Reclaiming the Streets? Policing isn’t the answer

Today the Chief Inspector of Constabulary warned that there should be no cut in spending on police time to deal with anti-social behaviour.

When asked who should deal with anti-social behaviour the majority of people said the police.

Anti social behaviour

It has also been reported today that early intervention is the key to preventing anti-social behaviour…

But NO ONE has mentioned spending any money on YOUTH WORK!

According to the Scottish Government youth work provides diversionary activities for young people (Scottish Executive (2007) Moving Forward: a strategy for improving young people’s chances through youth work. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.) so why is our first response to use the police, to criminalise young people and to demonise them rather than address the causes of the problem?

Anti-social behaviour is a serious issue but it is symptomatic of wider problems. Policing won’t solve poverty, unemployment, lack of attainment in school, alcohol and drug abuse and violence.

These young people are not aliens. They don’t appear each evening from thin air. They are people’s children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. It is said it takes a village to raise a child. I believe that.

Unfortunately just 5% of us volunteer to work with young people and only a tiny proportion of that 5% are men.

And yet we wish young men had role models…

3 thoughts on “Reclaiming the Streets? Policing isn’t the answer”

  1. Let me say at the outset that your opening comments are valid. There is little or nothing done in Youth Work. It is often left to voluntary groups to put piecemeal things together that are worthy but ultimately ineffective.
    However, as someone whose living space is fairly regularly pelted with objects by these ‘youths’ I do want to see more policing. Talking with these youngsters very quickly degenerates into religious insults being hurled about the air.
    You are quite right to point to the causes of the problem, but that can quickly become excuses for their behaviour as if it somehow isn’t their fault. Poverty doesn’t automatically lead to some of the stuff I’ve been enduring.
    As for role models….let’s see….John Terry, Wayne Rooney, Jordan…..all ‘promoted’ by the media as interesting people worthy of following. Hardly examples the church would support.
    And where is parental responsibility in all this ?
    There is no doubt that there is a core truth in what you say on this, you have greater experience in this than I do, but it isn’t a one way street of understanding.
    Sorry for the return rant, but you’ve kind of hit a nerve here for me !

  2. Thanks for the comment David. Living with anti-social behavior is a nightmare.

    I think what we are both suggesting is a multi-agency approach. Policing is a vital part of that package but wouldn’t it be good to see a team of detached youth workers working with that group of young people before it gets to the point where confrontations happen?

    I’m not sure that I have yet come across a church which offers real help and support to parents. I’d be interested to hear of any examples.

    I’m also interested by David Cameron’s Big Society idea. If it is a smokescreen for cuts then forget it, but if it is a real movement to re-engage people in their communities then I’ll be at the front of the queue, and I think that churches should be too.

  3. I agree that a multi agency approach would be the best way and that a dedicated team of youth workers would figure largely in that. Cameron’s Big Society flies in the face of Thatcher’s ‘there’s no such thing as society’ so I’m very skeptical and deeply suspicious of where all these cuts will fall, and deeply worried that the least able will suffer most.

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