Curly's Corner Shop, the blog!

South Shields premier political blog

The Blues

with 3 comments

Which have nothing to do with music or Chelsea!

Apologies for the recent lack of posts in here, I’m going through another of those inexplicable periods that stifles creativity, optimism, the will to write, and a slight depression. Much of it has been brought about by seeing rioters locked away without any real efforts to have them clean up their communities (I knew things were heading in the wrong direction) too many doctors were producing a diagnosis and then prescribing entirely the wrong medicine, the illness will not be cured. Heard a really interesting interview on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday evening with a former policeman in Glasgow who is now involved in a project to reduce violent crime and gangland culture which has had startling results over the past year, shame it isn’t available as a podcast for you to hear. The crux of his solutions was to offer a stark choice between punishment and reform coupled with multi-partnership early intervention schemes starting with parenting classes and advice centres which put great emphasis on the first three years of life helping (mainly) single parents to introduce empathy, consideration, a realisation of the consequences of poor behaviour, and its effects upon others around you. The scheme also involves parents and teachers working together to reintroduce discipline at school and in the home for children between four and fourteen with rewards for good behaviour and reductions in privileges for poor behaviour. Those who do make the choice to join gangs and enter into a life of criminality in their teens are warned of the “zero tolerance” attitude that their local police will take going right down to the point of possible eviction from social housing, chasing down their mothers if they don’t have a TV Licence, chasing down the family if their car is not taxed, chasing down those who are in arrears with council tax, in other words the police promise to be “in their faces” all day long. Local courts are encouraged to hand down more community sentences which see offenders making real reparations for the damage that they may have caused, they get to meet victims of crime and experience the horrors and fears that many carry with them for life.  On the other hand, if they choose not to display criminal behaviour they will be offered places in schemes which channel their energies in better ways such as football teams, youth groups, apprenticeships, art classes, special interest groups that teach music, video editing, video game programming, all the things that modern teenagers would probably love to do.

Unfortunately such schemes can be costly to run, but economically make good long term sense, particularly if re-offending rates begin to collapse, and they have in Glasgow, no wonder that the Strathclyde Chief Constable is one of the favourites to take over at the Met.

Then to cap off a bad week, the politicians in their wisdom decided that everything was more or less solved so they took off on holiday again!

If that wasn’t bad enough to give you the blues, I don’t what is.

As a typical South Shields football supporting lad I was looking forward to yesterday’s derby match between Sunderland and Newcastle, but now working every Saturday prevents me from going to the Stadium of Light to watch Sunderland, (my visits will have to be restricted to Sunday and mid week games now), but two sessions in front of the box watching Match of the Day have simply added to my depression, two games against Liverpool and The Mags should have netted six points if only our strikers could hit the bloody target! I fear a week of solid ribbing from the black and white half of this town. At least yesterday’s game appears to have been trouble free with only 21 arrests at the ground, which is pretty good from a capacity crowd!

So……….hoping that a bit of cricket this weekend will cheer us all up as England try their hardest to secure a test series whitewash of India, two days left to bowl them out twice for a humiliating innings defeat, at least we can say we’re champions at something! For those poor folk who cannot, or would not, dream of paying for a Sky subscription there’s  always Test Match Special on BBC Radio, probably the best tonic for the blues and depressions, even without the venerable “Johnners” there are enough characters to give you a laugh, I leave you (for now) with this little classic!


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Written by curly

August 21, 2011 at 11:32 am

3 Responses

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  1. Would be interested in Kevin’s take on how he thinks we should deal with gangs and what I would describe as UK Chav sub culture. Watch “West Side Story”, or the De Niro film “A Bronx Tale” for perspectives on the 1950’s and 60’s teenage “street” and “gang culture” in USA, some obvious parallels to UK 2012; take note of how decent aspiring youngsters with good parents can be dragged down into criminality and street viciousness and violence. Years ago played in a rugby match v what was then called a” borstal”; opponents had an outstanding young fullback; chatted to him after the game, well spoken, personable, educated, 3 A levels, BUT, as he freely admitted “lived in the type of area, where he had a lot of friends who were getting into trouble, trouble which he got drawn into hence his presence in the borstal”. Often wonder what happened to him.


    August 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    • We are fortunate in the north east to be fairly free of ‘gang’ culture other than organised crime families who gain a reputation. You may remember the BOSS gang for instance. The stance taken in Glasgow as mentioned above is a variation on what already happens in our area. Youngsters are identified by agencies as being at risk from about the age of 8 and a variety of activities and inteventions are designed around them to guide them away from crime. I’m not sure if there is, as yet, any long term data that shows that these interventions, or those in Glasgow actually work.

      My own view on gangs is that teens try to emulate what adults do. They like to drink, they may smoke, they like to hang around in large groups and let their hair down. Just as some adults do in pubs (minus the smoking). They may do drugs, as do some adults and they wish to express themselves as adults, most adults are not confined in their activities so if they want to go to bed late they do, if they want to get drunk they do. Teens then can’t understand why the rules for the adult are not the same for them! Gangs also provide a sense of belonging, a code of conduct that the teen finds acceptable and also provided a social activity.

      The answer to gangs, if I am right, I’m not sure I am, would be to find family activities that provide the needs of the teen which are purposful to the wider society. However, all of this will fail if the adult parents cannot ensure that they provide the correct role model. Dosn’t matter if you are a single parent, unemployed poor or whatever you can still care for and love your chuildren and as a consequence show them how to be good members of society.

      I’m aghast at the amount of children and young teenagers who are simply allowed to roam the streets – whilst their parents have no idea at all of what they are doing. Much of the problems, in my opinion start at home. Good role models = good kids. Although I do know of some kids, who have had very poor role model fathers who steal, lie, drink and gamble the family’s money away, abuse their wife, yet some of the chuildren still come out the other end a bit damaged but able to contribute to society. I really don’t know the answer.

      Although the ‘moral panics’ that came from the 1950s and 1960s re Teddy Boys and Mods and Rockers never really emerged into any form of factuality in South Tyneside.


      August 22, 2011 at 5:34 pm

  2. Can’t wait for the first appearance of notorious local councillor and “Monkey Hunter” on TOWIE, now that will lighten the mood of our great nation, and provide better entertainment than was seen at the S of L , or at various cricketing venues during the Summer. We will be vajazzled and reemed into a gang that could not loot a Nike hoodie or a flat screen, and Cam Clegg’s broken record “broken society” will be mended for ever.


    August 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm

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