First we have Cherie Blair, wife of the former Prime Minister, saying that she fears for the safety of her children when they go out onto the streets. Government statistics, she tells us, dramatically underestimate the scale of knife crime amongst children in Britain and that she has found alarming evidence of rising violence involving knives. She has called for a new approach to get rid of what she calls “lethal fashion accessories” and says that official statistics fail to reflect the reality of how many young people carry knives believing that they offer protection. Mrs Blair told the Home Affairs Select Committee, “If young people think when they carry a knife that it’s going to be detected, that may well make a big difference in deterring them. As a parent I am concerned about what is happening when my children are on the street and I know that I am not unique in that by any means.”
You are not unique in that thought at all Mrs Blair. What you may be unique in is that as a parent you have only just come to this acknowledgment of reality. Were you not yourself in Downing Street during the 10 years that your husband failed to meet his 1997 promise to get “ tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime” and total inability to stop the rise in violence on the streets ?
There has been a spate of teenagers killed by their peers - this year so far 31 young people stabbed to death in Britain; in London, 17 teenagers dead as a result of gun or knife crime. On Tuesday, hundreds of teenagers marched through London protesting against the knife culture that caused the murder of a 16 year old boy in a street attack. On their journey to the spot where the teenager was killed they passed the home of the Lord Mayor, Boris Johnson who has vowed to tackle youth crime.
The day after, this same man has warned that the risk from violent crime is now so great that people should walk away if they see trouble - in case they end up losing their own life. He would tell his own children he says, to 'look after themselves first' rather than help someone in distress. A bit of a turn around from Mr Johnson's stance last year when he told citizens to 'take a risk' as the chances of being stabbed were 'microscopic'. Is this change of view due to the numerous cases of people being attacked themselves when going to the aid of someone or trying to protect themselves from violence?
'Everybody is shocked by the level of violence we are seeing, particularly towards young people, and we must all work as hard as we can to reverse this dreadful trend,” says the mayor. Not shocked enough it seems as he then adds, 'I'm afraid that may sound like a lack of public spirit if someone is being badly attacked” – certainly does, Boris - “But if I was giving advice to my kids and there was a bar brawl, it would be to look after themselves.”
Great ! Where does that leave us then Mr Mayor ? Do we do as you say, or do as you do ? Blowed if I know – I am just an ordinary parent trying to keep my family and myself safe and on the right side of the law, with little or no help it seems, from those in authority.
The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, still claims that crime is not increasing and that figures in fact, do show a decrease. Perhaps she is living in the same fantasy world as Cherie Blair has been, and it will take a while longer for her to realise the truth (remember she is the one who wore the bullet proof vest to take a stroll around the streets) The Home Office has widened the scope of the British Crime Survey, the most authoritative source of statistics based on police data, to include specific data on knife crime. If the statistics are correct now, why bother ?
Let’s hope that when this new batch of data is put onto cd, something is done about it to prevent even more pointless acts of violence and that we as a society are able to do something more than just walk on by.