Thursday, February 03, 2005

Crime, Yobs and Guardian Readers

Alan Travis fulminates in the Guardian about 'the myth of yob Britain'. We've allowed those nasty tabloids to induce 'media hysteria' - andwho better to put that right than Mr Travis ?

"The report does confirm that teenagers do commit more than their fair share of crime - about a third of all offences - but it also shows that the kind of crime people get involved in changes as they get older." That's alright then.

"Among juveniles non-injury assaults account for a large share of the incidents." Phew.

Hey - guess what ? Older people commit crime too ! So what's the problem ?
"Young people, particularly males, are more likely to offend and are responsible for a disproportionate volume of crime; but it also shows that older people are a numerically large group of offenders."

"Far from needing to worry about the alarming growth of "yob Britain" the survey carries the more reassuring message that minor offending is not uncommon, but most people simply grow out of it."
If you get mugged, the perpetrator is likely to be going through a passing phase. After all, we were all teenagers once.

Travis does drop one significant truth into his piece.

" ..the report makes clear that in fact most prolific offenders were involved in minor crime, some of it very trivial ... these are not the kind of offences that keep the police awake at night".

This appeared on the same day as an excellent post from the Policeman, commenting on Harriet Sergeant's excellent piece in the latest Civitas Review.

"In her piece, the justice gap (the gap between how good we think we are and what the public really think) is exposed as a yawning chasm that is being filled (in London at least) by private security firms of which Yauheni is an employee. Yauheni is from Belaurus but many of the other guards have served in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Officially, I think it’s a really bad idea to put people like that out on the streets with no diversity training but, as a resident, I know I would feel safer if I knew former IDF soldiers were patrolling the streets where I lived.

The residents of her neighbourhood feel under siege and the police do not take their problems seriously. Official statistics (bureaucratic inefficiency in mathematical form) would seem to indicate that things are improving, but reality shows otherwise. Senior policemen and crime theorists take the view that the general population are stupid and have an irrational view about crime. But people aren’t stupid: they know what makes them feel safe and secure and if the police cannot or will not provide it, then they’ll go elsewhere. ACPO and the Federation will continue to complain about the growing number of private security firms, the extension of the police family and “policing on the cheap” and at the same time will do nothing to allay the public’s concerns."

In today's Guardian Jackie Ashley thinks 'it's all our fault'. I think she's correct, if she's referring to Guardian readers and journalists.

Can't quite work it out though. After all, the cultural revolution is pretty much complete. In let-it-hang-out Britain, where repression of feeling is the greatest crime, and do what thou wilt is the whole of the law, why are so many teenagers unhappy ?

"At times it seems there is hardly a single family unaffected. This child, so bright and optimistic so recently, is sunk in grey depression and won't go to school. That one, so athletic and cocky, has been violently mugged and now avoids walking anywhere, lurking inside his bedroom. Another cuts herself. Another suffers extreme bullying and has ballooned in size. Another was stabbed while walking the dog."

Violently mugged, bullied, stabbed while walking the dog. Read Alan "Media Hysteria" Travis again for the full 'cognitive dissonance' effect.

"More bobbies on the beat at school are needed at let-out time to curb the explosion in casual mugging and bullying" - Ashley.

"Even the most cursory reading of the Crime and Justice Survey report would find it hard to sustain the idea that the country is going through some new, previously unknown, alarming growth in yob culture. " - Travis.

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