Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Evil Triumphs when Adults Abandon Their Responsibilities

The brutal murder last week of Sofyen Belamouadden, 15, by other teenagers, in front of hundreds of adults at a packed commuter station is an extreme, but not uncommon, example of the complete breakdown of effective forms of adult authority to thwart criminal and anti-social behaviour in our young.

Less extreme examples of the ineffectiveness of adults to guide and direct the young are on display in a variety of milieus from schools, care homes, the youth justice system and the supported housing sector. I have worked in three of these settings and have dealt with the other directly so I am speaking from personal experience as oppossed to prejudice.

In fact, there has been a gradual abandonment by adults of their responsibilities to guide, direct and discipline children and young people for trangressions of accepted social norms. Whilst working in a school I regularly met parents who were annoyed, frustrated and angry that the school had failed to straighten out their errant son or daughter. The school and the teaching staff in turn blamed the parents for the more egregiously badly behaved pupils. As far as I am concerned it was the fault of both the parents and the school and indeed the wider society. We are all responsible for the transmission of social norms to the young. I am referring here to a minimal adherence to generally held social norms such as not verbally abusing people or being violent or agressive, as well as an ability to take instructions from authority figures.

The same trend is on display in the care system and in supported housing. The system is powerless to effectively instil boundaries and discipline in the more challenging and disturbed residents i.e. those who need it most. In some cases, counselling in conjunction with firm and resilient adult authority would in my opinion help turn lots of kids around. However, instead of these measures being put in place you hear the usual nonsense where by the blame is shifted back on to the parents, despite the fact that they are now under the care of or receiving support from the state and in many cases have been from a young age.

In effect, what is happening is that all spheres of adult authority are abandoning their responsibilities towards children and young people. In the past, if one's parents failed to transmit social norms to you the wider society would step in and do so whether in the form of the extended family network, neighbours, at school or with a harsher youth justice system for the more extreme cases. I dont deny that there were problems in this model and that some of the authority of the past needed to be challenged, rethought and restructured. However, what seems to have happened is the jettisoning of all forms of effective adult authority in some parts of society and hence the inexorable rise in problems associated with young people over the past two decades.

In some sections of society the erosion of adult authority has exposed many young people to unprecedented levels of bullying, intimidation, aggression and extreme violence. Traditionally, strong male role models in the forms of teachers, the police and fathers were responsible for stamping out the incipient aggressive tendencies within young males and replacing these inherent dispositions with civilised norms. The fruits of abandoning this approach are all around us and the welfare state, as well as neo-liberal economics, are largely responsible for this development.

In fact, a while ago at a supported housing project I was commended and praised by a manager, for not physically intervening to stop one of our residents whilst he was on a drunken rampage throughout the project. He smashed up his room, kicked in a window and attacked several other residents who managed to get away from him in time. This young man, Sean, 18, was so intoxicated, in the middle of the day for that matter, that he had no idea what he was doing. The following day he remembered nothing of the incident.

Anyway, as we watched the CCTV footage of his debaucherous trek through the project, the manager repeatedly praised me for my non-aggressive body language and non-interventionist approach as well as my use of de-escalation skills, none of which were effective in any way. As a result of employing my useless politically correct armour in dealing with drunken louts, Sean was allowed to continue on his trail of destruction. After getting bored attacking his fellow residents, as well as the fixtures and fittings in the project, Sean decided to share his rage with the wider community. He proceeded on to the street in front of the project and attempted to pull an elderly man from a bike as he was cycling by. At this point I decided to abandon the non-interventionist, non aggressive approach. I managed to grab Sean by the scruff of the neck, place his arm behind his back and lower him to the ground until the police arrived.

In the face of such aggression what else was I to do but intervene? However, I can understand why so many people don't and it is because in our schools, care homes, supported housing units and even in the family home, if a child or young person accuses you of using excessive force the onus is on the adult to prove their innocence to senior management (in some instances this is an understandable stricture) that seem to be a lot more effective in dealing with alleged or minor transgressions of adults than the feral savagery of the young people in their charge. However, with such a sword dangling over one's head, is it any wonder so many adults in positions of authority have effectively abandoned trying to transmit morals and norms to the young?

It is therefore not at all surprising to me that some young people, including teenage girls as well as boys, were involved in the aforementioned murder at Victoria station in front of hundreds of adults. These young people have grown up in a society where adults have abandoned their duty to ensure that their young are civilised and adhering to a minimum standard of accepted social norms.

The underlying cause of the demise of effective adult authority is best articulated by the words of the 18th century Anglo-Irish Statesman and Philosopher Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sure lots of people will agree with you, so here's a couple of counter arguments.

1. Overall, violent crime in society is decreasing. there's independent stats that support that not just here but in other countries. When i was growing up 30 years ago there were violent gangs, and when I started working twenty years ago an older colleague used to regale me with stories of routine violence from the fifties. So gang violence is persistent and widespread in many types of society.

2. Society has limited the ability of individuals to use force on childre partly because in the past this was used indiscriminately and oppressively; you can't just hand back the right to use force in justified circumstances without inevitably having it used in non-justifiable circumstances.

