Ka-pow, ker-runch, ker-splat! Fear not good citizens of Devizes, waftastic Wiltshirecouncilman is here to save us from the evil delinquent Dylan and the Acne Street Gang! The devastating plan is to hold a “drop-in event to update on work to reduce youth anti-social behaviour in the town,” at the Corn Exchange from 9:30am to noon on Thursday 2nd March; that’ll give them a ruddy good telling off for sure!
Does anyone else see an immediate flaw in the plan? By very definition it’s counterproductive. Wiltshire Council send out a powerful message to our youth; their crimes are unacceptable, but we’re all fine with crimes committed by older people. Why not drop the “youth” tagline all together, and see any crime committed by any age with the same degree of urgency? Just, y’ know, a fleeting notion of fairness.
Way to go to marginalise society and section off a particular group according to age, that’s sure not to stoke the fire. And when can we expect a similar event to tackle crimes committed by adults, pray tell?!
We have a current issue in Devizes with some wayward youths, no one can deny it, it’s no secret, but from a minority. That’s the crucial point, all pigeonholing them is going to do is encourage a barrier between age groups and welcome more teenagers into the rut; you’re only going to make matters worse, you blind and foolish old fuddy-duddies!
We cannot expect to obtain upstanding young citizens by tarnishing them all with the same brush. Still social media is awash with pitchfork welding folk, condoning medieval punishments, and admin of these groups fail to deal outrageous comments promoting vigilante violence; look at yourself, publishing your futile online vengeance on youths, and still then ponder why they rebel so. Ever heard of a thing called an endless circle?
Places of real-life social interaction are no better, full of elders firing daggers from their eyes at any younger person who happens to pass by. I’ve spoken to young people about their fear of going into cafes for the dirty looks they’ll receive, despite doing no wrong and not having any intentions of. What else is there here for them to do, where do you expect them to go?
Cllr Peter Hutton, Portfolio Holder for Safeguarding at Wiltshire Council said of the event, “this will be an informal and interactive morning where you can talk to the people who are working with Devizes residents in all sorts of ways with a common goal of making the town a safer place to live.” But what about the people who this really effects most? We must readdress the balance here, focus too on the victims, not just the criminals. Children and young people are disproportionately more likely to be victims of crime, particularly the most serious crimes, by any age group including their own. And where are the group most affected by this issue between the set hours of 9:30-noon? At school or college most likely.
The very fact they’ve been excluded from this event sends a shiver up my spine. It’s as if to say they’ve no valid point to bring to the table, or any they might have, are worthless, amidst this wealth of grownup’s experience. Why not make the time later, so it’s convenient to all to cast their views? Why not bring this “roadshow” to schools and colleges?
As we age it’s all too easy to forget how it feels to be younger, but not giving young people the benefit of the doubt is detrimental to them reacting angrily against the system. I may’ve been criminalised in my youth, but day-to-day I forget those occurrences, wish I was that age again, only because I view it through rose-tinted specs. It was never as easy as memory serves me. I rebelled, and much of the anguish came from my elders; the powers that be, parents, et al. They never understood, I felt trapped, a child in an adult world, and reacted with rebellious anger. Why? Because it was a thrill to, it exposed a crack in the boredom, an escape.
Yet top-heavy Conservative thinking Wiltshire Council and Police are backing a government which has acted far worse than these few wayward kids. They’ve lied their way through government, they’ve profited and partied while ordinary folk watched their loved ones die. They continue to drain every penny out of public services, to reduce the education budget to the point the teachers must strike, they’re determined to increase the poverty divide to line their own pockets, and we ignore it in order to focus on some naughty children. They are hardly setting the shining example of moral upstanding citizens. As Michael Jackson said, “if they wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
Or perhaps a more poignant musical quote could come from Woody Guthrie, “some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.” Purchase a security light for your home if you favour being robbed by the energy companies rather than some hoodlums in your shed at night.
Here’s a better plan, councillors, et al who follow the blue rosette, resign from your Conservative Party, and stand independently. Show them you don’t side with criminals before invoking your hypocrisy on the youth. For our young are no fools, and I, for one, salute them for taking a stance, I applaud their patience and endurance with the disgusting way they’re being treated.
Some will resort to crime, it’s a terrible thing, I wish it didn’t have to be this way, and I certainly would never condone it. But they’re not alone as a generation; history proves time-over during eras of abject poverty crime will increase. It’s not a problem with “youth of today” rather a problem with a minority of youth, historically. Rubbing their faces in it, plotting behind their backs isn’t going to help.
Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson, an advocate of conservatism, says of the event, “this is a great opportunity for members of the public to hear first-hand the importance of the work that is being done as a result of the Home Office funding to tackle youth anti-social behaviour in the Devizes area and focus on ways to help prevent it.” But what’s his views on rural crime in general, to have called hunt saboteurs only gathering evidence of crimes committed by those who should be considered mature enough to know better, “balaclava wearing thugs,” when we’ve all seen the recent concrete evidence as to who the real thugs are?
The only smidgen of positive came from inspector Ben Huggins, Devizes sector Policing Inspector, who said, “we recognise that there are some anti-social behaviour issues in Devizes at the moment. We are and have been tackling them. My officers will always respond swiftly and robustly to reports of this nature; however, we know more needs to be done and this is not a problem that can be solved by us the police alone. So, this initiative is very much welcomed – involving not only the agencies we already work with but the wider community. Hopefully, we can all resolve this problem by working together.”
It goes without saying, we offer our eternal thanks to the bobby on the beat. I certainly don’t envy their job at times like these, and in having to deal with the issues which arise from this, but there’s radical thinking we need to put on the table in order to tackle it, not the seemingly militant stance of conservatism. Communication with the youth is key, obviously, for crying out loud, including them in events like this, allowing them a voice.
Give a little to take a little, isn’t it? Treat them with respect and that respect will come back to you; see if it doesn’t, but apply something out of Robocop it will never be solved and we just go round in circles. I welcome the idea of this gig, but if they wished to build bridges, making it time appropriate for those most affected to attend would be logic, really, one would’ve thought, or are we just a community of hypocritical pitchfork welding rednecks?
Actually, don’t answer that one!
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