Coffee House

Social breakdown by numbers

11 January 2010

At the Demos event on character this morning, Frank Field came out with a quite remarkable statistic: that for the last year for which there are records, two years ago, there were more violent crimes against the person in his constituency, Birkenhead, than there were in the entire country 50 years ago or 100 years ago.  It’s one of those statistics which shows just how much the social fabric has frayed over the past fifty years. The key question is whether any politician has the determination and insight to accept that these changes are not irreversible. Analysis of Cameron’s speech, and what it says about him, to come soon.

Update: James Crabtree has an interesting post on Field’s numbers over at Prospect’s blog 

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • Reform

    I think that the left and right dialectic has come to an end regarding social disorder.

    Radical measures are required to stem social and familial breakdown, which further down the line stems criminality.

    As a left leaning person myself, I feel it has come time to recognise that socialism requires its members to be a functional part of society. Those who do not wish to contribute to the better will have to be pushed into line.

    For instance, why are the long term unemployed (excluding those who are genuinely sick/disabled/mentally ill) given cash? Why not give food stamps and a small percentage of cash? No one starves (to the contrary, it may improve childhood and adult nutrition in a lot of households; no beer, no ciggys, just food.)any other household maintenance would need to be approved and paid for by the local dole office (Here, much like some countries immigration methods, stifling bureaucracy is actually meant to exist.) Just don’t give cash for free. Everyone else has to work for cash, so they will always have this option. They would not be forced to receive food stamps, as there are always jobs.

    Those legitimately made redundant can receive cash for 1 year. Those who just need benefits in cash for an interim period between jobs can get it with minimal bureaucracy, very quickly with no oversight for up to three months, after which they will fall into a mire of bureaucratic oversight, food/rent stamps and other restrictions that will make it a poor lifestyle choice. The important thing is not to force people into homelessness or starvation. The idea is to make being long term unemployed and extremely dull and annoying experience.

    Benefits in the short term need to be rapidly available, in cash, with little oversight. Benefits in the long term need to be an extremely unattractive proposition.

  • JSMill

    Six measures would solve it.
    First, send vulnerable children to boarding school from the age of 10 to 18. This would take them off the streets, away from their dysfunctional families and communities and not getting pregnant or into trouble. Second, pay child benefit at a fixed rate from the birth of the last child. This prevents people from having more children than they can cope with just for the benefits. Third, no benefits until one has worked for at least two years. This will get many children into work and parents would press them to it, or get training or education reducing the temptation to go into criminality. Fifth, make all benefits circumstantial, such as five year limit for unemployment benefit or 12 years child benefit from the birth of the youngest child which enables the abolition of means testing, the main cause of poverty.
    Teenage boys would be off the streets learning to read, write and work during their most vulnerable years. Girls and women would not have children they do not want and cannot care for just for the money. More parents would stay together to raise their families. There would be no poverty trap. All that would remain is to reform education but that is another story.

  • JohnBUK

    Hear hear Verity, we can wring our hands and scratch our heads all decade trying to AGREE on what the causes are and we may be right, or we may be wrong. However if we take the pragmatic approach which I believe Daniel Hannan and Cameron has alluded to in giving local people the power of the vote over locally elected police and judiciary then they may just put PC issues on the back-burner and actually come down hard on CRIMINALS.


    Verity and Cuffleyburgers, while I usually agree with both of you, I would just caution attributing blame for what goes on in F. Field’s constituency to immigration and islamicism.

    In Birkenhead, as in many nothern towns and cities, a black or asian face is a rarity and on Merseyside generally, what black inhabitants there are will often pre-date by origin the large scale W. Indian immigration of the sixties and seventies and be W. African by origin because of the maritime history of Merseyside.

    Merseyside, as I can attest being a semi-scouser, has always been a fairly violent place with a parallel reputation for its sense of humour and propensity to nick whatever it can.

    I’m afraid therefore that I rather share Luke’s scepticism on the true import of such statistics.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Cuffleyburgers, look at the oppression of Christians and other minorities in every Muslim majority state and realise that this is our future unless we do something. Our own democracy will destroy us because Islam will eventually outvote us and then dhimmisise us.

  • Verity

    Vulture – Demos – a wank tank. V good!

  • Verity

    Broken Record Alert: Watch my lips. Elected chief constables and an elected judiciary. I have lived under this system and it damn’ well works because those people, who want to keep their jobs, work to please the voters not “human rights” groups.

    Elected police chiefs is the best idea since the internal combustion engine. Useful and practical. And electing judges ensures that those guilty get sentenced to the max, as that is the public will. In Texas, they have chain gangs, because that is what the public wants. They have prisoners, under armed supervision, picking up trash along the freeway verges wearing orange vests that read, in big black letters, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS. In other words, they’re not just in prison; they are forced to earn their keep.

    Very cheering.

    I’ve seriously suggested before that we bring back the stocks, because there is no greater punishment for nasty young yobs than being reduced to being a figure of derision and merriment to their confreres.

    Indeed, the stocks would be even more effective today as their jeering lout chums would film them for posterity on their stolen mobiles. We might even set up a screen in market squares showing an endless loop.

  • N J Mayes

    Might I suggest that rather than being a simple case of the left or the right being to blame, the truth is a mix of the two? It seems to me that the most cohesive societies, with the least crime – Japan, Scandinavia, etc – combine both social conservatism (intolerance of crime and antisocial behaviour, low immigration, etc) with relative economic equality. As usual, in modern Britain we have the worst of both worlds: social liberalism and high inequality, leading to a fractured and violent society. When we were more socially conservative but less economically divided (after WWII but before the social and economic revolutions of the ’60s to ’80s) we suffered a lot less crime.

