Serious Organised Crime Agency, which in turn, makes me wonder if there is also something like unserious organised crime in the UK.
Which brings me the other obsession of British media: violent crime. Today again, the honour of the front page mention on the BBC news page goes to a stabbing in Bradford.
When I first came to London, reading the papers made me feel that I had somehow landed in the crime capital of the world. I would walk around expecting to be violently stabbed, knifed, bludgeoned, gunned, or murdered in some other equally ghoulish way. (By the way, this wonderful vocabulary on different forms of violence was a new phenomenon too.) There were neighbourhoods I would refuse to enter and the very sight of hoodies would set me scurrying in the opposite direction.
But then I found myself thinking: hey, I come from Mumbai – a tiny island city with 18 million mostly poor and desperate people and the most ineffective police force on earth. But I happily skipped about town there without a care. So why all this terror here in London? A little research proved enlightening. For 2007, a staggering 32,318 murder cases were reported in India. In comparison, a piddling 648 homicide cases were reported in all of England and Wales for 2008-09. Small change, I'd say. Clearly, I was far safer in London than in Mumbai. So why was the media so gleefully attentive to every crime?
Then, I figured it out. It is the relative rarity of violent crime that makes its reportage so sensational and pervasive in the British media. Every violent crime gets rarefied front page mention. In turn, you land up feeling that you are surrounded by crime. By contrast, in India violence is so commonplace that only a lucky few incidents even reach the far left corner of the fourth page. By corollary, the newspaper reader is lulled into a false sense of security. Aal izz well, as Aamir Khan would say.