Frank Field MP
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We are all shamed

Is there not a link between the abuse Fiona Pilkington and her family suffered for more than a decade and Carol Hill, the dinner lady who spoke out to the parents of a girl being bullied at school?

I have found it impossible to read fully the reports of the decade long thuggery against Fiona Pilkington and her family. We have had examples like this in Birkenhead, although similar cases in which I was involved took place a few years ago now. I am not saying that there are no such examples in Birkenhead, but the pattern of gang warfare that Fiona suffered for a decade has subtly changed in Birkenhead.

I now get many, many more complaints about the behaviour of adults rather than young people. And I cannot help wondering whether it is some of those young thugs of yester year who have now graduated into being parents themselves.

If this is true then it is doubly dispiriting - dispiriting because of how these individuals wreck other people's lives. But dispiriting also because it denotes a change in what is up until now been a traditional pattern of ‘criminal' behaviour.

That pattern was for some working class lads to get themselves on the wrong side of the law. But this pattern of criminal behaviour for most would cease once they were into their twenties. Setting up home and beginning a family seemed to transform the lives of most of these lads.

That prospect now seems closed to many of them. Too many of them leave school without being able to read or write, are paid benefits indefinitely and never have a job.

Any partnerships they form are usually short-lived and the chaotic life style of the gang is reproduced in the home they form with their partners. Many of these partnerships appear transient.

Dealing with the yobbish behaviour of these families clearly calls for different skills than those needed to deal with the yobs that drove Fiona to commit suicide. Part of any strategy, but only part, is to break in to the supply chain of yobbish behaviour.

That is what Carol Hill tried to do in informing the parents of a little girl who she discovered tied up and being whipped by a group of boys at the school where she is a dinner lady. Mrs Hill has been sacked for unprofessional conduct.

The Sunday papers hint there may be more of this story to come out. But it is difficult to see what could come out that could overthrow the urgent need now to consider a network of laws and rules which make the exercise of a generous public spirit a sackable offence.

The big failure with Labour's anti social behaviour strategy has been that it is exclusively mechanical, and worse still, the machinery is largely run by middle class professionals who do not live in the areas most blighted by anti social behaviour.

The details being given at the inquest into the death of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter Francesca should silence any politician who claims that this strategy against anti social behaviour is working. But no serious rethink can begin without looking at the sacking of Carol Hill.

The aim must be to move back to a self-policing society where neighbours, friends, dinner ladies, voluntary workers, are all singing from the same hymn sheet. Part of this singing is to speak out, and, where possible, act against this tide of yobbism which has already begun to destroy what was once a relatively peaceful self-governing society.
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Showing comments 1 to 5 of 8

My wife and I live in the Hamilton Square area and know about the problems that we have seen in out area. The whole problem, I believe is down to permission. It seems that both the Police and the local authorities allow anti social behaviour to take place. If you don't believe me take a walk through Hamilton Square Gardens and see the drunks, the drug dealing, the outdoor sexual intercourse and general loutish behaviour. The reason that I say 'permission' is because nothing is done about the behaviour. It is ignored. if it wasn't brushed aside or under the carpet, it wouldn't continue. The whole of Birkenhead knows that the telephone box at the top of Price Street is used to order drugs. The bullying just follows on from what I have listed above. When offenders know that they can get away with the behaviour (they know it is wrong), they progress to another level.The benefits system does not aid the state with tackling this behaviour either. Let's be honest with ourselves, who would be anti social after a 12 hour shift? Lack of reading and writing skills is not an excuse, many older workmen can't read or write to a good standard but they do work. With the state paying for everything, it allows offenders to spend their time looking for fun that will destroy other's lives. In the animal kingdom, we deplore parasites but allow them in our society to feed off good honest 'working' class people. The term 'working class' comes from a time when the majority of work was undertaken by the lower classes. Last year we were in Paris when there was a European conference taking place. The official unemployment figure then was 5%. I'm not so good with figures but I believe that 5% of 60 million is 3 million. I wonder what it is now?I have heard politicians in the past (and I don't mean Mr. Field) state that the stopping of benefits would cause a crime wave. This is untrue. If there were a problem, the state could use the £250 plus per week that it costs to keep each parasite, to pay for an effective Police service. Officers presently do not have enough time to answer call outs, police the street and investigate reported crime. Fact.Give people an anonymous number that they can call to report crime but actually let them see the fruits of their calls. If you report a crime or particular behaviour, you very rarely see the result. Why??If you are wondering why honest people are unwilling to intervene, it's because they can themselves become victims and feel no protection by the Police. If you break up a fight or catch offenders you might be prosecuted for your interference. The pathetic low life that we feed and clothe now control the government, not vice versa.The name 'Labour' for a political party seems wrong as most of the voters probably don't undertake any and have no idea what working actually means.A fed up and annoyed local resident who has been a tax payer since schooling.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
Frank - I was just finishing this blog post and decided on a quick web search to see if I could find you writing about what I'd heard you say on the radio. Specifically, that local people should be assisted in using powers to act against anti-social people in their neighbourhood. When i found this post I was struck by the fact that you, too, made a connection to the case of Carol Hill.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
To the anonymous person who suggests that Frank is part of the problem created by the welfare state, may I just ask if they have ever read any of his views on welfare, how it restrains people from developing as individuals and how people should be helped out of it? It might be an idea to read that before opining that he is part of the problem...
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
when i was young the local adult males would happily intervene to make clear to out of order young males where the boundaries were, estates may have been rough but there was internal discipline and respect, there were role models to aspire to miners or similar, police were known but largely not needed as esates self policedcompare and contrast with today where any decent adult males will not intervene to break up a fight or whatever because there is too much chance they will end up being nickedand the only local role models are on the dole, criminals, or driving taxis without licences (i know about this 1st hand)and the schools on the worst estates are far and away the worst in the country, there is no chance for a clever kid born on one of these estates to escapethis is after years of labour rule
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
'The aim must be to move back to a self-policing society where neighbours, friends, dinner ladies, voluntary workers, are all singing from the same hymn sheet. Part of this singing is to speak out, and, where possible, act against this tide of yobbism which has already begun to destroy what was once a relatively peaceful self-governing society.'Hear, hear.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011

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