Are they up to the job anymore?

Is it possible for our current crop of politicians and police officers to actually put us back on the straight and narrow given their recent track record? The hypocrisy of their position should be clear all given recent past events.

Before taking all of their self-righteous rage about the moral degredation of these rioters and looters at face value, let’s not forget that many of our law makers, the MPs, have been guilty of the organised looting of the public purse, otherwise known as the expenses scandal. Anyone who thinks sending a few of them to prison solved the problem, is completely missing the fact that their wholesale acceptance of such a lax and corruptible system , brings in to question the integrity of all MPs and therefore their right to govern us. Their version of looting was arguably more civilised, but it was equally damaging to the moral fabric of this country. We should ensure that the survivors, which doesn’t mean they were without guilt, are reminded of this fact on a very regular basis.

Ironic that the Met Police should be the ones, initially, confronted by mass rioting and so clearly demonstrating their bravery and comittiment to public safety. This is the same force that gave News Of The World ( and no doubt other) reporters, access to confidential information. Had it been just the time honoured practice of journalists picking their brains of their police contacts, it might of been seen as no more than a bit dodgy and something to be stopped via a stern memo. However, what happened was far more insidious and clearly highly corrupt. Not only did singificant sums of money change hands, police databases were routinely accessed and the information passed on, apparently without any concern for the safety of those being targeted.

In the nineties the police were accused of institutionalised racism following the murder of black teenager and a flawed police investigation. This led to the our police forces beinf overwhealmed by a tsunami of political correctness that swept common sense policing off of our streets and replaced it with a avalanche of rules written by senior officers more interested in their next promotion than effective policing. The question is, has this poor leadership also made the police open to a form of institutionalised corruption? Does becoming a service instead being a force, mean that our police feel under-valued and somewhat irrelevant and therefore left feeling that, just like the MPs, a bit of routine rule bending is of no consequence?

Politicians need to take a breath

A further reality check for the sound bite politicians that are wanting to kick in the social housing front doors of those convicted of being involved in the recent riots.

Eviction of families as punishment ‘will only make matters worse’. Charities and housing groups are warning that plans to evict entire families as punishment for teenagers’ rioting could drive up homelessness, damage the prospects of innocent siblings, and lead to worsening social problems. Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has warned that evictions will be legally risky, ethically tricky and practically very difficult.

It really is tempting to go for such a swift and visible demonstration of society’s disgust at the behaviour of the rioters, but is it not passing the buck? Eviction doesn’t equate to elimination or evaporation, these families won’t disappear from the radar of either the benefit system or social services. So, unless the politicians have got a magic wand, they really do need to stop take a breath and find a proper solution and not one that just makes things worse for even longer.

Riots, a truly classless problem

Am I the only one beginning to see evidence emerging that proves we are indeed living in a society that, if not actually broken, has certainly lost its moral compass.

Commentators, politicians and social activists have all been trying to identify a well defined group of criminals as being responsible for the recent riots. As well as being feral and disaffected, these people are supposedly lacking in hope and are forced in to their extreme responses because of their frustrations with a society that has abandoned them. This has lead many to become outright criminals.

However, a quick scan of the details of those who have been through the courts, reveals a much more disturbing fact. Not only are many of those currently bailed or sentenced in gainful employment, a number are very well educated and some were about to embark on productive careers.

If you can’t pin loutish, anti-social, or even criminal behaviour on a disadvantaged background, then you have found yourself a completely new can of worms to open. The Government now has to examine the whole spectrum of our society. It needs to identify how we have distrorted the morals of those involved in theses riots to the extent that, no matter what their backgrounds, they felt that it was, if not okay to do what they did, it was certainly worth the risk.

If it was just a case of reconnecting us all with our lost respect for authority and in particular the law, then that would be easy. More police on the streets, a zero tolerance approach to low level crime and a crime and punishment system that isn’t paralyised by political correctness of the liberal left and the extremes of the Human Rights Act. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that it is anywhere near as simple as that and that what we are dealing with is a state of mind that many of those in charge and over the age of 50 might have difficulty getting their heads around. Why over 50? Well, I think the rot set in the late 60’s, started in our schools and has been reinforced by numerous political decisions and social changes since then.

When my father was alive and something about kids behaving badly was reported in the papers, or came on the TV, one of his favoured comments was, ‘what we need is another bl***ing war, that’ll give ’em something else to think about!’. Given his experiences in WW2, that was a bit extreme to say the least, but I could see where he was coming from. The consumer and celebrity obsessed society we have allowed to develop in this country, has distorted the attitudes of recent generations to what is important and to their place in the world. I fear it will take much more than a few years of David Cameron’s Big Society to fix it – I just hope it doesn’t take another war.

