It's not all paper talk, Commander - by David Callam
11th September 2008
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KNIFE crime in Croydon has increased by almost six incidents a month, according to official figures.

Within the past week Detective Superintendent David Palmer has been forced to report that an additional 69 offences involving knives took place in the borough last year.

This sad statistic confirms the worst suspicions of those of us who believe Croydon is steadily becoming a less safe place in which to live and work.

And it makes nonsense of borough commander Mark Gore's charge, levelled in an outburst in March, that fear of crime is just newspaper talk.

I have been on the receiving end of Commander Gore's ire on this subject - more than two years ago he lectured me about my responsibilities as a journalist.

I would agree that there are times when the treatment of crime stories in the local press is not all it might be: screaming headlines and murky pictures might sell a few extra copies each week, but they damage the town's reputation in the process.

However, there is no suggestion that any of the stories is made up or even that they are exaggerated, so Mr Gore and his colleagues must now accept that the solution has more to do with solving the problem than shooting the messenger.

I would be more impressed with Mr Gore's determination to act decisively if I saw him leading a high profile campaign to deter young people from carrying weapons and another to make it more difficult for them to obtain alcohol.

Maybe he would like to encourage Croydon Council to press for powers to charge clubs and pubs a supplementary rate that he could then spend on additional evening and night-time policing.

Perhaps he would also like to embarrass the council into finding money to expand its youth service and thereby provide better leisure facilities and counselling services for the young people who otherwise roam the streets after dark.

He might even like to suggest to editors of local newspapers that they inject a little more balance into their page layouts - offsetting a crime report with a picture that illustrates a more positive aspect of borough life.

Croydon Eye is a weekly commentary written exclusively for The Best of Croydon by David Callam and posted in the blog section every Thursday.

David Callam is a freelance journalist and the former business editor of The Croydon Advertiser. For more examples of his work and to see what he could do for your business please visit

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