why should you vote? no.1 – violence

Yayyyyyy another election! After years of Brexit deadlock, parliament have decided we need some new people in charge to sort this shit out once and for all.

The main topic in this contest will inevitably be Europe. The Tories hitting a snag on their “do or die” promise are now further risking their majority with the public with the opposition being similarly confused on what the hell they even want.

In the midst of all this chaos it has become easy to forget about the real life problems that are just growing day by day in this country. One of the Prime Minister’s loudest messages has been to “get on with it” , in reference to Brexit, to focus on important, domestic issues. And this is what I’m hoping to do. This is going to be the first of a couple of articles I’m going to share, which are not going to tell you how we can fix the mess we’re in but they’re hopefully going to help you understand how we got in this mess. First up, the lighthearted topic of ungodly violence.

One thing we can all agree on (Credit: Irish Times)

The Reality

There were 719 murders or manslaughter’s between June of 2017 and 2019; a 14% increase on the year before with the numbers continuing to rise. 22% rise in robberies. 18% rise in sexual offences. 19% real-term budget decrease in the police since 2010.

In the midst of all the Brexit shenanigans things have been getting real violent on the streets of the UK. Earlier this year, the youth violence summit brought together over 100 experts, including police, MPs and independent researchers, to figure out what the hell is going on and how we can stem the flow of deaths on our streets.

Our mighty former leader Theresa May explained that the police can’t “arrest the problem away” agreeing with Sajid Javid’s comments earlier on in the year that there was not a “single problem” that is leading to the current epidemic of violence. And now our most recent home secretary (what a trio of success stories) is pushing her certainty that “stop and search works.” These are the people who are in power, so why can’t they see the decisions they’ve made have got us in this mess?

What follows is the evidence behind the theory of “Social Cuts+Lower Income = Violent Crime”

Schools

At the root of the problem is young people being let down by the system in which they should be most safe. The chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Sara Thornton, made the connection this year pointing towards the rise of exclusions from schools as a perfect breeding ground for gang “recruitment”. Recent statistics suggest it’s an average of 40 children a day who are excluded from schools up and down the country, where do they go? Who gives a shit?

Exclusions are not quite at the high point of 2006 but have been rising quite drastically the past 4 years (Credit: Gov.co.uk)

These extreme expulsions obviously come from the sadistic ways schools are now judged. The Conservative government’s education reform policy, a “self improving, school led system” creates a selfish and obsessive viewpoint on grades, which some will rise past and succeed but many are left behind. A study by Nuffield concluded that 2/3 of head teachers in the UK believe inequalities between schools are becoming wider under this government.

Schools are under a microscope from every angle. Increased power for OFSTED to drop the axe if they see fit, the threat of multi-academy trusts taking over curriculum and the introduction of performance-based wage increases have struck fear into the teaching world. If they don’t hit targets they have classes taken away from them, they don’t have anywhere to work and they don’t move on in their career. It is estimated 600 primary schools cheated their exam results in 2017 in order to hit the limited targets set out by the government. Just so that’s clear that’s professional teachers faking marks from 8 year olds in order to secure a budget for education. Now tell me that isn’t a bit weird.

Teachers strike against performance related pay, in 2006 (Credit: Sky)

Social Services

It doesn’t take a think tank to confirm that poor kids are more likely to get involved in criminal activity. Lack of education leads to lack of opportunities which in turn creates a setting for exploitation. So with many children being let down by the high pressure school scenario they need a safety net to push them in the right direction. This safety net has been excessively cut apar.

Career criminals are recruitment specialists, targeting children with high aspirations and low self-esteem to carry out the low level tasks of a crime syndicate. The argument of “they have a choice” or “the parents should have done better” is not as simple as some people suggest and if you think a child of 14 can not be easily intimidated into a life of crime then you are kidding yourself. These are the children that need pointing in the right direction, if for nothing else to protect those in the same area. The reality is the opposite.

The New Policy Think Tank reported this year that, since the Tories came to power in 2010, 97% of social care cuts have fallen on the poorest 20% of councils. These are also the areas that have seen the most extreme rises in knife crime over the past year. A separate study formulated by a group of children charities including the NSPCC found that funding for young people (not including school budgets) has fallen from £813 per child to £553. On the other side of the coin the wealthiest 20% of councils, majorly Tory controlled, had an extra £55 million to spend on social care in 2017. wHy Am I sUrPrIsEd?!

Police

Now for the crowning jewel on the trifecta of negligence. Boris Johnson has made very clear that he aims to have 20 000 new police recruited as soon as possible, which would be seen in a more favourable light if his government hadn’t spent 9 years cutting 21 000 police have been cut since 2010. Boris’ good record in reducing crime as Mayor of London bodes well in the hope we can start pushing resources into fixing this problem but the fact of the matter is we’re still a long way away.

For starters we must address those who are of the opinion that just because there are more police doesn’t mean that crime will go down because people don’t care about the police. I must make very clear how backwards that way of thinking is. Dave Thompson, the chief constable of West Midland’s police, warned us in January 2018 that the public saw the police as “less visible, less responsive and less proactive” which has in turn led to a lack of efficiency in their forces. That was over a year ago and with continued cuts we’re now in a situation in the same district where the crime commissioner has said “the swagger is back” among criminals. People aren’t scared of the police any more because they’re not there. The cuts created this problem not the other way round.

There’s only so much the police can do to help (Credit: Sky News)

So what I’m saying here is basically we are far too gone for there to be one magic answer and the government needs to realise that. I am not saying the opposition can fix things instantly but cuts have torn our country apart, limb by limb, so now the zombies roam free and the masters don’t care. Yes a few more thousand police would make a difference but that’s like saying recycling my baked beans tins is going to save the fucking polar bears. This is a bigger problem than just giving police more power, a much bigger problem indeed.

YZ 🙂 x

Cartoon cover image by Brian Adcock

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