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May 2019

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A quick check over the shoulder in a café to ensure the person you’re badmouthing isn’t sat behind you slurping on a health juice and giving you the evils is an almost choreographed move most islanders are familiar with. The notorious ‘Jersey twitch’ is just one symptom of the island’s too-close-for-comfort culture, but what if this nervous tic was borne out of something a lot more sinister?

Within 45 square miles, Jersey’s physical and emotional claustrophobia can, at the best of times, bring new meaning to the phrase, “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

Fresh stats from the Jersey Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (JMAPPA) remind us that there is indeed life after a prison sentence with 85 registered sex offenders continuing to make their home in the island community after release. Once the headlines and the scandal have dissipated there comes rehabilitation, readjustment and, in a handful of cases, reoffending.

Naturally, being in such close proximity with those who find themselves on either side of the law creates a degree of tension.

Since the year dot, people have always been gruesomely fascinated by criminality – embers which are only being stoked by the ever-glamorising touch of countless Netflix documentaries each claiming to ‘shed new light’ on one infamous case or other.

Although there appears to be something universally compelling about crime – where it happened, what went down, whodunnit and the like – it seems that this becomes amplified when played out in a place as small as Jersey.

There is, it seems, something inherently paranoiac about living here. Inevitably, and ‘Hot Fuzz’-esque, murmurings of “the greater good” echo on the wind as the threat of vigilante justice rears its problematic head.

No one’s denying that the fact everyone has a kind of criminal Bacon number is a little thrilling in the abstract, but, as with most things, there’s another side to that coin.

Just like the stolen snatches of gossip overheard in the café, there’s something a little sordid, a little voyeuristic, a little “I really wish you hadn’t told me that” about the whole thing as it slowly creeps under your skin.

How do these feelings square when the mugging takes place on your road? When the person in the dock is a friend of a friend? And how does this rumour mill marry up with the well-oiled, often Kafkaesque machine of the judicial process?

Amongst an analysis of Jersey’s part in the global productivity slump and a hot take on “the Commission” straight from the horse’s mouth in Unplugged, this edition we hear the insights of one of Jersey’s top Police Officers on fighting organised, serious crime in a place that’s only nine by five miles.

Taking you through crimes which have gripped and shaken the community to its very core, Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull is boots on the ground, long in the tooth and, thankfully, much, much braver than you or I.

Stay safe and enjoy Connect.

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