Middle-class whining falls on deaf ears as police ignore ill-defined non-crimes

Worrying times for fans of social behaviour as headlines erupt with the news that police are failing to crack down on so-called anti-social behaviour. According to Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Denis O’Connor, while a massive 45% (3.5m) of police calls relate to anti-social behaviour, the cops are not taking it seriously and don’t consider them real crimes.

For the politicians on all sides of the political divide, this is good news. The Tories immediately respond by claiming this as another legacy of Labour’s failure (with, no doubt, a quick jab at the welfare state), while Labour use this to strike again at the coalition’s cuts. I’m sure the Lib Dems are screaming something about “police state”, but who really cares, eh?

But what does this actually mean? And what can be done about it?

I have some sympathy with the police here; it’s no surprise they don’t consider ASB to be real crimes. By definition they are not real crimes. If they were, the press would be talking about 45% of police calls regarding crime being ignored. Which would be serious. But they’re not.

If ASB is not a crime, what is it? Helpfully, the BBC have a list of the top 10 anti-social behaviour offences, based on a survey by Ipsos Mori.

Turns out that the top two anti-social offences basically consist of young people drinking and hanging out (would it be more pro-social if they locked themselves in their bedrooms and read a book?). Another three could fairly be summed up as ‘neighbours having fun’, ‘neighbours making noise’, and, simply, ‘neighbours’.

It seems the biggest problem with anti-social behaviour is people being social.

Of course, intimidation, abuse and violence should be dealt with seriously – though I’m sure they’re actual crimes and there are actual laws covering them. From the start, the non-concept of anti-social behaviour was doomed to devolve into the kind of hazy anecdotal bullshittery much-beloved of the Daily Mail.

So, what to do? Nothing. The government won’t put up the funds to flood the streets with coppers. And besides, extra bobbies would surely be as impotent as anyone when confronted with a group of youths ‘hanging out’ in public places shamelessly not committing any crimes.

Regardless, I’m excited to see how the coalition responds to this. Given all their attacks on New Labour’s civil liberties record (which was synonymous with their wasted attempts to curtail anti-social behaviour), will they echo the mistakes of the past or make entirely new ones?


The Tories twisted view of crime (or the only thing worth fearing is fear itself – and Tory policy)

So, yet another set of crime statistics are released showing crime has fallen since Labour came to power in 1997. Not just a little, but by a whopping 43%. And what has been the public reaction to this piece of reassuring news?

Let’s take a look at a fairly representative comment on the Daily Mail:

Of course, the statistics are wrong! After all, didn’t David Cameron stand up during Prime Minister’s Questions the other day and say with a straight face that violent crime had “nearly doubled” under Labour?

Is it possible that David Cameron, the Tories and the majority of Daily Mail readers are all deluded idiots, clinging on to a world view that is scarily out of touch with reality? Yes.

The fact is the British Crime Survey (BCS) does not base its results on police records. Its researchers speak directly to the public and so it covers both reported and unreported crime. The claim then that this decrease is only due to people “not bothering” to report crimes is absolutely absurd.

Furthermore, the statistics quoted by David Cameron are the police-recorded crime figures. These do indeed show an increase in certain crimes under Labour, but are considered a far less reliable measurement because methods in how police record crime vary over time. They’re also affected by factors such as government initiatives that lead to a higher number of people reporting crimes they otherwise wouldn’t have. That’s right. Despite the wailing of the Daily Mail masses, public experience of crime has dramatically fallen while reported crime has gone up. The exact opposite of what they believe to be true!

But back to Cameron, who really should know better. He’s deliberately cherry-picking a different set of measurements to pander to people’s fears and try to create the illusion of a crimewave – the “broken Britain” of his dreams.

Such casual cynicism is bad enough, but there is a distinctly sinister side to this story that goes beyond just another case of bullshitting politicians speaking bullshit.

According to the BCS, the only category that has shown an increase has been sexual offences. This particular offence is based on reported crime figures from the police and has seen a 6% rise compared to last year. This includes a 15% rise in rapes against women.

So, while the Tories aim to cut police numbers and roll back crime prevention measures, such as CCTV and speed cameras, the most significant piece of crime legislation suggested so far has been to grant anonymity to men accused of rape! Even Tory MPs (the female ones, at least) object to this on the grounds that it sends a negative message about women who accuse men of rape, and campaigning groups claim that such a move would deter victims of sexual abuse from identifying their attackers.

