Neighborhood Gotcha


Crime seems to be on a historic downward trend, and this is generally considered a good thing.  But consider the victim in all this good cheer, a 29 year-old with dozens of convictions… Crimewatch.  They seem to be running out of crimes and have started pilfering to feed their habit.

Keep 'em peeled for this 'charmer'.   His name is 'John-Boy'

Keep ’em peeled for this ‘charmer’. His name is ‘John-Boy’

It’s been going for a decent life-stretch, awakening the neighbourhood watch/ benign stasi in each of us.  We take the programme for granted because we’ve grown up with it, but it’s full of striking stories.  Did you know that the first case featured on the programme in 1984 was only solved 25 years later when the son of the killer was DNA tested after a motoring offence?  It was.  Nothing to do with the programme, perhaps, but still.

And we all remember the tragic shooting of its popular presenter Jill Dando (I remember a BBC taxi driver that day who explained that she endeared herself to the drivers by usually sitting in the front seat).  Was this anything to do with the programme?  Perhaps not.

But anyway, the whole thing is full of stories – some solved, some not, and some charming characters I’ve featured here (not Shaw Taylor. He’s not one of the Good Guys)

Go on, guess what this one's 'alleged' to have done. That's right, cocaine.

Go on, guess what this one’s ‘alleged’ to have done.
That’s right, cocaine. You can tell.

ANYWAY, this week’s Crimewatch seemed so bereft of crimes that needed help solving that it was forced to , ahem.. borrow from a neighbour. They’ve strolled over to the very next programme (at 10pm) and STOLEN THE NEWS

So it told us all about the terrible Woolwich and April Jones murders which are all over the news and with details that everyone already knew.

And Matthew Amroliwala walked around a lot speaking slowly.  This looked like a stalling tactic, but perhaps not.  An audience segmentation exercise would pick out three viewer groups as the elderly, drug dealers, and people on the run, and would recommend speaking slowly as a result.  (And police 0fficers, I bet they watch while taking notes.  And Ronnie Biggs).

But what we want from Crimewatch is a chance to solve crimes.  We don’t need to watch news stories, we want to shop someone.

Shaw Taylor. He's said to be still alive, but keep 'em peeled. (check below for update)

Shaw Taylor. He’s said to be still alive, but keep ’em peeled.
(check below for update)

It’s one of the thing that TV does well – gives millions of people a chance to think about their neighbours and reminds them to lock their doors at night.  When the crime is far away we feel relieved, when it’s close to hand we feel involved (we don’t have neighbours, we have witnesses etc.).   It’s no longer called ‘Crimewatch UK‘ but still, there’s a sense of citizenship at work here. We feel like good people hanging out with lowlifes but at a discrete distance, and without feeling like voyeurs (unlike when watching Jeremy Kyle).  And we get to empathise with victims.

Anyway, long may it continue helping to solve crimes, not report them.


May or may not be dangerous, but do not approach if you are a child, as he's a convicted paedophile.  His appearance may have changed but he may still have a 'beer belly' apparently

May or may not be dangerous, but do not approach if you are a child, as he’s a convicted paedophile. His appearance may have changed but is said to have a ‘beer belly’.

Not a whodunnit but a whodidntdoit. One of the greatest ever documentaries. The Thin Blue Line.  The whole thing is on Youtube.  Featuring the fascinating (and now sadly deceased ) Randall Adams