Friday, 12 June 2009

Urban Britain is no place for old men at night.

I live, along with 250,000 other people, in the Medway Towns conurbation, in North Kent and my perception is, that it is now no longer safe to go out at night, particularly in the most attractive of the three Medway Towns - the City of Rochester.

My perception was recently confirmed by a T.V. programme which showed the police dealing with a hordes of young, drunken revellers on a Saturday night in the City and listening to the spoken testimony of a 40 year old woman on the website : 'Kent Police Re-appeal for witnesses after Rochester assault', issued on June 4th.

In her own words, she was walking home, after a night out with her boyfriend in Rochester at 12.30 a.m., when a man ran up and punched her in the side of the face in a random attack. She fell and hit her head on the ground. In hospital she was diagnosed with an indented cheekbone and two breaks in her orbital socket which required titanium plates in the socket, presumably to save her sight. In her spoken account of the attack she is both composed and articulate and it makes very chilling listening. The police have the man's image on C.C.T.V. and seven months after the attack, are still appealing for witnesses.

Medway Council is aware of the problem of the perception of night crime. On its website it says that : ' Fear of crime prevents many people, particularly older people from doing the things they might do, such as going out at night....This is, despite the fact that crime in Medway is actually lower than the England and Wales average'.

As a Medway resident, it is heartening to see that they have set up a 'Community Safety Partnership' to deal with this and other issues. Unfortunately, none of this helps to assuage my fear that, going to a restaurant or pub in a town or city at night is dangerous and my belief that, it is safer done in daylight. This not just for the old, but apparently, anyone.

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