I like your blog, and it shows up the many mistakes and shortcomings of the current state models. I'm just not sure that there are obvious and ready made solutions ready to implement.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Thanks for your comments above.

1) I disagree that violent crime is decreasing. In relation to our young people, which is what I am referring to in my latest post, it is on the rise and the UK is the most violent place in Europe. Here's two links that evidence this:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/5712573/UK-is-violent-crime-capital-of-Europe.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1576076/Violent-youth-crime-up-a-third.html

I agree that there has always been gang violence but it is much more ferocious today and the kids involved are of a younger age all the time. The vicious attacks on adults that take a stand against anti-social behaviour is a new phenomenon.

I hope that we can find solutions to the current problems in schools and the wider society without resorting to corporal punishment and whilst I agree it was often used unreasonably, barbarically and unjustifiably, it was when used in a judicious manner effective in thwarting certain types of behaviour. I was on the receiving end of it in both justifiable and unjustifiable circumstances but all in all I believe there were a few times I needed it and it showed me the error of my ways. The current state of affairs in schools in completely unacceptable, limited corporal punishment is the lesser of two evils but would be very difficult to implement now in a society where every parent believes their child to be a living incarnation of Christ like innocence and even when they are not they think its acceptazble or dont care that their teenager is off the rails.

ajikpajik said...

Hmmm, not sure I agree with your point re more gangs in the fifties anon. In the fifties my Dad could walk home from work at midnight with gangs ready to fight but he'd be left alone. Cos they were far more interested in fighting with each other. And this was in Glasgow at the height of the razor gang problems.

Glasgow these days is different though, my kid was threatened with being an "easy bump" last week for her sweets. Fortunately when they saw the size of her Dad they wisely decided against it. On the way back from the shop two wee neds were gonna try and bump her Dad until he stared them down and they peed themselves. This is in a residential area at 9pm on a Saturday night.

Winston, I've never commented before but I do enjoy your blog, I just don't know how you get up for work everyday!

Anonymous said...

Burke never said that. Sorry. It is merely a quote that has been falsely attributed to him and falsely perpetrated since.

Anonymous said...

1st Anonymous bak ... just look up "Scuttlers" in Wikipedia. Same old Same old.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Some sources say he said it others contest this either way it's a great quote whoever said it.

atticus said...

Spot on Winston. I blame Gramsci who is behind the so-called oppression theory that to enforce power relations in society is just to oppress the downtrodden.
We could live in a socialist society - but what good would that be if people are getting beaten up and others are afraid to leave their homes?
No, it is nonsense. It is a nonsense that is enforced by the political/bureaucratic establishment that believes in undermining traditiional mores for ther own political ends. I might add that many people who espouse such rubbish are not politically motivated: they are just too dim, cowardly or ambitious to say that the emperor has no clothes.
And so the nonsense carries on.
This 'apparat' is very interesting. It continues even in areas ruled by Conservatives. My own county council was taken over by the Conservatives last year - yet at officer level (where the day-to-day and month-to-month decisions are made) policy and practice is as Gramscian as ever.
A friend sed to edit te council's monthly newspaper. He wrote of 'hooligans' when writing of anti-social behaviour. One of the more idiotic 'directors' said it was anti-young people (the article wasn't even about young people specifically) and demanded that the paper be pulped at the cost of £50,000 (and, for good measure,defamed my friend for being 'unprofessional').
I used to think that this litany of 'non-judgementalism' could be changed. Now I'm not so sure as so many careers are riding upon it (the public can take a leap in their book). I hope I'm wrong - so good luck in your campaign. Shedding a litle daylight on ths idiocy may help.

cheeky chappy said...

As per a simply brilliant post Winston; with your permission I'd like to do a linked post on my blog to this, as it sums up exactly how I feel and I can't possibly write it any better. Fantastic work, keep it up

ktetch said...

I grew up in Liverpool. We had gangs, kids who lived up the street smashing milkbottles on your doorstep, etc. and no-one did a thing. I got bullied a bit, but I learnt to fight, and it wasn't an issue. Nowadays, I live in the US (Georgia)

What a difference. I had my metro broken into for fun in Liverpool, I rarely lock my car here. Kids mostly behave, and there's no problems with school violence here (the high school has it's own cop, mostly to deal with traffic/parking and so on). The schools can also paddle. kids don't tend to get out of line.

When I first moved here, one of the wife's relatives didn't even lock his front door. Not just when he was home, but at night and even when he was at work.

For comparison, the 14,000 people who live here, in this 370sq mile county (about the size of the West Midlands) had 9 arrests, half for probation or warrents, only one for any sort of violence.

I have had dealings with social services here though, and my interactions are very unlike winston's experiances. They're more the "we're the boss, we've got the power and we're going to use it" sort of people. Perhaps you should try and get one to do an exchange.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Hi Cheeky Chappy,

Fire away with that link.

regards,

Winston

TonyF said...

For what it's worth...Human rights.

This should apply only to human beings.

Not any old/young scum that commit crimes and need a 'shield'

The HR act needs to be abolished now. And be replaced by a 'Citizens act' Ie; you are responsible for your actions. No body else. You do not have the right to be useless, you do not have the right to do what you want. People who work and pay their way are Citizens, their rights trump useless scum.

Miss Brodie said...

