Thursday 28 January 2010

Britain: The Land Where The Criminal's Victimhood Supersedes That of The Decent and Law Abiding

A couple of weeks before the Christmas, one of our residents, Mike, 18, openly divulged to several staff that he had acquired some of his yuletide gifts for his family by stealing them. Although starved of intelligence and devoid of manners, Mike is in no ways cash hungry. He is on lucrative benefit payments and receives regular cash donations from his father who works abroad. However, much of his income is regularly being paid out on various fines he receives from the courts and the police whilst persuing his favourite hobby of being a public nuisance. In defence of his latest criminal activities Mike felt that it should be appreciated that he was no longer burglaring people's homes as he had lately required a conscience in this area. One of my colleagues actually congratulated him for this, as if he was doing the local community a favour by no longer 'choosing' to break in to people's homes.

Anyway, when trying to talk to him about his immoral behaviour I became aware that both myself and my colleague were trying to get Mike to see the error of his ways by appealing to how crime would affect him as opposed to the effects it has on others. My colleague made no mention of the victims of his actions and I only made reference to it and was immediately accused by Mike of the greatest taboo in the social delinquents perpetuation sector: judgmentalism. My colleague was quick to assure Mike that he wasn't being judged. Instead, I took to plain speaking and told him that it wasn't I that was going to judge him but rather someone called a Judge who would indeed be judgemental as his job description requires just that. However, as I have said the angle we were taking was one of trying to make him see how crime would affect him should he continue to keep appearing in court. Should we have employed a technique of say condemnatory language for his actions as well as trying to make him ashamed of himself by being harsh in describing how his crimes affect other people we could have well faced disciplinary action should he have made a complaint, which is his right, about the way and manner we spoke to him.

In fact, Mike did just that with regards to a colleague verbally reprimanding him for bad behaviour on the project the year before. The colleague was suspended and an investigation was launched. She was so demeaned by this experience that she resigned her post whilst being investigated for the crime of plain speaking to a feral yob. Mike openly boasted of how he got rid of her. The threat of such complaints censors many staff from plain speaking when dealing with young people engaged in crime or other anti-social behaviour. One wrong word or misconstrued phrase and you could find yourself up on a disciplinary hearing for 'oppressive' language. This culture where 'judgmental' language is seen as the ultimate taboo allows for criminals like Mike to shift the balance of power in their direction in that support workers fear telling the truth or evoking shame in a resident for fear of a complaint being made against them.

What I have highlighted in the above example is indicative of a trend in the wider society and that is how perpetrators of crimes, even the most heinous, can so easily achieve victim status even superseding the rights of those they have commited crimes against. This trend is being reported more and more by the media lately. The actress and singer Myleene Klass was warned by police for trying to protect herself in her own home. There was the high profile case of the business man jailed, but later released for the crime of defending his home against vicious and dangerous criminals.

After the horrific case in Edlington where two boys attacked, tortured and brutalised two boys of a similar age,the social care magazine, Children and Young People Now advocates reaching out to future torturers and trying to understand them. No mention is made of providing services for their victims. Whilst I agree that the torturers were to a degree a product of their environment and don't advocate or support lynch mobs to deal with such people something in me cringes when reading an article that makes no mention of the people who have suffered at the hands of the people they are defending.

Instead of arguing for targeting dysfunctional families whose children may be being socialised in to savage torturers would it not make more sense to prohibit such people from breeding in the first place? However, that wouldn't suit the social services and social care industry which requires the children of the extremely dysfunctional and disturbed for its perpetuation. Many livelihoods and lucrative salaries depend on Britain remaining in the social morass in which it finds itself. As a boss of mine once said, "If we do our job correctly we do ourselves out of a job."


WinstonSmith33 said...

I feel I got one back at this ludicrous system as I wrote this blog post from my desk today.

Ben H said...

I'm not sure I believe that Myleene Klass story:

'A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire police said no reference was made in the Klass incident report about a weapon. She said the incident was being treated as trespass and "words of advice were given in relation to ensuring suspicious behaviour is reported immediately."'

If you believe the police account, then Klass didn't mention that she had used a knife, so she couldn't have been 'warned' about it.

Now, obviously, the police could well be lying about having warned her; but equally Klass's PR people might have decided to distort the incident to get Myleene a bit of free exposure. If a 'police warning' had been given, wouldn't there be a record of it, making lying a risky strategy for the cops? Or maybe that would only apply in the case of a formal caution@

Anonymous said...

