Even the troublesome teenager at the centre of the Linda Walker hoo-ha seems to think she should be released, but I’m not so sure. I think he’s playing to a gallery. After all the Manchester Evening News still treats ‘victim’ as a quote, even though the law says that’s what he is. And what a bizarre position for the lad to take: I didn’t do nothing, but if she wants to shoot at me that’s okay. His mum’s had a bit of grief from local scallies, so he understands the desire to take pot shots at the nearest group of suspects and so, it seems, does the rest of this world gone mad.
Yet I do understand the urge to shoot troublesome teens. Petty crime, graffiti and the like are problematic and I’m suspicious of any youths who come near my close: it’s not a through route after all. Indeed, last summer kids starting to use it for play and to access the brook whose meander marks it boundaries. We’re still graffiti et cetera free, but they did burn some rubbish neighbours had stupidly left out and tried to set fires at the brookside. Looking to nip it in the bud, I asked local councillors about an ASBO to stop under 16s entering the close at all. Curtailing innocent kids’ rights to go where they’ve no business and are universally unwelcome is a small price to pay for some peace. But shooting at them is quite another matter and Linda Walker had no idea if the kids she was shooting at had poured water on her son’s car (the incident that broke the camel’s back).
What secured Linda Walker’s downfall was, without a doubt, the police response to the crisis. Her call to them was broadcast on North West Tonight; she says she’s going to shoot some teens; the police say that would be a criminal offence, ‘good-bye’.
It’s like the police were on a Kafkaesque wind-up… but shooting at people you merely suspect must always be criminal… unless you’re mad enough to be locked up anyway.