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Denying lay-bys the use of law enforcement

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In a bizarre follow-up to its 'Denying Criminals the Use of the Roads' strategy, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has announced an initiative that might perhaps be called, 'Assigning Criminals the Leasehold of the Lay-bys.' Things have come to a pretty pass, as crusty old Tory MPs might once have complained, when there are no-go areas for Britain's law-abiding citizens, but that indeed seems to be the message of "Truckers Beware."

This is, ACPO tells us, a new initiative to combat truck and road freight crime, launched by ACPO's Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS). Truckers Beware is being run by TruckPol, a public-private partnership run under the auspices of AVCIS, and consists of a "highly visible trailer carrying a clear crime prevention message". This says "Truckers beware, this is a load theft hot spot." ACPO tells us that the trailer, which we presume is just the one trailer, is to be made available to police forces across the UK to park in lay-bys "to highlight that the location is not safe and that drivers should park elsewhere." Have you noted the tendency of public-private partnerships of this ilk to concentrate on the marketing side, rather than the operational? We know we have.

TruckPol's site seemed not be available at time of writing, so we do hope nobody's pinched it. And we're not sure we rate the trailer's survival chances all alone in these known crime blackspots either. Unless of course the local forces send a carload of officers down there to keep an eye on it. But then again, that would make the trailer's presence kind of pointless...

Think positive, though, what if this kind of initiative proved to be successful? Rather than spending shedloads of money on pervasive surveillance (except in the lay-bys) and reassurance policing, the forces of law and order could just concentrate on avoiding going to high crime areas themselves, and shoving up posters designed to scare the public into following their example. Think, for example, of the message on the mugging-prone bus shelter: "Ooh, I wouldn't hang around here at this time of night if I were you. Not with a nice phone like that." Or the hoarding in areas of high gun crime: "Danger, free fire zone, fan out and keep low..." ®

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