Thursday, May 19, 2005

British yob culture - causes and cures

Quotes from Julie F Scott, Lock Haven University of Pensylvania:

"All of a sudden ‘yobs’ were everywhere and responsible for all social ills. Such was the extent of this cultural shift that even the sons of Prime Minister Tony Blair and the then Home Secretary Jack Straw were participating; one wandering drunk through central London, the other caught dealing Cannabis by a tabloid journalist...

"Britain has the highest divorce rate in Europe (which increases by 3% p.a.)...

"There has been a steady rise in male delinquency (two thirds of all UK crime is committed by males aged 15-25) and also male clinical depression...

"1 in 4 children are now clinically overweight; there has been a decline in childhood activity: polls show most kids’ leisure pursuits are sedentary...

"Davie notes (1994) the UK is no longer a ‘gathering’ or ‘belonging’ society. People just do not join or participate in public organisations anymore, whether church or civil. Britain has one of the lowest rates of civil participation in the West. Supermarket shopping, going to the pub, and soccer have been suggested (Finn 2001) as the only universal forms of civil participation in the UK today...

Comments, from the BBC website, by members of the British public:

"Last year, a local drunken yob kicked a man senseless - the victim needed intensive care. He applied for bail - and got it, despite a huge string of previous violent offences.

"While on bail, he assaulted myself and my wife (both disabled), our son, and 2 police officers. Despite breaking his bail conditions, he was on the streets again the next day.

"And after the trial, he walked - smirking - from the court with a sentence of community service! He's offended twice more since then, but clearly thinks he's fireproof - and why not, as so far he's been right.

"The police are little help either - they never seem to appear until the trouble is over, and insist they can't act until an offence has actually been committed. Whatever happened to the laws against "loitering with intent?" John, Scotland


"In 1992 I went on a thieving rampage. The magistrates were a joke. I had four conditional discharges before being put in jail for two weeks. I feel great regret for the harm I caused people and I wish the courts would've dealt with me in a more severe way to start with. It's not the police that aren't dealing with yobs. It's the middleclass suckers that are our magistrates." anon, UK


"Police Constables were put in cars and their numbers reduced. Alcohol licences were granted to late night cheap drink clubs. 'Alco-pops' were introduced. Penalties for yob behaviour are less than those for minor motoring offences, with some violent drunks merely sent on their way with a kindly, 'Now don't be naughty again" warning. What kind of people are in charge that they sit and wonder what can be done?" Ed, Aberdeen, Scotland


A report by the thinktank Civitas claims that Britain has one of the highest crime rates in the developed world.

The report adds that British policing is among the worst in the world.

The report says burglaries have increased more than fivefold, from 72,000 in 1964 to 402,000 last year, and that police numbers have not kept pace with crime.

In 1921 there were 57,000 police officers dealing with 103,000 crimes - two to each officer - but in 2002/2003 134,000 police officers had to deal with 5,899,000 crimes - 44 each.

"Young people who grow up in troubled and dysfunctional households in which moral values are not inculcated, who attend schools where teachers are afraid or unwilling to teach the difference between right or wrong, who live in communities in which the influence of religious faith is negligible, will naturally be drawn towards the self-gratification and situational ethics that predominate in contemporary culture."


"The root cause of anti-social behaviour is the rise of dysfunctional families who fail to teach their members the skills necessary for an effective family life, let alone how to negotiate successfully the wider world" - Frank Field, MP

Former Labour minister Frank Field is claiming that the Government’s policy of driving young mums back into work is fuelling "yob culture".

Ex-welfare minister Frank Field believes mothers should be given financial help to stay at home for the first two years of a child’s life.

Mr Field argues that nurturing children during their first two years is crucial to the kind of citizens they become.


George Kerevan, in the Scotsman, wrote that his neighbour found drunken teenagers doing damage to his garden.

" There has been fire- raising, a spirited attempt to knock down the parapet of the local bridge (doubtless in the hope that a car would drop 20ft into the river) and intimidation of any adult who objected," wrote Kerevan.

Kerevan's wife phoned the police and asked if she should take a photograph of the neds who were demolishing the roof of a neighbouring property (there being no squad car instantly available). She was warned about the dangers of being had up for taking pornographic images of children.


Kerevan refers to the book "Neighbours from Hell: The Politics of Behaviour", in which Labour MP, Frank Field argues that:

1. earlier societies had built-in social contracts.

2. survival demanded co-operation. Rights came with responsibilities to the group.

3. young people had to earn the right to acceptance within churches, schools, teams, places of work. They learned politeness, considerateness and respect.

Kerevan was brought up on a bleak housing estate in Glasgow in the 1950s.

"Break a window or give cheek to an adult and your dad would soon know and do something about it, or he would face the censure of his peer group."

"Today, that adult male bonding has gone, and with it the institutions that moderate behaviour on similar estates."

What Field wants:

1. The teaching of parenting skills.

2. Welfare payments to be linked to behaviour — abuse a teacher, and your parents’ welfare gets docked.

3. Give genuine power back to local communities.

Neighbourhood courts should be run locally by elected community prosecution lawyers whose careers would depend on their ability to maintain law and order on their patch.

Kerevan suggests that

1. the granting of tenancies on council estates should be subject to approval by existing tenants,

2. the local police superintendent (sheriff) should be elected.

George Kerevan


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