Rioters to be evicted – a reality check

To quote from the Local Government Chronicle on-line:

“Tough talk from ministers and councils on evicting those found to be involved in rioting from social homes is unlikely to be realised in practice, legal experts have said.
Councils across the country have threatened to evict tenants found guilty of involvement in the rioting over the past week. However legal experts have said there remain a number of obstacles to evictions and that the tough talk from councils and ministers was unlikely to lead to a slew of evictions due to legal barriers and the cost of pursuing evictions, which can be over £20,000 per case.
Emma Salvatore, a legal executive at Trowers & Hamlin, said government proposals to allow rioters to be evicted regardless of where they committed anti-social behaviour would require statutory legislation, which will take time, and that the offence would still need to be indictable, so heard in a crown rather than magistrates court.”

The politicians need to stop sound biting and headline grabbing, figure out what they can actually do to sort things out and stop telling others – the police, the courts – how to do their job.

Eviction, that’ll work- not!

I read that a number of MPs, including David Cameron, along with local councillors, are suggesting that those convicted of rioting, may be evicted from their social housing. Assuming this is a possibility, given that I doubt any of the current tenancy agreements include a non-rioting clause, what do they propose to do with the evicted reprobates?

These people will not just evaporate more’s the pity. They will almost certainly continue to be a burden on the taxpayer and a blight on our society. Many of them will no doubt be repeat criminals, living on benefits and entitled to social housing because they have children, who may of course also be fledgling criminals!

So, using a short term, headline grabbing solution like eviction, is just pushing the problem in to somebody else’s in tray, it’s not solving a damned thing!

Police or community? Why not both?

As MPs go through the motions in Parliament today, I hope at least a few of them, including those on the Tory benches, take the opportunity to ask David Cameron how, given the events of that last 7 days, he intends to put his Big Society vision in to practice.

Surely, the recent horrifying and depressing events across England, are a confirmation of what David Cameron has been saying since he became Party leader. His biggest problem now, is being seen as all talk and no action. Can he really expect all those people who turned out on the streets of London, armed with brooms and bin bags, to keep on being so community spirited, without something more than words of encouragement from his government? If he does, then his vision is doomed already.

Just like a train needs a track to run on, Big Society needs the right sort of infrastructure to support it. People are demanding no more cuts in police budgets, so that more officers can be put on the streets – that’s one solution. However, the heavy hand of authority is the way regimes such Syria, Lybia and Zimbabwe control their populations. I don’t think any right minded citizen would wish to see the UK go down this route, if only because it fails completely to address the underlying issues. Policing is the answer, but not neccesaraily high police numbers. Policing focussed on and based in the community, in other words, a return to a form of the good old village bobby.

If David Cameron believes that the Big Society can work, he could do worse than start by reintroducing genuine local policing. This could be in the form of a proper community based police officer, complete with office and house – sound familiar? Or, as works in other European countries such as Holland, community wardens living and working in their communities. Recent events in Japan also highlighted their system of community based officials. I also understand that it is common practice to see mini-police offices on many street corners in Japan, providing genuine community based policing. The key to this approach is ensuring that there are enough boots on the ground, as they say in the military – over to you Dave.

Time to choose Dave

Rather than being seen as a failure for David Cameron’s government, the recent outbreaks of criminal behaviour across England, could actually be seen as a confirmation of his Big Society vision. Unfortunately, unless he is able to back this vision up with money, that’s all it will remain – a vision.

However, things have gone too far and the damage has already been done to several generations. It’s a racing certainty that a number of those carrying out criminal activites in recent days, will be parents in some form or another. Even if only in the same way a feral dog becomes a parent by spawning with any willing bitch it comes across. The only way to deal with these people is initially via the justice system, but not just by a police caution, a supervision order, or an ASBO. If you can’t alter the way these people think and act, then all you are doing is using a sticking plaster on a stab wound that needs major surgery.

David Cameron now needs to acknowledge that his policy of throwing money at the overseas aid budget is not an acceptable thing to do whilst London and other cities are burning. Until he has sufficient cash in the bank to do both, he needs to prioritise fixing what is wrong within our own borders, before he continues to try to fix what’s wrong in the rest of the world.

First priority should be to take back control of the streets, but not by using Theresa May’s approach of permissive policing. More police on the streets, a court system applying swifter and harsher justice and a genuine attempt to prevent repeat offending.

The next priority and this is where Dave’s Big Society comes in, is to prevent another lost generation being created. However, unless David Cameron is prepared to accept that this cannot wait for the government’s finances to be healthy enough to support all of his pet projects, I fear the recent unrest will be repeated again and again.