No Quick Fix

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is to unveil plans to shock young people who carry knives into a greater awareness of the impact of stabbing on victims.

Her proposals include visits to hospitals where people are being treated for knife wounds.

…Because, if you'd just been stabbed there is nothing more you would like to see than a gangster (possibly from the same gang who stabbed you) standing over your bed.

The thought that it will 'shock' young people into not running around stabbing each other is incredibly misguided. The reason people run around stabbing each other is because they are in gangs.

People are in gangs because of some well understood reasons, poverty and jealousy are the main things. We've always have poverty and we've always had gangs, it's just a lot more reported on these days.

A desire to call something 'theirs' is another reason why people get into gangs, to carve out a bit of the world that is theirs.

Look at the explosive popularity of Facebook and you see people separating into tribes.

With no external threats to safety these gangs turn on each other – Nothing unites Britain at the moment and so internal strife rises.

Gang members see the rich on TV all the time, the footballers, the actors, the politicians and they want what they have – but now the problem is that they don't want to work for it, TV like Big Brother has led to children, when asked what they want to be to answer “famous”.

It might seem simplistic, but working around gangs and the things that they do, going into the sink estates on a daily basis, you get a feel for what the causes are. Everyone wants to be special, everyone wants to 'belong, and because they aren't special, or because they feel alienated, some people turn to tribalism and crime.

I was talking to a police officer about a particularly nasty piece of work the other day, he couldn't understand why some people in poverty turn to crime while the majority of people don't. And if he doesn't know, I'm damn sure the politicians don't either.

Young people today are invulnerable, they have never been disciplined effectively so they think that nothing can touch them. When I see the police arresting someone, all I can hear is the suspect shouting, “You can't arrest me!”. The response to a teacher disciplining a pupil is almost always, “I know my rights”. No-one has ever told these children “No”. Parents don't chastise their children when they misbehave in the supermarket, so why would they discipline them for other things at home.

We are reaping what we have sowed in becoming a more permissive society in the 70's, 80's and 90's. You have to ask yourself if the cost to society for our permissiveness is too much.

That's what you have to treat, not the symptom, the knives, but the causes. You don't treat meningitis by trying to get rid of the rash, you treat it by getting rid of the infection.

But of course, that isn't an easy and quick fix, and it goes a lot deeper than the politicians would like to admit.

Look at the perpetrators and victims of knife killings, most of them are black youngsters – is this a coincidence? By saying that people can be 'shocked' out of carrying a knife they must be saying that black people don't normally think of their victims and this is how to 'uplift' them into changing. This, of course, is utter drivel.

Human beings have been killing each other for years, why should we suddenly stop? Have our brains evolved overnight to find killing abhorrent? I would suggest not, we are no different than we were 1000 years ago, or even 70 years ago.

But of course, politics is all about 'quick fixes', and I foresee new and 'improved' laws to deal with this surge in knife crimes. It won't fix anything and the crimes will eventually fall out of the media's gaze and turn to something else. The killings will go on, but less people will be interested and it will fade, once more, into the background.

Until then I'm guessing that we will have to endure more rapid and ill thought out legislation, and no increase in the infrastructure to enforce it.

Normal service will be resumed.

Please excuse this post, it's a stream of consciousness thing and I really should have tidied it up, and had some sort of point, before posting it. Oh, and has anyone ever noticed how short the paragraphs are on the BBC News website?

34 thoughts on “No Quick Fix”

  1. tom i am with you all the way, (actually when i saw your comment on the twitter feed i was hoping you would blog this) the problem is simple, the govertment have scared parents in to lacking action, and giving people too many rights. my view bring back the cane… and im one of the lucky youngens that came after it!in a second point, im a member of a tribe, a member of a “gang” im often found with a knife on my belt or in my pocket… im a scout leader. I have yet to hear a single scout that has been arrested or stabbed or stabbed any one.. and with 60 thousend in the UK i would think the percentages say there should have been one?

  2. It's interesting that, a decade after the UK started severely restricting private gun ownership, murders and violence are still happening. After knives are banned, how will Britons be cutting their steaks? I guess the side of a spoon? And when knives are banned and the goons just resort to beating each other to death, will they just cut off everyone's arms?

  3. It's just the latest way the press have found of demonising the “out-group” so they can say “golly, aren't the poor people / ethnic minorities / teenagers / foreigners getting out of control” etc and ignore the real problems, such as social exclusion and poverty.Do people really blindly believe this stuff or are you just getting old?

