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Tony Makara

As David Cameron says there are several dimensions to social breakdown and yob culture.

At the family end its important for parents to understand that what their child does will effect them, parents need to understand that their responsibility for the child does not end because the child is away from home or at school.

At the social end, we as a society must be on the look out for and report acts of anti-social behaviour, either to the community groups, the council or the police. If a gang of lads are gathered at the back of an old garage drinking cider, then pick up the phone and report it, where possible let their parents know.

At the policing end, our police force must be freed of paperwork and allowed to become a presence on the beat again. Regular foot patrols in problem areas will soon have an effect. When youngsters are caught drinking, taking drugs and vandalism etc, their parents must be prosecuted for not having taken due care of the child.

Yet Another Anon

Conservatives are, of course, more realistic about the limits of government action in reversing the tide of yobbery that is generating so much anxiety and misery throughout Britain.
Views within all the political parties on what can be done varies a lot, there are people in both Labour and the Conservatives who feel that in Crime & Justice above all else government can do a significant amount to sort things out, and there are many in all 3 main parties who feel it is down to local communities, and there are people with views inbetween and there are people who think it is a combination of factors.

Liberals tend to split between those who are optimistic about what can be achieved through the power of persuasion as opposed to actual action which they see as negative, and there are those who just despair and think there is little that can be done about it; and then there are more realistic people who want tough action by government and empowerment of the police and local communities giving powers to deal with yobs, obviously other things also play a part such as general cohesion in society, but a breakdown in authority so far as dealing with crime goes is one of the reasons why anarchism and liberalism are doomed to create failure.

Yet Another Anon

>>>>Conservatives are, of course, more realistic about the limits of government action in reversing the tide of yobbery that is generating so much anxiety and misery throughout Britain.<<<<<
That bit should have been in italics.

Jonathan Sheppard

Individuals and families can do much more to instill discipline and values into young people, but evey day I see incidents which really make you wonder. Where I live you see kids riding without lights on their bikes, or using those tiny motorbikes on footpaths - uninsured. You then see a police car go past - who clearly must be able to see these kinds of incidents, and they do nothing. You then really ask yoursef if the police aren't bothered - why should I be. It's a natural human reaction, and I think much more needs to be done to address why more and more people I speak to seem to be losing respect in the police.

Dave Bartlett

" and to back up others who do"

I wonder if the feeling that the state (police/CPS) would NOT back you up if push came to shove, has an influence.


What can a middle aged parent do with offspring who have become murderous scum, if they try to stand up to them they will be beaten senseless themselves or if they chastise the "child" they will be arrested by the police for common assault.
The same applies to any member of the public who decides to get involved at the scene of a crime.
The state is the only force that can intervene and solve this problem. It is useless now to cite long term strategies as the answer because if you do then you are consigning thousands of innocent people to injury and death over the coming years.
There is one answer only and that is to identify the perpetraters and incarcerate them permanently. What is needed now is a shock to go through this thug culture and I am afraid the only weapon which will work is fear. If capital punishment was reintroduced then the cowardly thugs would cease to be so bold and the "execution" of innocent people on the streets would cease.


This is an excellent article, Cameron, and I commend you and other people who stand up to such thugs - sometimes with dreadful consequences. However, the Government has failed to get a grip on teenage crime and imaginative policies are needed to address this issue.


About the most I have done is to have occasionally asked people in trains to turn down music (often using those ghastly so-called ‘personal’ sterios or I Pods), and I have come to no harm. But I do weigh up the risks and chances of success.

However, I think exhortations to the public to ‘have a go’, even a “modest increase in our personal bravery” certainly in situations potentially more dangerous, is extremely irresponsible and a dereliction of responsibility on behalf of the state. Enforcement of law and order, punishment for wrongdoing and protection of the law-abiding majority is the duty of the state – and as a Conservative I do believe this is one area the state has a big role!

More police on the streets to enforce peace and law & order on the streets is the short-term answer. Longer term, as IDS says, the married family needs to be rebuilt with marriage encouraged as this statistically produces a more stable context for children to grow up in, and it is the family where the young are taught boundaries and right and wrong. The traditional enforcement of authority by traditional authority figures (fathers, teachers and police) needs to be restored.

