MANY PEOPLE will have enormous sympathy for Bhavin Patel who chased a gang of teenage shop thieves with a baseball bat after a disgusting attack on the convenience store he owns in Wyke.

The incident erupted after Mr Patel spotted one of the group stealing a bottle of pop and confronted him.

The teenager’s mates then entered the P ’n’ K’s Corner store, in Huddersfield Road, and smashed Mr Patel’s wife’s phone out of her hand as she tried to call the police.

Then, after Mr Patel locked the door to keep the lad in until help came, the gang smashed their way out, causing damage and stealing goods as they went.

It’s no surprise Mr Patel decided to speak out after hearing of another attack nearby.

The frustration seared out from his comments: “This needs to stop – enough is enough. We work 120 hours a week, for people to just come and take anything they want – they think they are above the law.

“It’s a mob mentality. We don’t see police or anybody around to act as a deterrent, but I don’t even know if that would act as a deterrent to this lot.

“There’s no fear, no respect. It’s the parents that are to blame.”

Local councillors described the behaviour as “totally unacceptable” and offered to work with police – who said they had increased patrols in the area – to “do whatever they can” to tackle the problem.

All well and good and exactly what you would expect them to say. But the comments which stuck out the most were those of Councillor Sarah Ferriby who suggested those responsible should “come forward and own up to the police, admit it and say ‘it’s wrong, I should not have done it’.”

With the greatest respect to Cllr Ferriby who, no doubt, spoke with the best of intentions, what planet is she on?

There was once a time when you could appeal to a young tearaway’s better nature and sense of fair-play and shame a miscreant into owning up but, for the vast majority, it faded away somewhere in the last century.

We live in a society now where, for many young people, showing aggressive disregard for law-abiding citizens is a badge of honour, where it’s cool to bully your peers by demanding “respect” from them but cooler to be seen “disrespecting” your parents and their contemporaries.

That same mentality spills over into a general attitude towards other people’s property. Walking into a shop and taking what you want without paying is normal behaviour for some.

If you’re challenged, you “get up in the face” of your challenger; you shout, you spit, you push and you call up your mates to help create an atmosphere of intimidation.

The perpetrators of such deeds believe they can get away with it because they believe the police don’t have the resources to catch them. And, if they are caught, they’ll make a fuss and get off lightly because there aren’t enough prisons or prison officers and so the courts will avoid locking them up.

It is, sadly, a small step away from anarchy and the only way society has ever been able to deal with the threat of such attitudes getting out of hand is by improving law enforcement and the punishments for crime.

Yes, some of it does start in the home. If children don’t respect their parents, they won’t respect anyone else – be they teachers, shopkeepers or police officers.

There is clearly a link between parents who don’t attempt to enforce discipline and those young people who go astray but it is also immensely difficult for parents to fulfil their traditional role in the face of so many social pressures, not least among children’s peer groups.

Behavioural education, of course, has a huge role to play – for both parents and children – and we should make every effort to avoid damaging children’s futures by incarcerating them. But politicians consistently fail to understand that what most ordinary people want above all else is a sense of safety and security in their everyday lives and that means giving police the resources to provide it, even if that means having to pay more in taxes.

So, by all means, ask these young yobs to ‘fess up. But when that fails, you’d better have something else in the bag with which to encourage them to do so.


WELL DONE to those behind the Hope Not Hate event which brought 40 stalls to City Park to celebrate Bradford’s cultural diversity and community resilience, described by organisers as “togetherness and Bradfordness.”

Just as it is with Gay Pride, it’s sad we need to hold events to remind people of our basic humanity and shared values. But as long as there are still those who refuse to accept common decency and respect for others is key to our society, we must be grateful there are people around, like those involved in Hope Not Hate, to remind us.


IT’S GOOD to see that progress is, at last, being made on the New Bolton Woods project to create an “urban village” between Bradford and Shipley.

The 30-hectare scheme along the Canal Road corridor has been under discussion, in one way or another, for more than a decade.

It is a vital piece in the jigsaw of providing new homes for the district and, being on what is effectively a brownfield site – at least in part – it is exactly the sort of scheme we need to fulfil the (still over-stated) local house-building targets without being forced to concrete over lumps of our precious green belt.

Sadly, however, this latest detailed planning application relates to just 145 of the planned 1,100 homes and it relies on the approval of a £3.6 million regional grant.

At this rate, there will be homes on Mars before this site is finished.