Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 10 |Issue 02 | January 14, 2011 |


 Cover Story
 Human Rights
 In Retrospect
 Food for Thought
 Straight Talk
 Star Diary
 Book review
 Write to Mita

   SWM Home

Straight Talk

Too Close to Home


Every now and then the media report a crime which somehow grips the nation. It could be a sophisticated scam, an elaborate robbery, the abduction of a child or most likely, a gruesome murder that makes people sit up and take notice. I sometimes wonder why it is that the story of X is more important than that of Y. For each story we read or watch on the news, there are hundreds more similar stories, crimes and victims out there but only a selected few get the media attention. In some instances, the spotlight expedites the process and assists in the arrest of the guilty party but sometimes the speculation and desire for 24 hour news on a case can be a hindrance to the investigation.

Recently in the UK, the news of the abduction and subsequent murder of 25-year-old Joanna Yeates, a landscape architect living and working in Bristol, has held the nation captive. On the 17th of December, 2010 Joanna was last heard from and reported missing by her boyfriend on the 19th when he returned from a weekend away visiting relatives. Tragically on Christmas day her frozen, snow-covered body was found about four miles away from her flat by a couple walking their dog.

Dhaka streets at night often become ideal spots for criminals to prey upon pedestrians.
Photo: zahedul i khan

The circumstances surrounding the disappearance and murder of Joanna could have been taken straight out of a whodunit novel. Her boyfriend found her handbag on the kitchen table along with her purse. Her mobile phone and keys were also found in her flat along with her coat. The police indicated that there did not appear to be a sign of any struggle or anything to suggest forced entry. She just seemed to have disappeared without a trace until her body was discovered over a week later.

On the day of her abduction, she was known to have had drinks with her friends and then started on her fateful journey home, she was even caught on CCTV as she picked up a pizza from the local shop before she made her way home. To add to the sense of mystery, the receipt for the pizza was found with her belongings, but no evidence of the actual pizza or the box it was in was found in her flat. If Joanna had eaten the pizza before her death the packaging would have been in the dustbin or if not then it should have been somewhere in her flat but for some reason it too seems to have disappeared. Did she give it to someone on her way back from the shop to her home? Did the killer take it? Though it may seem insignificant, the inexplicable disappearance of the pizza is a conundrum to the police.

The nation found itself mourning with Joanna Yeates parents, whose lives have now changed forever, and the fact that her body was found on Christmas day made the incident even more poignant. The case is still under investigation.

Joanna Yeats was found dead on Christmas day.

What I found out first hand a few years ago when I was carjacked in front of my own home, is that crime does not happen to 'other people'. We hear the statistics and read the latest news but it does not take much to become part of that statistic. As the police told me, I was lucky that the men who stole my car did not beat or stab or shoot me (as I screamed when they first grabbed me) or even abduct me. A few months ago my son and his friends were walking back home together and were mugged by some youths and once again they too were unharmed. Luck was on my side and my son and his friends but not everyone is as fortunate.

Sometimes we get lulled into a false sense of security and we become very complacent about our safety but sadly nowadays where crime rates appear to be constantly rising, we can no longer sit back and do nothing. We have to accept the fact that the world really is not a safe place to be in and take simple measures to protect not only ourselves but our near and dear ones – and no, I am not suggesting we all go out and buy a gun to defend ourselves though people in Texas might disagree with me! Nor would I advise people to imitate masked 'superhero' vigilante Phoenix Jones who patrols the streets of a town just outside Seattle, Washington called Lynwood, dressed in a black and gold costume!

Though it may seem insignificant, the inexplicable disappearance of the pizza is a conundrum to the police.

In Bangladesh we have our darwans and night guards and more and more places have security guards on duty. It does not necessarily stop every crime from being committed but it can act as a deterrent. Recently, I have noticed the growing number of CCTV's in and around London and the larger cities in the UK. Also in some of the residential or affluent parts of town there are now security guards patrolling the streets. Personally I would like to see more policemen on the streets but with the spending cuts in the UK this is probably a bit of a pipe dream.

Recently I was sent a flyer through my letter box that has put forward a suggestion of creating a neighbourhood watch in our area. If by organising a neighbourhood watch we can reduce the opportunity for anti social behaviour to occur or prevent a crime then I am definitely in favour of participating. I am tired of sitting back and worrying every time my children step out of the front door and maybe by being a little more proactive and trying to help make our community a safer place, I can sleep better at night...



Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2010