Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday 1 January 2012

The mean streets of rural Oxfordshire

Here's a little something that seems to have slipped under the news radar: it seems that parking chaos (see previous post) was not the only thing going on in Bicester on Boxing Day.
A man was stabbed while shopping at Bicester Village.
Not as serious as the Oxford Street attack, admittedly...
The 22-year-old was stabbed in the buttock with what police believe was a knife.
... but enough to land him in the nearest hospital - probably quite a lengthy and uncomfortable ambulance journey, given the miles of stationary traffic in all directions and the site of the wound.

The attack took place at 3.50pm, in a short alleyway at the centre of the shopping village; the alleyway leads to the toilets and, with 30,000 shoppers visiting the retail park that day, there was almost certainly a substantial queue of potential witnesses.

Sure enough, the police have a clear description of those responsible:
Police believe the attackers were four or five black men in their late teens to early 20s wearing black clothing.
So we have a public stabbing - albeit a relatively minor one - involving a group of men on the busiest day Bicester Village has ever seen. Even allowing for the fatal attack in London the same day, one might have thought this merited more than a few paragraphs in a local paper.

It was presumably the Oxford Street events that led police to add this statement:
"We have no reason to believe at this stage that the incident is connected to the retail industry or involved any kind of dispute over shopping or goods".
I have to admit I'm slightly baffled here - after all, there aren't many other reasons for being at an out-of-town shopping village on Boxing Day afternoon, unless, of course, you are retailing a little something on your own account.

I suspect the low-key response to this incident is a fair indication that the stabbing was a little internal difficulty within the group and highly unlikely to affect outsiders and passers-by; one comment suggests it is a standard method of settling an issue of 'respect' - or, presumably, a lack of it.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that events like this are not uncommon on the street - or even in school playgrounds - in Britain's cities, and the phenomenon is rapidly spreading to smaller towns. One might, however, have thought that a sanitised pseudo-American shopping street, awash with bright lights and security cameras, would be free from this kind of thing.

That it is not is something we should find very worrying indeed.


  1. "...and, with 30,000 shoppers visiting the retail park that day, there was almost certainly a substantial queue of potential witnesses."

    And, I'd expect, a plethora of CCTV cameras?

  2. So "four or five black men", possibly the type to engage in an 'entrepreneurial enterprise' of some type, who settled a 'business disagreement' in 'the usual fashion'?

    Witnesses? I don't think so, not in 'modern' Britain. They'll all either be too scared to speak for fear of the gentlemen involved, or of the police/courts assuming they were guilty for being involved/customers/racist white people.

    CCTV? do they ever put a tape in the recorder, or admit to having one, when it's inconvenient?

    Am I a cynic? Oh Yes!

  3. Several good points; even if the CCTV cameras are working, the ubiquitous hoodie provides enough elemnt of doubt to keep a defence barrister happy.

    As for witnesses, you may be right, Able; I can't imagine the man - or woman - on the street has much confidence in the ability of the police to protect him and his family.

    These young men have grown up with the assumption that they can do exactly as they like and no-one - except perhaps a rival gang - has the power to stop them.


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