Why have the Tories chosen rape to introduce laws that will protect the accused? Let’s check in on another fairly representative comment from the Daily Mail:

We can mock the Daily Mail for its shoddy journalism and laugh at its readers for their ignorance, but when the government appears to echo such sick sentiments and actually believe it as well, you start to realise that the “nasty party” is even worse than you ever imagined…

Liberal sellouts need to STFU – now is not the right time for prison reform

Predictable reactions all round to Ken Clarke’s “surprising” and “radical” declaration that the government should revisit 20 year old Tory thinking and significantly lower the prison population. Right-wingers who bought into Cameron’s ridiculous “broken Britain” narrative can justifiably complain that they didn’t vote Conservative to be softer on crime than Labour. Meanwhile, lefties are practically salivating over the apparently progressive bone thrown by this, thus far, unsurprisingly regressive coalition. Amusingly, Lib Dem supporters are attempting to claim this as a further example of their laughably minimal impact on this unholy union of the damned (and damning). A theory that was expertly and succinctly countered by Sickboy47 in a comment on the Guardian:

Keeping up the trend of predictability, Jack Straw, writing (to his eternal shame) in the Daily Mail, continues Labour’s mission to alienate the progressive types they occasionally claim to represent, by aggressively defending the y-axis shaking increase in prison population under his watch.

It’s all a bit of a mess – and worth pointing out that Ken Clarke has yet to offer any specific policies. The problem is also predictable: a total lack of joined-up thinking.

The problem faced by the hoodie-hugging liberals is the clear evidence that crime has fallen hugely since Labour came to power. Whether massively or minimally responsible for this decrease, it does take the edge off the “prison doesn’t work” argument. Working around this, Sunny Hundal from Liberal Conspiracy writes that “rising prosperity cuts crime, not putting more people in prison”. As rising prosperity is relative, I’d be interested to see a historical comparison between personal wealth and crime to see if there’s real-life evidence to support this theory.

Still, I’m inclined to accept the essence of what Sunny’s saying: less poverty, better opportunities and greater equality keeps our streets safer – albeit with the caveat that while slowly creating this utopian society, putting more criminals into prison also helps.

Which brings me to my point, and the reason why I think the sanctimonious liberal lambs, with their shrill bleating of “evidence-baaaaased policy!”, are misguided, short-sighted and more ideological than analytical.

Thanks in no small part to the Liberal Democrats, we’re soon to be entering an awful and avoidable age of “austerity”, in which the poorest are likely to face the worst of it. Even assuming we avoid a double-dip recession, the rising prosperity Sunny Hundal posits as the cause of falling crime has ended. In fact, things may even get worse. The evidence does not say that fewer people going to prison is a solution in itself. The answer is a lot more complicated, involving education, rehabilitation and support. All of which costs money the coalition are either unable or unwilling to invest. I haven’t heard or read a single sensible debate on prison reform that doesn’t position the progressive argument in these terms. As Conor McGinn from the excellent Left Foot Forward also explains (although not in these terms), it’s pointless to attempt to reform the prison system in a half-arsed way.

Now, I know the buzzword of the year amongst Liberals is the need to “compromise”, which, in the glossary of the New Politics (TM), is defined as sacrificing all your long-cherished principles in exchange for over-exaggerated concessions that, in reality, have been so watered-down they are either ineffectual or achieve the opposite of what was originally envisioned (e.g. raising the income tax threshold and electoral reform). I hope in this case, they see that half-measures could weaken the case for effective prison reform in the future. Sadly, Clegg, friends and followers are so desperate for any perceived victories I fear they’ll be on it like a bunch of pricks on a pin cushion.

Prison reform is much needed, but will be a tough sell to the public. Executed intelligently, reform could transform our society and change the way we view criminality. Executed poorly, it could further entrench the “bang ’em up”, Daily Mail mentality.

“I want to vote for a party that makes decisions based on what I reckon, not on what works”

More Nurses, Fewer Paedophiles stand for what’s important to you. Like having more nurses, and fewer paedophiles.

More Nurses Fewer Paedophiles

We believe in a Britain where you don’t need to understand or even be aware of the facts to have an opinion about something. We believe, and we think you’ll agree, that important decisions are best made by listening to an irreconcilable range of conflicting views from self-interested individuals, and pandering to those people who shout the loudest. Yes, the many problems inherent in a modern society are complicated and the resources of government finite, but we choose to ignore all that for the benefit of short-term emotional gratification.

