When my mate’s car got nicked…

The full political sanctioning of the police force will not change things on the ground over night. Indeed some people may be very disappointed with slowness of due process, and the long grind of the criminal justice system. Twenty years ago, I saw three kids in inner city Liverpool demolish a car within forty seconds, then scarper before anyone had time to call the cops. It is the kind of thing that happens routinely across in inner urban Britain and Ireland: from Sheriff Street to Peckham.Nevertheless, that is not to say there is not a problem.

I had a call yesterday from an old friend who has recently returned to Northern Ireland. Apparently his son’s old £250 banger got pinched from a supermarket car park recently. When the car turned up a day or two later parked in a side street in West Belfast, the cops went to recover it. When they showed up, there was a small scale riot, during which the thieves managed to burn the car to a shell. Then they made their getaway in yet another stolen car.

Nothing spectacular, I guess, but it is this kind of low level incident that will make acceptance of the police in hard core Republican areas an easier sell than is sometimes portrayed.