I couldn't agree with you more on "the demise of effective adult authority". Certainly so far as education is concerned, no matter how many strategies, inspections and politically correct speeches are thrown at our education systems, learning cannot take place when children have no respect for the authority of their teachers.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree about Glasgow in the fifties, I was a teenager then and certainly there were gangs but they fought with each other and did not attack or rob people passing by. Many nights we girls walked home through the Gorbals after a night out at Barrowland dance hall and not once did we feel threatened in any way. Would not even consider it now as a pensioner I would not be safe, in the fifties an attack on a girl or old person would be severly punished. Even if the police were not involved the community would soon get to hear of it and 'justice' would soon follow. Another thing, I knew quite a lot of the gang members, and most of them grew up and turned out well as they were not allowed to get away with their teenage bad behaviour.

Louise said...

Firstly, congratulations on your nomination. Your blog is compelling, if not particularly uplifting.

Isn't the phenomenon you describing called 'Bystander Apathy". As a social scientist you must be familiar with the Kitty Genevese case which became notorious, She was stabbed in front of neighbours in a busy area of the New York. No one even called an ambulance Needless to say this was followed by psychological experiments. They came up with the diffusion of culpability theory which meant that the more people who witness an individual being attacked, the few people will come to his aid.

This all took place in 1960 US so it would see that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Lily said...

I suspect our experiences with the underclass are similar, Mr Smith. When I was teaching I was reckoned to be a miserable hard cow with no real interest in the children or their experience of fun in the two hours a week they spent with me. I have been actually reprimanded for enforcing the school's discliplinary sanctions instead of relying upon an understanding, no-conflict chat.

The kids HATE it - hate ME - at the time but as they mature and pass their exams, they understand. Many have commented after they left or went into sixth form that they were grateful later for being MADE to work, lacking the maturity or self-discipline to manage it without at the time.

Others no doubt feel I blighted two hours of their lives per week with unreasonable demands for silence, obedience, civility and work but hey-ho. I am an adult not afraid to assume authority in a situation where adult authority should be a given. I don't expect children (and "young adults" are as younf adults act) to like it or appreciate it but I don't expect those in authority over me to positively disapprove and discourage it.

rielouise said...

Maybe it would help if we stopped labelling people underclass. Another word that springs to mind is untermenschen. Ich bin ein untermensch in that I have a mental illness. Burn the witch, huh?

Winston stressed that 'Sammie' the girl he mentions rather a lot comes from a middle class background. What do you make of that?

atticus said...

I'm just shocked that Lily was suspended for upholding her school's disciplinary standards. The authorities probably regard it as 'oppression' to actually discipline children. Far easier for them to 'discipline' Lily. I'm sure she would win if she took the case to a tribunal - and she might bring this issue into the public gaze.

Anonymous said...

Spot on:
- decline of directive role models
- welfare state dependency and demotivation
- neo-liberal dog eat dog civic disinterest

I work in 'childrens services'.
Without going into details I identify with everything you describe.

Social apathy is a tendency associated with consumer/materialist driven economic relationships. And the voting system allows no alternative.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Hi Rielouise,

For me the underclass isn't exclusively defined by income bracket but by attitude, behaviour and a lack of common respect for others. There are plenty of poor people who are not part of the underclass as far as Im concerned and in relation to Sammie's Middle class parents, they were in a middle class income bracket but they were underclass in their attitude and approach to parenting and expectations from the state.

Lily said...

"Underclass", like "scum" or "chav", is a state of mind, not a socio-economic descriptor.

atticus, I wasn't suspended, I was called into a meeting and told stop punishing (Oooh! detention! Gasp! Corridor bollocking!) feral children who chose to defy the school rules, pinned up in every room.
It seems that this causes negativity and conflict and precludes a win-win result. It also backs up the detentions rota and means SMT have to do something about repeat offenders. There are other ways, apparently: entertainment and appeasement. If my lessons were more child-focused (don't get me started on whose benefit a lesson is for in the first place) the children would be more engaged and love me more. In order to ensure that these were more regularly used, some additional helpful observations were put in place.
I note that when we are touchy-feely - in a good way of course - they are "children". The rest of the time they are "young adults" or "Our Young People".

Sorry to hijack, Mr Smith. Rant over.

Spenders said...

Louise,
I don't wanna burst any bubbles here but you might be interested to look up the Kitty Genovese case on Wikipedia. That suggests that the statement of 38 neighbours having seen/heard the incident and doing nothing is very wrong indeed, being based on a very innaccurate newspaper article. Sorry if that doesn't fit your perception.

Atticus said...

I suggest that the 'young people' and 'students' connotations should be the first things to go. They are designed solely to boost the 'self-esteem' of people who do not necessarily deserve it.
Bring back pupils and chldren! Let's see an end to all this nonsensical 'positive impressions of youn people' stuff.

Anonymous said...

Good to hear about your award nomination - however I'm afraid you would appear to be wrong about violent crime going up;

http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/2010/03/09/is-violent-crime-going-up-or-down/

I spoke to a couple of Criminologists in the department after reading the above; both were in agreement that while the problems you describe here in terms of your particular experience are serious and by no means uncommon; the stats just don't back the Tories' claims.