  4. The gang culture makes the kids feel they are someone.Really all we're doing is going back to the cave dweller times.

  5. As a parent, I have to say it is often very difficult to effectively discipline your child when out and about – because of the IOBB (interfering old busy bodies) who insist on interfering when you are – I have been told “he's not doing any harm” when my son is running round in the supermarket (may not be, but I told him to stand next to the trolley – therefore he's being told off), been told “he's only little” when I told him off for being cheeky, and given the current climate would be very careful who is around if I smack him (which I do on occasion when it is necessary – but not in anger – I tell him what he has done wrong and why it is a problem to give me time to ensure that its justified). I would rather “crush his spirit” (yes its been said to me by another IOBB) than end up with a 13 year old who is uncontrollable because he doesn't know right from wrong and has no respect for anyone or anything. Just making the point (possibly a bit too forcibly) that not all parents don't discipline their kids! But agree with you about those who let theirs run around because its easier that way.

  6. Yes – excellent points all. But what to do?The government goon, predictably, comes out with some sound bites to treat one symptom rather than the underlying problem. Of course, by focusing on the weapon (“knife crime”) rather than the behaviour (mindless violence), we can expect to see thousands of perfectly law abiding people given criminal records just because they happen to be carrying a knife.

    A few years ago, UK rifle shooters were deprived of their sport after a similar mob-mentality knee jerk following Dunblane. It was so incredibly daft that I still can't quite believe it.

  7. Well said Tom I've just posted something similar in “The Other Place”This useless Home Secretary has absolutley NO idea. She is even quoted as saying that knife crime is not as bad as the press make out! Funny that – I believe the Leyton one on Friday night was the 20th in London this year??

    Taking the little shits around casualty units will probably give them nothing more than a feeling of “Cor – look at the sort of damage I can do/have done”.

  8. I am sure the A&E staff don't really want to have these teenagers under their feet – they have quite enough to deal with as it is! I bet no one asked them

  9. Tom for Prime Minister! Or Home Secretary… or Minister of State for Health Services… or all three!But seriously, Tom, if ever you decided to venture into politics (and I'm fairly sure you won't, coz your bullsh1t tolerance threshold is set too low to deal with the environment), you'd get my vote.

  10. The socialist belief that people turn to crime because they have no money has caused a lot of the problem, they simply throw money at them and sit back in amazement when some people who were never inclined to help themselves lap it up and demand more. Then you get others who might have worked but see their neighbours getting everything paid for, for doing nothing, there is no motivation for them to go out and work 40+ hours a week. They have entire families who have never worked for 30 odd years, people having 20+ kids and have no worries in how to support them and wonder why it is hard to get people to work and not claim benefits.Jacqui Smith is an idiot and is one of the worst home secretaries we've ever had. As noble as she believes her actions and suggestions are, she's applying her logic to people who understand and appreciate her logic, not those who don't care what anyone thinks and have no motivation to help themselves because they don't have to.

    A huge part of the problem that Police officers face with the people we deal with is we are usually the first people in their lives (now some 3 generations inmost families) to not only say 'no' and actually mean it but have the willingness and capacity to actually follow up on any threats and they can't handle it.

  11. There are few lawful reasons for carrying a knife. Here is my plan.Anybody caught carrying a knife without lawful excuse shall be prosecuted. If they wish they can raise a statutory defence of lawful excuse in court (it shall be up to the defence to prove this lawful excuse). Anyone convicted shall be imprisoned for a minimum of five years (no early release).

    I am not a fan of prison. It's used far too often in this country and often for offences that could be better served with other punishments (such as non-payment of fines, non-payment of council tax etc.). However, prison is a must for those who are a danger to the public and clearly people who choose to carry a knife to look big or for “protection” are a danger to society and thus should be in prison.

  12. Let's think of it like this, if your child finds it impossible to raise their voice to their mother, or play them up – I would imagine that stabbing someone to death with a knife would be abhorrent.That 'broken windows' philosophy.

  13. Perhaps if the Home Secretary realised that these people are (probably) the same who crowd around the back doors of ambulances to see “what's happened” she'd realise this is less of a punishment, more feeding their morbid curiosity.

  14. Absolutely, its not as simple as saying the problem is 'poverty', it goes much beyond that and into many, many other fields of theory.Heaven knows, I was poor and I never felt the urge to rob people with violence,

    (Nor turn to drink, drugs, burglary, armed robbery, extortion or anything else that is seen regularly)

  15. the current numbers suggest that knife crime has tripled in London compared to past years, but dropped in other parts of the country.

  16. I carry a knife. A swiss army knife with loads of geeky bits to it. It comes in incredibly useful and should any child ever be unlucky enough to have me as a father I would (when the time is right) give them their own and teach them how to care for it.I'm now waiting for the government to make such knives illegal in another example of the rapid legislation that has made the UK the place it is today.

