Don’t want to ‘alarm’ you…

Published on 14 May 2007 in , ,

As we wheeled our suitcases back towards our little house after spending time up north at Christmas, I suddenly realised something about the area we live in.

To make sure, I looked up and down the street. Yep, I was right. There was something distinctly missing from almost every house.

A burglar alarm.

Almost no one in our street, or the surrounding streets, has a burglar alarm. And no fake burglar alarm boxes either – well bar ours where some previous owner put one up, complete with the oh-so-important loop of wire sticking out the bottom to make it look even more “convincing”…

In contrast in the area where I grow up, it’s almost a necessity. You don’t go past a house in many areas that doesn’t have a big yellow box attached to it, complete with flashing lights whooshing along to show it really is “active”.

The reason this springs to mind more than five months after I thought about it, was after reading the delights of our local free newspaper, The South London Post last night, and thinking back to the Tameside Advertiser which I also read at Christmas.

Now it’s difficult to compare the Tameside Advertiser with the South London Post because for starters, the Advertiser is a great big whopping thing coming in at at least four times as big as the scrawny South London Post which manages to only muster up about 12 pages of news in its pages. And they’re typical local newspaper stories – councillors sprouting complete rubbish [1], hospital closures, Harry Hill appearing in a local comedy club…

In contrast the Tameside Advertiser seems to revel and delight in page after page of burglaries, court reports, scandals, thefts and murders – interspersed with gardening tips and pictures of happy children in a school who’ve got a new computer, or who have laid pennies on the floor for charity.

Okay, I didn’t do a scientific survey, but it just seemed that the Tameside Advertiser was just frankly more depressing than the South London Post.

It actually made me think of when I first moved to London and everyone seemed to spend a huge amount of time being concerned about my safety, fearing I’d get shot, mugged or whatever, every five minutes.

As it happened, I’ve ended up in the London Borough of Merton which is, apparently, the third safest in Greater London. However I’ve never had a problem travelling late at night and frequently walk down an unlit path down the side of the River Wandle. Although I’m probably tempting fate here.

True there are parts of London that aren’t that great – where you don’t particularly like walking around late at night (Ealing town centre on a Saturday night can be pretty horrible!) but it does strike me that the fear of crime in London, doesn’t always match up to the reality.

For a final contrast, I had a look at the crime stats for Merton and for Tameside where I grew up, on In many cases, Tameside’s stats were double the national average. Not one crime rate was below the national average.

True in Merton, most results were also above the national average (“Theft from a vehicle offences” is below) but not as significantly so as Tameside.

Which says something. It says why the Advertiser is a more depressing read, and why everyone has alarms attached to the front of their houses…


[1] One rubbish related example came in this weeks edition where, according to one Conservative member of Merton Council, people create more rubbish if they have a wheelie bin! Obviously everyone with a wheelie bin must have some sort of compulsive desire to fill it!

Of course anyone with any brains (which must rule out this particular councillor, lest he be very misquoted by the press) will realise that wheelie bins don’t generate more rubbish – that’s just a ludicrous suggestion. People aren’t going to rush out and think “Oooh, I’ve got a big bin, I must buy things to fill it with!” The issue therefore must be that because some wheelie bins are pretty big, people with large items of refuse can put them in the bin rather than take them to the council dump, or worse, dump them in random places. The solution to that problem is, of course, to give people smaller wheelie bins in the first place.

Ironically countless studies have shown that the population of Merton actually want wheelie bins…

Go back to the main entry then…


  • Simon Hess says:

    Wheelie bins can help reduce the amount of landfill, there is quite a good explanation here concerning the pros and cons (towards the bottom of the page)
    Wheelie Bins

  • Tameside Eye says:

    You may want to try the Tameside Eye instead. We are just a little bit more right wing than the advertiser and we publish what they wont.

  • John McKenna says:

    How do I get an invite to enter Tameside eye blogspot, it says I have to be invited to enter and read it, please help someone invite me!!!

  • Gareth says:

    Nice post, its unusual that there are no bell boxes for alarm systems round your way, burglary has fallen (according to crime stats) in most area’s. One area that bucks the trend is…… London with the largest increase for the nation. So be careful my friend – they may be coming!!!!
    P.s May be even quicker now with the credit crunch!!!!

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    Thankfully my area of London is one of the best for crime with a very low rate compared to the rest of London and England.
    Lets hope it remains that way