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Wednesday, 13 December, 2000, 10:38 GMT
Yob culture - do we need a crackdown?
Combating crime is to be at the top of Labour's agenda in the coming parliamentary year.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Proposals include penalties for offences of disorderly behaviour, and a ban on drinking alcohol in the street. Child curfew schemes are to be extended to those aged 9 to 15.
It's all part of the government's determination to tackle what it calls the "yob culture" in what could be the last parliamentary year before a general election.
Are the problems exaggerated? Or is there a yob culture that needs to be tackled? Do we need a crackdown or is the focus on petty crime a deflection from more important issues?
Colin Wright of the UK says that people should be more tolerant of 'yobbish' behaviour. The fact you can't walk the streets at night in safety and in some places the day neither. Elderly people are imprisoned in their homes after dark and live in fear of break-ins or worse. Children are at risk of being bullied. Then, when the government attempts to do something about it up pop the Mr. Wrights, who are responsible for the mess Britain finds itself and wants to leave the country presumably to take his "tolerance" elsewhere.
Why do people continually criticise the Government for wanting to eliminate yobbish behaviour? Isn't everyone else sick of this "me, myself and I attitude"? A select group of people seem more concerned that the pubs stay open that extra hour than the lives of the more vulnerable. The Government are raising suggestions not implementing these regimes. Would these freedom seekers prefer a total lassiez-faire attitude instead? They'll be the first to complain once on the receiving end!
Change the licensing laws, simple as that so that people don't have to '"panic buy" because pubs close at 11. You won't eradicate street violence, but I'm certain it will be reduced dramatically. This will ease pressure on police and other emergency services, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
Richard Hood, UK
Some yobbish behaviour has increased because the licensing hours have been extended allowing youngsters to drink even more pints in an evening - reduce the licensing hours for clubs and bars.
Colin Wright, UK
'Yob culture' is more of a social problem than a political one. I feel that the young generation in the developed world have got the 'things' they want a bit too easily. It's not surprising then that they do not realise the importance of the struggle and sacrifices of their parents over the last few decades. A solution to such problems should start at the family level. Imposing it on the young people by bringing in new laws will, if anything, worsen the situation further.
Mike H, Bristol, England
Having taught at a large secondary comprehensive school, I see that many problems arise from difficult family situations. Bullying, loutish behaviour in the classroom and the general lack of enthusiasm to want more in life seems to be rife, especially amongst boys. Having a little boy myself, I am very keen to instil a good sense of community spirit and to show him that good behaviour reaps reward. Perhaps we should look within the family to find out whether the laddish culture can be stemmed there. I left teaching because I wasn't willing to be a baby-sitter for 13+ year olds!
You can only downsize and underpay/ overwork the police for so long until cracks start to appear. It's happened with the trains and now it's happening with the police with the rise of easily avoidable crime.
We need more police on the streets and diversion of resources away from the time wasting less important 'problems' such as people doing 3 mph over the speed limit, to the things that matter such as providing 'visible policing' to deter troublemakers on our streets and estates.
Being only 19 myself and working at a school allows me to see this from a different perspective. I don't think it's fair to criticise 'all young people' as being yobs. There are plenty of respectable, well behaved young people in the UK and it's a small (but growing) minority of people spoiling it. These 'on the spot' fines may do the trick but it depends on whether the person is too intoxicated to remember where that £100 has disappeared out of their bank account.
There is a problem with loutish and vile behaviour not only by the young, but by supposedly intelligent adults. This is not a problem unique UK. Some parts of Amsterdam are more violent, violence in North America is made worse by the use of guns. In my view "gutter" television encourages this behaviour by exposing kids and adults alike to violence, the get rich by any means culture and the free use of foul language.
Yob culture is socially acceptable these days. It is a selfish, hedonistic culture where no thought is given to anyone else. To me, this mirrors society in this country, where people want cheaper petrol without a thought for the environment, lower taxes without a thought for the effects on health and education.
If only we as a society could be convinced that it is OK to pay more to safeguard the environment and to pay for health and education then maybe we'd be on the way to building a better society where people care for other people. In my dreams.
I have a solution; on convicting a yob why not publish their photo and home address in the local paper. If it's a teenage yob, publish the parents' details as well so we know who is responsible for making it that way.
