Thursday, November 29, 2007

Prevention is the best measure

I've recently found a small supportive role as a member of the Board of Management of Cardiff's Business Crime prevention partnership, and now Company Secretary. It's not a huge task as there is administrative support in the background, but it helps hold the organisation together at a time when it's gone through some significant changes.

It's something I would have found difficult to refuse, as St John's has been indebted to the local Police Community Support Officers, keeping an eye on us in this year when we have been plagued by a persistent and very smart thief. After wreaking much havoc in small shops and churches around the city centre and further failed, he's been caught in flagrante at last, and requested several other crimes to be taken into consideration.

Truth is that scores of thefts in the city are attributable to one man's activity over the past year or so, but he has eluded detection, even though often caught on camera entering and leaving at the time of a crime. Through the partnership, the church has been added to the local security radio network, and has acquired a couple of CCTV security cameras and video recorders - all of which has helped to restore a sense of confidence after another outrageous theft in church.

Today the Board met for a sales presentation from a company bidding for the next contract to supply a security radio network. The sales manager was quite impressive in his delivery of information but yet again (twice in two days for me), hopeless with his technology. He tried to show us a Powerpoint presentation on a twelve inch Thinkpad in a room without blackout and ... no video projector. I think he assumed our meeting place would have one. I laughed quietly to myself. He needn't have bothered, as he was pretty coherenct and well in charge of all the salient facts he had to put across.

It's reassuring to hear educational psychologists criticising the use of Powerpoint as a learning aid these days. I've tried it, but never thought much of it. I want people to listen to me when I speak, follow my arguments, not look at my crib-sheet. If I use it at all now, it's to show pictures or display information I want people to look at properly.

After the meeting, PCSO Ceri Evans our Business Crime Co-ordinator was fretting about not being able to get a new router to work back at the office, to enable both the PCSOs seconded by South Wales Police to crime prevention work in the city to connect to the internet, so I offered to go back with her and see if I could fix the problem. Well, it was a router I didn't know, and I was a bit fed up that I couldn't get it to work either. All I could ascertain was that it wasn't broken, so there was no point in taking it back to the shop. I just couldn't figure it out, and ended up leaving Southgate House after all the office staff had gone home, not a little annoyed with myself.

Ceri is a real asset in her job. The only thing that annoys me is Ceri's official title. Calling her Business Crime Coordinator sounds like something out of a mafia empire blockbuster. She does business crime prevention. The key word gets omitted. Maybe that makes it easier to ignore one key piece of prevention work which she pioneered. I was most disappointed that her work with young graffiti artists last year was kicked into touch by politicians and other petty officials who should have known better. A year of clear up work, followed by doing something constructive with those most likley to offend had minimised graffiti attacks around town. Now it's creeping back insidiously. The south west buttress of the church tower has been tagged recently, and that hasn't happened for years.

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