5 September 2019
Letter to the Editors
from Ann Isobel
I think that Corbynista was wrong to focus on ‘knife crimes’ in Shawsheet 212. ‘Gun crime’ was the moral panic of the early 2000s but labelling crimes as ‘gun’ crime hid the underlying social factors. Gang related crime figures tell you a bit more about youth involvement but ‘knife’ can be much broader and indeed many ‘knife’ crimes are not youth or gang related. Obviously street violence is increasing but it’s driven by a lucrative drug market and a lot of those buying those drugs are the wealthy elite. So who really has blood on their hands?
The Independent reports: Knife crime rise ‘linked to youth service cuts’, parliamentary report finds
Schools Week is more specific: Fact check: School exclusions and knife crime . I know anecdotally of at least one boy where exclusion was a likely driver in gang involvement. His school friends were convinced that had he stayed in school he would have ‘at least had other ambitions’ and would not have got so sucked in. They seem to have lots of similar anecdotes from the local area. I actually don’t think police numbers are as important as investment in youth services – treats the symptoms rather than curing the disease. Sure it makes people feel safer but it’s essentially window dressing. Helps put more bad guys behind bars but doesn’t stop those bad guys being replaced by more bad guys.
Johnson has gone for police numbers because it is a vote winner. People hear tough on crime when they hear police numbers. Just look at elections in America where being tough on crime was the deciding factor e.g. Dukakis vs. Bush. Talking about the causes of crime and social exclusion sounds like you are making excuses for criminals – going soft. They will make out that Corbyn is soft on crime and use the tried and tested election strategy of fear mongering about predominantly black young criminals which will simultaneously hit the racist/Brexit party voters too. I wouldn’t be surprised if they use a particular murder case in the exact way Bush used Willie Horton and even bring in death penalty arguments. There is plenty of evidence that the most unequal societies have the highest crime rates, there is plenty of evidence that the death penalty does nothing to deter criminals/reduce offending but who cares about evidence when all you seek is power/money and care little for the exploited and vulnerable – unless they are rich baby boomers who need care homes and will vote for you.
I think that there should be public broadcasts made that shame rich people who take cocaine. They should be like the drink driving adverts. They should link the death of a young Londoner to rich bankers/executives/party goers and physically show the blood on their hands. Society needs to be forced to see itself as complicit in the rise in street crime.