A predictable but pertinent article by professional youth worker Winston Smith in the Daily Wail ...
David Cameron may have sounded tough this week, promising night curfews, tougher sentencing and new police powers in response to the outbreak of almost untrammelled anarchy in several of our cities. Police leave has been cancelled and a crackdown on gangs announced. But the Prime Minister is sorely mistaken if he really thinks the rioters will be punished and made to pay for what they've done.
Why? Because the criminal justice system in this country is broken. From my experience as a youth offender worker, little, if anything, will happen to the young people who participated in the riots around the country this week. And what's worse — they know it.
One 15-year-old looter quoted in yesterday's Mail summed up the defiance: 'They can't touch me, I'm still a kid . . . what is the worst they can do? Give me a caution or a curfew I won't obey.'
Sadly, he's absolutely right. While magistrates yesterday did seem to be cracking down on adult offenders, some of whom will get custodial sentences, almost everyone under 18 will end up with the ultra-soft, kid-gloves treatment I've seen being handed out on a daily basis. Figures released so far suggest that could apply to as many as half of those appearing in magistrates' courts this week.
In an extraordinary perversion of justice, those underage rioters will be treated as if they are the victims of the very crimes they have committed. Only a few will be given custodial sentences. The whole ethos of the youth justice system is to avoid incarcerating offenders — not least because there isn't the physical capacity to house them all.
Even those who are imprisoned will spend their days watching TV and playing video games. A colleague working in a youth detention centre recently told me he is no longer allowed to call their rooms 'cells' because it infringed their human rights. And these were offenders who'd done very bad things, including sexual assault and extreme violence.
The other underage rioters will be sent on an Intensive Surveillance and Supervision Programme (ISSP) — the laughable sentence that is the most rigorous non-custodial punishment young offenders can receive. It's designed to take them from their criminal environment and show them they can have a future on the straight and narrow.
What they'll actually do is spend the majority of their 'sentence' escorted by youth workers — whose wages are paid by the state — to gyms, adventure centres and even DJ-ing courses. Already this week, we've read about a group of offenders like this who were taken on a day trip to Alton Towers.
These violent youths will have their lunches bought and paid for, and even be given bus fares to attend their 'punishment'.
The surveillance element is worthless. Some offenders will be tagged and under curfew. If a tag is broken, a private security firm alerts the youth offender service, which alerts the police. In the time that takes, the offender can have carried out any number of crimes.
ISSPs are also supposed to involve community service, but often there is none at all. I know people in the Manchester Youth Offending Team who were reduced to driving offenders around for hours to fill up the time, because no community work had been arranged. Instead, the programme usually amounts to no more than enforced leisure: football and tennis on Monday, boxing and squash on Tuesday.
One day, we took ten offenders to an indoor rock climbing centre. Each of them had a conviction for burglary — in effect, we were just improving their breaking and entering skills. On another occasion, we drove a group to a youth club with a music studio. There they spent the morning listening to hip-hop, posing as gangsta rappers. When they got bored, they amused themselves by playing pool or being rude to the staff.
At lunchtime, the offenders gave individual orders for takeaways from a chip shop. Once the food arrived — delivered by a member of staff as though he were their butler — they fell on it like ravenous wolves, without the slightest restraint or manners, screeching foul abuse if their order was wrong. They then spent the afternoon on PlayStations or playing on Nintendo Wii games consoles.
Occasionally, these activities will be broken up by classroom exercises in a youth centre, pointless sessions where offenders' 'needs' are assessed — where they are viewed as children, as opposed to people who have done something very wrong.
'How are you feeling?' they're asked. 'Are you feeling better?' Who cares how they feel? The offenders I saw had broken into old ladies' houses. What about the feelings of the decent, predominantly working-class victims of this new criminal underclass? The victims of the looters and arsonists this week, for example, who may have seen their livelihoods or homes destroyed.