S Blake, Ireland
This problem cannot be underestimated; there must be something essentially wrong with British society for children to have such violence and unhappiness in their lives. There is a great sense of insecurity in the minds of these youngsters, but I think this is a generational thing synonymous with Britain's general political and moral decline.
I wonder if 18 years of "ME FIRST" culture had anything to do with it?
The single biggest thing the government could do to reduce street yobbishness is to change the drinking laws. Our working lives are getting longer and more stressful all the time but the government dictates that we must stop socialising at 11 o clock.
Quite simply, we need a more mature attitude to alcohol and socialising but until the Government stops treating us like children by telling us what time to go home it is not going to happen.
I have worked in Germany for two years now and like D. Angelo (München), I feel safer walking in the streets here at night than in England. It is a sad state of affairs but conscription and ID cards are the things we need in the UK. Curfews are not the way to go because it is not a police state (yet!) and they will not solve the problem.
I am a 16 year old and disgusted with the society of today. Things are continuing on a downward trend, even from when I was a child.
Peter Facey, UK
I recollect that from August 1st it became illegal to ride a bike on the pavement. How many prosecutions have there been for that offence I wonder?
This Government is all talk and no action.
Until the police enforce the law there's no hope for us. They have completely lost the plot and soon people will be taking the law into their own hands.
The yobbish behaviour some of us experience at the moment is a symptom of poor parental control and school staff who are no longer permitted to impose discipline. Police are for the most part no longer visible and clearly should be! ID cards are frequently mentioned. Being an ex-serviceman of 30+ years standing, I have found them in most cases to be a distinct advantage. Those who disagree probably have something to hide.
There has never been a British government willing to tackle the problem full on. The British public has argued for many a year for "get tough" measures but no one has ever delivered. Why should any of us expect any different from what is afterall just "another" government?
Police will have the power to close rowdy pubs and clubs. Does anyone seriously think that this will stop 'Yobbish behaviour'? Or is it more likely that the patrons of such establishments will move onto another pub?
The problem of young people loitering on street corners is one that needs to be addressed as the Government has finally realised.
BUT what they haven't realised is that they are treating the symptoms not destroying the disease and they need to focus on the cause
Andy O' Carroll, UK
I imagine that most people who write in are middle aged and have forgotten what the 'good old days' were really like. A lot of the problems we have today are not new, they always been there. Of course we all welcome changes that make our lives more pleasant and safer but let's try to keep the problems in perspective.
I think much of the petty crime and violence by young people is a result of alcohol. I believe you should have to be 21 to purchase alcohol in an off-license. This will be easier to administer than have the police confiscating drink.
This sounds harsh but it would stop 12-17 year olds getting alcohol bought for them by older friends.
Chris (ex-UK), Germany
The approach will not stop the Yob culture. It will exist until parents accept responsibility for the actions of their children. Equally, libertarians should note, they talk about infringing these young people's human rights - surely the victims' human rights are more important. While people try to justify these young people actions by blaming the government, schools or whoever, in other words excuses and responsibility is laid firmly at their door the problem will exist. Perhaps we should curfew parents - that might make then accept responsibility.
Justin Ashdown, USA
Once a crime has been committed, the rights of the victim have already been violated. Ignoring the right of the SUSPECT to be presumed innocent, and be entitled to a fair trial and humane treatment in a civilised society does not make the victim feel better. Especially when, as so often happens, the justice system gets the wrong man and has to eat humble pie ten years later. What does that do for the rights of the victim?
If, as so many people seem to believe, it's all the fault of the welfare state why has the USA got relatively more problems than us and Sweden relatively less?
A parent leaves the house early one night to pinch car radios, so the children can have Christmas presents. Like father? Like son?
We should go back to the old way of policing. If you pick someone up who is drunk and disorderly on Friday keep them in jail until Monday when the judge can see them. One sheet of paperwork for the police and a £100 fine for the yob - simple and effective.
These proposals have nothing to do with prevention, but are merely attempts, and poor ones, at masking the symptoms of a deeper problem. Just ask yourself whether an individual youth, inclined towards such 'anti-social behaviour' is going to be magically reformed by being told he/she's not allowed out in the evening... or not. And given that police success at stopping the illegal activities like vandalism etc which constitute this behaviour, why should we imagine for a minute that they will have any more success with the responsibility for rounding up and sending home children after nine o'clock?
