Opinion » Columnists
Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Britain spiralling into nightmare of violence

In areas where the crime rate used to be practically nil, for which reason the nearest police station was several miles away, an increasing number of people are afraid to leave their homes at night. The evenings descend into Armageddon-like scenes of wanton vandalism, drunkenness and chaos as village greens are invaded by elements from The Dark Side, stations are left looking like pig sties and law-abiding citizens are left cowering in their homes, totally undefended by the public services which they pay to protect them.

23rd August - Serial shooting near London

At 11.40 GMT, near a railway station in Latchworth Garden City, Hertordshire, north of London, several people were wounded, and some hospitalised in serious condition, when a gunman opened fire indiscriminately.

This incident comes one day after 11-year-old Rhys Jones was shot dead as he played football in a car park outside a pub, in Liverpool, by another teenager riding a bicycle, who apparently opened fire without any reason. Also on Wednesday, a teenager was taken to hospital in Newcastle after being stabbed five times.

So far in 2007, 7 children have been shot dead in the UK (5 in London, one in Manchester and one in Liverpool). One was 11 years old, another 12, two 15-year-olds, two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old. An 18-year-old was also shot dead in London.

While police records claim that gun crime, along with other offences, is decreasing, the fact remains that in 2005/6, there were 49 firearms-related homicides, while in 2006/7, there were 61.

Knife crime

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College, London, recently estimated that in 2004, up to 57,900 young people could have been the victims of knife crime. So far this year, a further 12 young people have been stabbed to death and statistics reveal that there are four times more fatal knifings than shootings.

The British Home Office’s recent report Crime in England and Wales 2006-07 reveals that the risk of being the victim of a crime stands at 24% - almost a quarter of the population. While police records claim that the crime rate fell by 2% between 2005/6 and 2006/7, the number of unreported crimes could tell a very different story.

Official statistics vs. Public perception

Whatever the spin presented by government officials, the fact remains that in areas where the crime rate used to be practically nil, for which reason the nearest police station was several miles away, an increasing number of people are afraid to leave their homes at night. The evenings descend into Armageddon-like scenes of wanton vandalism, drunkenness and chaos as village greens are invaded by elements from The Dark Side, stations are left looking like pig sties and law-abiding citizens are left cowering in their homes, totally unprotected by the public services which they pay to defend them.

Village greens become battlefields, and not only on Friday nights, recreation grounds the meeting places for drugs dealers and teenage hookers (Britain has 5.000 child prostitutes), car parks are rendered no-go areas, strewn with broken glass and pools of vomit, groups of youths congregate at the doors of village shops and push and jeer at the elderly and unprotected going about their lives and cricket clubs – formerly the sanctuaries of decent and civilised behaviour - are invaded by gangs of marauding thugs high on drink or drugs or both.

The market-based economy which pays ever more attention to the bottom line of the accounts, shaping policies which rationalise costs, approaching public services like an exercise in cost accountancy with the eyes of a book-keeper and not a policy maker, is responsible for the downward spiral in standards and quality of living.

This model simply does not function. Public services must be provided by a public sector with public funds, with a view to providing a Service and not running a business. Only through an honest and open new way of thinking, without complexes, and without hiding the figures from the monetarist-oriented capitalists who control the system, can a real Public Service be delivered. If this means a complete restructuring of the current economic model, a rehauling of the societal system and an overthrow of the clique of elitists which maintain the status quo, then so be it, because the current system simply does not work, at any level.

Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY

PRAVDA.Ru