Sometimes the offenders will hijack the classroom exercises themselves. In a recent session on homophobia, several members of the class were causing disruption. Eventually, the frustrated youth worker asked the ringleader to come up to the front and take over the class. With relish, the chief culprit launched into an offensive comic routine about different types of homosexual. Afterwards, the youth worker boasted to me that the lesson had been a great success because the class was 'engaged', despite surrendering her authority.
I'm not an enthusiast for excessive punishment, particularly not for young offenders — who often hail from deprived backgrounds or dysfunctional families. But what I have experienced shows that the current, ultra-lenient approach is a disaster. It is hopelessly unbalanced, providing neither discipline nor boundaries.
The appalling message to juvenile criminals is they have nothing to fear from the courts or penal bodies. Far from being made to pay for their crimes, they are often rewarded.
I have escorted a 16-year-old, unemployed, criminal teenager by taxi from his home to the benefits office so he could sign on for the dole, even though he lived only ten minutes away by foot. He was from a large Albanian family of Romany gypsies who had come to Britain seeking asylum, but each had ended up involved in criminal activities, including violent muggings and burglary. Despite his criminal conduct — because of it, in fact — the local youth offending team was desperate for him to claim as many benefits as possible, even laying on transport.
The bizarre logic, as it was put to me, was that poverty was the cause of his illegal actions (a trite and misguided argument trotted out this week by bleeding heart liberals in defence of the looters). In the words of the youth worker: 'We need to work with him to remove the underlying causes of his criminal behaviour', by ensuring he received 'all the benefits that are entitled to him, his partner and future baby.' (He had got his Bulgarian girlfriend pregnant.)
My colleague's worry was that, if this support, including the taxi service, were not provided, the Albanian would slide back into a life of crime; even though she knew, from his expensive clothes, that he earned so much from crime he didn't even need those benefits.
Some of this week's rioters, having been processed by the courts, will end up doing 'poster work', where they will draw and colour in examples of criminal behaviour — just in case they're not aware that torching local businesses and throwing masonry at the police, fire brigade and passers-by are criminal acts. One recent offender made a mockery of the programme by producing large drawings of cannabis joints. He received no punishment.
Is it any wonder we have such high rates of recidivism among more serious young criminals? Many of the rioters you saw on the streets will have been through the system already. They know that there are no real consequences for their actions. Some of the young thugs who've been interviewed said they did it because the Government and the police couldn't stop them. And they are dead right. There are no boundaries to their actions, with or without any supposed crackdown by David Cameron. And so they will riot again.
The other day we said that the world's press had, on the whole, adopted quite an understanding attitude to the rioting in this country. But of course there's bound to be the odd exception: here's an American commentator called Ann Coulter ...
THE SUN NEVER SETS ON THE BRITISH WELFARE SYSTEM
Those of you following the barbaric rioting in Britain will not have failed to notice that a sizable proportion of the thugs are white, something not often seen in this country. Not only that, but in a triumph of feminism, a lot of them are girls. Even the "disabled" (according to the British benefits system) seem to have miraculously overcome their infirmities to dash out and steal a few TVs.
Congratulations, Britain! You've barbarized your citizenry, without regard to race, gender or physical handicap!
With a welfare system far more advanced than the United States, the British have achieved the remarkable result of turning entire communities of ancestral British people into tattooed, drunken brutes. I guess we now have the proof of what conservatives have been saying since forever: Looting is a result of liberal welfare policies.
And Britain is in the end stages of the welfare state. In 2008, a 9-year-old British girl, Shannon Matthews, disappeared on her way home from a school trip. The media leapt on the case -- only to discover that Shannon was one of seven children her mother, Karen, had produced with five different men. The first of these serial sperm-donors explained: "Karen just goes from one bloke to the next, uses them to have a kid, grabs all the child benefits and moves on." Poor little Shannon eventually turned up at the home of one of her many step-uncles - whose ex-wife, by the way, was the mother of six children with three different fathers. (Is Father's Day celebrated in England? If so, how?)
The Daily Mail (London) traced the family's proud Anglo ancestry of stable families back hundreds of years. The Nazi war machine couldn't break the British, but the modern welfare state has.
