Blair attacked over crime


Summary

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the violence shouldn't be attributed to a general crime wave or as a symptom of a broader social malaise.

The Prime Minister said it was specific to black youth, The Guardian reported.

He said people had to drop their political correctness and recognise that the violence would not be stopped "by pretending it is not young black kids doing it".

"What we are dealing with is not a general social disorder, but specific groups or people who for one reason or another are deciding not to abide" by society's codes of conduct, Mr Blair said.

The black community needed "to be mobilised in denunciation of this gang culture that is killing innocent young black kids".

Mr Blair was speaking in Cardiff, in the country's southwest, after a 14-year-old was stabbed to death on Friday, the seventh Londoner under 16 to be murdered since late January.

Mr Blair said there needed to be a specific strategy to deal with the issue, as had happened with football hooliganism, and also said laws dealing with knife and gun gangs needed to be significantly toughened.

In the last few months, Mr Blair's government has been debating whether to impose harsher sentences on those who use guns and are members of a street gang.

Mr Blair said he'd been moved to make his controversial remarks after speaking to a black pastor of a London church at a knife crime summit, who said:

"When are we going to start saying this is a problem amongst a section of the black community and not, for reasons of political correctness, pretend that this is nothing to do with it?" The Guardian reported.

But British African-Caribbean figures leading the fight against gang culture condemned Blair's speech.

The Rev Nims Obunge, chief executive of the Peace Alliance, one of the main organisations working against gang crime, denounced the prime minister, The Guardian reported.

Rev Obunge, who attended the crime summit chaired by Blair earlier this year, said he had been cited by the prime minister.

"He makes it look like I said it's the black community doing it," he told The Guardian.

"What I said is it's making the black community more vulnerable and they need more support and funding for the work they're doing… He has taken what I said out of context. We came for support and he has failed and has come back with more police powers to use against our black children."

Keith Jarrett, chair of the National Black Police Association, whose members work with vulnerable youth, said social deprivation and delinquency went "hand in hand" and both needed to be tackled.

"It is curious that the prime minister does not mention deprivation in his speech," he told The Guardian.

Answering questions later, Mr Blair said "Economic inequality is a factor and we should deal with that, but I don't think it's the thing that is producing the most violent expression of this social alienation.


British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the violence shouldn't be attributed to a general crime wave or as a symptom of a broader social malaise.

The Prime Minister said it was specific to black youth, The Guardian reported.

He said people had to drop their political correctness and recognise that the violence would not be stopped "by pretending it is not young black kids doing it".

"What we are dealing with is not a general social disorder, but specific groups or people who for one reason or another are deciding not to abide" by society's codes of conduct, Mr Blair said.

The black community needed "to be mobilised in denunciation of this gang culture that is killing innocent young black kids".

Mr Blair was speaking in Cardiff, in the country's southwest, after a 14-year-old was stabbed to death on Friday, the seventh Londoner under 16 to be murdered since late January.

Mr Blair said there needed to be a specific strategy to deal with the issue, as had happened with football hooliganism, and also said laws dealing with knife and gun gangs needed to be significantly toughened.

In the last few months, Mr Blair's government has been debating whether to impose harsher sentences on those who use guns and are members of a street gang.

Mr Blair said he'd been moved to make his controversial remarks after speaking to a black pastor of a London church at a knife crime summit, who said:

"When are we going to start saying this is a problem amongst a section of the black community and not, for reasons of political correctness, pretend that this is nothing to do with it?" The Guardian reported.

But British African-Caribbean figures leading the fight against gang culture condemned Blair's speech.

The Rev Nims Obunge, chief executive of the Peace Alliance, one of the main organisations working against gang crime, denounced the prime minister, The Guardian reported.

Rev Obunge, who attended the crime summit chaired by Blair earlier this year, said he had been cited by the prime minister.

"He makes it look like I said it's the black community doing it," he told The Guardian.

"What I said is it's making the black community more vulnerable and they need more support and funding for the work they're doing… He has taken what I said out of context. We came for support and he has failed and has come back with more police powers to use against our black children."

Keith Jarrett, chair of the National Black Police Association, whose members work with vulnerable youth, said social deprivation and delinquency went "hand in hand" and both needed to be tackled.

"It is curious that the prime minister does not mention deprivation in his speech," he told The Guardian.

Answering questions later, Mr Blair said "Economic inequality is a factor and we should deal with that, but I don't think it's the thing that is producing the most violent expression of this social alienation.