They say that “an Englishman’s home is his castle”. I don’t know what you think of when you hear the word castle. For me it awakens memories of drizzly days walking around remote fortresses with huge unfriendly walls and neat, lavish interiors. The sort of place where you could live in undisturbed solitude for years if you so desired.
Thankfully, most of us don’t actually live in castles. After all, it can’t be great for getting to know the neighbours. I certainly wouldn’t want to pop round with a plate of cookies if my neighbour insisted on a drawbridge. And yet, it only takes a glance at community forums to see that we still cling to the old castle mindset sometimes. For example, a list from the Citizens Advice Bureau cited the following as the more pressing ‘problems in our local environments’:
- Air pollution
- Dog nuisance
- Pest control
It seems that sometimes, we’re more conscious of cockroaches and Cocker Spaniels than we are of the people around us. So long as it’s all clean…
Of course, it’s tricky when we think this way about community. It can all too easily create an environment where immaculate walls are all it takes to conceal something sinister.
For example, a recent article in the Guardian shared news of a ‘charming’ listed building used by international drug rings for cannabis production. And it’s not just the country houses. Police say that 21 such farms are discovered every day in the UK, in “normal” residential houses. On “normal” streets, in “normal” neighbourhoods. According to child rights organisation, ECPAT, it is these same farms that are cashing in on modern-day child-slavery :
“High numbers of children, largely from South East Asia, are trafficked to the UK to work in cannabis farms, robbed of their freedom and subject to violence and hazardous conditions.” (source)
It could be that house at the end of your street.
On 15th November, UK citizens will, for the first time, be able to vote for their local ‘Police and Crime Commissioner’, a new authority empowered to shape the priorities of regional police forces (excepting Wales and London). The question is, what local concerns will they be responding too? ‘Dog nuisance’ and ‘pest control’?
Not if we can help it! If you’re a UK resident, we invite you to join us in making sure that human trafficking is top of your candidates’ agenda. Check out our PCC campaign to find out more about what you can do where you live.
Forget castles. Let’s build caring communities.