Yesterday, as I walked home across Mill Hill Park, I noticed this by the King George memorial plinth.
When someone smashes glass like this, especially in a park, they put dogs, other animals and small children at risk. I cannot understand such selfish and idiotic behaviour. What sort of sadistic moron would even consider doing such a stupid thing?
I've had several trips to the vets over the years with pets suffering lacerations to their paws, caused by such horrible behaviour. As an engineer by trade, it is my job to fix things and make things better. Over the last few months, I've seen more broken glass around than ever before. I think there are two reasons for this. Over the years, I've always picked up discarded glass bottles, as I know many pet owners and reasonable people do. Since the pandemic, we are far less likely to touch such objects, meaning discarded bottles are more likely to get broken. What is more alarming is that it is also clear that people are deliberately smashing bottles. I don't know whether this is a deliberate act, done in the hope of hurting animals or whether it is the act of unthinking morons. I personally despise all littering, but glass is far more dangerous, therefore I'd like to see far sterner penalties for discarding it. However, I believe that there is a better way. Glass is a very recycled material. I would like to see proper incentives to recycle all glass. I am old enough to remember when retailers would pay you to bring bottle back. I'd like to see all glass vessels attract such a premium. It would cut the risk down to animals immeasurably and also be good for the planet. I believe that cash may act as a far better way of stopping this than the threat of punishments that yobs know are unlikely to affect them.
Then there is graffiti, especially tagging. As a business owner, I know that this is an expensive and very annoying problem. You invest in nice, professionally made signage, shop shutters etc, then a moron comes along and tags it. These are not art, they are simply ugly markings, left as a dog leaves urine on a lamp post to let other morons know they've been there. I would love to see Barnet Council set up a register of tags. Should you be affected and incur cost (we have as our signage has been defaced), then you could log it. If the police catch a tagger, they should be made liable for the cost of repairing or replacing the damage. Whilst the cost of individual businesses persuing the taggers may be prohibitive and as most don't have much money, I'd like to see a scheme where businesses that register tags could donate their share of funds reclaimed to local charities. If the courts attached long term repayment orders, even if it was £5 a week for ten years, then it might do some good. Needless to say taggers would claim that they are skint, but they can clearly afford spray paint. I would like to see orders banning them from buying or carrying materials for causing such damage in public and I'd also be happy to see them compelled by courts to repaint areas where tagging is a problem. I would also like to see laws to force them to disclose how much they have spent on materials. This would give an accurate picture of how much damage they have caused.
I must add that there are some who will claim that graffiti is a valid form of art. I have no objection to it, when it does not affect other people's property. There is a disused bridge in Mill Hill that is covered in it. I would like to see local authorities make public space open for genuine street artists, where it doesn't affect other people.
Then we have vandalism. The destruction of things for the sake of destruction. Windows smashed in our High Streets, trees and shrubs damaged in our parks, car's keyed, bins overturned. We all see it on a daily basis. We grumble, but we do nothing.
Several years ago, a young man walked up my street with a baseball bat, smashing the mirrors on every car he passed. A resident called the Police. He was apprehended and was given a conditional discharge. Apparently, he was upset because he couldn't afford a car. The damage cost me £250 and he probably damaged 10-20 cars. If' he'd stolen £2,500 from a bank, threatening staff and customers with a baseball bat, he'd have got five years. I couldn't really see why waving a baseball bat in the street as he smashed mirrors was any less threatening. It is my view that lack of punishment for such behaviour sends the wrong signals to the yobbos and thugs who do this.
Does anyone actually enjoy living in a town that is strewn with broken glass, litter, disguarded food, covereed in badly constructed, ugly tags? If the answer is no, then we shouldn't simply accept that this is how things are. We should be pressing our police and local authorities to take action.
We can make a start by reporting it. Here is the page with details for reporting Graffiti to Barnet Council.
And here is the page to report littering
And here is the page to report anti social behaviour
Some areas have had more success. They have done this by implementing a sensible strategy. I'd like to see Barnet follow the example of areas like Kingston that have done good things. Have a look at their strategy.