Without our community we slip into a crime riddled cess pool. There are a lot of really good things about Britain as a place and British people as a body. But by removing the religion that British people generally take to, by removing the ethics that generally go with it, we’ve allowed people to come to Britain and bring their culture, their country and any problems they might have, with them. Lots of people come to Britain and think they’ll be rich. But then they find it’s not so easy. Then they are resentful. They are alienated because they haven’t been exposed to the good things in Britain – our ethics. That’s why we’ve now got a nation of people who wouldn’t do anything for the country. They wouldn’t fight for their country. Why would they? The nation has done nothing for them as far as they are concerned. They are not aware of the fact that they have been clothed, educated, housed.
But these are things that children should be taught straight up; and part of that ethic should be about the community that is Britain and what it is to be British. Within the black community it is not such a bad thing because we’ve shared a religion and in many cases a language. It’s far easier for black people to integrate. How we arrived here is different. If you talk to old black people, they will say they have been invited here by the Queen. They absolutely do not consider themselves refugees or immigrants. I can see the argument of taking religion out of the state, out of politics, but as a moral guideline – arguably our laws are Christian-based – well, they need to be maintained. Losing them has meant that people have come here and had very little respect for us. That lack of integration and that lack of saying to people: if you are going to come to England, this is what we expect. That is why the Muslim religion is so powerful among the Muslim people. I spoke to a Muslim I met abroad, and he said to me, “Oh yeah you come from that England where they have no God at all.” It’s like we are ashamed of where we have come from.
The damage of liberalism
The more liberal we’ve been, the more the poor have suffered. Poor people don’t need all this liberalism. They need direction. All this over-caring liberalism is damaging. Saying “we understand your pain”. Well, you don’t, you are certainly not living in that pain, you do not suffer the pain that individualism is causing to others as well as to themselves. We live in a world now where people are very selfish – me, me, me. And where there isn’t any come-back for people. But people need to understand that there is a come-back. Everybody talks about my rights – but there is some point when your behaviour needs to be balanced by your duty to your = community. We have no community because we don’t train people in duty. So people shut their doors and retire and it is all about me, me, me. What’s affecting me, rather than what’s affecting us.
When the liberal classes have the view that “oh, we can all smoke a bit”, they do not realise how it generates crime for young people here who need to finance their habit. By not making drugs seem like a big deal, by decriminalising the drug, they are criminalising the kids – by putting them on the path to a criminal lifestyle. The liberal intelligence relax the rules for themselves, not for us. But it’s easy for them. If things go wrong, they have a different coping mechanism to us. This sanctioning of drugs pushes poor kids into bullying at school, into stealing the odd phone and other “lower level” crime, to get the money for drugs they use. Young people don’t recognise this pattern until you point it out to them. It takes them quite a while to trace the route back to what they do with the money that made them want to steal the phone, handbag, or wallet. Raising money this way introduces them to criminality.
Most children don’t begin with the desire or the confidence to rob someone. But once they bully for items at school, and then outside of school, they are in the robbery zone. They gradually build up and their targets become more frequent and bigger until they rob adults. And being a member of a gang gives them extra power and extra confidence. This liberal agenda hasn’t benefited the working class. The working class look to rules. The rules are important to them. Take away the rules and they are left in limbo. So they form their own: the kind which are driven by pop economics. Then they get into crime – because it’s more acceptable – it’s more readily done. Middle class people, they won’t even buy counterfeit DVDs, they won’t even consider it – the first time I heard that I laughed hard. We do it all the time.
No amount of government analysis will understand the community as well as the people who are in it. No amount of government intervention will help it. It just won’t happen. Because the actions of the “State” itself are implicated in this social failure: welfare dependency, a morally empty school system, a non-rehabilitative prison system, a culpable youth justice system, powerless social services, chronic housing conditions, an uncensored, permissive, exploitative opportunistic media and music industry which the government refuses to take on. They all let people down.
The police are not the solution.
The police can’t deal with the causes of the problem. To expect them to is one of the big myths in our world. Everyone talks about more policemen. Absolutely useless. Anybody who knows anything about criminals will realise that they are not concerned with the police, they never have been and they never will be. The only way to cut crime or anti-social behaviour is to change people’s attitudes. You know if you put on policemen at a certain place, nothing will happen. When they leave, something happens.
It’s people’s attitudes and situations that drive crime. What police can’t deal with and shouldn’t be expected to deal with is your low-level crime, your graffiti, your abusive behaviour, anti-social behaviour. What it does is undermine them. They try to do it but they look silly to the people who perpetrate the crimes. It’s like, hold on a minute, the police are trying to deal with me, they are failing dismally, so I’ll move on to a higher type crime and I’ll get away with that too. That is exactly the mindset. I have sat on the train and listened to three young people discuss the stealing of a car in very cold terms. One of them says: “Oh, I know how to get a car, let me do it.” “No, let me do it”, says the second boy. Then the girl says, “no, let me do it”. “Why?” “Because I’ve got no criminal record yet”. “So?” “If I get caught, I get cautioned. If you get caught, you get done”. “Can you drive?” And she says, “not really, but you can show me”. “What we’ll do, I’ll drive, if there’s trouble we’ll just swap seats.” “Cool”. The chilling part was when the girl said “yet”. And she was going to cop the blame because she realised that she could get away with it. That’s the level that people don’t understand: antisocial behaviour is cheeky. I won’t get caught and if I get caught I’ll get off because.
What Can be Done?
The answer is not more government initiatives. What is needed is projects that originate from within the community and from people who already work in the community. Here is one that has worked in North Kensington.
A Health Project Four years ago we set up a health project here on the estates. It has been massively successful. It was developed with the support of a consortia of other agencies – including a large drugs agency, a local Youth Project, the Health Information Programme and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. We set it up to address the drugs and education crisis among teenagers and young adults who were falling through a gap in statutory provision.10 Once you are 19, there is nothing for you, yet your needs may be greater than a 16 year old. When someone asks me, “what is a definition of a young person? Is it someone 13 to 19?” I say, “no way – because they carry that teenage feeling, that emotional level right up into their twenties.” And their problems are more intractable. When I came into post I immediately realised that young people do not want to have anything to do with a service called DRUGS, they don’t want to be in a drug project. They will not have it. The word drug is a label; young people have enough problems with labels. You are dealing with adults who have not admitted that they have a problem.
That’s why we devised a health project. The whole point was to give them healthy options about all of their life choices – school, the food they eat, the places they go, who they hang around with. We put that against the unhealthy stuff they shouldn’t be doing. We try to link them into education and training. In the beginning that was quite small because we were dealing with lots of chaotic drug users and we were establishing ourselves in our street work. Government projects, like the New Deal or Connexions, were just a “no-no” for the type of young people we were coming across
Many were above their specified age target. Young men of 22, 23, or 24 with a drug problem, who have never have been anywhere near a job, who don’t have academic skills and don’t have social skills – the staff at Connexions were not able to have a conversation with them. How could they understand them? How could they deal with the lingo? And this sort of young person would not accept it. I speak the lingo. We began to be effective because we knew the people. We understood the local situation.
We have an ethos of developing people. You can’t stop people using drugs unless they are busy, unless they have got some type of tie to society. This is fundamental to our approach. So Tony Blair doesn’t take drugs because it wouldn’t help his job – he’s got reasons not to take drugs. You need to give that to Joe Bloggs who lives here on Ladbroke Grove. You need to say to him, “look, you can’t get high because you need to be at work”. You need to link these things to his esteem. That’s what we try to do. And we try to bring that feeling into our youth work. Yes, we will support you and we are here for you – but when you are wrong, you are wrong and you will be told so.