Thursday 23 August 2007

We Have Failed to Respond Effectively to The Violence in Our Society.

Like any parent my biggest fear is of anything happening to my children. The news of the shooting of that poor little 11 year boy old killed in Liverpool last night was heartrending.

No matter what the statistics may say about falling crime, tragedies like this and all the other young deaths over this last year bring home the reality of the violence and harshness that can be encountered by children in the society we now live in.

Leading politicians, the media and many commentators appear perplexed at the scale of violence that exists within our community and have been seizing on a wide variety of causes ranging from family breakdown, the accessibility and cheapness of alcohol,the expansion of drug use, the growth of gang culture to the lack of role models for young people.

Over the last five years policy analysis and policy development seem to be trapped in a circular debate which includes at the same time both largely failing attempts at social policy interventions and an overwhelmingly failing penal policy.

And yet all the research evidence from experts such as Richard Wilkinson, Danny Dorling and many others is clearly pointing to the association between increasing inequality, increasing breakdown of social cohesion and subsequently increasing violent crime and social harm.

In virtually every opinion poll over the last decade crime has been placed in the top three of people's concerns. Fear of crime is across all social classes but it is the poorest who suffer from crime the most.

People earnestly want solutions.

It is our responsibility now to set the tenure of the debate that will now follow this week's tragedy. A debate that needs to be about the society we want to live in and how we tackle the causal factors of inequality, the loss of power in communities to effect change and the loss of a sense of social solidarity which contribute to violence in our society.