“I want to vote for a party that values my anecdotal evidence over general trends”

The other parties may promise to increase the number of nurses and decrease the number of paedophiles, but we want even MORE nurses and even FEWER pedophiles than whatever they say. We’re not a single issue party either. We want to cut all the things you want cut (like spending, taxes and immigration) while improving all the things you want improved (like health, schools and pensions). It’s that simple.

“I want to vote for a party that panders to my racial prejudices without making me feel guilty for being a racist”

We will end the war against motorists and make our roads safer by removing hazards such as speed cameras, road bumps, cyclists and laws. We’ll also introduce a 24hr pothole repairing service, repairing potholes before they’ve even turned into potholes – without resulting in inconvenient roadworks. Public transport is terribly confusing so we won’t really say anything about it, except to point out that at least Hitler made the trains run on time. We’re just saying.

“I want to vote for a party that tells me the truth… about how awful immigration is”

We will allow the police to do their job – walking up and down your street, all day every day – by reducing the amount of time that goes into the involved and effective crime reduction initiatives you’re not really interested in and cutting down on burdensome paperwork. In fact, we’ll get rid of all paper. And desks. You don’t see what they do with them after all.

“I want to vote for a party that defines substance as soundbites I agree with”

We’ll replace the broken justice system with ‘Trial by Headline’ and work in collaboration with the media to name and shame sex offenders with a national ‘Pedo of the Day’ feature. Drug dealers and gang members will no longer spend the last years of their youth sealed inside a small cell with violent, dangerous criminals, living the life of luxury. We pledge to return our prisons to the condition they should be: rapey, soul-destroying and overcrowded.

“I want to vote for a party that speaks louder and slower while looking younger and more attractive than the others”

We believe that education is important. Though we also privately believe that we got by fine with large class sizes, uninspiring lessons and second-hand textbooks, so why should we have to pay for other people’s kids to get special treatment? To fight slipping standards, every child will have to sit the exact same exams as their parents when they were their age. If they continue to get better grades than we did, thus proving that improved results are not due to easier exams, we will launch an official enquiry to find other spurious claims that will demean and demoralise our children.

“I want to vote for a party that tells it as my limited view of the world says it is”

We believe that nobody knows how to raise your children better than you do. However, if your children do turn out to be proper bastards we will support your right to blame teachers, politicians, computer games, rappers, films, Europe and coloured people.

“I want to vote for a party that looks out for what’s important to me and the handful of people I know”

We will give you cancer drugs whether they work or not, as we know that the best thing for patients is not proven efficacy but patronising pseudo-science and populist anti-medicines. This will be paid for by reducing help for people suffering from diseases you don’t read about much in the papers. We promise that before anyone receives any treatment from the NHS, their Britishness must be proven and confirmed in writing with the sworn signature of two witnesses. Of course, this wouldn’t apply to you, that would be “bureaucracy gone mad”. We can tell you’re British just from looking at you. It’s the others we don’t like.

“I want to vote for a party that promises to cure cancer”

Our Britain of the future is the Britain you’ve always thought about but didn’t want to mention in case people thought you were crazy, racist or merely stupid. We don’t care if you’re crazy, racist or stupid.

“I want to vote for a party that doesn’t inwardly cringe when I make my ridiculous demands”

If you get bored or confused trying to follow politics, but prefer not to admit the fault is your own limited intellect, vote for us.

Politics isn’t rocket science. When it comes down to it, you can either vote for More Nurses, Fewer Paedophiles, or you can vote against more nurses, fewer paedophiles.

Crunkstats: Crime down 5%, Attacks from mysterious globules of terrifying, organic goo up 5,000,000%

Are you just aching to go on a recession-fuelled storm of violence, pillage and corporate theft only to stop yourself, afraid of being seen as ‘conformist’? Well, go nuts as the BBC’s Mark Easton points out that, despite claims to the contrary, crime in the UK has decreased to now roughly match 1981 levels (though that’s no reason to be too complacent – this was the year Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper”, was arrested).

Hoping to crush our optimism of a safer, friendlier world however, is the massive blob of hairy, gooey matter on an unstoppable collision course with America’s oil-filled piggy bank, Alaska. Is this enigmatic organic muck a new species? Well, the Anchorage Daily News have asked the experts, sorry, local Alaskans, who (quote) “can’t remember seeing anything similar before”. Which is usually the kind of nonchalant reply I reserve for when a stranger in a nightclub asks me if I’ve seen their red, nylon jacket with white cuffs lying around.