As far as we can tell, violent crime is down. That is not to say things are fine, or what you are describing here isn't serious and making misery for significant numbers of people. But I think we should keep things in perspective.

Incidentally I've only just realises you're linking to Peter Hitchens blog-I can't believe from your writings you actually want people to read the bilous rubbish that man spews out...

WinstonSmith33 said...

I agree that Peter Hitchens is indeed a controversial individual and whilst I disagree with most of what he says, he is particularly homophobic and way to religious for me. However, some of his views on crime and welfarism are spot on.

Whilst he often irritates me on many issues I continue to read him to be aware of the many differing viewpoints that are available. There are other writers that irk me but I also want to hear what they have to say. It is better to read from a wide variety of sources with an open mind rather than trying to constantly just reaffirm one's cherished beliefs. This way there may be a time when you can learn something new.

It is the strict adherence to cherished ideas that leads to the adoption of social policies and clinging to them even when they dont work. From this I have learned to always have an open mind. However, I do have some areas that I hold strong unwavering convictions.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, which is a great reason to ignore someone who, in just the latest example of wanton aggression and incivility called a Police officer whose views on drugs differed from his a 'uniformed cretin'.

There are plenty of people out there making the same points, however they appear to be able to do so with some regard for evidence over bloody mindedness and without being quite as vicious.

I would imagine from the number of howlers he's put out in his time, the amount of primary research and fact checking he does is not of the best.

It's not that he's a conservative-it's that there are plenty of better informed, more intelligent and skeptical consevatives to read rather than this one.

It's checking the facts in the debate we are having here that reveals violent crime is in fact down on the best available measures-so you are right to want to do this

Anonymous said...

I guess the problem with the Victoria Station murder (and i commute through there everyday) is two things;

1) Fear of the consequences of violence.

The thought of how you could get hurt yourself. There are countless examples of people trying to do the right thing and getting beaten to death by a bunch of feral youths. One or possibly two most adults could handle (i'm 6' 3 and 15 stone. If i hit one of those kids then they are going to stay hit) but once knives are involved it is different matter.

2) A fear of the consequences from a civil/legal perspective.

For example getting charged with assualt which would damage career and job prospects or getting accused of being a "paedo" by one of the kids involved who knows how to pander to the system.

It's a shame. I remember being a kid and getting a clip around the ear from a neighbour for doing something wrong, going home to complain and getting ten times worse from my mum and dad.

I don't know how we fix this. i suspect our politicians are just not up to the job of telling people the hard truths and lessons they need to hear/take. Keep writing Winston - it may not be uplifting but it needs to be said.

Interested of Warwickshire said...

Anon 10:02 said: "Good to hear about your award nomination - however I'm afraid you would appear to be wrong about violent crime going up"

That C4 news piece you link to only addresses the question of whether violent crime has risen or not under Labour - ie in the last 13 years.

Personally, based on my own experience and knowledge of the criminal justice system, I very much doubt whether C4, or criminologists (almost all of whom are left wing), or the government (which has a record of lying to us), or the police (ditto), are telling the truth about crime in the last 13 years.

Last year, for instance, Home Office figures on knife crime were shown to be false by Accident and Emergency records, which showed a huge jump in stabbings treated by doctors at precisely the same time that the knife crime figures were allegedly falling.

But even assuming they are telling the truth, over the long term, modern history-wise, it is undisputed (and indisputable) that violent crime has risen.

This Home Office paper shows the rise took off in the late 1960s: http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/rp99/rp99-111.pdf

The homicide rate is particularly interesting; it's now well over double what it was in 1950, and this is despite an enormous increase in the ability of doctors to save lives.

This pernicious nonsense about 'the gangs of the 50s' must be nailed as exactly that. before the people who were alive then have all died and history is changed forever; of course there were gangs, but if they were caught they were nailed, something which really doesn't happen now. Hence, we are where we are.

Anonymous said...

"I very much doubt whether C4, or criminologists (almost all of whom are left wing)"

@Interested of Warwickshire

lol and presumably your extensive engagement with this academic discipline gives you some evidence on which to base this? Or are you just blustering the first lazy dismissal of academic research that cones to mind because it suits your case in lieu of evidence?

That's to say nothing of the implicit assumption that someone (in fact by your estimation, everyone) who holds left wing views automatically lies.

Your substantive point about the C4 fact checking is also incorrect. C4 quoted external sources which if you'd checked the link you'd realise. This includes eminent statisticians and other professionals. The Telegraph reports were based on
moves within the Tory party to spin assertions about crime figures that are by turns grossly exaggerated and false.

If you have evidence to back your claims, let's hear it.

If not, I'd thankyou not to slander an
entire profession of people because you don't like what some are telling you and choose to remain willfully ignorant.

Authoritative, empirically validated research on British society, particularly in education, has been batted away by successive governments because they don't like what they are being told. If we stopped playing this stupid game and engaged with the evidence we might get somewhere...

Anonymous said...

"But even assuming they are telling the truth, over the long term, modern history-wise, it is undisputed (and indisputable) that violent crime has risen."

that's just not true - the Victorian era particularly in the industrial cities was horrendously violent and the murder rates in Glasgow and London slums, just two examples, was known to be large (this comes from primary data on the effects of violence and murder detections but also from the wealth of secondary data from people's experiences).

