Thursday, April 12, 2018

What is the cause of knife crime and other violence on out streets?

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Knife crime is peaking at the moment, with 50 deaths from stabbing already this year - one every other day. Shootings and acid attacks are also in the news. It should be the major news item, but is overclouded by the possibility of the Tory Government taking us into the chaos that is Syria.

Commentators tend to have their own preferred cause of knife crime to point to. I have been debating with a Conservative on Twitter whose fervently held solution was to Blame the Parents. That was it. Don't even offer parenting classes. Just Point the Finger of Blame. My Conservative had selected the part of the system where politicians are least able to help. Sad.

On the other hand, there are many issues that can and must be addressed by Government:
  1. high levels of youth unemployment
  2. inadequate levels of unemployment benefits for young people (£60 pw)
  3. benefits given grudgingly, on condition that job-seekers do no work, just hunt for work that does not exist 
  4. ugly, depressing and run-down visual environment
  5. deficit of greenery in the environment
  6. the £11 billion cocaine and crack cocaine market that offers lucrative work for 12-year old children as drug mules (about 50% of homicides are associated with the drugs market)
  7. low paid jobs that cannot compete with rates available in the drugs market
  8. inequality throughout the national economy
  9. cultural cues such as Drill music that glorifies stabbing
  10. social media where online disputes lead to disrespectful comments that escalate to physical violence
  11. Conservative cuts to the following social services:
  • Sure Start that helped poor families with child care
  • Youth Clubs (the damage done here is long lasting, because it takes years to build up a respected youth club)
  • Educational Maintenance Allowance, that helped young people go to college
  • Apprenticeships 
  • Neglect of Vocational education
  • Police, especially Community Support Officers  and beat bobbies
  • Probation services
  • Legal Aid
So there we have it. 

Points where Government policy could have a bearing on the situation. In a nutshell, we need a transformation of policy to regenerate the reality of a community. It is a challenge, but one that can be done, given the political will.

The next post here will be about the contribution of unemployment and other socio-economic failures to the development of gangs, and what can be done about it.

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