Often the most the public can be expected to do is report anti-social behaviour to the police. Confronting single-handed a load of rowdy youths mucking around outside on a Friday or Saturday night? Not likely!

Brian Wood

My daughter lives in Singapore and has no concerns about going out alone in the evenings because there is little or no incidence of bad or threatening behaviour there. The reason is that the individuals who might perpetrate such acts know the consequences from the authorities, including corporate punishment. It is the fear factor that works together with the visible policing.

She is well travelled so can speak from experience of poor behaviour in a number of countries


Two simple things could make a difference;

Stop sending out beat police officers in pairs! It's rare to see an officer on patroll, but if you do,you'll see two of them.
Why? In pairs, they chat, they stay in eye contact and they don't notice what is happening around them.
They also cover half the ground of seperate officers.

Bring back "stop and search".
I don't even know whether police officers are allowed to stop youths and search them for weapons or drugs. I'm sure they are, but are intimidated by race groups to avoid offending black youths. They are also fed up with the paperwork involved in a single "search".
Senior police officers should encourage searches of likely offenders and should back their men up when the usual leftie whining begins. Random searches of "likely lads" will be a disincentive to carry drugs or a weapon, especially if say, possesion of a knife carries a stiff custodial sentence. As someone elsewhere has suggested: anyone searched should simply be handed a card with the officer's name on it.

Andrew Robertson

3 things need to happen

1. Treble police on streets asap

2. Build borstals - as many as are needed

3. Start locking up these scum

Only until we do this will we have safer streets

Matt Wright

In reality we have to address the symptoms first while genuinely working on the causes long term. Until criminals recognise that they will be caught and will be punished firmly and quickly, the problems will get worse. The simple fact is that most crime is committed by a few young men. Others watch this and see them getting away with it and either despair/walk away or join the gangs. This cycle could be broken quite quickly with practical action and political will. Our party must take this head on,



May I be Devil's Advocate for this evening and suggest allowing the public to arm themselves, American-style?

Graeme Archer

Very brave and moving article. Cameron has experienced first-hand that which many of us fear. I did once successfully tell two children on the tube to switch off their noisy phone, and they did, to the joy of the carriage, but they were about 8!, else I wouldn't have dared. We have allowed children to feral-ise and to take over our public spaces; it makes me more angry than nearly anything else in modern Britain.

Cameron should be saluted for this disclosure - it can't have been easy to write - and it's very moving.

THis really is an area for 'and' not 'or', to apply the fundamental theorem of Conservative Home. Yes we need more policemen and to imprison those committing crime. BUT we need more than this. You could line Oxford Street with policeman and have a prison in every town - it would not tackle the degeneration in civilised behaviour which used to be taken for granted in our shared public spaces. Interpersonal aggression - evinced through the playing of loud 'music' [it's actually almost never music - no-one has ever asked me to turn down the Handel on my iPod], the screaming of 'conversations' [which are usually sub-literate gibberish], the casual messiness and in-yer-faceness of too many people: none of these are crimes. The solutions for this will not, cannot be 'big bang' (and I distrust anyone who claims that it is: I think their eyes are likely to shine just that *bit* too brightly), but must be a set of small things that will add up to a gentle and incremental re-civilisation of the public space. Viz support for marriage, respect for fathers, binding contracts on behaviour at schools, and *yes* some of that stuff that can somewhat woolly: proper provision of after-school clubs for young people so that there really is an alternative to hanging around in gangs.

This is why ramping up the third sector is so important. This is what we mean by Social Responsibility.