Ah Winston mate keep on pushing for what you know is right. You always make interesting, but often cringeworthy (is that a proper word?) posts.

You are someone that cares and wants to do something about the ills of society. This is what we need more than the self serving polictians of all mainstream parties and jobsworths that mostly make up our public services.

If all us decent people, who constitute the majority, keep at it things have to get better. After all they never reckoned with the blogosphere!

S Brown said...

Another excellent post Winston! I HATE the non-judgmentalism that has pervaded this country. NOBODY's to blame for anything anymore.

Just came from collecting my wife from her volunteer job at a local charity. I noticed an A4 poster on the wall - it was a kind of 'charter' relating to the playgroup held there - it contains the phrase "children must be praised at all times"! At ALL times?! Jeez...

Anonymous said...


Nail on the head again chap. There's a few care homes in the district I work in. I remember one time where we were called to attend because one of the residents had damaged one of the staff members cars over a dispute regarding curfews.

Before arriving on scene, we were called a number of times telling us that we were no longer required, but our comms room read between the lines, and we were still sent. When I got there, I could see that the staff member was under tangible pressure to make no complaint. Sadly, I was unable to contain my rage, and more importantly, unbound by the home's 'code of professional conduct'.

I remember shouting something about it not being their choice anymore, and dragged this lad into the back of my transit van, all the while listening to him scream "YOU CAN'T BE LIKE THIS TO ME!"

I then made this staff member make a complaint, and the other was was subsequently convicted of the damage and moved from the home. I don't know if I did the right thing in retrospect, but I really enjoyed showing this lad that he couldn't behave like a prick with every public servant, because we ain't bound like they are.

Love this blog. You say what I think.


Merlin said...

"Whilst I agree that the torturers were to a degree a product of their environment and don't advocate or support lynch mobs to deal with such people"

Nor do I, Winston. The whole process, from the arrest, through the trial, to the final drop through the trapdoor, should be conducted in a properly procedural, transparent & judicial manner.

Anonymous said...

"Instead of arguing for targeting dysfunctional families whose children may be being socialised in to savage torturers would it not make more sense to prohibit such people from breeding in the first place?"
How about first trying not paying them via housing etc to have kids first of all. Not paying people to have kids without a stable relationship etc did work well in the past and still does in Italy etc.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Well said Merlin!

Tina Trent said...

Judges judging: there's the rub.

Last year, in Atlanta, someone sent me a transcript of a judge sentencing a dangerous young man to "staying in school" for the crime of shooting a fellow classmate three times (The classmate survived. And dropped out, citing fear of repercussions). The judge praised the shooter, announcing to the court that he was too good to pick up trash as part of his community service. Another reported crime, in which the youth aimed a gun at two female students, went un-prosecuted. He also put his girlfriend into the hospital via grinding a bar glass into her face.

The same judge hosted a "graduation party" (balloons, cake, guest speakers, tv cameras) for another young criminal. He praised the youth effusively for completing his GED. The youth was in detention for armed home invasion, pistol whipping, and stomping someone so severely that the victim had to have a testicle removed.

It sounds as if you've got a worse situation over there, though.

Dabble said...

Anon at 29 January 2010 03:03 hits the nail on the head. I think people can have as many children as they like - it should be no business of the state's to decide who can have children and how many; as a passionate defender of their freedoms, all I ask is that people who exercise their freedom to have children support their progeny themselves.

Anonymous said...

but unless you are willing to see kids starve (which, incidentally, I see as the only possible outcome eventually, by the way), you can't actually move away from a welfare state.

not many people will vote for that one....

WinstonSmith33 said...

I agree with the state providing a degree of welfare to people but not it's current guise.

halojones-fan said...

"No mention is made of providing services for their victims."

Ah, but there it is--according to Uncle Government's view, they ARE providing services for the victims. After all, vicious thieving thugs are merely "victims" of a society that can't be arsed to understand their needs and desires, and so they're acting out in the only manner that their worldview allows. (Said worldview, of course, being stunted by years of oppression and maltreatment.) As for the targets of this acting-out, well, it's their own fault really for flaunting their wealth and comfort, right? And besides they're rich so they can afford to pick up the pieces, unlike poor Gavin here.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Well said Halojones-Fan, however, the real victims of crime tend to be those that live amongst or near the underclass, namely decent law-abiding working class folk and the ranks of the lower middle classes who cant afford to live in mansions miles away from the underclass.

