In recent months the British capital has been preoccupied with the issue of knife crime, and after several recent high profile attacks, this form of disgustingly petty crime has even superceded terrorism as Scotland Yard’s top law and order priority. It is tragic considering the circumstances, but also interesting that the global security bug-bear of the past five years has been so swiftly and so unceremoniously relegated to the backseat. One wonders if the global strategists and commentators who have gone dined out in recent years on the challenges posed by Islamic fundamentalism and Al’Qaeda will now turn their hands and minds to crime of a more conventional variety.
Although admittedly I have been lucky to have scarce exposure to it myself, recently I have been provided with direct cause for concern about crime levels in London. Walking home from work the other day I arrived on a street corner in just enough time to see a tall, muscular African man strike a woman with full-force in the face, knocking her to the ground. The man fled the scene with a companion, and myself and a group of startled onlookers approached the woman and called the police. It was unclear what the reason for the assault was, but the woman’s glasses had been shattered by the force of the man’s blow, sending shards of glass into the face and one of her eyes. Fortunately it was not too long before the police and an ambulance arrived, and we believe the attackers were apprehended.
It was a strange experience because it was both shocking and yet, scratching a little deeper, not too surprising. We all see the stories on the nightly news, and read about them in newspapers and magazines. When we are reminded that these stories are real and play havoc with real people’s lives, it disturbs us and provides some food for thought about the real state of society today. In the developed world at least, we may well be living in more civilised societies than ever before, but I sincerely doubt that thought provides any comfort to the random victims of modern society’s vices – who, let’s not kid ourselves – are still out there and all around us. Realistically, only lady luck excludes us from being part of the main story.