Crime and the Rose Tinted Past

At the risk of turning this blog into a never ending stream of rants about public perceptions of crime, it seems there are even more woo-like nonsensical things being pushed out by people (Hattip oustudent blog).

On the BBC “Have your say” pages there is an ongoing debate about crime, and public understanding of the levels of crime.

By and large, the comments speak volumes about a people who are so disconnected from reality, so twisted by media led scare stories, that they no longer have (if they even ever did) any objective view point on the world around them. As is always the case, lots of people who comment, have no idea what the topic they are commenting on is about but want to make a comment about how much they hate the government and everything wrong in the world is entirely the fault of Tony Blair for misleading the nation over Iraq. Even the rain is caused by that…

There is the typical selection of people who use anecdotal evidence to draw overly large conclusions (which, interestingly, highlights they have not read the main article…), such as the woman who claims crime in London is worse than in New York. There is also the typical selection of people who just mistrust statistics in general and assume any figures the government publish must be a lie – which just shows they have no idea what the British Crime Survey is and also haven’t read the main article. Comments on news items really are great.

The real prize for Bad History with a side award for Rose Tinted Glasses, however goes to someone by the name of Paul Holden – and the 26 people who “recommended” his comment. It reads:

Until crime has reduced to 1950’s levels it will be “too high” and any short term rises and falls will be just background noise.

The problem is that no one in government or the criminal justic system has the slightest interest in making these sort of significant reductions in crime levels. Why? Because it would need all the socially liberal policies brought in since the min-1960’s to be undone – starting with the abominable Human Rights Act.
Paul Holden

Wow. Breathtaking. I really, really hope he is just an unpleasant troll who is trying to infuriate people. Sadly, the realist in me knows people who think like this and they are genuine. A lifetime could be spent fisking the nonsense here properly but I don’t intend to go that deep… 🙂

When some one tries to make strongly worded argument and their most basic premise is completely false, it kind of undermines everything else they write. In this case, Mr Holden is under some mistaken impression that in the 1950s there was less crime in the UK. What pure, unadulterated nonsense. Did Mr Holden live in some Bizzaro 1950s where there were no mass gang fights, large scale public drunkeness, constant burglaries, rapes, murders etc.

Sadly he may well have. These crimes were being committed at the same or greater rate as today. The big difference was reporting of them. The wonders of the British Crime Survey highlight that more people claimed to have been assaulted or raped (for example), than reported it to the police. As a result, less incidents were being reported to the centre – and there was no national collation of Home Office Police Force statistics anyway. Add to this the crimes of today which were not offences 50 years ago (for example, drink driving, assault on children, marital rape etc) and you can see the massive problem in ever trying to make claims that the 1950s were some golden era where everything was rosy, everyone got along and there were no criminals.

I suspect Mr Holden’s real beef with the government, which he wanted to rant about here, was shown by how he ended his post. Obviously things like the Human Rights Act are totally to blame for crime and should be abolished immediately… Really…

Again, this is just an example of people ranting about things they don’t know anything about – and have no intention of learning. Worryingly, people like this get to decide what government runs our country. Makes you want to bring back the Monarchy, doesn’t it – at least then you know you are being led by a nutter and cant change it…

[tags]Crime, Idiots, nonsense, Rights, Civil Liberties, Fear, Statistics, Police, Law, Society, Culture, Education, British Crime Survey, Human Rights Act[/tags]