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Category archive: Crime

Wednesday July 16 2008

Johnathan Pearce wants the child labour laws relaxed:

It seems to me that in part of the discussion about what “should be done” about feral kids armed with knives, there ought to be a recognition that one of the main problems that young people face in and outside school is boredom. And that can be cured, possibly, by working. We have to overcome our strange squeamishness over the employment of minors in actual jobs. I think that the rules and regulatory burdens should be relaxed so that apprenticeships become much easier for an employer to provide. I think some, if not all, of the young tearaways who are so worrying policymakers might actually feel proud of having a job, of earning money, of being able to brag about this to their lazier friends.

Commenter Walter Boswell adds this:

The importance of that simple lesson that hard work equals money and money equals more independence cannot be emphasised enough.


Thursday July 03 2008

If it is true that higher education is now and remains potentially a big export earner for Britain, and it is true, then stories like this won’t help one little bit:

Two French students have been found dead with multiple stab wounds in an East London flat, it was confirmed last night.

A double murder inquiry has been launched after the bodies of the two men, believed to be in their twenties, were discovered on Sunday, when firefighters were called to deal with a fire at the address in Sterling Gardens, New Cross.

A police source said the pair had been “horrifically murdered” adding that it was believed they may have been tortured before being killed and their flat set alight.

This was all over the early evening news today, complete with pictures.  It seems to have been a robbery that went wrong, by which I mean even more wrong.

It’s somewhat off topic for this blog, but I say: allow non-crims to be armed!

It may yet happen.  London, full of disarmed non-crims and armed crims, is rapidly becoming like New York used to be but is now so conspicuously not, a “crime capital”.  Any decade now, something might just give.  Or, to use the language of this blog, the lesson might be learned.

Wednesday May 07 2008

It looks like Ray Lewis (see below) is about to be very busy:

Boris Johnson put tackling youth crime at the forefront of his mayoralty today with a pledge to bring in “respect schools”.

He said he hoped to set up 100 Saturday courses where troubled teenagers could combine sport and academic subjects.

The Mayor conceded that his hardline approach involving “competition, discipline - and punishment” would be unfashionable with many Londoners.

But he insisted that unless the causes of violent crime were dealt with, the problem would never be solved.

Presumably the pupils at these courses will simply be told to attend, and then told to pay attention.  It will be that or just regular punishment, like jail, right?  Well, I don’t know how this will work.  Time will tell.

Tuesday May 06 2008

Iain Dale enthuses about new London Mayor Boris Johnson’s first appointment:


What fantastic news that Boris Johnson’s first senior appointment is to make Ray Lewis a Deputy Mayor with an important role in tackling youth crime. For those who don’t know him, Ray runs the East Side Young Leaders Academy, which is a charity specialising in giving young black kids a real education. It relies on more traditional teaching methods and discipline plays a key role. Lewis says every child emerges with at least two A Levels and three quarters go to university. Polly Toynbee will have a seizure when she learns of this appointment as Ray Lewis is living proof that her liberal creed has failed black, inner city youngsters.

Lewis’s academy has been financially supported by Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice and is a working example of how voluntary sector organisations can make a real difference to people’s lives.

Personally I have doubts about creaming off the best voluntary or commercial sector people and making them into politicians.  They risk migrating from the solution to the problem, I think.  The now admirable Ray Lewis may come to regret this move.

Sunday May 04 2008

Yesterday morning I did my first stint of teaching at the Civitas school in Hammersmith, Hammersmith Saturday.  I am not entirely sure whether my colleagues think I am making much of a contribution to their combined efforts, but no doubt a way would have been found to tell me not to come to Hammersmith had they thought it would be a nuisance.  So, I proceed on the assumption that what I am doing is appreciated.  When I helped out for a couple of mornings at a recent half term school, they gave me (as I think I may have mentioned here before) a box of chocolates, so I must be doing something right.  I could have done more at Kings Cross Supplementary, but teaching also at a different school (with all its compare-and-contrast possibilities) appealed more.

Once again I was teaching one-on-one, first with Twin Girl.  Twin Girl is identical to her identical twin sister, Twin Girl, so I am afraid I cannot tell you which Twin Girl I was teaching, but after early protestations against having been separated out, from Twin Girl and from all the other children in her group, for a scary new ordeal, the Twin Girl that I taught seemed reasonably happy about it all.  I checked out her 3R skills, trying without offence to correct all errors that I observed.  Then we did some map reading.  Twin Girl duly found here way, via the big index at the back, to the street where Hammersmith Saturday is located.  She also found Nigeria and Arizona, which are big places in her family’s history, because her family started out in Nigeria and then lived in Arizona for a while, before coming here.

More memorable for me was the second session I did, with Law Boy, whom I call Law Boy simply because, after the usual 3R ice-breaking routines, he revealed that he had in mind, perhaps, to be a lawyer.  However, he didn’t seem to have a very clear idea of what a lawyer actually does, confusing it rather with being a policeman.  So, I gave him a lecture on and around these subjects, concentrating on criminal law, because it is more dramatic.  Here are the lecture notes, which I made a point this time of photo-ing before presenting them to him, so I could show the photo to you people:


Click to get it bigger and more legible.