The idea idea is ill-thought out and an attempt to distract from the fact that the societal root causes of the behaviour of disengaged youth are not being addressed.
I am a serving police officer based at a reasonably busy London Police Station. I have served over 25 years and cannot believe the rubbish that is being spouted by our so-called politicians. Over the past ten years there has been a lack of commitment, leadership, and more importantly COMMON SENSE.
The powers that be, have been moving officers from one borough to another without any rhyme or reason. The officer having served ten maybe twenty years on his "patch" has a wealth of knowledge, he KNOWS who is committing crime. But oh no he gets transferred to the other side of London. There are other operational decisions taken by people that you would not believe but hey "I'm outa here shortly". God help us....
Anthony Little, Norwich, UK
For far too long adults have put their desires ahead of the needs of children. Mummy and Daddy are allowed, legally, to go off and marry someone else as soon as life at home gets tough. Who's left to fend for him/herself in a home containing at least one adult who, in most cases, would just as soon the child was elsewhere? The child.
Fathers and mothers are not entitled to put their desires first - they have only one important task to be completed before they die and that is to ensure that the next generation has been raised to be responsible citizens.
I have no problem with the police arresting people genuinely yobbish people, but these measures effectively criminalize whole groups of people regardless of whether they are actually doing any harm.
I live in a town where the police station closes in the evenings and weekends, and in a borough where the police commissioner has admitted that there is not enough staff to police the area. Is it any wonder that violent assaults, muggings, shop theft and vandalism regularly feature in the local newspaper headlines? Put more police on the streets, and preferably ones without criminal records of their own.
We need to change the way we look at things and focus on the criminal. Leave our doors open, walk through the wrong part of town, take your shutters off - let's see who comes to call and prosecute effectively.
We have to believe we can somehow turn the tide and get back to how it was when we could leave our doors unlocked and let our children walk to school on their own.
I propose a crackdown on Tony Blair's empty rhetoric. It might not cure street crime but the reduction in hot air could prevent global warming.
There one very simple solution to this problem: Legalise cannabis.
I think Tony Blair's spin-doctors have been at work again and this crackdown is motivated only by the need of the Labour party to win the next general election. Personally I feel that city and town centres in the evenings where a lot of the alcohol-related crimes are committed are a lot safer than they used to be five years ago and that this whole episode has emerged out of the media blowing things out of proportion. Sensible ideas like reforming licensing laws, better town planning and providing alternative recreation facilities would be a good idea. Messing around with people's civil rights is not !
I have to agree with several others on this page. The UK should introduce ID cards. Also punishments for this type of behaviour should be much stricter.
I feel that 'yob culture' is a direct result of the lack of discipline in the home and at school. The children of today feel that they can get away with anything, the Bulger case is a prime example.
Measures like compulsory school uniform, even corporal punishment, should be considered as steps to restoring discipline. Designer clothes and mobile phones have no place in the school.
One way of combating this so called 'yob' culture is to abandon the medieval licensing laws we have in this country, which also help to make us a laughing stock the world over.
Michael Gahan, Ireland
How is a ban on drinking alcohol in the street supposed to help? Surely this will merely increase the binge drinking before closing time, which is already encouraged thanks to our archaic drinking laws.
Stopping people drinking and staying out late is not going to cure the underlying problems. What we have here is a lack of basic moral values. Most people go out get drunk have a bit of fun and go home, but there are some people who's 'bit of fun' is threatening people, fighting and vandalising public property. These are the people who need social re-education in the basics of what is right or wrong.
Mark, Germany (ex UK)
There is no need to have a clampdown on yobbish behaviour, why not promote it in tourist brochures explaining to visitors that this could happen in their countries if they fail to explain to their children that education is a privilege rather than a right.
At least Tony and the government is taking action - albeit 3 years too late. Feel free to throw stones at this proposal - but what have the Conservatives got to suggest? Hmm... thought so. And as JS points out, Tony has got a young son - so one couldn't argue that he is 'out of touch' - far from it.
