Sunday, 24 January 2010

Edlington; A One Off or a Sign of Our Society?

I am sure most of you will have read the story of the two boys from Edlington who almost killed two others in the most horrific circumstances. The politicians assure us that despite the similarities with the Jamie Bulger case this is not reflective of our society. I disagree.

I have said before that I regularly attend partnership meetings with other agencies such as Social Services, Youth Offending Team, Education etc. where we discuss those young people that are causing concern in the community, usually by committing crime.

One child we discussed for five years was an 11 year old boy who became one of the youngest in the country to be made subject of an ASBO. He had also been excluded from school. He lived with his mother, who had no job. She spent her time sat at home drinking and smoking cannabis, which she shared with her son. The boy roamed the streets all hours and hung around with older boys committing offences, including harassing their neighbours. If any neighbours complained to the police the mother would be round their house threatening them.

Mother and son were regularly arrested for their behaviour but they threatened and intimidated witnesses and cases were dropped as witnesses refused to go to Court. We had intelligence that the boy was out committing knife point robberies and there were robberies in the area. The victims, who were also young people, either did not report the offences or refused to attend court as they were frightened for their future safety.

I wanted the family thrown out of their provided home and the boy put into care. I was scoffed at. The Housing Trust, Social Services and Youth Offending Team were only interested in convictions. Allegations and information that someone was committing offences counted for nothing in their eyes. It is pure luck that this boy did not become the murderous thug of the Bulger and Edlington cases. I suspect there are hundreds of similar cases waiting to become one.

This boy would have been far better off away from his mother in a decent loving home but there seems to be an over riding mentality in services that should be there to protect young people to leave them with their inadequate parents no matter what. Making excuses, doing nothing and hoping nothing major happens until they reach 18 when they can wash their hands of them seems to be the way they operate.

At the risk of getting into politics, what has gone wrong with our society that we are creating monsters like this? On the one hand we have the well educated and highly rewarded echelon with their huge salaries and bonuses. Is anyone really worth that much? And these people largely seem to be self interested gluttons rather than the philanthropists of the recent past.

On the other hand we have a significant part of our society that seems to be obsessed with celebrities and the idea that you can become somebody and rich just by appearing on television rather than working at school and getting a job and making something of your life. Your worth should depend on who you are not how much you are worth or how renowned.

The benefits system undermines the family. We have a responsibility to look after people, whether one-parent families or broken families, but we have created a society where broken families are the norm and living on benefits is a way of life rather than a safety net.

Banging out children should not mean a passport to a house and an all expenses paid lifestyle. The safety net needs to be there, but it needs to be tough to deter abuse of the system. The whole system should be designed to encourage the family unit. Families have to make choices; I reject the idea that you can have a career and bring up children. Most people cannot afford nannies and why have children if you want them brought up by the nanny and private education. For most of us, the mother or father needs to be at home while the other provides. The idea that you can have a career and children needs to be rethought for most people. Why bother having children if you are not going to bring them up with the love and time they need?

Incidentally, I hear the boys that murdered Jamie Bulger have been set up with new identities and lives in Australia. Have I missed something? I didn't think the Antipodes was a penal colony any longer.


  1. Our biggest problem is that we are now into the third generation of feral kids. Mum was/is no angel and gran still picks up any old feller when she's drunk. (No dad or granddad, as they are long gone.)

    Some parents have never been shown what parenting is about. They haven't had real parents of their own. Those of us who try to be decent parents have the angst that we don't know how good a job we're doing, but we know we get things wrong. In fact, if you actually try, and if you love your kids, you are unlikely to do much that will harm them, and will do a lot that will benefit them.

    In some areas intensive parenting courses have been shown to work. However, it's no use waiting for the kid's 33rd encounter with the police before putting these into action. It needs to be done at the second or third interacton (anyone can get it wrong once). Whilst this sounds expensive, consider the alternative.

    Without action, things will just get worse.

  2. Somehow, there has evolved in the UK a culture of irresponsibility. No-one is prepared to take the rap for stuff gone wrong. That includes government, 'charities', quangos, and, yes, the Police. The default position is deny responsibility until it is established beyond all doubt and then still cast doubt on it.

    How did we become so spineless? As MarkUK said "but we know we get things wrong". Indeed. Would we not have more respect for an organisation that honestly admitted 'Yes, we got that completely wrong: what can we do to make amends'?

    We truly have developed into a nation of cowards, concealers, and deniers.

  3. maybe one night the lad will fill his pockets with rocks, get too high and fall into the river and drown....saving you all the oxygen the little shit has been stealling.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Quote: "There are five adjectives which describe you: cruel, manipulative, perverse, disordered and pitiful. You used your own child as an instrument for your own disordered emotions. A mother is supposed to care for and nourish and love the young through childhood but that role was distorted. Your conduct led to phsysiological, psychological and emotional damage to your child".