Ben Rogers

Cameron, thank you very much for an excellent article and for sharing your experiences. Last night I saw - not for the first time, but perhaps in the most extreme form - anti-social behaviour, on a train from Waterloo to Motspur Park just beyond wimbledon at about midnight. I had been out for a really enjoyable dinner with some friends, and was on the train home ... suddenly, people started filing through the carriage I was in in large, large numbers. Surprisingly, most of them were calm and orderly - and I did not realise what was going on at first. Then behind all the ordinary people filing through came a gang of obscene thugs - including a large number of hideous, overweight and underdressed, drunk and obnoxiously loud girls. They really made me feel sick - and I thought that if this is what English girls are like, no wonder I am still single!! They were shouting obscenities at the top of their voices. Following them came a man with blood on him, chased by a topless thug who was completely drunk. They were obviously in a fight. The first man tried to close the door between the carriages, but the second man thumped and thumped at it (I was in the seat right next to it), until it gave way and he then pursued the first man. Blood was spattered over the door. The train came to a halt before reaching wimbledon, and then moved after a while into wimbledon station - where it was surrounded by police running hither and thither. After a little while, all was quiet and we moved on. In this instance, it was - as far as I know - just a fight amongs a gang of extremely hideous yobs and yobbesses. I was not embroiled, and no one outside the gang was harmed (except being rather shaken, and our eardrums damaged). But even so, even though no guns and possibly even no knives were used, it was intimidating, frightening and disrupting for all the other normal, peaceful, law-abiding, decent passengers who were travelling home after an enjoyable night out. I guess what I witnessed was the mild side of today's yobbery - and even that was horrible. I left the train feeling positively sick with Britain today.

Bob B

"I reflected that many have come off much worse when challenging anti-social behaviour."

Could it be that is precisely what is promoting the current surge in the possession and use of guns?

"The Home Office figures - which exclude crimes involving air weapons - show the number of deaths and injuries caused by gun attacks in England and Wales soared from 864 in 1998-99 to 3,821 in 2005-06. That means that more than 10 people are injured or killed in a gun attack every day."

Vigilante patrols are the logical - and probably inevitable - extension of David Cameron's suggestion about taking personal responsibility to stop anti-social behaviour.

We have armed air marshalls nowadays to curb terrorist attacks on passenger planes in flight, why not armed marshalls on the tube to take out the anti-social yobs?

Bob B

Taking responsibility - is this the way of the future?

"On December 22, 1984, Bernard Goetz, otherwise known as the 'subway vigilante,' shot four young men in a Manhattan subway car after he said the men threatened him and tried to rob him."

Jennifer Wells

Graeme Archer: " I did once successfully tell two children on the tube to switch off their noisy phone, and they did, to the joy of the carriage, but they were about 8!, else I wouldn't have dared."


Simon Denis

So far - thank goodness - I have not had an experience as terrible as Ben Rogers. This is partly due to extreme caution. My greatest aim in this dangerous country is to live a sheltered life. This doesn't mean that travelling on a domestic train in the evening or early afternoon is guaranteed to be pleasant. Alone in a first class carriage some months ago I found myself surrounded by hyper active fourteen year olds. They had no right - I am fairly sure - to be in first class and no right - probably - to be on board the train at all. Tickets are not looked at with much regularity these days. I daresay the inspectors are themselves apprehensive, not to say revolted by a good percentage of the passengers. The boys leaped and whooped and played with the lights. My ploy - to appear as though entranced by my book - worked in that they didn't bother me or even pass provocative or insulting remarks. I succeeded in assuming a sort of social invisibility. Tweeds and cords and heavy tomes presumably look as alien as something from outer space to today's younger generation. Got up in that preposterous rig, I simply vanished from the boys' radar screen. To find oneself obliged to behave like this, however; to feel vulnerable and entrapped and frankly alarmed - can this be right? Of course not.

As to setting it right, the solution must involve restoring to the law all those things which make it effective - ubiquity, speed and teeth. Today, authority is nowhere to be seen. When it does make an appearance, its reactions are slowed by bureacracy and constant reference to complex rules. Finally, when it summons the courage to caution or arrest, criminals laugh because they know full well that the law will do litle or nothing to express public outrage. Prisons are full, so the multitude of "community" punishments which rely on incarceration as their ultimate deterrent are so many pieces of paper.

In addition to speedier, heavier sanctions - and no, mindful of Singapore's example, I do not rule out corporal punishment - we must now, as a matter of extreme urgency, throw the left out of education. They have turned it into a depressing, lawless, purposeless mess through their mania for equality. Selection, discipline and a clear division between academic and vocational training will give the young some of purpose in life which they now so signally lack.

There is so much else to say, but - why bother?

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