Who stole the milk?

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IN THE 1950s in Portsmouth, I was a young police constable.

Milk thefts were prevalent and invariably occurred in relatively-poor areas of terraced houses.

Very quickly, a pattern would emerge and a PC would be assigned to arrive at a victim’s house just after 6am (that’s when we actually were not afraid of walking and did not have cars and radios, stun guns, cans of sprays and ‘people-beating sticks’, so we could walk quite briskly) and keep observation on the street after the milkman had delivered to the doorsteps.

It was the easiest offence to detect for, within a short period of time a young mother or child would emerge from a house, lift a bottle or two nearby, and nip back into their home.

The policewoman and the Tory councillor know nothing of crime and the causes of crime – neither of them has ever been out there and bothered to study crime and the motivation behind it.

Murders are invariably domestic and initiated by jealousy or sex; violent robberies by greed, but the fact that stealing bottles of milk from doorsteps has returned after an absence of some 50 years is a sad reflection on the desperate state of some unfortunate people within our society, despite its relative prosperity – and that is the fault of the police and politicians at all levels – including county councillors.

Somewhere, some sad, depressed and distressed young mum, struggling to survive, has to feed her children in the morning when she gets them up and sends them off to school.

But, she has no milk and she has no money to buy any... and don’t cynically tell me that this is because she spent it on beer the night before, for my substantial experience never revealed this scenario.

She is no criminal: she is a desperate, dedicated mum, probably at the end of her tether and receiving no help either from the police or Councillor Coleman and her council departments.

That ‘stolen’ bottle of milk represents survival for someone, somewhere and, in 2011, the ‘SHAME’ quoted so callously by Mrs Coleman and clearly endorsed by the police who do not even understand what is going on, is on them.

Richard D. Ostler,

The Drive, Aldwick