I went out to deliver a loaf of bread and spent time talking with my friend who was taking a few moments outside her front door taking in the bizarre combination of fresh air and tobacco smoke. She smokes quite theatrically, turning her head to the side when exhaling the toxic gases she has moments before inhaled quite deeply. I haven’t spoken to a smoker for many months and it was a novelty to observe her process.
A recent study from Kings College London showed how vulnerable smokers are to covid-19. As I may have mentioned before, I think that banning tobacco sales would have been a good move when the pandemic measures were implemented. If saving the NHS was such a big deal, why not remove one of the main sources of ill-health in the country (in the world!) from the market?
“It is my only pleasure” you might hear a nicotine addict say. Will they say that again when dying of pneumonia after having a lung removed and their loved ones witnessing their ghastly and untimely demise?
Rain started to fall as we stood about four metres apart. Here and there tiny white balls of ice fell that appeared too white and too light to be hailstones. They melted on touching the ground. Snow balls? The Inuit have a word for this form of precipitation I suspect.
As I cycled back home through Chapelfield Gardens two police officers were talking to a homeless man. One was writing into her notebook. The man’s worldly possessions, including a sleeping bag rolled up and tied with string, were lying under a bush. I hope the officers were able to direct him toward some support. They will have plenty of information to tap into. The question will be whether he wants any help they can offer.
The first lockdown illuminated the size of the street homeless population. It is a growing problem as jobs are cut and incomes fall due to the economic impacts of the pandemic and Brexit.
Goldfinches litter the air with their excited song. The days are a little lighter, despite the cloud cover.
n.b. www.ccn.com reports that the People’s Republic of China’s national / official news media highlights the irony of China’s government being criticised for how the PRC is responding to pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, by a US President who is calling for “domination” of the people demonstrating against police brutality following George Floyd’s callous murder.
In the season of goodwill to all it is a little disconcerting to see two police officers, each with a sub-machine gun at the ready, patrolling side-by-side on South Street, Chichester.
I was told yesterday that Sussex Police are increasing its number of armed officers. This is apparently due to the area having a major airport to cover at Gatwick in this time of perpetual terrorism threat and the increasing vigilance needed when investigating drug-dealing firms, who have possession of firearms.
Sussex (split administratively into West and East) is an area that includes a substantial part of England’s south coast. It has two long-established ports at Shoreham and Newhaven, several marinas and many easy landing spots used for hundreds of years for smuggling, such as Felpham. Sussex also has particular problems within the internationally popular party city of Brighton, with its high demand for recreational drugs and the illicit trade that supplies them.
The coastline of Sussex is also quite heavily urbanised around railway termini linked to London. These towns were established in the Victorian era and initially attracted commercial investment and tourism to the “Coastal Strip”. These seaside conurbations now have complex social problems, including drug abuse. Towns such as Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Eastbourne and Hastings have high concentrations of social deprivation and significant numbers of low income households, high numbers of street homeless and homeless people. These people can become victims of drug dependency and again provide opportunities for criminal business enterprises.
Under Tory enforced Austerity policies crime in the UK has become more difficult to address. However, seeing armed police officers on the streets is far from reassuring.
Large scale crime is organised, financed and profited from by people who are unlikely to be running around with guns in the tiny cathedral city of Chichester. More resources are needed to investigate illegal revenue sources, where the earnings are banked and by whom. I would like to know that more police officers who can read company accounts and understand digital financial movements have been deployed to help identify the management of crime syndicates and the lawyers and bankers who work with them.
Placing armed response police officers into wealthy shopping centres at Christmas is driven by a need to be able to react immediately to acts of terrorism as and when they occur.
However, it does seems a bit of a lottery about where to locate these teams and when. However, it is a very public gesture and I totally respect the men and women who are employed in these roles. The increased distribution and possession of guns in the UK is something that has to be acknowledged and these officers are needed to be able to deal with this issue.