I'm panicking about my morals. According to Prog Con spokesman Mark Easton (BBC Home Affairs Editor) and Mr Aaronovitch, both the Major and I are in a moral panic. Indeed, Aaronovitch says this is "a fully-fledged moral panic", so we can't even comfort ourselves with the thought that it's only semi-fledged.
But - and I must say I'm ashamed to admit this - I've never been at all clear what a moral panic actually is. So I consulted Wiki:
"In sociology, a moral panic is a reaction by a group of people based on the false or exaggerated perception that some cultural behavior or group, frequently a minority group or a subculture, is dangerously deviant and poses a menace to society."
Ah - now I understand. It's like say a group of liberal media commentators falsely concluding that people who are concerned about knife crime are dangerously deviant and pose a menace to the progressive society. Ignoring the evidence, they'd whip up a panic about the morals of safestreets deniers, demonising them as Mary Whitehouse types who must be confronted lest they drag society back into the Dark Age of Thatch.
On a day when Gordo is admitting people no longer even feel safe in their own homes, and hospital admissions for serious violent assaults have risen by 30 per cent in four years, the Prog Con line that such fears are irrational and whipped up by the Daily Mail is frankly preposterous.
According to both the evidence of our own eyes, and the official stats, violent crime committed by young people is soaring. We've blogged this many times (eg here), but in summary:
- Recorded youth crime is increasing - between 2003 and 2006 (most recent figures), total offences rose from 184,474 to 222,750 in 2006 (up 21%).
- Violent youth crime is increasing - between 2003 and 2007, the number of under-18s convicted or cautioned over violent offences rose from 17,590 to 24,102, up 37%.
- Robberies are soaring -up 43% over the same period.
Let's just look again at the Youth Justice Board's own figures (lifted from Youth Justice Annual Statistics 2005/06):
(click on chart to enlarge)
As we can see, youth crime is up in virtually all categories, with violence against the person up by well over 50% - in just three years.
So do we safestreets deniers think all young people are evil (which is the way the Prog Con moral panickers always like to paint us)?
No, of course not. What we're saying is that there's a problem of public safety, especially affecting our own children, and we don't think our hopeless Prog Con driven rulers have got the slightest grip on it. We want dangerous people of all kinds taken off the streets. We want wishful thinkers like Sir Al Aynsley Green sent back to academia. We don't think community sentences work for violent yobs and we want them locked away.
It's as calm and simple as that.
PS Yes, those mods and rockers carried knives and bicycle chains too. But they were actually much less prone to use them to deadly effect. As we've possibly mentioned a few times, the homicide rate in the 60s was about 0ne-third today's level. Not that we have any idea why.
PPS The Home Office annual statistical summary Crime in England and Wales 2007/08 is due this week. As we mentioned over the weekend, it should make for interesting reading, although we should not forget this is one of the publications which have not been handed over to the "independent" ONS. Having the Home Office produce its own crime scorecard is deeply unsatisfactory, and it's a key reason why nobody believes the official crime stats. The Tories should hand it over to the ONS as soon as they get in.