Wow David Cameron knows no bounds in his stampede to be ‘nice’ with his comments that we should show ‘yoof’ of today a bit more love and understanding.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that somebody is actually talking about being tough on the causes of crime as well as the other bit. It’s just fascinating that it’s Cameron of all people that is latching onto it and I can’t fathom out whether its a good or bad thing in this context.
Lets be straight – crime and in particular petty crime is a huge problem for the working classes and it’s entirely correct that Labour should wrest control of the issue from the Tories who successfully exploited Labour’s softly softly approach in the 1980s. Tackling crime is as much Labour heartland as unemployment, the NHS and fish and chips at Blackpool.
It’s also quite correct that Labour focuses disproportionately for a while on punishment of offenders and punishing them early. I like the Blair stance of refusing to apologise to the social workers who claim for instance that young people have a right to justice by saying that ordinary law abiding people have a right to justice too. Its simplistic but sometimes being simplistic is the only way to tackle issues that are hopelessly complicated as otherwise you get ground down in the semantics.
But it’s right that we also look to long term solutions. This doesn’t mean that we constantly excuse consistent bad behaviour. Nipping anti social behaviour in the bud with heavy punishment so it doesn’t spread into serious offending is in itself one long term solution.
But I worry slightly about the huge number of ASBOs that are issued that ban somebody from a certain activity. This is great for the immediate needs of the community but don’t really work to address the offender’s long term issues and doesn’t meet the future needs of the community.
So it’s a good thing that Cameron is using his profile and political capital to get ‘Causes of Crime’ back on the agenda. Things like parenting classes and repararation are really important for addressing a potential career criminal’s environmental influences at an early stage.
The trouble is the Tories voted against them and slammed them as gimmicks in the press.
That’s why I’m confused…
Mark Hanson is producer and presenter of the weekly podcast ‘The Big Issue’.