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PC Jas Basra: Friendly but firm when faced with abusive youngsters
A night out in Derby
It is a miserable, wet night on a housing estate in Derby. PC Jas Basra is on a routine foot patrol when he encounters a noisy group of youths, hanging around on the street, apparently with nowhere to go.

"Hello boys," he calls out, and the shouting gets louder. "Calm down. What are you lot up to?"

The youths are cheeky, and do not seem unduly concerned by the presence of the police officer. "I know my rights," one says loudly, amid the laughter. "Me no understand English," says another.

"Move on," says the officer. "Let's be on your way."

"It's a free country, mate, I can go where I want," says someone else, as the youths stand their ground.

"Off you go, or I'll have to call a car," says the officer. "I'm still waiting. I'm not going until you lot go."

The retorts come thick and fast from the group. It looks like a stand off. But eventually the youngsters drift away, amid laughter and swearing. Throughout the encounter, PC Basra has adopted the friendly but firm approach of an officer experienced in this kind of street patrol.

Although it ended without any trouble the youths have shown little respect for his uniform. They clearly understand that there is not much the police can do if they are not actually committing a crime.

PC Basra says the incident is fairly typical. "You'll get a number of youths who congregate on a street corner. They always say to me they're very bored and they've got nothing to do, and I encourage them to move on. Eventually they do move on, but I have to encourage them. I've got no power to move them on unless they're actually committing offences."

PC Basra says the youngsters' behaviour can distress some local residents, particularly the elderly who feel vulnerable.

"Basically, some of them start drinking and then get aggressive and start shouting.

"Generally they'll damage property and they'll become aggressive and start running through the estate. They may, for example, clip a wing mirror as they're running through a street, or maybe knock some fencing over."

PC Basra is convinced that alcohol is often partly to blame. "I think alcohol is a big concern in the area and is responsible for the majority of incidents, particularly nuisance incidents.

"If they've been drinking, they get aggressive, and then particularly if they are in large numbers, they start running through the estate, and they have been known to assault vulnerable people who are just minding their own business.

"If we could remove the alcohol and stop them drinking, that would make a big difference," he says.

PC Jas Basra spoke to the BBC in December 2000

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