If you want to go post war you have to look
at comparative factors such as population increase, methods of detection (which have improved), reporting of crime (which has increased as far as we are able to tell), classification of crime (assaults and violent crimes were classified differently pre/post 2000, as just a recent example of change).

What the Tories were claiming was a 40% minimum increase in violent crime under Labour-there is just no evidence to back it.

Oh and by the way, one example of large scale violence going down-football. Football violence which accounted for a large number of wide scale, regular national incidences of mass violence have decreased significantly from their late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s heights.

But none of this touched Victorian city experience, so far as we can tell.

The point is that you are throwing these out with no regard at all for historical or local context; just like the Tories did.

The evidence just isn't with

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying the Home Office don't cook
the books either-the difference there being that there is 'plausible denial' in the difference of recording between health statistics and crime figures (although I don't think they were checking too hard either).

Just to give some context-the Office of National Stats and the National Audit Office are statutorily separate from the government of the day. That's why professional researchers tend to use them to check government or political party figure, as happened here.

But it data from those same agencies that shows and overall fall in violent crime since a high in 1995-
I'm not saying that there aren't worrying particular rises in particular areas, I'm setting out the reasonable boundaries that the evidence puts on these claims.

I would suggest this is not the behaviour of left wing conspirators looking to fool you, but an honest open and verifiable account of what is known

Interested of Warwickshire said...

Anon 15:37/51/59 (I assume you are one and the same) said "lol and presumably your extensive engagement with this academic discipline gives you some evidence on which to base this? Or are you just blustering the first lazy dismissal of academic research that cones to mind because it suits your case in lieu of evidence?"

Actually, yes, my own extensive engagement with this academic discipline does give me some evidence on which to base this, so I'm not just blustering the first lazy dismissal of academic research that cones (sic) to mind.

My own experience of law lecturers and criminologists in two universities is that they were and are left wing. Beyond that, if you want me to list influential left/liberal criminologists who I've been forced to read in the course of my own work, how long have you got? This could take some time: Ian Taylor, Adrian Raine, Jock Young (of course), Karl Menninger, Elizabeth Stanko, Gary Gleck, Norville Morris, Roger Graef, Willem Bonger, Umberto Santino, Raymond Kessler, Paul Walton, John Lea, Emile Durkheim, Henry Mayhew, Adolphe Quetelet, Joseph Fletcher... I could go on (for hours, literally), but that's enough to make the point.

If you can name a comparable list of right wing criminologists, I'm all ears.

To turn to the rest of your comment, I don't assume or imply that all left wing people lie; I simply say they are wrong about crime and its prevention (and the fact that crime figures have risen dramatically from just about the point that liberal criminology took hold in our universities and in our political discourse in the mid 1960s suggests that I am correct in this).

The point about most liberal criminologists, of course, is that they don't see crime as being 'wrong' in the same way I do; they see it as a natural expression of anger at class inequality. The fact that most of the anger is expressed against other poor people (the majority of victims of crime) is something they tend to ignore.

Anon said: "the Victorian era particularly in the industrial cities was horrendously violent and the murder rates in Glasgow and London slums, just two examples, was known to be large (this comes from primary data on the effects of violence and murder detections but also from the wealth of secondary data from people's experiences)."

Why not go back 2,000 years? Or 10,000? I'm not sure you have grasped my main point about the C4 piece.

Even if it were true that violent crime - in a rising population - had fallen in the last 13 years, this was not my main point.

Equally, the question of whether it was worse in Victorian times... well, so what?

For the sake of argument, let's agree that it has and it was; but this is to take a paradoxically short/long term view of history.

The question relevant to most people is not what the murder rate was 10,000, 2,000 or 200 years ago, but what is it now and what was it in living (and genuinely comparable) memory?

Up until the late 1960s, as the Home Office graph I posted shows, crime generally and violent crime in particular, was much lower and under general control pre around 1968.

After 1968, it very clearly shoots up.

You like stats and figures - why not engage with this one.

The Spirit of Malcolm Muggeridge said...

@ ANON
"Just to give some context-the Office of National Stats and the National Audit Office are statutorily separate from the government of the day. That's why professional researchers tend to use them to check government or political party figure, as happened here."

In the 1930s, the official figures from the USSR said that the Ukraine was awash with wheat. In fact, its people were starving to death.

Useful idiots in the west such as Walter Duranty believed, or affected to believe, the official figures and denied the evidence, even when it was the evidence of their own eyes.

They did this because it suited their own political view: even if the official figures were lies, what was the regrettable death of a few hundred thousand Ukrainians, if it advanced the cause of international communism?

This has always been the position of the left; from Mao and Stalin downwards, they have been prepared to lie and accept lies if it served the greater plan. The hard left have been prepared to kill in the millions; the soft left prefer to massage figures.

You yourself accept that the Home Office cooks the books.

Yet you find it impossible that the ONS might do the same? This at a time when we are developing a nomenklatura state, where the careers and salaries of the bureaucrats depend on the maintenance of a Labour government? It is not too far a stretch at all to imagine that the crime figures are being fiddled by all concerned.

