According to Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service in August 2004 - way before the Stirland convictions - "there have been over 200 arson attacks in the last 12 months alone in just three streets in Bestwood – Raymede Drive, Leybourne Drive and Andover Road".
200 arson attacks in a year ? In three streets ? No one apprehended ? What the hell is going on on that estate ?
All is now made plain :
Bestwood Estate in Nottingham was ruled by Colin Gunn - a man who was feared by some and revered by others. His Bestwood Army policed the streets - and murdered and tortured for revenge and respect, residents said. He was Mr Big - some would say the Godfather - but he is now in jail serving time for murder and corruption.
The Bestwood riots were Gunn's supporters - many of whom left messages (mow mostly deleted) on the Policeman's blog. Presumably the fires were a control/punishment tool.
The strange thing is that I keep hearing how tough punishments for criminals will "only make them worse". Doesn't seem to apply to Bestwood.
In Nottingham-itself, Bestwood, according to figures, is the city's burglary "hot spot" - making the careworn square mile which is home to 3,300 people Europe's break-in capital. Certainly, the statistics tell a depressing story.
In April, out of 688 burglaries reported in the city, 141 were in Bestwood and neighbouring Sherwood. However, only eight of these crimes have been solved - a pathetic detection rate. In the same month, there were 84 burglaries reported in the same area - a year-on-year increase of 67 per cent.
So if 360-degree CCTV cameras can't prevent Bestwood being the European burglary capital, what on earth will ? The answer is a shocking indictment of law and order in this country and a deep embarrassment for the police. For many householders in the area say that the greatest deterrent to the casual burglar used to be the presence on the estate of one of Britain's most ruthless crime families ... a major police effort in the past 18 months has seen two of the main figures in the organisation - both of whom lived in Bestwood - jailed for murder and drugs offences.
And while justice may have been done, the shocking truth is that burglary statistics in Bestwood have gone through the roof since the two were put away - whereas they had been falling. Locals say it was the absence of the police that enabled the family to take control of the estate, after the uniformed presence was reduced from regular bobbies on the beat to the occasional patrol car.
The trouble is that the State has surrendered its function as 'the nutter of last resort' - the organisation that you really don't want to cross. Nature abhors a vacuum.
Note well. The Gunns had bent policemen trawling the national police computers - on one occasion Gunn's missus got beaten up because a spelling error in a name gave him the idea she had a prostitution conviction.
They had bent BT guys who found the ex-directory phone number of the Stirlands, an innocent couple who were murdered bacause of their son's crime (btw, one of the functions of a decent criminal justice system is to prevent vendettas, by general acceptance that punishments are just. If Michael O'Brien had been hanged would the Gunns have wanted his parents dead too ? Unlikely).
ID cards, anyone ?