Tuesday, September 14, 2004

How To Grow An Underclass

A wonderful Today report (RealAudio link) on the failure of the latest 'alternative to prison' scheme. Apparently the results are worse then with 'standard' community sentences (which themselves are useless). Listen and marvel.

Just a few highlights.

The remark that 'Youth Justice workers' don't see eye to eye with 'the community' (aka the victims) over non-custodial sentences.

And an interview with an inarticulate chavette which you couldn't make up.

How an old assault charge 'caught up with her'. Those pesky assault charges, chasing people about the streets.

How the presssure of having to keep three appointments a day drove her back to her anti-social ways - and how she was given another chance.

And the happy ending - she's 'getting a flat' and she's four months pregnant. She's sixteen years old.

Conspicuous by their absence - mentions of her victims, of the people who'll pay for her flat and child support or of the idea that she's in any way responsible for her own life decisions.

A wonderful piece because it illustrates both the current dire state of the Criminal Justice system, and the reflex pro-criminal liberalism of the BBC.

UPDATE - this old Polly Toynbee interview sheds a little inadvertant light on the liberal view of crime.

Journalistically, she says, her experiences also highlighted how little interest the modern media has in poverty. "Just look what happens if television ever makes a documentary about the poor - they invariably choose grotesque cases, people with real social or criminal problems, because that makes good telly. The reality is that the biggest single group of poor people are actually in work."

Here Polly makes the distinction between 'people in work' and people with 'criminal problems' in a way that makes it plain that by people with 'criminal problems' she actually means the people who commit crime.

I would suggest that in any poor area the people with the real 'criminal problems' are likely to be the law-abiding, including those who go out to work for a (poorly-paid) living and who Polly claims to care so much about.

Another little sidelight here.

"I've been incredibly lucky," she says of a career that has taken her from there to the Guardian, then the BBC, Independent and back to the Guardian again. "I've never had to work for anyone I haven't liked.

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