Crime is estimated to cost the UK economy about £78 billion every year. This is a Home Office estimate. Mine is higher, but let’s avoid the trap of throwing figures about only to discover we were all making them up in the first place like bankers on heat over junk bonds.
What I want to know is how much crime happens around me, and whether I want to stop it. I know my former neighbours were committing crime more or less all the time, and that because they were next-door-neighbours sharing a party wall with us, they inflicted massive damage on us that was never recorded, and that cops and local authority agencies were even worse. In the last month, someone over the road has rented to a notorious burglar and druggie via his buggie-pushing companion. The landlord didn’t know, apparently, and has just taken a lot of property out of the house having been told. ‘Burglar Bill’ is now a ‘borrower-from-shops’ and has stated he means to reform, though he is visited by unworthy scum and one has doubts.
It’s hard to get crime figures right – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10338732 – but I can’t really believe as a researcher that the stuff police and the BCS produce is any good. It all starts in the wrong place.
I’m really only playing with Zemanta at this stage, but comments welcome. Probably safe to say this guy’s ‘crimes’ mostly went unrecorded either as crimes or in terms of the amounts involved!
Looks like a fairly standard corner-boy from round here! Crime is very difficult to pin down. Miserable druggies shooting up and then making neighbours’ lives a misery with blaring music, almost constant domestic violence, thieving, corrupting others and kids is a crime, organised gangs of insurance muggers, even the general white collar crime of high fees as a ‘professional’.
I’m watching ‘Johnny Come Lately’ as I write this morning, an old Cagney vehicle with a delightful old lady standing up against small-town corruption. He’s more or less one of the ‘evil poor’ and she’s taken him on at her newspaper. I could do with the job! Probably overqualified! Life is sadly not so simple. The crooks in the film are the rich bastards who build crappy houses and don’t sort the water supplies out. They want the old dear to publish their ZPFNulabour editorials – she’s less of a pushover, broke, than our current lot. We mostly have clean water here now, though I can’t use my hosepipe after three successive cricket wash-outs.
There are ways, even using ‘statistics’, to work out what crime is as it affects me, you and everyone, in terms of what it is and how it affects us. We won’t get to that through some cub reporter on the Notlob Evening News of course. I don’t have a black maid to clean up my clothes. I guess I have relevant experience as a cop, detective and academic. Maybe our blogs are the equivalent of the ‘Hicksville Argus’ – at least until we find a way to make them bothersome? Cagney keeps bumping into decent people, but our lives are amongst the vile middle classes of the Australian novel ‘The Slap’. Something in today’s Observer on that – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Slap – something of the dull liberalism that seems to prevent us saying anything, prevents us getting at crime. Cagney’s only had his job a few days, has a better suit than me and an offer of ‘riches’ from the crooks. Where do I go wrong! I like to think I would accept this offer, but I’m too weak.
We can build the ‘statistics of crime’ from the ground up, using some fairly standard modern sociology and business estimating. There’s a bit of an example –http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10338732 – in the BCS experiment on crime affecting children. We aren’t showing much willing for the larger debate though. Even this Zemanta thing throws up quite a lot of relevant material, amongst loads of irrelevance.
I know what many of the stories would be. In principle, we could go from Dawkin’s notion of ‘religion as a crime against humanity’, through Wall Street to the kid bullied in the playground. Big task, and bigger for me as I believe we need a ‘New Enlightenment’. I’m not talking about talking either – when it comes to a lot of very obvious, drug-related, thieving crime, we can’t rely on being able to report it safely and see it dealt with. Translate ‘The Slap’ to someone trying to report a vile family of drug dealers and you might well find the same story.