Until the Police demonstrate they take all crimes seriously then crime will increase because the criminal element believe they either won't be caught or if they are, they won't be punished. I advocate putting the Army on the streets and shooting thieves with rubber bullets. Crime would certainly decrease and if it didn't then they should use real ones.
I still believe in National Service - a bit of discipline would sort them out
Ian Atkins, GREAT Britain
In the developing world and third world countries like India, parental responsibility is taken very seriously indeed and it is the parents who relax the discipline of when and how late children could stay out, as they grow and develop. In the regimented western societies, it would appear that either the parents have abdicated their parental responsibilities to the state or the state has abrogated the parental rights
to such an extent that a uniform state curfew is imposed on children
irrespective of the individual circumstances of the children concerned. Surely this is an area of human affairs from where the frontiers of state should be rolled back!
Pete, UK obviously lives in a part of the UK where the children are all sweetness and light and wouldn't hurt a fly. I live in a supposedly well-to-do market town in the North and yet the little darlings hang around street corners at night drinking. They've also been responsible for throwing stones and fireworks at passing cars. If the government plans to put a stop to this then it's fine by me.
Firstly, the proposed curfew would only apply to areas with a persistent youth crime problem where youths are engaged in such activities as joy riding and gang violence. Often the police know who these individuals are and where they frequent. Isn't it about time the police were given the power to stop the small percentage of presently "untouchable" youths from intimidating society in what are too often less affluent areas? The vast majority of youths behave in a responsible manner; don't let the bleeding heart liberals muddy the distinction between the youthful high jinx of the many and the serious crimes against property and individuals committed by the few.
Money for education, for policing and for programmes of rehabilitation and the lack of it, is at the root of most criminal social problems. With government after government more concerned with image than performance and a media-indoctrinated general public complacent and oblivious, what more can we expect? You simply can't fix a problem in a year or two that has been building for decades.
Each generation has its own yobs - this is not a new phenomenon. You only have to look at the Seventies with their jack-booted National Front and the Pistols calling for 'Anarchy in the UK' or the Fifties with the Mods and Rockers fighting on Margate and Brighton beaches. The worry is that today's kids aren't fighting the Establishment - there's nothing left to fight for. Rather, they form small, unrelated groups without a purpose other than teenage kicks. We've taught them they have rights but we've done a pretty poor job of teaching them that they have responsibilities too. I sincerely hope that the Government's got its finger on the pulse with this one.
This problem is symptomatic of a Government whose only interest is in people who are of an age where they can vote. Is it really any surprise when youths lash out against a system that does not care?
Alex B, UK
What on earth is Tharg talking about? The only thing the US has which MIGHT be considered compulsory ID card is the driver's license. Bartenders and liquor sellers are required to ask for the DL if they believe the purchaser to be underage. But it's hardly a national compulsory ID, as not everyone drives. If you don't own a car or drive, you aren't required to have a driver's license.
I find it interesting that people are focusing on parents of yobs, claiming that no one takes responsibility for anything any more. It is true. But it extends throughout UK society. Who was punished for the BSE debacle. Anyone remember the Scott Inquiry? What about Railtrack? As long as the politicians & administrators in power continue to pass the buck, the lack of responsibility evident in the UK today will continue to thrive.
If you feel strongly enough about how bad things are, do something useful about it. As Margaret Meade said, the only thing that has ever made a difference is the actions of a small group of committed people.
Am I the only person who had to read this twice to believe it? Reducing yob culture is one thing, but these proposals sound more like something out of a movie: banning kids under 15 from going out after 9pm: come on, what about kids walking home from scouts!
If we carry on like this, we're going to end up in a situation where children have to be assigned a "personal supervisor" as soon as they are born in order to ensure that Big Brother can monitor exactly what they are doing!
Let's have some compassion for these "yobs" and let's look much more closely at the damage our "democratic" consumer culture is doing us all.
Bring back national service, and bring in ID cards, before its too late!
I am dismayed at how intolerant, narrow minded & Victorian this government has become & I'm a Conservative!