A recent programme on ITV highlighted how lower middle class and working class estates are held hostage by gangs of yob families and feral teenagers. The programme highlighted how this was not just isolated incidents here and there but widespread.

Perhaps, we are all just imagining this though. Ben Bradshaw, the Culture minister dismissed any notion that Britain is a damaged society on Question Time last week. A few weeks working with the dregs of society I have to deal with or living on one of the many housing estates documented in that ITV report might give him a different perspective.

B Mackay said...

Another great post Winston. How you hang in there is beyond me. I have commented before on your blog, I honestly think it is one of the most engaging out there. I am a product of the care system, I was shown right from wrong when I was in it and I was not perfect by any means. I never broke a law but was a right gobby little scrote by all accounts. The guidance shown to me by certain workers helped me no end and I had a very succesful career in the Forces and am now a settled citizen with no criminal record, a job and a family. I am as angry as you are at the ludicrous restrictions you have to operate under. Because I KNOW your approach, the way the system SHOULD work, ACTUALLY works !!

Maybe Mike doesnt realise it but there are people like me out here in the world who allow him no excuses, because we have been there and made the right choice. We dont buy his bull, nor the drivel of the people in charge who tie the hands of obviously caring and capable individuals such as yourself who, if allowed, could make a real difference in the lives of these kids.

All the best to you mate. Who knows maybe we will see some changes after the next election ??

Little Richardjohn said...

Sadly, from your point of view, social workers are doing far too good a job.
Never mind. I'm sure you'll still be able to retain a sense of superiority through your work.
Even though you are saving lives of children and therefore proving that the dreaded welfare state actually works. Even in the last twenty tory wilderness years, and even in spite of all the sabotage of human relationships and co-o-peration by a society obsessed with material success and power.
And without any enforced sterilisation or eugenics at all.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Mr Little RichardJohn,

Please dont make assumptions about my point of view without asking me. I am delighted that there are less child deaths than years ago to accuse me of having the opposite view is defamatory in the extreme. However, I do regret that these children had to be rescued from cruel and sadistic parents in the first place and that is why I believe certain people should be prevented from having kids. I hold these views because I care, not because Im a heartless person. As I said to another person obsessed with the rights of feckless people to breed on here before, should a couple who have already had two kids taken in to care because of neglect and say physical and also sexual abuse be allowed to continue to have children? Many people have argued it is there right to have these kids and then the state's duty to resuce that child. I disagree in that the child may well have years of suffering before he or she is taken out of that scenario. I have worked with one young lad who came from a family of either 7 or 8. All of his siblings and himself were physically and sexually abused by his parents and the parent's friends. At different times they were all taken in to care. If you could call it that. At least they were alive you might argue and they can be used as a statistic to show how many lives the welfare state saved. The state might have saved them from death but it then fails in many cases, not all, to help this person develop as a human being and thus give them a qulaity of life.

This blog has nothing to do with me wanting to feel superior but rather to critique a system that at the end of the day fails to give young people the required social skills and tools to get on in life. You say we save lives but in many cases we then fail to give that young person any boundaries, self discipline, respect or social skills and it's not because we don't want to but because the system abhors all forms of effective authority. I am guessing you agree with that but I believe that without some authority and boundaries set by adults we fail our young and many of my posts on this blog reflect that. No doubt you will disagree.

I agree with you about society being too materialistic and consumerist. I dont relate to or aspire to these values but I dont believe that capitalism is to blame for all our social ills. It is a contributory factor in some but people are still able to exercise personal choice and that is where the liberal interventionist state and those of a left wing persuasion fail to understand. I think Old Labour would have got this. The old socialists had a lot more backbone than the champagne variety that rule over us today.

Merlin said...

Little RichardJohn -

May I ask you to look a little at the views of Frank Field & Tom Harris MPs? May I then ask you to consider, in their light, Winston's comments subsequent to the main post on this thread?

Look at the current state of affairs, please, from a truly socialist perspective. Look at the interests of working people and of the vulnerable.

The current "welfare state" is, most signally, failing children. Like the host here, I work with so many who have the potential (like all of us, excepting a very few with inherited genetic problems) to lead fulfilling lives but have this knocked out of them by God-awful excuses for parents. It is truly depressing to see the "dead-eyed" look set in at around thirteen years of age and to know that, for the vast majority, their future course in life is as predetermined as if they were tramcars running on a track. But the "family" (ha, bloody ha) is sacrosanct and the kids must stay at "home". Our welfare state encourages the feckless approach to having children and accepts the consequences. Every time some child gets murdered or tortured - hey, "lessons will be learned". Of course, such murders are comparatively rare. The usual, prosaic outcome is that the child grows up to be a serial waster, and/or - often violent - criminal.