    These weren't the words of the Judge to the parents of the two convicted boys who are the subject of this post, but they would likely fit the bill if those "parents" are subsequently prosecuted. So who was he directing them at? Lisa Hayden-Johnson, the woman who convinced doctors that her perfectly healthy son was "the most ill child in Britain". I think we have an empirically sound, researched and documented pattern of behaviour here..... again.

  6. The Bulger Killers are apparently still in the UK and Venables may have joined the army.

  7. The more agencies there are the less action. The more time spent co-ordinating things the less time spent making a difference. Talking about action has replaced action.

    Who ultimately decides that a child should be taken into care - a court? If so is there anything preventing the Police service (and other bodies) petitioning a court in such circumstances as described? Could Police forces scrap the choppers, undercover sportscars and showers and spend the money on that sort of thing instead? It sounds a lot like your Police force is at war with itself if youth offending teams aren't interested in preventing youth offending. Priorities are muddled across the public sector. If the current procedures are not working is there scope to work outside them? If one particular part of the public sector is preventing things from happening go around them.

    If the RSPCA can take out private prosecutions perhaps Police forces should too. If the Prison service cannot accomodate enough prisoners could Police forces club together and build and run some themselves? Local councils too. Local solutions to local crime problems, funded locally.

    Obfuscation is the natural order of things. Responsibility has been diffused to the point where no-one can take responsibilty. When things do go wrong it becomes a game of pin the blame on the donkey, scrabbling to find a scapegoat to take all of the blame rather than dish it out appropriately. Frequently 'the system' is blamed. Not enough resources. Not enough co-ordination. Not enough liasing. The problem is too much of those not too little. Less state is the answer to a failing state, not more.

    Benefits in kind not in cash. A bog standard weekly shop (or vouchers for) rather than fistfuls of taxpayer money might lessen the chance of taxpayers funding the drink, drug and mating habits of feckless parents whose children become feral cashcows.

  8. The law needs changing so that if children under the age of responsibility commit a crimes, the parents can be charged with that crime as if they had done it themselves.

  9. That post actually made me want to weep. Its fucking heart breaking to watch the decline of civilization, isn't it?

  10. You thought the Edlington pair were bad?

    They're amateurs...

    Oddly enough, nothing at all about the parents terrible home life driving this one to do what he did. I wonder why..?

  11. I work in several schools in a non-teaching capacity, and they all vary quite a bit. None are in the leafy suburbs.

    One in particular nearly makes me despair. The MOST Senior Management seem only to want to befriend the kids. The kids' families are poor and working (or shirking) class, so these middle class professionals obviously have some guilt thing going.

    Discipline is almost non-existant. No one will say "NO" to the kids, and mean it. There are some teachers, including some more junior members of senior management, who do their best. They're effectively undermined by the Most High.

    If parents won't teach kids the meaning of "no", then the school should. The only alternative to that, as Gadget has said, is that people in blue wooly pullies will end up being the ones to teach them, often when the kids are no longer kids. That means that an hour's detention becomes three months.

    Schools MUST make a difference or they are condemning many more kids than necessary to a criminal record. There will always be some incorrigibles. Kick them out of school before they contaminate the rest.

  12. HI!

    First time caller, long time listner here!

    As I hail from New Zealand, I can actually confirm for you that, Yes! Australia is still mainly inhabited by criminals and therefore the correct place to send those two.....errr.... people.

    It also explains a fair bit about their cricket team too.

  13. The biggest problem with our lost generation of feral kids is that the middle-class professionals who make all the decisions don't really believe it exists.

    Witness regular hand-wringing editorials in all of the quality press, bemoaning the evil police and their criminalisation of the Yoot.

    Decent people like to think that they and theirs wouldn't do anything criminal, so refuse to believe that there are families out there that cheerfully and wilfully wallow in filth and evil.

  14. Bingo, Gareth and Despair.

    I'd like to get the legion of yogurt knitters currently flocking to opine on the Edlington lads together in a room and ask them one simple question.

    Which of them - which individual person - was responsible for saying "NO!" to that pair, and meaning it.

    We all know the answer. None of them. And that just means that every single one of them is a worthless gobshite parasite pissing our tax money away on making the problem worse.

  15. My partner and I had criminal scum foisted next to us and it was impossible to do anything. Cops and Town Hall, MP and councilors all turned out to be lying scum as bad as the mad, vicious benefit sponsors thieves, drug dealers and arsonists we were lumbered with. 7 years to get rid.
    This blog is right, but the problem needs putting more strongly - how did we end up with such shits throughout our public sector and politics? Most of us are sound, so how do we let it happen?