Just take a walk in any major city centre after 11pm this Friday and have a look for yourself.

Wayne King said...

Dear Anon who has Criminologists in his department:- Your chaps will only be looking ar reported crime. I know many people who do not report crime any more as 'there is no point'! I would trust the A&E treatment of stabbing figures over the HO/Police recorded crime stats any day.

Out of interest do you work with any people who would vote for UKIP or Tories ( a guess would do), and if so what percentage of the work force would they represent and what level work do they do?

Anonymous said...

@Interested

"Up until the late 1960s, as the Home Office graph I posted shows, crime generally and violent crime in particular, was much lower and under general control pre around 1968.

After 1968, it very clearly shoots up.

You like stats and figures - why not engage with this one."

Happy to.

First of all, the point is (following your correct assertion that recent history is most relevant to this debate) violent crime has overall continually decreased since a high in 1995 (which happened to follow two particularly nasty recessions and massive neo-liberal economic restructuring the attendant unemployment).

But since you bring it up, lets pursue your point about the post-war years a little further. What was going on then? Full employment (mostly), reasonable stability in labour markets and a post-war consensus around the welfare state.

Your own point undermines the general claim that left-wing thinking is responsible for rises in crime - I'm sorry but absolutely none of this is tenable, even on the strength of your own examples.

You appear to have read a reasonable spread of classical criminology; but much of it is classical and out of date
(Durkheim was 18th century; Ian Taylor published his major work with Jock Young and Paulm Walton in 1973, during which the UK was a considerably different place with differing economic, technological and social structures from now).

As stated earlier the Manhattan Institute's reach and the role of various think tanks that self define as Conservative (because there are differences and not all of them agree), particularly in the US, have had massive influence both nationally and internationally.

They go around the world and are received by state institutions, local and national politicians and civic leaders.

Your argument that left-wing thinking, particularly in academia, is responsible for rises in crime is flawed in two major ways.

1) The evidence that you have cited and the way you've charicatured and generalised a vast global body of research is not in accord with reality.

2) The influence of left-wing thought on economic and criminal justice policy in the UK and world wide demonstrably pales compared to the reach of Conservative ideas in the post-1968 period, particularly after 1979.

Anonymous said...

@InterestedOfWarwickshire

"To turn to the rest of your comment, I don't assume or imply that all left wing people lie; I simply say they are wrong about crime and its prevention (and the fact that crime figures have risen dramatically from just about the point that liberal criminology took hold in our universities and in our political discourse in the mid 1960s suggests that I am correct in this)."

Are you really suggesting that academic Criminology has that much influence on the actual incidence of crime so as to be even one significant factor among many?!

Because even if this were true, it'd be demonstrably wrong to suggest that a left-wing hegemony has spurred this; simply because the most influential crime policy exporter in the world has been the US-based Manhattan Institute - home of the originator of the 'Broken Window' theory - a theory which has been persistently refuted since it's inception.

This institution has been instrumental in exporting the zero-tolerance (Mayor Gulianni NYC) approach towards crime prevention world wide - from Western Europe to Latin America.

Loic Wacquant has traced the massive spread of these ideas over the past 20 years, and I'm happy to cite the evidence for this to your satisfaction should you require it.

"The point about most liberal criminologists, of course, is that they don't see crime as being 'wrong' in the same way I do; they see it as a natural expression of anger at class inequality. The fact that most of the anger is expressed against other poor people (the majority of victims of crime) is something they tend to ignore."

Actually demonstrably wrong; again a great example is found in Wacquant's book as well as numerous studies in Latin America an in particular the rise of Narco states at precisely the time when right-wing policies on international crime prevention - most notably the war on drugs - were dominant approaches.

The above quote is crude, outdated Marxist charicature that I do not recognise from any of the work I've looked at - it's ridiculously general and incredibly simplistic.

Your assertions here are not in accord with the evidence.

"Even if it were true that violent crime - in a rising population - had fallen in the last 13 years, this was not my main point."

Which is fortunate, because from what I can tell this statement is broadly true.

Anonymous said...

@The Spirit of Malcolm Mudridge

"This has always been the position of the left; from Mao and Stalin downwards, they have been prepared to lie and accept lies if it served the greater plan. The hard left have been prepared to kill in the millions; the soft left prefer to massage figures."

I was making a serious point about the different agencies which give us statistical information and the structural pressures on them.

You appear to have bought up two international historical perportrators of atrocities and then equated their behaviour with an unspecified group of people within statistical agencies that you 1)Assume to be 'left wing'; and 2) Assume to be present at all.

I don't discern a serious point here, other than a deep seated desire to smear people you don't like with the most laughably ridiculous slader.

And I've worked in clubs in Central Birmingham as a medic, so I think walking through town centres at 11pm is not really neccessary.

Anonymous said...

@Wayne King

"Your chaps will only be looking ar reported crime. I know many people who do not report crime any more as 'there is no point'! I would trust the A&E treatment of stabbing figures over the HO/Police recorded crime stats any day."

I agree with several of the points in this.

1) I know plenty of people from my own life (research work and also people I know personally) who think reporting crime, particularly anti-social behaviour is a waste of time - and their lives are made sheer hell by it.

