Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Enemy Within

I may well turn a few heads with this but I’m going to write it anyway because too often it goes unsaid.

No-one who read any of yesterday’s reports following the guilty verdicts in the Fairfield Post Office raid case can fail to have been moved by the testimony of Craig Hodson-Walker’s mother and fiancée. To hear his mother telling of how she saw her son shot in front of her eyes and to hear the fiancée Lisa say that her “whole world has collapsed” was heartbreaking.

How can anyone do this? Well, I can’t profess to understand why at all. However, perhaps a closer look at the defendants’ backgrounds might say something?

One of them had not only already raided a Post Office (in King’s Norton in 2002) but had been convicted, given a gaol sentence and was out and able to do it again. Another had three convictions, two for Post Office raids and a third for robbing a security van. So much for the system punishing, rehabilitating and protecting there, then.

They all came from areas on the fringes of Birmingham which are – effectively – vast zones where crime, both serious and minor, is accepted by too many people as “normal”.

It is a stark, unfashionable but unassailable fact of life that our towns and cities are surrounded by areas where the basics that much of society takes for granted simply don’t apply. Criminals may not be the majority of people in these areas but they are sure as hell a sizeable minority. The Frankleys, the Druids Heaths and the Castle Vales of Birmingham, Bristol’s Southmead, Newcastle’s Killingworth and Leeds’ Seacroft are all examples of places where decency and mutually-respectful behaviour is simply not a consideration for many people. You have only to see the way they keep their houses (and feel even more passionately sorry for the poor sods who live there and who do play by the rules and try to do things properly; life must be hell for them).

But the offensive, out of control, unorganised mobs that inhabits these places are terrifying. They give us the graffiti, the metal shutters on shops, the burned-out litter bins and the broken windows. Communities which look unloved and where such damage is caused by those who live there. And it can become more serious. Look at the case of Fiona Pilkington, who took her own life after yobs tormented her and her daughter in Hinckley. She called for police help 33 times, without any discernible effect. The police, it seems, simply accept this type of behaviour as normal for such areas.

Indeed, having mentioned these yob-rule areas in big cities, it’s worth remembering that the same applies in plenty of smaller places, too. In the beautiful, civilized cathedral city of Lichfield, Michael Eccles was beaten to death on his way home from a shop in the notorious Dimbles area. And you can find the same estates, effectively abandoned by their inhabitants and those in power, everywhere from Weston-super-Mare to Carlisle.

For most of us, like the Hodson-Walkers in Fairfield, you study, you get a job, you work hard and support your family and get some of the things you want in life. We all makes mistakes – me included – but for the feral shit which exists on the edge of of society, this normal life progression does not apply and is never thought of. We are now into second or even third generations who have never worked in the conventional sense and who don’t understand the work ethic that is the basis of our society and its achievements. “I want that, I can’t afford it, so I’ll take it anyway.”

Craig Hodson-Walker’s mother Judy described the raiders as “the dregs of society” and how right she is. These people do not have the values that the rest of us have and they could destroy our society as easily – if not more easily – than climate change or terrorism.

These people are truly the enemy within.

1 comment:

  1. Hallelujah! You've said exactly what I feel and haven't the courage to say.