Page last updated at 09:34 GMT, Friday, 10 April 2009 10:34 UK

Tory vow to fix 'broken Britain'

Chris Grayling
Mr Grayling says violence between children is becoming the 'norm'

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling has called for a clampdown on youth violence in the wake of the "grotesque" attack on two young boys in Doncaster.

He said in a speech that the incident should serve as a "wake-up call" for "Broken Britain".

The victims of the attack, aged nine and 11, are still receiving treatment after being attacked on Saturday.

Ministers said Britain was not broken and many volunteer groups were working to improve life in communities.

On Tuesday two brothers aged 10 and 11 appeared in court charged with attempted murder.

The boys, who are also charged with robbery, were remanded into the care of the local authority and will appear at Doncaster Youth Court again on 14 April.

The younger of the injured boys has given a brief account of what happened to detectives but the other boy has not yet spoken to police.

'Difficult process'

Speaking to the Policy Exchange think tank, Mr Grayling said the Doncaster attacks provide a "stark snapshot" of Britain's "Broken Society".

He went on: "The incident in Doncaster this week should serve as a wake-up call for our nation. Thankfully, events as grotesque as this one involving such young children remain pretty rare.

Minor criminality committed by younger teenagers so often leads to worse if it goes unchecked
Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary

"But violence between children is becoming too much of a norm. The event in Doncaster is only the latest and probably the worst example of a whole series of incidents where children are killing or maiming other children.

"Knife murders of teenagers by other teenagers have become all too commonplace on the streets of some of our cities."

He said fixing the "broken society" will be a "long and difficult process"

"But one step we can take quickly is to go to war on anti-social behaviour because the minor criminality committed by younger teenagers so often leads to worse if it goes unchecked," he will say.

'Clear consequences'

He pledged to "go to war" on anti-social behaviour in an effort to stop it escalating as youngsters get older and he will say it is time to "reclaim the streets" from groups of drunken yobs smashing window and vandalising cars.

And he called for police to be given more discretion in dealing with young people, call for "instant community punishments" for serious anti-social behaviour.

Head teachers should be given powers to exclude pupils and not have their decisions overruled, said Mr Grayling.

The vast majority of young people are decent and hard working, he said, but find themselves victims of crime.

Even in the most deprived communities you see hundreds of dedicated volunteers working hard to give people a better chance in life
Liam Byrne
Cabinet Office minister

He set out a series of principles for tackling anti-social behaviour.

There should be "clear consequences" for youngsters who commit crimes, and their parents should not be allowed to "abdicate" responsibility.

And schools should have a much "tougher" approach to indiscipline and adults who allow youngsters to misbehave - by selling them alcohol or drugs, should face stiffer penalties.

Liam Byrne, Cabinet Office minister, said many volunteers around the country were working to improve life in their communities.

"There have been some tragic stories recently. But Britain isn't broken - even in the most deprived communities you see hundreds of dedicated volunteers working hard to give people a better chance in life.

"We are on their side, backing them with investment in schools, training and greater support for charities.

"Chris Grayling's warm words for voluntary groups, scouts and local sports schemes for young people are disingenuous when the Tory policy of cuts to government investment would put at risk our funding of these groups."

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