2) A&E figures for local departments are obviously superior indicators of local incidence simply because it is a self reporting phenomenon. The Royal College of Physicians has also voiced concerns over this I believe.

Points I disagree with;

1) Criminologists do not only look at reported crime, otherwise they wouldn't have a job because the BCS (British Crime Survey) would already have done it for them. They engage with a variety of bodies of evidence including large bodies of primary research.

As you point out, A&E stats are another very good way of triangulating data, for example - and indeed this is what is done.

The original claim was a general one, which is that violent crime overall in the UK is down from a high in 1995.

This is not to say that particular types of violent crime have not increased, intensified or worsened in particular areas - they have.

"Out of interest do you work with any people who would vote for UKIP or Tories ( a guess would do), and if so what percentage of the work force would they represent and what level work do they do?"

Not to my knowledge but none that are going to vote Labour either.

The problem of this debate (not you specifically), as Winston often remarks, is that this seems to be the question everyone wants to know - are they a Liberal or Conservative.

The appropriate question is 'what is the evidence telling us and how far can we draw conclusions from it'.

As the great American philosopher Chris Rock tells us 'Everybody wants to be down with a gang - Conservatives are idiots, Liberals are idiots - anybody that makes up they mind before they hear the issue, is a fool'.

There are really serious issues facing this country, and fortunately there is alot of research at the moment being done which can help us confront these problems (and actually people who adhere to one or the other political faith might actually find more points of convergence if they looked before they lept).

However, we have a public and political culture that only listens to the echoing sound of their own voices.

The from Thatcher through Major, Blair and Brown, the pattern has been the same - Policy based evidence, not evidence based policy.

Thatcher's record on listening to research on inequality and education was shocking; Labours' record has been if anything more shocking on virtually all areas of research (ministerial meddling, bullying etc.)

Interested of Warwickshire said...

Anon:

First, violent crime has not fallen; the A&E figures show this, and even if they didn't (if you know anything about crime recording) you'll also be aware that the police have been caught out under-recording violent crime. Updated figures are due soon.

Am I 'really suggesting that academic Criminology has that much influence on the actual incidence of crime so as to be even one significant factor among many?!'?

Yes, I am!!?!!

The reason is that academic criminology and its attendant sociological disciplines have driven a culture, since the late 1960s, among politicians, the media, the judiciary, the police and the probation service, of not jailing criminals (especially violent criminals).

The use of community sentences has grown at the same time as violent (and other forms of) crime have grown; look at the graphs, the correlation isn't hard to see.

It is often said that we have too many people in prison - as though there were an optimum number of people to imprison - and that there are fewer people in jail per capita in other western European states. This gets to the heart of the liberal lie about crime: the issue is not how many people we have in prison per capita but per crime, and our crime rates are astronomically higher than those in other European countries. Per crime, we imprison far fewer than most other western countries (which is why we have the crime rate we have).

You shy at the reasons for this with talk about unemployment and so on, but my argument is this: while I do care about the causes of crime, that is a secondary concern as to dealing with actual criminals here, now, today. Get them off the streets, in large numbers, and we can begin to address the causes (not to mention, allow their weak, elderly and vulnerable victims some respite); with them in the barrel, the rot spreads.

One final point: it is literally ridiculous to suggest that 'zero tolerance' policing has spread worldwide. In this country, the average burglar commits well over 100 offences before being jailed; this seems more, rather than less, tolerant of burglary, but then judges and politicians are seldom burgled.

Also, it's 'caricature', not charicature.

Anonymous said...

@ Interested

"Get them off the streets, in large numbers, and we can begin to address the causes (not to mention, allow their weak, elderly and vulnerable victims some respite); with them in the barrel, the rot spreads."

The UK became Europe's most prolific incarcerator under Blair - recently the trend has continued and you can check here (Telegraph btw:) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1540903/Britain-the-lock-up-capital-of-Europe.html

The US overtook China during the 1980s as the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world (under Bush I, fuelled in large part by the War on Drugs). It continues to have the largest rate in the world.

This totally undermines your above point, because this is clearly not the behaviour of the straw-person left you've come up with.

"One final point: it is literally ridiculous to suggest that 'zero tolerance' policing has spread worldwide. In this country, the average burglar commits well over 100 offences before being jailed; this seems more, rather than less, tolerant of burglary, but then judges and politicians are seldom burgled."

It would be inaccurate, not ridiculous. Which is why I didn't claim that - I said that the Manhattan Institute was perhaps the most extreme example of how Zero-tolerance and neo-liberal criminology has had massive influence in cities and nations worldwide.

The work of Loic Wacquant which has been internationally read and acclaimed, demonstrates this - by which I mean his work shows through evidence of meetings, publications, overt policy statements and policy outcomes (such as rising incarceration) - that this is the case. You do not do the same for your claims.

In any event, I made this statement in response to your demonstrably incorrect claim that liberal left academic discourse has been directly responsible for the rise in crime.

The rising rates of incarceration I've alluded to at the start, together with the work I've cited here, provide compelling evidence for this.

"Also, it's 'caricature', not charicature."

Thanks for that - maybe you can help me with my spelling and I can help you with evidence based arguments.

Yakoub said...