  17. How would Smiths proposals work exactly ?Amoral gang bangers swaggering round A&E looking out for the traumatic haemothorax, or bowel perforation inflicted by one of their ilk just a few hours earlier ?

    Perhaps one or two of them could even scrub in if a resus thoracotomy was ever required ?

    The mind boggles when it comes to this sort of Nulab idiocy.

    A young man who senselessly jams a knife into the neck, chest, or abdomen of another reflects the inadequicies of his upbringing [in 99.9% of cases] – it's that simple.

    Those with a functional moral compass have been shown respect as children, have received attention and have internalised the core values of their parents [assuming their parents have such beliefs of course, sadly not all do] – these qualities are present in homes with low incomes, they were in mine, anyway.

  18. I have to say I found your comments that parents don't discipline their kids quite offensive! *Some* parents do not disicpline their kids but most of us try our darnest to raise healthy, balanced children who have an understanding of right from wrong. It's the hardest job I have ever had. There are no rules, no recipes, no guidelines and no policies – and because you're dealing with humans there is no telling what will work (methods that work for one child have no effect on another).So please don't shove all parents into a category of allowing their kids to become monsters. Whenever I have interaction with other parents (which is frequent), I find most of them are doing a fabulous job and just a couple who don't seem to give a damn (and yes, it does show in their childrens' behaviour).

    I can also tell you that I have a brother who is a bad egg. Raised in the same way as the rest of us and 2 of us have grown up to be respectful, hard-working and law-abiding and he is the exact opposite. Parental influence is limited, some people seem to be born to cause trouble.

    I have also had people interfere when I have disciplined a child in public. And I'll bet they are the same ones who complain about the 'kids of today' and, like Tom, lay the blame firmly at the parents' doors.

  19. I can't imagine any patient wanting to be a self-narrating zoo exhibit for a bunch of teenagers and I can't see any private hospital managers agreeing to let such an indignity happen to their customers… it would be confined to NHS.Oh, how I wish I could get Bupa.

  20. OK, my comments may be unpopular, but I am gonna speak my mind.A previous poster commented they found the comment of its the parents fault offensive, well it your your responsibility as a parent.This A&E thing is dumb, show em dead bodies if u wanna shock, but it won't work.If a juvenile commits a crime, charge the parents too with improper supervision.that would be a step in the right direction, and sentence these juveniles to some sort of national service, run by the army, these kids need to learn discipline.This culture is too soft on crime and its deteriorating rapidly, tough on crime means the whole package, tough on parents too.Oh, and don't give me the bleeding heart bit about single parent families, I am from one, my mother was strict and I didn't suffer from it, I grew up into I like to think a decent person. People have kids, they're responsible for their actions.

  21. They aren't trying to cure the cause they are trying to cure the consequence. There a knifes everywhere, anything can be used as a weapon. They need to reduce the need for people to have knifes.They had one idea that they would arrest everyone found carrying a knife. If I lived in an area where lots of other people carried a knife…I would carry a knife.

  22. I always used to carry a swiss army knife. I got my first knife when I was 10. My parents trusted that I would use it. Alot of my other friends had swis army style knifes too.We didn't go around stabbing each other, we would used it for sharpening pencils and messing around making dens and tree houses. I also carry a knife when ever I am at work or go kayaking. I've often go at a 4inch blade on me. But I know when to use it and I don't let kids see it or have it anywhere they could get hold of it.

  23. I'd be interested to know whether you would vote for the party who proposed the huge tax increase that would be required to introduce national service for young offenders.Especially, as with most policies that work in the short term it could be rolled out to all under 18s of a certain age to instil “Good moral discipline”.

    I often wonder whether the people who genuinely believe policies such as reintroduction of national service should happen, would speak out in favour of the tax increases everyone would need to pay to afford such a policy.

    Of course, if it is the case that the majority of youth crime is created by youths from lower income, or entirely benefit supported families, they wouldn't be paying for the service designed to 'instil good moral discipline' anyway so in a sense they would be achieving additional benefits paid for by those who do contribute to society.

    Policies will only work if they are genuinely supported by the sectors of society, otherwise it results in a society of complainers with only the few willing to support a change, meaning the moral zeitgeist will remain so.

    As for Tom's initial point, the last thing a stab victim (whether part of a gang, an innocent etc) would want would have the psychological trauma inflicted upon them again.

    The only person it would 'shock into change' would be the victim, with their further mental harm.

  24. Isn't it about time we all wore our stab vests? I know they are heavy and sweaty and rather uncomfortable. But rather that than end up in hospital with no compensation because you haven't worn Personal Protective Equipment. Unions have stated you wouldn't have a leg to stand on compensation wise if you got stabbed and was not wearing something that was provided to stop you getting injured. Trouble is if an idividual wears it, they are seen as an idiot, but at the end of the day who's the one thats the idiot !!! The wearer or the stab victim. Maybe if a few changed the views of others then they would become more acceptable. I'm sure the police officers don't laugh at eachother, and our job is becoming just as confrontational.

