DUNCAN BARKES Supergran acts while others stand and stare

Supergran is alive and well and living in Northampton. I am of course referring to the 71-year-old grandmother who foiled a raid on a jewellery shop. But why did nobody else get involved until she waded in?

The story was widely covered: Six thugs wielding sledgehammers attempted to smash the windows of a jeweller and tried to make their getaway on mopeds. Anne Timson was having none of it. On arthritic legs she sprinted into action.

Swinging her handbag, she walloped the thieves, who then attempted to do a runner. Two of the yobbos were so startled they toppled over on their getaway scooter. Only then did bystanders intervene.

It comes to something when it takes a lone pensioner to foil such a crime. She has since expressed surprise that no-one else stepped in.

Watching the video clip is fascinating. Not only do people stand around as the smash-and- grab happens, but also a white van drives past, clearly aware of the crime. Many take pictures or film it on their mobile phones. Some thought it was part of a reality TV show, which is a worrying sign of our times.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and we have all been in situations where, on reflection, we wished we had done things differently. But in this case some at the scene have been defending their inactivity.

One chap said there was no way he was going to intervene when it would be six against one. The thought clearly never occurred to him to round up others nearby and lead the charge. Instead it was left to Supergran. Another bystander said criticism that no-one else got involved was ‘unfair’.

I can understand one bloke being fearful taking on six others, but there were plenty of people around who could have collectively made a move. Twelve or 20 against six rather improves the odds.

We live in a climate where it has become acceptable not to get involved. This may be driven by a fear of the consequences from the law, or a risk to your own personal safety. In some cases it is fear of litigation.

We have all read or heard stories of violent attacks taking place where passers-by simply carry on and, in some cases, step over the victim. Doing nothing has become the fallback behaviour of choice.

Ann Timson has form when it comes to making a difference. She is widely credited with challenging some of the criminals on her estate and making the place a better place to live.

Supergran is a wonderful example to us all. And while I am not advocating that every pensioner starts taking on random thugs in the name of doing the right thing, if collectively we adopted her approach we could make one hell of a difference.

We need to remember that our backbones aren’t just for flattening against the nearest wall when things get hairy.