A year earlier, in 2007, another product of the new order, Fiona MacKeown, took seven of her eight children (by five different fathers) and her then-boyfriend, on a drug-fueled, six-month vacation to the Indian island of Goa. The trip was paid for - like everything else in her life - with government benefits. (When was the last time you had a free, six-month vacation? I'm drawing a blank, too.)
While in Goa, Fiona took her entourage on a side-trip, leaving her 15-year-old daughter, Scarlett Keeling, in the capable hands of a 25-year-old local whom Scarlett had begun sleeping with, perhaps hoping to get a head-start on her own government benefits. A few weeks later, Scarlett turned up dead, full of drugs, raped and murdered. Scarlett's estranged stepfather later drank himself to death, while her brother Silas announced on his social networking page: "My name is Si, n I spend most my life either out wit mates get drunk or at partys, playing rugby or going to da beach (pretty s**t really)." It's a wonder that someone like Silas, who has never worked, and belongs to a family in which no one has ever worked, can afford a cellphone for social networking. No, actually, it's not. Britain has a far more redistributive welfare system than France, which is why France's crime problem is mostly a matter of Muslim immigrants, not French nationals. Meanwhile, England's welfare state is fast returning the native population to its violent 18th-century highwaymen roots.
Needless to say, Britain leads Europe in the proportion of single mothers and, as a consequence, also leads or co-leads the European Union in violent crime, alcohol and drug abuse, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases. But liberal elites here and in Britain will blame anything but the welfare state they adore. They drone on about the strict British class system or the lack of jobs or the nation's history of racism. None of that explains the sad lives of young Shannon Matthews and Scarlett Keeling, with their long English ancestry and perfect Anglo features. Democrats would be delighted if violent mobs like those in Britain arose here - perhaps in Wisconsin! That would allow them to introduce yet more government programs staffed by unionized public employees, as happened after the 1992 L.A. riots and the 1960s race riots, following the recommendations of the Kerner Commission. MSNBC might even do the unthinkable and offer Al Sharpton his own TV show.
Inciting violent mobs is the essence of the left's agenda: promote class warfare, illegitimate children and an utterly debased citizenry. Like the British riot girls interviewed by the BBC, the Democrats tell us "all of this happened because of the rich people." We're beginning to see the final result of that idea in Britain. The welfare state creates a society of beasts. Meanwhile, nonjudgmental elites don't dare condemn the animals their programs have created. Rioters in England are burning century-old family businesses to the ground, stealing from injured children lying on the sidewalks and forcing Britons to strip to their underwear on the street. I keep reading that it's because they don't have jobs - which they're obviously anxious to hold. Or someone called them a "kaffir." Or their social services have been reduced. Or their Blackberries made them do it. Or they disapprove of a referee's call in a Manchester United game.
A few well-placed rifle rounds, and the rioting would end in an instant. A more sustained attack on the rampaging mob might save England from itself, finally removing shaved-head, drunken parasites from the benefits rolls that Britain can't find the will to abolish on moral or utilitarian grounds. We can be sure there's no danger of killing off the next Winston Churchill or Edmund Burke in these crowds. But like Louis XVI, British authorities are paralyzed by their indifference to their own civilization. A half-century of berating themselves for the crime of being British has left them morally defenseless. They see nothing about England worth saving, certainly not worth fighting for - which is fortunate since most of their cops don't have guns.
This is how civilizations die. It can happen overnight, as it did in Revolutionary France. If Britain of 1939 were composed of the current British population, the entirety of Europe would today be doing the "Heil Hitler" salute and singing the "Horst Wessel Song."
Mind you, when you see the titles of some of Ann Coulter's books, you can see where she's coming from: "Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America", "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans", "Godless: The Church of Liberalism", "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)", "Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism", "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right" and "High Crimes and Misdemeanors:The Case Against Bill Clinton".
Plainly she belongs to the Kenny Everett school of political thinking: "Round 'em all up, put 'em in a field, and bomb the bastards!"
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