The International Crime Victims Survey has revealed that the United Kingdom has the second worst incidence of crime in the Industrialised world, behind the United States. The situation is particularly bad in large cities, where in some cases, the crime rate has increased 40 %. Crime solving is also not improving: it is reported that in the London Borough of Lambeth, for example, only 8% of theft-related crimes were solved last year and of these, those cases which arrived at court were few and the number of convictions fewer. In England and Wales, 28 people per thousand population are victims of crime every year. Critics of the New Labour government point to the fact that there are three thousand less police than there were five years ago. Certainly only 5% of the police force is on the streets at any given time. However, the correlation between police on the streets and crimes committed is a tenuous one. For law-abiding citizens, police are not necessary, except to protect them from the criminals who will perform crimes anyway, whether or not the police are on the streets. It is the criminal’s preoccupation where he commits his crime, not if. It would seem that the real reason behind the increase in the crime rate is the lack of discipline in today’s society. Starting with schools, where the authority of teachers has been taken away and not replaced with anything, continuing with the home, where the norm is to see both parents working and with the added factor of violence in everything provided for a child’s entertainment, it is not surprising that today’s societies, everywhere, are producing more and more maladjusted young people, not socialised at all for a classroom, let alone a job. Scenes of extreme violence on television are frequent. It has been calculated that by the time an average child in the USA or the UK has reached 12 years of age, the child has seen no less than 100,000 scenes of violent crime on television. The US gun laws seem to defy logic in a country which unfortunately only too frequently broadcasts shocking news stories showing strings of children running screaming from a school where some confused student has run amok with a firearm. The relative ease with which hard drugs have become disseminated everywhere is another factor, drugs related crime being responsible for a third of burglaries, according to the Office of National Statistics. While it is true that drugs and crime are a constant value in the equation of human societies (prostitution and opium have a long relationship going back centuries), it is also true that drugs are more available and more harmful, as chemicals are added to increase the addiction. It is not uncommon for a normal dose of heroin to include soap powder and pulverised talcum, as well as chemical substances to make the addiction process faster. Arresting the drug traffickers does not alleviate the problem because the profits are so great that when one is removed, another appears. The solution to the question of rising crime is one which has eluded most governments, practically everywhere. The answer lies in education. If children are correctly educated, they will be less likely to behave in certain ways. Leaving them alone to behave as they wish, at the same time providing them with scenes of violence and narcotics for their entertainment is not a good way to produce a model citizen. If children were educated from a young age about the dangers of drugs, there would be a smaller supply of drugs users. If there is no demand for a product, it is not profitable to sell. If drug addicts were forced to undertake a programme of rehabilitation instead of a prison sentence, the prisons would revert to what they were supposed to be – places where those considered dangerous to society are kept for society’s protection, and not as a deposit for maladjusted citizens. Parents should also be held more responsible for the actions of their children, to increase the degree of discipline in society. Since having a child is a social as well as a personal act, some even claim that a parenting contract should be signed between parent and State, in which the responsibilities of both, and future action to be taken in case of breach of contract, are stipulated.
JOHN ASHTEAD PRAVDA.RU LONDON