Sunday, November 09, 2003

Hell In A Handcart Bloggers ?

Behold, a miracle. Marcus at Harry's Place wonders if every day, in every way, we're getting better and better. Doesn't come to any firm conclusions, but it's so rare to find anyone on the Left, apart from Norman Dennis and Independent Working Class Action, who believe that crime and anti-social behaviour are anything but figments of a Daily Mail reader's imagination.

In the comments he characterises me, not unfairly, as a 'hell in a handbasket' merchant. I wondered who else could fall into that category - Dalrymple, certainly, Melanie Phillips, Peter Hitchens, the grandaddy of them all - Richard Littlejohn, but not too many 'blog-only' writers - perhaps Mr Cuthbertson - maybe even the usually optimistic Jackie, perhaps David Farrer - any more ?

Melanie was exercised by the recent case of the disabled Gloucester man who suffered a campaign of harassment by local youths. The police did nothing about it until he, in desperation, took direct action. Then they were interested - in him.

"He became so desperate that on one occasion he grabbed his airgun and fired a shot above their heads, only to find himself in trouble with police. Four days after officers visited him to say he had to attend an official interview, he hanged himself in his shed on August 20."

I live in a leafy rural area not so very far from the town which Dalrymple described as "a small cathedral city of about 100,000, where the city council has conclusively demonstrated that with the right combination of 1960s urban planning and an undiscriminating welfare policy, the degraded inner city conditions of much larger conurbations may be successfully reproduced in small country towns."

This week the local paper, the Gloucester Citizen, sent reporters to the area where people are driven to the edge of suicide before being pushed over by Gloucestershire Police. No one would be interviewed except on conditions of anonymity, lest the fate of Martin James become theirs also. The only people who would give their names were teenagers and a local youth worker, who blamed Mr James' death on youths with 'nowhere to go'. "Mr Stapleton said this would remain a problem until more funding was given to voluntary groups like the White City Adventure Playground and Community Counts."

As somebody said about the Anna Climbie murder, it's amazing what can be turned into a call for more funding.

With more funding, more documents like this sad specimen could be produced.

The youth worker was employed by the White City Community Project, which has been in the area for twenty-four years, spent millions, and which describes itself as "an independent democratic charity open to all residents working to generate sustainable neighbourhood empowerment and development through the combination of community led services and local statutory and business interests. The Project works to empower all residents and through their individual and collective activities create a strong, healthy and viable neighbourhood."

The local paper desribes the area thus - "Drug-taking, vandalism, anti-social behaviour. All that is familiar to residents of White City as youths run unchecked through its streets."

The White City project has been described as "successful". I'm presuming success is measured by the amount of funding a project attracts and the number of staff it employs.

Just one other story from the Citizen - a pensioner was assaulted while sitting in his car during an attempted robbery. His alleged assailant, whose fingerprints were found on the roof of the victim's car, walked free after testifying that as a habitual car thief, his fingerprints could be found on many cars in the city. Could you make it up ?

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