When I was at school (1970s), I tolerated teachers who would use their position of authority either insensitively, violently and for their own personal gratification. Not all teachers were like that, but the bad undermined the good, and none were accountable, however awful they were. I grew up with Black and Asian and gay friends with a police force who were racist and homophobic (and crooked). I developed a suspicion of unaccountable authority and I passed it on to my kids - and I'm not alone in that by a long shot. But I also passed on kindness, compassion, self-confidence, courtesy, and a love of their fellow human being. They won't be stabbing anyone anytime soon.

AnonymousAcademic said...

"When I was at school (1970s), I tolerated teachers who would use their position of authority either insensitively, violently and for their own personal gratification. Not all teachers were like that, but the bad undermined the good, and none were accountable, however awful they were. I grew up with Black and Asian and gay friends with a police force who were racist and homophobic (and crooked). I developed a suspicion of unaccountable authority and I passed it on to my kids - and I'm not alone in that by a long shot. But I also passed on kindness, compassion, self-confidence, courtesy, and a love of their fellow human being. They won't be stabbing anyone anytime soon."

Spot on.

There's more of us than they think...

WinstonSmith33 said...

Hi Yakoub,

I agree with you that unaccountable authority that is abused and overly severe should be challenged. Yes, there were teachers that were excessively brutal and sadistic in their administering of corporal punishment (this however doesn't mean limited corporal punishment is bad) and of course there were widespread problems with the police and judicial systems.

However, what seems to me to have happened to rectify these excesses was a complete abandonment of all forms of effective authority and this I dont agree with. Without some shared rules and norms backed up with consequences we end up with the kind of breakdown endemic in society today.

I'm glad you passed on good values to your kids if there were more parents like you I wouldnt have to write this blog.

Thanks for your comments.

Winston

novelist said...

I would not last 5 minutes in your environment. That drunken kid for instance, I would have dealt with him as he deserved.

sajasper said...

I agree with you Winston. The level of idiotic crime is on the increase and getting younger. There is no respect anymore for anyone, not even themselves. I was given lip from a 3yr old the other day when I asked him to stop climbing on my garden fence! And the area I live in is full of, I hate to say it, young parents who obviously haven't had decent parents themselves, who treat their kids as glorified dolls and ways to jump the housing list.

I think there are still a lot more decent people out there than not, but the systems in place to deal with those that aren't need a wake up call. Softly softly does not work! And I've always wondered if a survey has ever been done with relation to rising youth crime and both parents working!!

Just a thought.

Loved your blog and your openness!

AnonymousAcademic said...

"The level of idiotic crime"

I love that definition (honestly)

Anonymous said...

Have now be burgled 3 times, spat on over my garden fence and nightly watch kids climb on my fence. The last time I confronted them (being between the age of 10 -13) they simply stated 'yer and what are you going to do about it', 'push you off' was my short but abrupt reply, 'then I'll get you done'. Its not worth phoning the police AGAIN, who turn up 3 days after the event to give you the usual pep talk. So I 43 yrs old, heavy smoker, wearing my slippers - snapped. Bounded over the 6ft fence and chased them up the alley. I had lost it. I knew it, but was fed up of the softly softly approach. These are never the same children twice. They specifically wear bland clothing with zip up hoods so that they "blend" and can not be recognised. I am being hounded, harrased, bullied and victimised so thank you for the long debate as to wether crime has gone up or down, but I can honestly say I've never lived like this prior. These children are the offspring of my generation, and I am ashamed my generation dont take a handle on THEIR children.

George CA Talbot said...

In the late 70s I became aware of the sharp rises in offences by and imprisonment of delinquents mentioned above. Some argued they were bad so should be imprisoned. Others they were ill so should be treated. Advocates of prison blamed treatment for encouraging crime while advocates of treatment blamed prison for further damaging lives. I argued for prompt, painful but non-custodial punishment, treatment for diagnosed illnesses and good care for all with prison only for dangerousness. I was ignored and am glad to find Winston Smith making similar points after further large rises and moderate reductions.

In 1979, I attributed these rises to the changes introduced by the 1968 White Paper Children in Trouble. It argued that treatment and care would curb bad behaviour better than punishment. I believe its authors were moved by studies showing that poor upbringing worsened behaviour and suppose they assumed children were naturally good.

I judge this a false belief about human nature and now blame its persistence on Christianity and the Enlightenment. I argued that we are driven by instinctive and learned emotions some of which urge us to behave badly so society must use discipline, training and psychotherapy to improve behaviour, and that unconscious motivation should not excuse crime. Now I note science does not recognise free will.

The death penalty was abolished in the 60s after which the homicide rate rose for decades. I attribute abhorrence of killing by the state to two world wars and nuclear weapons. It impedes disciplining older teenagers and those guilty of grave crimes.

I am surprised none relates the erosions of authority to free market economics. It also idealises human nature but values self interest, competition and choice not authority and moral values other than those needed to enforce contracts.

Discipline seems to have been feminised. Thus men try to subordinate youngsters. Women want to make friends with them but when they remain hostile, demand they are removed. Then they run amuck or are imprisoned. This shift was reflected in a change in the department responsible for delinquents from the Home Office to the Department of Health.