Still rel­a­tively a safe place to live

Cyprus Today - - OPINION -

YEARS ago vis­it­ing Lon­don­ers were mocked for lock­ing their cars in North Cyprus, but times have changed and lo­cals now wist­fully re­mem­ber times when the doors and win­dows of their homes were rou­tinely left ajar.

Those were the days when no-one got past your neigh­bours and ev­ery­one knew ev­ery­one any­way.

Now a young cou­ple have found their car win­dow bla­tantly smashed in Girne’s mu­nic­i­pal car park and the have-a-go hus­band was lucky not to have been knifed.

Su­per­mar­ket em­ploy­ees are be­ing mugged for the tak­ings, while smash and grabs, bag theft and crimes against women, are on the up, it seems.

Lo­cals have long called for pass­port-only en­try from Turkey, rather than by ID card.

No doubt they will also wel­come the new in­stal­la­tion of 360-de­gree CCTV cam­eras now that the last gen­er­a­tion of old lady “war­dens” no longer sit on their bal­conies with an ea­gle eye on passers-by.

But is this per­cep­tion or re­al­ity?

Any­one who rou­tinely uses Girne’s Baldöken car park will be well aware that it has be­come the last place of refuge for those who have fallen through the so­cial net, whether they are home­less, job­less, drunk or men­tally ill.

How­ever, any­one who has been back to the UK re­cently, or read the pa­pers, will find it small beer. There, peo­ple are be­ing wounded or even dy­ing for a moped — even po­lice of­fi­cers — and that’s be­fore the dire pre­dic­tions for life postBrexit.

They do say that North Cyprus is 30 years be­hind the times, so let’s hope that the cur­rent des­per­ate eco­nomic cri­sis does not con­tinue to break­ing point.

New so­cial aware­ness, gov­ern­ment pro­grammes for youth, women and fam­i­lies and ef­forts by civil so­ci­ety are help­ing to save some in so­ci­ety from a life of crime.

North Cyprus is still a rel­a­tively safe place to live, make no mis­take — though when of­fend­ers man­age to get across the bor­der you can whis­tle for jus­tice un­til politi­cians find a so­lu­tion.

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