I think the issue of the riots is pretty complicated and the problem is being confused over here by different political parties all trying to score points off each other. To me it breaks down into a few main issues:
1. How to deal with the criminals and make sure that they do not get off lightly but instead serve a decent/fair amount of time in prison or doing some hard work for the community. In the main, the Courts seem to be handing out stiff punishments so that is being handled nicely.
2. Making sure that the police have the training, manpower and freedom to police the streets and actually keep the peace. If this happens again (heaven forbid!) we don't want to see lines of police all standing watching looters and not tackling them. They are going to appoint a new Met Chief soon so they will probably choose one that has a good record against gangs and street crime - so that looks positive.
3. Dealing with the reasons behind why we have so many feral youths in ghettos who feel that it is OK to rampage, vandalise and steal at will with little or no moral control. This is going to be much harder but we can't just forget this issue - otherwise we'll always be complaining about the criminal underclass and street gangs. so ...
- Parents have to be taught how to raise children properly and give them decent values ...
- ... and the message needs to be reinforced in school with teachers having the power to discipline unruly kids.
- Politicians need to lead from the top and they must come down hard on bank/corporate/political criminals and show that class and wealth don't insulate people from hard justice.
- Police need to break the gangs and the drug dealers and regain the streets ...
- ... and the Courts need to hand out sentences that mean what they say. If a crime carries a 5-year term then give the convict 5 full years ... don't let them off with 1 or 2 years that are then reduced to 6-months because he was a good boy. Reduced prison terms must be earned by hard work and showing true remorse.
By all means let's build community centers and support community outreach initiatives that help kids find something good to do with their time. But we have to also remember that money must be spent on people who have earned it - we can't just reward looters with a bunch of new facilities. Also, we have been quick to hand out "rights" to everyone - now every kid or criminal knows their rights like a high-street lawyer ... but we're very poor at balancing it with "responsibilities" so some sections of society feel they have all the good bits without puttign anything back. A better balance has to be made.
Just my 2c
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