1 November 2010

Callous ?

As I read reports from the inquest into the London 7/7 bombings, it depresses me when I am told that various agencies, e.g. the police, fire and medical services would not perform their duties, or let others perform theirs because of perceived ‘health and safety’ fears.

Last week, it transpired that despite passengers pouring onto Aldgate underground platform with terrible injuries after one of the blasts, police would not let underground staff go to the rescue, or at least the aid of passengers still trapped in the tunnel , because ‘there might have been secondary devices’. Similarly, some fire service personnel wouldn’t go along the tunnels for fear that the electric current hadn’t been turned off despite underground staff actually stepping onto the ‘live’ rails to prove that the current was indeed off. Who knows if earlier medical attention could have saved some lives?

This ‘safety first’ culture really irks me. I’d love to use language which would emphasise my frustration more accurately, but this is a family blog so I’ll stick with ‘irks’.

These people are paid to perform rescues. It’s their job. Do you hear troops in Afghanistan saying that they’re not going on a patrol because there might be a bomb out there somewhere? It’s a farce.
Any day now we’ll read about some firemen who refused to fight a fire ‘because it was too hot’!

And whilst I’m on a roll having a go at the jobsworths and people in supposed positions of authority not doing their jobs ‘because of regulations’ , it also bugs me big time when something happens and the whole city shuts down because “it’s a crime scene” or “it’s unsafe” .... because it’s regulations. Absolute bollocks!

A few years ago when I was travelling into work, a motorist had hit a lamppost at the side of one of the main roads into London. Because the man was injured and the police suspected he had been drinking, this main artery into London was closed as a ‘potential crime scene’. Now it doesn’t take much to bring London to a gridlock situation but in this case the police managed it with staggering efficiency, stopping the flow of traffic into London from the west for several hours whilst they no doubt stood and looked at the bent lamppost studying it for clues! Dumbos.

And this is where I get really callous.

The other day, an unfortunate person was supposedly pushed under a train at Kings Cross underground station. Whatever the situation, the guy died at the scene and a female was arrested. There were several eye witnesses and I’m sure the gruesome CCTV pictures will be on YouTube at some time in the near future. All neat and tidy – solved within hours you’d think. Not a bit of it.

Now I accept that in this situation the police should secure the area, take whatever details they need and then let society get on with its life but no, many hours after the ‘accident’, the body was still on the line. What could they possibly have been doing ‘many hours’ after the crime which meant that the body had to remain where it fell? The fact that this was the main transport link to London’s Heathrow Airport probably never crossed their minds and some of you probably agree that it shouldn’t have.

The point I’m trying to make is that most likely a few thousand people missed their flights from Heathrow on Monday night because some police guru decided that he/she needed several hours to work out what had happened on that platform and therefore had to leave the crime scene undisturbed. I’m all for making sure they have enough evidence to prosecute but I just can’t get my head round the time taken in what appears to be very straightforward cases.

And where is all this callousness and total disregard for the dignity of life, or rather death, coming from? It comes from a comparison of what happens abroad and a situation I came across when J and I were driving back from Venice a few years ago.

On the main road linking Italy and France, there had been a fatal accident and despite a body lying in the middle of the road (covered up I hasten to add), the Italian police were determined to keep the traffic flowing and were judiciously guiding traffic round the ‘obstacle’.

Had this been the UK police, they would have brought the whole of France and Italy to a standstill whilst they ‘looked for clues’ over a period ‘of many hours’.

Rant over!  

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