Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Where's the rebuttal?

Why can't anyone get up and defend Nottingham properly? If anyone were to even make a little joke about Merseyside crime levels with visitors to John Lennon Airport ("Imagine no possessions!"*), they'd be hauled up to scouseland and forced to apologise - and sharpish.

Anyway, while I have no researchers or statisticians to help out (and a day-job to do), there appears to be a glaring hole in the 'Nottingham is the crime capital' argument.

I could probably find a better representation of this if I looked, but if you go here and try find Nottingham (it isn’t easy), you'll see that - as far as local government statistics go, it is a tiny geographical area - much smaller than the area most people call 'Nottingham'.

Of course, this is the problem. Nottingham is a big-ish place. But Nottingham City - the local government area is quite small. So when they talk about Nottingham, they mean something quite different to most people's understanding of the place.

A lot of the people who regard themselves as being 'from Nottingham' - will tell you that they come from either the Rushcliffe, Gedling, Broxtowe or Erewash local government areas. All of them a bit lower in the crime league tables that Nottingham. All of them included in most people's concept of Nottingham. But not included in the crime figures.

The Local Government area covered by Nottingham does include St Anns, Hyson Green, Radford, The Meadows, Clifton, Bulwell and Basford, among others.

Beeston and West Bridgford, on the other hand are not included. And if you know the area reasonably well, you will see how this totally skews the figures. Have a look at what areas fall into the boundary. It's almost as though some of the lower-crime areas have been granted independence from the city.

As an example, it would be fair to say that the whole of Rushcliffe (which starts a short walk away from the city centre) is a lower crime area than, say Clifton estate (which is a bit further away, but inside the City of Nottingham boundaries) .

Many of the areas that you would expect to have higher-than average rates of crime miraculously fall into the City boundaries - while some of the more quiet places that most people regard as part of the conurbation don't.

Compare this to Leeds - look at their boundaries:

Lots of nice leafy quiet parts of town make up the wider city. And they help average out the crime figures for the livelier parts.

The only conclusion that you can draw from it is that the placement of local government boundaries make any comparison like this completely meaningless. And Nottingham is tailor-made for a combination of shoddy statistics and opportunistic PR.

And shit journalism (of which there is a total fucking shortage in this country at the moment).

It strikes me that Nottingham needs to think properly about how it defends itself. This story is rubbish. Yet has done enormous needless damage to the place. Bloggers have done a bit of defending here, but it's not enough. As Neil Kinnock once said, "Lies are half way around the world before the truth has got it's boots on." And he should know.

The way that Liverpool is divided up means that it doesn't achieve it's rightful position on the crime league table. But god help anyone who does mention crime and Liverpool in the same sentance. Leeds has boundaries that mean that it doesn’t need to, even though it has a much higher crime rate. But poor old Nottingham gets done over once again, because it lets it happen.

The Council in Nottingham need to get their fingers out a bit. Other cities would have absolutely destroyed the half-arsed Think Tank that published this research. They should have...

  • a comprehensive rebuttal
  • a concerted demand for a full withdrawal, apology and damages
  • a picture of the Think Tank MD and the researchers involved (update: which can be found here, along with their e-mail addresses!)
  • a planned humilliation for the journalist that decides to run with the story
... ready next time this story comes out. OK, they had something up on their website, but it's hardly enough.

Instead, all you get is a bit of bluster from the leader of the Council about 'damned lies and statistics' - a bit lame really. Journalists are such wankers, they will always pick on the outfit that can't defend themselves, not the ones who deserve a going over. That would be too much like hard work for them.

And, in this respect, Nottingham is the playground wimp. Time to toughen up. There are a few lads in St Anns who might be able to help them here, if that's not a bit off-message?

*Ann told me this gag, but it belongs to her mate Gary. Credit where credit’s due. And I won’t mention his surname – he’s a scouser himself.


bytheseashore said...

You're right about the City Council's response; the representative on yesterday's Today seemed more irritated at Nottingham's description as a town (as opposed to a city) than the content of the report. To be fair the Council have hit the media but not in a particularly effective way.

The thing is, I suppose the residents of Nottingham have been a bit indignant, shrugged their shoulders and not taken it that personally. The impact on tourism could be bad though. Not quite as bad as a visit to The Tales Of Robin Hood; that's enough to put anyone off ever coming back.

SwissToni said...

this stuff *does* have an impact. I've lost count of the number of times people ask me where I'm from, and when they find out ask me about the gun crime problem. Perception is truth, and this is how Nottingham is perceived by many people.

In small but significant ways, this perception will affect tourism and it will cause people thinking of bringing their business into the region to think twice.

We can shrug and let it go knowing that it is bollocks, but we shouldn't make the mistake of thinking this kind of coverage is harmless.


Anonymous said...

Anyone got any hubcaps to sell? I have a buyer!