Who suffers the depredations of such people? Not Ms Director of Social Services in her nice house in a select area. Contrast the summers spent by Mr Working Class & Mr Policy Maker. One spends the season listening to illegal motorbikes, rap & early hours shouting, puking & brawling. The other relaxes in that nice cottage in Provence, not sparing a thought for the working folk of this country who must suffer the disastrous consequences of their social experiments.

If it were suddenly to bring to the wealthy & powerful the misery which it brings to the "lower orders", the welfare state would be binned next week.

Any progressive person should not be arguing for a system which systemically reproduces squalor & misery.

Please consider Field & Harris's writings on working-class dignity & aspiration & the failure of the welfare state to respect & encourage these. These are, indeed, Old Labour values of collective & individual self-improvement. When our leaders abandoned these, they failed this country, its children & the common, decent folk who are its backbone.

Anonymous said...

The current 'industry' operating in social care, particularly children's social care has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo ( as suggested by Winston in his blog). Children are left in situations where their safety is far from certain for years. Finally ( as the post Baby P rise in care proceedings shows) , when they are removed such children are so damaged it is too late to actually do anything for them. They end up in care then out in the world leaving a trail of problems behind them.
Some people are not fit to care for children, they hurt and damage them because they too were hurt and damaged. It is in the interests of some very well paid people for this system to perpetuate itself.
Nu Labour has made the situation worse by imposing a bureaucratic system , which is constantly inspected by OFSTED et al, mean while children continue to be abused. An OFSTED inspector can earn £64,000 +, and rate a failing authority as succeeding. We have various mantras to chant ( like 1984) and people to vet ( producing a society where adults are now afraid of children). After many years I am hanging in there but unsure for how much longer! Winston, blog more, you are telling the truth. Plus don't get me started on Ed Balls!

WinstonSmith33 said...

Merlin, Anonymous of the 6th February
and B.Mackay (ex-care leaver) thank you all so much for your comments.

It is indeed a system that serves the career aspirations of the Guardian Reading classes but at the same time has no real regard or mechanisms for genuinely empowering those people it purports to help.

Merlin, you summed it up with your juxtapositioning of the lives of the middle class bureaucrat and Mr. decent law abiding working class member.

B.Mackay as someone who has been in care and was lucky enough to have encountered decent role models (most people working in this sector are ineffectual, unthinking saps who are afraid of the kids they 'care' for) I value your insight as you were in care when it seems it wasnt as overly regulated and provided you with the boundaries and discipline to flourish as an adult.

Unfortunately, the current system doesn't lead to too many success stories, but there is the odd one here and there in the odd good care home that somehow manages to find a way to operate effectively within a ludicrous system.

Anonymous said...

I work in a related field here in the US, dealing mainly with (socially, not mentally) dysfunctional adults. It's amazing how closely the pathologies Winston describes in these children track into their adult lives. The lack of boundaries, the lack of respect for others and themselves, etc., present in the man and woman as they were in the boy and girl.


defides said...

Interesting blog, though I haven't read far yet.

You really must avoid taking newspaper accounts - particularly from the Red tops - about law and order matters as being authoritative. Journalists in these areas and for those publications simply can't be bothered to check the basic details or if they do their subs simply re-write the story.

If there is a celebrity involved, your skepticism should increase ten-fold.

IIRC it turned out that Myleen Klass called her agent and he called the police (probably easier to press his 'speed dial' button than '999') and the agent gave the papers the 'knife' story before the police had even arrived...

JenniferRuth said...

How can you prevent people from having kids without going down the road of forced sterilisation?

I get everything you are saying and yes, it would be better if some people didn't have kids. But I don't see how you could stop them without invading people's bodily integrity. Tubal ligation and vasectomy cannot and should not be performed without a persons consent. Going down that road leads to some very scary places (as history should teach us that much). Plus, who gets to judge who has kids and who doesn't? What is the line? How could you prevent such measures from being abused?

Don't get me wrong; I do understand and mostly agree with what you are saying. I just wonder what your solution would be to the "some people shouldn't have kids" argument?