Am I blowing this out of proportion or is this really something exciting? I’m hoping it’s some sort of super-intelligent, man-eating sea-fungus and not the result of a bizarre killer whale bulimia party. Fortunately, McClatchy (?) aim to shed some light on the situation with a short video of the goo in the wild. At first, you could be mistaken for thinking this was Cloverfield – until you realise you’re simply watching some awful camerawork, effectively capturing the sheen of a plane window at a position of approximately five hundred miles away from the goo. Can’t you just get into a boat and poke it with a stick?

The NY Daily News can’t be bothered with any kind of empirical evidence, or reporting, preferring instead to ask you what you think the blob is. The options are: some kind of algae that has gown [sic], it must be some sort of hazardous material, sea monster slime, The Blob, and I’m not sure. The readers of NY Daily News are a knowledgeable lot, as only 7% responded with I’m not sure.

I’m yet to find a convincing picture of the goo – The Telegraph presumably thought ‘fuck it’ and just posted a photo of some icebergs with the caption: “Blobs of mysterious goo have been found floating in the Arctic Ocean”. With that as my precedent, I’m just going to stick in a photo of a turtle with a mohawk and hope nobody asks any questions.

My theory is this putrid slick of quasi-malevolent sea-spunk has a similar origin to the river of slime in Ghostbusters 2. Sarah Palin’s long-running ignorance about her own utter ignorance has given birth to this foul obnoxious muck – which is now feeding on the stupidity of the world at large. Peter and the guys were able to stop New Yorkers being arseholes for a short period of time by bringing to life a 111-foot statue… what can we possibly do to save humanity from its own idiocy? I’m not sure if pulling the plug on TMF would be enough…

Insight: Surge in UK knife crime fuelled by “desire to stab people” experts claim

A controversial report due for release tomorrow has illustrated that the startling prevalence of knife-related crimes blighting British society may be largely caused by “a small number of dickheads who, when it comes down to it, just want to stab people” because “they are fucked-up in the head”.

Compiled by members of think tank ThoughtFish, the document defies the opinions of policy-makers by suggesting that these youths who carry knives “already recognise the fact that they’re breaking the law and hurting people” and that this “may be one of the reasons they do it”.

While shocking the majority of intellectuals debating the issue, the findings of ThoughtFish seem to come as no surprise to our knife-toting spawn. When confronted with the findings, machete-wielding Hackney-resident, Shariq “Da Mercyless Bludrunna” Townsend, 8, responded by saying, “Yeah, that seems about right.” He continued by stating: “I mean, I’m running around the streets with a lethal weapon and stabbing people, you would’ve thought everyone would just shut up talking about it and arrest me already.”

Despite the validity of its findings, the report is expected to be largely ignored following its dissemination to members of parliament and key advisors on Monday. A spokesman for the governement announced earlier today that, “While we will not comment on the report until we’ve had a proper chance to explore its findings and select the ones which already agree with our position, I would like to assure everyone that this government is determined to spend an excessive amount of time, energy and taxpayers’ money debating and discussing this issue”.

As part of the government’s plan to begin discussion of potential commitees to form possible solutions to the issue of deciding what might be done about the initiation of a workable agenda for further meetings in the near future, a new position of Knife Tsar has been established – intended to promote the government’s hardline policy of going ‘Back to Basics’ on the knife issue.

As explained by Junior Cabinet Minister Terence Flitworth-Gashface: “The problem we face in parliament is that we find it difficult to associate with these youths carrying knives. How can we come up with a solution until we understand every aspect of what we’re dealing with? Back to Basics is about starting at the very beginning and asking the question ‘what is a knife?’. The new Knife Tsar is the perfect person to answer that question.”

The Knife Tsar will be officially appointed on Wednesday though there is little doubt that the position will go to the prominent Australian ambassador, Michael “Crocodile” Dundee who is expected to enjoy widespread, cross-party support due to his rugged good looks and disarmingly charming, simplistic view of a complicated world. Critics, however, do warn that Mr. Crocodile’s frequent fish-out-of-water gaffes and predilection for PG violence may cause the government’s policy to be viewed as some sort of outdated romantic-comedy.

Despite such comments, in parliament there seems to be little doubt that Mick is the best man for the job. As Flitworth-Gashface asserts, “This man knows better than anyone else what is a knife and what isn’t.”