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The Steven Hoskins tragedy - I'm not going to slag off all the agencies involved, I wonder how many hundreds of cases they were all trying to juggle and make sense of.

What pains me is the family breakdown, where like it or not we shoulder much of the responsibility for weaker members (I speak from first-hand experience for the last 40 years).

When homes are built so tiny that they have no surplus room to home (even temporarily) the occasional waif or stray, when mothers are forced to go out to work instead of being available to help cope with family and community problems, when the notion of loyalty and fidelity are commonly mocked by the entertainment industry - what hope is there for the Steven Hoskins of this world?

Tony Makara

Though provoking article Graeme. Human life and human dignity have become diminished currency these days. I am reminded of the case of a 15 year old white boy Kriss Donald who was snatched at random off the streets by three Asian men, taken 200 miles, stabbed 13 times and set on fire while still alive. The boy was tortured and murdered in revenge for a racial attack that had happened on one of the Asian men earlier even though Kriss Donald was completely unconnected with that attack. This attack was particularly shocking not only for the level of violence but the fact that the three men just snatched anyone off the street, they were prepared to attack any person, so long as he was white. In this instance the violence was racial, but similar acts of violence and murder occur that have no racial origin. What matters is the scant regard for human life that the three men had towards 15 year old Kriss Donald. Most troubling is that the three men were just on an ordinary night out, got involved in a racial scuffle, then went out to look for a white victim by act of revenge.

How could three men, not one, but three, go from having a night out to torturing and murdering a child? How could they make that leap of mind set? The fact three seemingly ordinary men could turn into killers in the space of a few hours should be a concern for us all. The fact that three ordinary men could regard life so cheaply is a reflection of the society that we live in today. This could easily happen again because we as a society have lost the respect and value for life that we once had.

Ben L

Brilliant column again, Graeme. You're depressingly right about "the machines to which we’ve devolved our responsibility to care and our duty to act". It's to those machines we've also devolved our duty to take personal responsibility for our individual failings and shortcomings.

Which brings me nicely to my local MP, Diane Abbott, whose behaviour makes my eyes boil with rage. The simple hypocrisy is bad enough - this is a woman who criticised the Blairs and Harriet Harman for sending their children to selective schools. But what bothers me more are these two factors:

1) Her present argument that black pupils (especially boys) need black teachers. This, to me, suggests that Abbott seems to have a simplistic (and arguably racist) group concept of black children and a dogmatic view about what they need/what is good for them. It is also an argument that is completely undermined by her decision to send her child to the City of London School: she clearly thinks that, unlike other black boys, he needs to be in an environment where he is taught mostly by white teachers.

2) Her sheer contempt for the people who elected her. With one of the safest Labour seats in the country, she can do and say pretty much what she likes. She says to her voters that she is entitled to pay for a type of education that she has previously denounced - and which is beyond the means of almost all her constituents - because she thinks the schools the rest of us have to use aren't any good. I doubt she would have made the same decision if her majority was a slender one.

My argument is that, if you want to improve state secondary schools in Hackney, one of the things you must do is attract families whose parents are going to get involved in the life of the school, fight its corner, enthuse others, care for it and so on. The sort of parents, in fact, who often have the means to either pay up for a private education or move house so they're nearer a better state school. But that's a different story...

Sally Roberts

Thank you again, Graeme for another brilliant article - It's becoming a Sunday morning tradition for me to look for your writings and you certainly didn't disappoint today! The Hoskins tragedy shows the depth to which human beings can sink - and the total abject failure of the State to deal with the aftermath - THIS is what makes Socialism so iniquitous!!
On a lighter note - next time you go Christmas shopping to John Lewis, don't bother with the "eggy sandwiches" - nip round the corner to nearest Pret and have one of their soups - they are much nicer and won't make you feel sick!


It is disgusting that he called the police and they didn't do anything.

Why aren't people being fired over this?

Another great column Graeme.

Tony Makara

It seems that with all the political pressure on police to meet targets and deal with specific duties, the police force itself is unsure of what its function should be.


Another excellent thought provoking article Graeme.
Reading about the horrific Stephen Hoskins case again still makes me sick to my stomach, yet even more shocking is the fact that everyone of us who reads it will immediately think of a similar case that they have heard about in their local area.
What has gone wrong with our country when a case like this has becomes a monotonously regular feature in the news? It is like we have become so used to it all, that it does not stir up the shock and outrage that it should.
I want my country back, the one I grew up in where communities didn't need task forces or over paid zealots to teach them how to suck eggs, it all came naturally and was based on a common decency and bucket loads of common sense. Maybe 20-30 years ago in some area's it would not have even needed the police or the social services to be doing their jobs properly for someone to have realised that something was wrong and intervened?

Tony Makara

Scotty, good points. The fact that we have become used to this sort of vile behaviour the more we have become indifferent to it. Nothing shocks most people anymore and that means there is no longer an outraged reaction. Very sad.

David Sergeant

Having over many years been responsible for dealing with Social Services foulups I can tell you that the vast majority of reasons for the foulups are bad administration. In this case communications. Most public sector administration is a wasteful mess. This is because most public sector organisations are run by "professionals", teachers, social workers, doctors etc. who are not interested in organisation unless it affects them. This leads to reports on the foulups being expensive, ages after the event and merely saying fatuous thoughts which would usually mean a pay rise for the "professionals".

As for the Abbott interview. Par for the course, interviewers usually have not bothered to gen up on any interview. Labour did, and still, exploit this when they use any old rubbish to get off a hook with the interviewer being unable to pick off the lies because of their ignorance.


Labour insider told me that despite being lazy and thick, Abbott is kept on because she is a)female, b)black.

Which does a serious disservice to all intelligent and diligent females and blacks.


That never happened sjm so I don't know why you have insulted our intelligence by saying that it did.

Laban Tall

Steven Hoskin is by no means a unique case. In the last two years there have been five murder trials involving the killing of "vulnerable individuals".

Have a google for Brent Martin, Stephen Gale, David Atherton and Kevin Davies.


Other vulnerable individuals are driven to suicide - like the Pilkington family - or are abused and urinated on as they lie dying in the street - like Christine Lakinski.

Then there's Colin Greenwood, kicked to death by two 14 year olds :

"Their victim Colin Greenwood, 45, was registered blind but refused to carry a white stick because he had been attacked before and feared it would attract the attention of yobs."

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