Yet another day of ‘Skip Rat’ Combat

LadetteNo, Skip Rat Combat is not the latest ‘must have’ virtual reality game for the X-Box (other gaming platforms are available)… although it could possibly be a useful money-spinner?

Perhaps if such a game was actually available, a few adults would, at the very least, finally have a conduit to vent some of their frustrations about increasing youth problems. What could be better than an evening ‘zapping’ a few of the little blighters, with impunity and no fear of any extended juvenile anti-social retribution? But these real problems, as opposed to virtual ones, would still exist.

Despite numerous attempts, mostly police led and legally based over recent years, the problem of feral yobs doesn’t appear to have decreased significantly. Despite limited success in some areas, the issues of anti-social behaviour (and minor criminality) appear to abound almost un-checked in some areas, not least within my own locality lately.

Since around the time of this year’s end of the school summer term, large groups of local kids have been running amok. Children between the ages of 12-16yrs have been gathering mob-handed, often with the sole intention of intimidating, antagonizing and annoying residents and traders in the town… or worse. I say this is intentional because, by the very nature of their words and actions, which I have witnessed (and challenged to my detriment) at first hand, non of it is accidental.

These kids appear to be in the ‘business’ of pushing the boundaries of commonly acceptable behaviour for their own benefits. They are intent on challenging authority, any authority, and any person who has the nerve to stand up to them… and they ‘proudly’ announce how the “plastic coppers can’t do fuck all.”

But it’s not just about noise or simple anti-social behaviour, criminality is also now involved; including several incidents of high-value criminal damage, injury to animals and even assaults on adults. These are all matters which are having detrimental impacts upon local businesses. Not to mention the health and wellbeing effects which some traders, customers and residents have been obliged to endure.,

Apart from the incidents that are taking place, another worrying factor here is, some of the ringleaders in these activities seem to be young women. Recently post pubescent girls with the ability to amass a small group of male thugs. Small and not so small boys between 12-15yrs of age, more than happy to carry out the will and bidding of their make-up encrusted ‘iconic’ leader – a ‘Queen Bee’ figure directing her ‘worker’ insects. What ‘rewards’ they are receiving from her is anyone’s guess however; they’ll no doubt feature on YouTube and SnapChat et al.

It goes without saying that, alcohol and drugs are also probable factors in this current spate of youth problems. Isn’t that generally the case nowadays? I would however point out from my own observations; I have seen very limited signs of intoxication from alcohol. Pity the same can’t be said about the impact of narcotics on the current situation.

I have seen little kids, 14yrs or less and skinny as, offering physical violence to handy 6ft blokes. Some of these kids are actually showing levels of anger, hatred and totally unreasonable self-belief about their own physical capabilities… Either they’ve been taking ‘bravery pills’ or they’re incredibly stupid…or both?

As a (retired) police officer of thirty years standing, an elder member of the community and someone with in excess of fifteen years voluntary youth work experience, I can forgive you for expecting me to have an answer…the fact is I don’t, at least not any short-term definitive one. Worryingly, it also appears that, neither do several of my friends and past colleagues, people who also possess similar (or more extensive) levels of experience. So how do we move forward?

Today’s often limited (and in many cases reduced) proactive uniformed police presence on our streets, along with an apparent lack of robust and expedient response to incidents, is having a negative impact upon these community issues. The kids realise that their activities are likely to go unchecked, they are unlikely to get caught doing whatever it is they want to do. If they are unfortunate enough to get apprehended they have no need to worry, after all…”it’ll only be one of them ‘plastic coppers’ who can’t do fuck all” – that’s actually how they think.

Despite the often manipulated and/or intentionally misleading ‘official’ statistics this is the reality of anti-social street culture. In addition, the excessive amount of police hours expended chasing about after kids from street to street is often futile. They aren’t realising the results they set out to achieve. It appears currently that our police Safer Neighbourhood Teams (or whatever they ar called this week), are ‘fighting’ a ‘battle’ they often have very little chance of actually winning.

So I’m worried, I’m worried that I’m starting to think like others… The Mr Grumpy type who continuously reflects on the past… “it wouldn’t have happened in my bloody day!” Sadly and factually it didn’t but, to continually suggest that a little bit of controlled violence is the only answer… That “bloody good clip around the ear never did me any harm” kind of mentality…isn’t going to provide a cure.

Perhaps the ‘skip rats’ would benefit from some Cattle Prod tactics? The careful and legally sanctioned application of a little pain to restore control? Good luck with that one… We already have an equivalent in the police use of Taser, a useful tool in applicable situations however; every single application of that device on adults, let alone children, is (rightly) open to minute scrutiny. In addition, we shouldn’t forget the expected vociferous liberal cries of “excessive force” and “against his/her human rights” calls that would undoubtedly ensue.

Some, with more liberal views than I (or should I say the many) are likely to suggest that we, as adults, should show these ‘children’ some tolerance and respect. Surprisingly, despite my anger and frustration, I am tolerant, I can respect that the youth of today. I know they are bound to have a totally different outlook on life than I do. I can also respect their views, desires and aspirations, even when some of them are misguided however; respect is a dual carriageway. A road we can all actually travel together, if we try. We may often be going in differing directions but, if we take the central reservation as a buffer of understanding and acceptance we can continue our travels together…Respect isn’t a right, it’s two-way and something that is earned.

So where do we go from here? What do we do to ensure these ‘rats’ grow up knowing about what is / is not acceptable but even more importantly, how do we start to ensure they comply with those social expectations? How do we get them to understand that – for every action there is a consequence? Surely there has to be some enforced boundaries? Ones which are put in place to protect the ‘skip rats’ from their own immaturity and stupidity.

Just for once let’s see some of this ‘partnership working’ tosh actually working for a change. There are many agencies and organisations that can and must take ‘ownership’ of these problems, sort out the ‘actions’ required and hopefully realise some solutions acceptable to the community…Together!

Nobody who genuinely cares about our society has any desire to see our children entering adulthood with any more problems than already exist. Adult life is hard enough, without all the adverse impacts presented by owning a string of unnecessary criminal convictions!