As you can see, a lot of portentous ground was raced over.  The list of ways the police might investigate a crime includes several of Law Boy’s suggestions, written down by him.  The court room dramas on the right are mostly me.

My belief about teaching is that the basic tools of our culture, alluded to with that common phrase the “Three Rs”, are often now skipped over, resulting in lasting confusion to many pupils who have been dragged towards more complicated spellings and constructions and sums before they are comfortable with the easier stuff.  But I also believe that eyes are not lifted often enough to the far horizons, to the matter of what life could and should be like, and how this or that pupil might one day make a great life as an adult.  There is rather too much obsessing in schools about intermediate matters, so to speak, like quadratic equations and possessive pronouns, and with answering questions about such things in exams.  But there is more to living a good life than merely embarking on the adult bit of it armed with some exam results.  It’s not that these things don’t matter and aren’t worth doing.  But they make a whole lot more sense if reasons for caring about and worrying about them are also alluded to from time to time.

And it really doesn’t take much in the way of 3R expertise to start scanning the far horizons.  I mean, how hard is it to spell “law”, and get a rough idea of what it means?  Or “jury”?  Or “judge”?  And why should a discussion of laws and juries and judges wait until children are teenagers and they first come up against the law when policemen, perhaps rather rudely, tell them about it.  Contrariwise, I was able to wave my finger at all that work that criminal detectives have to do, and say: “That’s full of the 3Rs.  Being a policeman isn’t just about being strong and rough and tough and courageous.  It also involves lots of reading and writing and arithmetic.” And for lawyers, life is all about getting to grips with such clevernesses.  Physical toughness and roughness has almost nothing to do with it.

Law Boy is the quiet thoughtful type, and also polite.  Towards the end I became worried that I was boring him, and that he was merely waiting in a trance for this baffling foolishness to end.  “Am I boring you?” I asked.  “Oh no”, said Law Boy.  “I’m thinking.” Such moments make it all worthwhile.  (And being able to write about it here, for me, doubles the pleasure.)

From where I sat, my central lesson to Law Boy was that it is not enough for the police to decide that somebody is guilty of a crime.  Too much hinges on whether that is true for us to take their word for it.  We can’t be sending innocent people to prison for a decade.  Thus, law courts.  Thus “BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT”.  What did Law Boy learn?  I don’t know, but I trust: something.

The Giving them the paper at the end procedure never seemed to me to make more sense than it did with these particular bits of paper, and there were several more.  It helps that there is now the Internet.  If Law Boy is inclined, he can type all those mysterious words (Solicitor?  Barrister?  Jury?  Forensic?) into the Great Filing Cabinet In The Sky and learn ten times more about it all than I could tell him.  If he is inclined.

Thursday April 03 2008

Bishop Hill is not impressed with the new logo of the Department for Children, Schools and Families.  And I am not impressed by the absence of capital letters in the title of the “department” at the top of the ... dcsf? ... website:


Here are the dcsf’s declared purposes:

The purpose of the Department for Children, Schools and Families ...

So presumably the rest of us are supposed to talk about this gruesomely named enterprise with capitals, even if the department itself does not ...

… is to make England the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up. We want to:

- make children and young people happy and healthy

- keep them safe and sound

- give them a top class education

- help them stay on track.

This is a brisk, unashamed, approximately plain English exposition of what is wrong with modern government.  It all sounds so sensible.  ("[S]afe and sound”.) But it is ludicrously all-embracing, and turns parents and teachers into bewildered and demoralised underlings or worse, spectators - while the government tramples about like a mad elephant failing to do what it should not be attempting but has nevertheless put itself in charge of.  Only purpose four, which is vaguer than the others and is presumably concerned with stopping children turning into criminals, is central to what a government should be doing.  But it should be doing this by punishing children if and when they commit crimes, not by giving them “help”.

Tuesday March 18 2008

The headline alone tells most of the story: Classrooms have become war zones, battered and threatened teachers say.

Key quote:

Official figures also suggest that schools are finding it increasingly difficult to exclude violent pupils because of the growing tendency by governors and appeal panels to overturn the head’s decision. Between 1997 and 2007 permanent exclusions fell by 25 per cent to 9,170 cases nationwide. But over the same period the proportion of expulsions overruled by panels rose from 20 to 24 per cent.

Which means that many other pupils that a head would have excluded in former times now also stay, to make more mayhem, not because the head wants to keep the pupils, but simply because the head fears he/she will be overruled.

More war talk here.

Thursday March 13 2008

Beware the Eton Posse:

Four boys have been suspended from Eton College after a 13-year-old girl was allegedly robbed and assaulted on the school’s playing fields.

The group of pupils aged 13 and 14, who called themselves “The Posse”, are reported to have been drinking alcohol and to have possibly taken drugs before carrying out the attack.

A local girl claims that her handbag was stolen and that she suffered at least one broken rib during the incident at the school’s Long Meadow playing fields on Monday evening.

The playing fields of Eton are going down in the world.

Posh Posse
Somehow I don’t think this idea will catch on any time soon