"Yobbery" is very hard to define, people automatically think of working class drunks or football hooligans, but what about the "Hooray Henry" louts often seen at events such as Ascot, Henley & England Rugby matches out of their minds on alcohol and singing offensive songs especially towards women. It seems that if you have a posh accent & money then you are "high spirited", but if you are ordinary then you are a dangerous yob. Poverty, lack of opportunity and overbearing consumer pressure are more important issues than a yob crackdown. Building community, trust in others and common beliefs and goals are the key to this. My message to Mr Straw is seriously tackle these issues and yob culture will be destroyed.
I'm quite happy living in a country with ID cards. Britain needs the same thing and needs to punish EVERYONE who assaults someone or decides to wreck something. I feel a million times safer here!
Duncan King, Scotland
Too true there is a problem with the yob culture in this country.
However I am not too sure that these proposals will make any difference apart from
increasing bureaucracy for the police. It is about time we bought back corporal punishment for these types of offences.
How many yobs do you see abusing people in the streets in Singapore ?
Forget the liberals and do-gooders and make people aware of being responsible for their own actions.
If the consequences of doing wrong are feared then the level of it happening drops.
A few strokes of the cane as a punishment would make most young yobs and criminals out to cause trouble think more than twice!
It is difficult to say if Britain's crime scene is exaggerated or not without living there. But sitting thousands of miles away from the scene of action and relying on media reports, including the authentic BBC, one does get the impression that crime needs to be checked in the UK before it gets worse.
Even if the present focus is on tackling petty crime, it is most welcome. Remember that today's hardened criminals began their crime career perhaps as petty thieves.
The British Government's plans to levy penalties for disorderly behaviour, end drinking alcohol in the streets and extend child curfew schemes to children aged 9 to 15 are all timely steps in the right direction. This hopefully will clip the wings of the "yob culture" and thereby bring down the crime rate.
Tharg Thargson, UK
A crackdown on crime is all well and good, but as usual, Tony's proposals are going to affect honest decent people. A change in licensing laws would be a much better way to improve the situation. I witnessed some terrible examples of this so-called "anarchy in the streets" in Bristol this weekend. The source of the problem? Five takeaway outlets and a taxi rank within 100 hundred metres, and a noticeable lack of police presence. Stiffer penalties for violent behaviour must also be considered.
This seems to me to be yet another example of a Government bereft of original ideas on law and order.
If you start to question this concept, you quickly realise how silly and unworkable it is. What will be the definition of 'yobbish' behaviour? Is it loud singing, rough horseplay? How will it be decided when you have stepped over the line? How will you be fined? What if you have no ID, cash or credit cards on you? Can you appeal to a court? (Bearing in mind that everyone has the right to a fair trial now, a fact that Jack 'Boot' Straw seems to have forgotten).
As these questions mount you soon begin to see that that this Government is trapped in a 'Zero Tolerance' ideology and fails to see how ridiculous (and injust) they are becoming.
Kevin Brown, UK
We have a serious problem with yob culture. The drinking laws may have something to do with it, but it is mainly the fact that nobody believes they will ever be punished for criminal behaviour.
We need to come down hard and fast on the yobs themselves and, when they are young, the mothers and fathers, who all too often don't care where or what their children are up to.
My feeling is that there is a general lack of respect whether it be for age, the person, property or the rule of law. In my opinion the reason for this can only be nurture, not nature.
John B, UK
Yob culture is a long-term problem and must be tackled with long-term solutions. I think a "crackdown" would be too drastic and would only aggravate the current problem. The first step in tackling yob culture must be to challenge the current notion that alcohol must be consumed as fast as possible in order to have a good time. People would get less drunk and act less violently if they could drink at a leisurely pace without having to keep looking at their watches. The current licensing laws are largely to blame for most yobbish behaviour. Drinkers simply try and fill their tanks as quickly as possible before closing time and then spill out onto the streets all at once. I have lived in France, Belgium, The Netherlands and I have only rarely witnessed any yobbish behaviour on the streets of these countries at night, despite the fact that much of the beer they sell is a great deal stronger!
Carl Brook, UK
So does this mean Tony is going to ground Euan and curtail his loutish drinking habits? Good idea.
I think that there's a problem with street violence in the UK. When I come back to the country I do not feel as safe as I do in Sweden. Assault is not punished severely enough.
04 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Teen curfews 'to combat yobs'
05 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Yobs at centre of Queen's speech
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