  • Beer Moth

    Dirty Euro

    ‘Maybe inequality creates a cruel viscous society’

    Bit of a sticky problem there then.

  • Cuffleyburgers

    Without wishing to sound as swivel eyed as Verity…

    The trouble is that there is a problem with unfettered immigration and Labour seem to have deliberately encouraged it as part of their core-vote strategy.

    However the ghetto-ization which is an ugly word for an ugly phenomenon is mostly an islamic problem.

    The problems with young black men are a separate issue from islamisation, and are caused largely by multiculturalism, minority politics, a poor education system, and to some extent the idiotic “war on drugs”, which criminalizes much harmless activity and has created a massive black economy outside the law.

    Most of these issues would be relatively easy to fix by a government with balls (metaphoric ones that is, the current schools minister is part of the problem)

    The problem of islamism is a separate one, also exacerbated in recent years by idiotic immigration policies.

    To an extent we are reaping the whirlwind Blair sowed, however Al Queda existed before the invasion of Iraq, and in any case that fact doesn’t offer any solutions.

    My solution, which is politically unsustainable, would be to do very little. Obviously policing and intelligence work need to be focussed on known suspects and identifying young men as they are exposed to indoctrination. However most of the proposed “solutions” tend to the authoritarian and to a very large extent, many of our traditional values and freedoms are being undermined by our own government in a sort of frenetic fight against this vastly inflated foe.

    The threat from AQ and the islamist thugs in general is vastly overrated, and is being used by this most authoritarian-minded government as justification to trample ancient freedoms and to seek irrevocably to change the face of our civilization.

    The likes of Verity and others who would advocate harsher, more draconian measures against this supposed threat are themselves doing the real damage to our culture.

    The islamists do not represent a systemic threat to our culture, if we are careful. Our government does.

    As for immigrants, if we have confidence in oursleves, and our cultural values, and insist that they are welcome but on our terms not theirs, as we always did until labour came to office, then they, as every wave of immigrants in the past has done, will integrate and the problem will go away.

  • Anne Wotana Kaye 1

    I loathe Nu Labour, for what it stands for and what it does, a cabal of communists and fascists. In all this dunghill, however, there is one decent man, Frank Field.

  • Vulture

    IT’s ironic that Field and Cameron delivered their speeches at Demos – a wank tank staffed by escaped Marxists from the 80s era. It is the Marxist agenda that has seeped into our ruling caste – especially the Police and judiciary – that is whoilly responsible for what Fraser politely calls the ‘fraying’ (read wholesale destruction) of our social fabric.

    I wonder whether the Marxists will enjoy what’s coming, which will not be rule by the ideas of old Karl but those of an even older prophet, and involving public flogging, hand chopping and stoning. That will at least put a stop to the rampant criminality that Frank and Dave profess to be so concerned about

  • Verityred

    Oh dear. Dirty Euro’s sub sixth form level wonky Labour trolling machine has been switched on again.

  • Dirty Euro

    The murder rate rose from the mid seventies since when Thacherism started.
    Maybe inequality creates a cruel viscous society.
    The extreme free market creates a society of breakdown. But the answer form the right will be to have more extreme right wing policies.

  • echo34

    Agree with verity and beer moth. Too many ‘lost’ kids.

  • Verity

    Beer Moth – agreed. Part of it is from the deliberately destabilising effect of the socialists infusing into Britain of toxic levels of immigrants whose belief system is not consonant with democracy and citizens’ responsibilities in a civil society.

    The Islamics were brought in with cold, deliberate malice. The problem with violent young black men is a social problem and Labour has feared to take control. These boys and young men have had no controls put on them – sorely needed in the absence of a father in the home. When they saw it had become a grave social problem, they feared to tackle it for fear of offending their voter base. Thus has our society become fractured and fragmented and is no longer the safe, cohesive entity in which many of us grew up – and which we historically were for many centuries.

  • Alan

    The answer from Parliament has always been to do more and it never works. Perhaps it is time they did less.

    Scale back the myriad jobs The Police have been lumbered with (promoting race relations, community cohesion etc) and those they gladly grasp for target meeting and revenue reasons (speeding).

    Too many people get too much money from taxpayers – welfare is not meant to be a lifestyle choice. Incentives matter. The incentives are all wrong.

  • Beer Moth

    If I were this unfortunate person in Frank Field’s constituency, I would leave Birkenhead at the earliest opportunity. No-one should have to put up with such treatment.

    It’s not determination or insight that will put this right, it’s backbone and the return of national service and capital punishment. As per 50 years ago.


  • Chris lancashire

    After years of the target culture, back covering and rampant bureaucracy we now have a police that will accept anything as long as all boxes have been ticked and the latest inspection survived.

    I detect (no pun intended) not the slightest sign of true force leadership, no outstanding Chief Constables and, needless to say, a complete lack of political leadership from the Home Office.

    And the changed relationship between Police and policed over the last 20 years is staggering.

  • Anand

    Have they factored in the reporting of said violent crimes and adjusted figures for population growth over the last 100 years?

    I have no doubt its still significantly increased but lets hope the stats are properly done

  • Stevie

    Why Frank Field doesn’t cross the floor is just beyond me. He’d be a Tory front bench shoe-in.

  • luke

    I call bonkers.

    Afraid you and frank are blinded by statistics. It fails any sort of common sense test to claim that fifty years ago there was almost no violent crime. It’s far more likely it just wasnt being reported.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here