  25. I have seen and met countless families in the 'poverty' bracket who have more disposable income through benefits and not having to pay market rate rent or mortgages, than nearly all NORMAL working families that I know. Their kids have all the toys they want and all the fast food they can eat because they think it is cheaper than learning to buy ingredients and cook properly. I have seen families with have huge plasma screens and sky HD and yet they live in squalor because they choose to, despite endless visits from social workers or housing association staff offering them free classes on childcare or free education, or even how to actually look after yourself by cooking and cleaning and yet most refuse to take it up because they are happy. How hard is it to train the dog to crap in the garden provided free with the 4 bed house instead of on the floor and not cleaning it up?Poverty is not the issue any more, they choose not to work or help themselves because they don't have to. I have met loads who would actually LOSE money by going out and working for living. Getting 12k a year benefits (extremely modest in my experience) is equivalent to earning close to 30k if you take not paying market rent/mortgage, tax or NI into the equation, and so the appeal of working for a reasonable 16-18k a year just isn't there.

    My brothers next door neighbour is mid 20's, single, has 3 kids from 3 fathers (the oldest 14 with a criminal record including burglary, ABH, arson, GBH and vehicle theft, the middle one 12 and just learning the burglary ropes) and she she has never worked a day in her life. And yet she has the money to take them to Florida twice a year and has just bought a 15k car on HP which is fully covered by the benefits she gets a month and has no problem telling anyone who will listen, and she's not blagging it either.

    Throwing money at them isn't the answer, and as for social exclusion, if you want to live on an estate where your car is screwed every other night and people will burgle your home in broad daylight because they know nothing substantial will ever happen to them if they get caught then crack on.

    The class system of the 40's and 50's stopped many people who could have worked from doing so, but after the free society that the 60's created that simply doesn't exist any more. The people in the 'excluded' and 'poor' brackets have more opportunity to get what they want than ever before, including jobs because it looks good for the company who are seen to 'do something for the community' as advertised by my local Tesco in the paper recently.

  26. hahaha, do you write for the Daily Mail?yeah, when they're not stabbing each other all the por people are watching plasma tellies or watching their dog sh*t on the carpet. that's a keeper.

  27. I've seen exactly what metcountycopper is describing and it isn't a myth. It's not *every* poor person, but there are a lot of people out there who are 'better off' on benefits.Just as the Daily Mail isn't right about every poor person being a benefit scrounge, likewise other media who talk about how poor people would all leap at the chance to 'better their lot' are generalising.

    And yes, I've been in that house where there is dog mess on the floor while the family crowd round the 42″ TV and demand an ambulance to take their barely ill relative to hospital because they 'know their rights'.

    And I *hate* the Daily Mail.

  28. Kitty, we experience through OUR JOBS the things that the Daily Mail love to write about and people like you haven't got a clue about. I hate most journalists but ESPECIALLY the tossers that write for the Daily Mail, but that doesn't make the things I have seen any less true just because you think the paper is always wrong or too right wing. Of course there are people on benefits who don't want to be, but the fact is having worked on and around sink estates for years, there are a hell of a lot more people sitting on their sofas laughing their tits off at people like you who apologise for them and want to give them more.Perhaps you should go out with some Paramedics or Police officers for a couple of shifts and see for yourself? or is that a bit too *real* for you?

  29. What does what metcountycopper said have to do with crime statistics? You're eating up those lazy daily mail lazy stereotypes. A “normal and civilised” middle class person of course would never let their dog sh*t on the floor. A posh person would never get all “I know my rights on you”, of course. The inference is that poor people do it because they are less human / lazy / whatever – that's why they're skint and that's why violent crime is rising in poor areas against the national trend.

  30. I'm not arguing with your inferiority complex, you can prove whatever you want to with anecdotal evidence and by making assumptions about whether I live in the “real world”.For the record: I don't think the mail is too right wing, I think it's a bigoted, reactionary rag and you're nurturing and perpetuating the lazy stereotypes they peddle. Scary in a public servant.

  31. Don't worry, the shock programs don't work here in the US either…and trust me it's a lot more startling when we can show them the dead body that's had half the face blown off with a handgun. Yet the research says it doesn't matter. It's a documented phenomenon that adolescents don't comprehend the fact they're not invulnerable.Just be thankful it's “only” knives, you don't get the collateral damage we get. The 10 year old shot because she was standing outside her home down the street from some gang members, the victims mother/girlfriend/grandmother who happened to be with them…

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