work rather than serve time in jail.

Part of the “alternatives to custody” project includes getting them to do unpaid work for the community, electronic monitoring and help with resettlement.

All this is designed to keep them from staying in prison. The government believes they are better off helping ‘pay back’ the community than being kept in cells.

The Tories have slammed these plans, claiming it is a strong indicationt that the government has failed to build enough jails.

They say under the governments End of Custody Licence scheme, one prisoner is released every 17 minutes.

Above is a video of an alleged robbery in East London.

Some questions must be asked: should this young robber be let out of jail early? If he took part in Straw’s ‘community payback’ scheme, would the community he robbed and injured gain from his release? If he were assigned to do community work on your street, would you let him into your premises to, for example, weed the garden?

On the other hand, others like Straw believe that this guy deserves a chance.

So does the Prison Reform Trust which fights for the rights of prisoners.

In an article in the Guardian, the organisation claims many of them should not be in prison in the first place.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Examining self-harm in the Asian community

A DVD has been launched to help young people struggling with self-harm.

Why is this relevant to us and just how serious is the situation?

According to the BBC, research shows that young South-Asian women between the ages of 15 and 35 are twice as vulnerable to suicide and self-harm as non-Asian women.

Statistics show that East London has one of the biggest Asian communities in the country. Newham has the second highest proportion of Asian population in England and Wales, with the second largest proportion of Bangladeshis in England and Wales (Tower Hamlets leads in both these statistics).

Additionally, a study of young Asian women in east London by the Newham Asian Women’s Project last year revealed that domestic violence and a pressure to be the ‘perfect student’ or ‘perfect daughter’ were among the reasons for self-harm.

Is it that belonging to these communities is more stressful than others or is it
that there is less help available to them?

NAWP says young Asian women have consistently requested help on the issue of self-harm.

Professionals who work closely with them have also stated the need for better tools to use when discussing the issue, and hence the launch of the DVD.

NAWP launched the DVD, called Everybody Hurts, to address issues like why people self-harm and the support available.

NAWP also has a project called Zindaagi which is dedicated to helping Asian women in East London who are self-harming.

Certain customs in the Asian community have been known to cause the young women distress too.

A study by the mental health charity Mind says that many of the Asian women who attempt suicide do it because of cultural reasons, for example, where the young woman is apparently in disagreement with her parents’ or husband’s traditional or religious expectations.

A small organisation like NAWP may not have the capacity to address these traditions, but by launching the DVD it may be able to patch up the after-effects.