Duke, I used to think more or less the same as you however my sentiments on the matter have come to diverge somewhat in a few areas.
Pity there are not enough adoptive parents to change people that way.
Or social services with the power and authority to remove children - and the benefits provided for over-breeding - from scum. But they won't. So you get a generational thing - daddy is scum, son grows up seeing daddy be scum and sees that as the only available lifestyle. Assuming, of course, that they aren't heroin addicts the day they're born. To these people, being arrested is little more than an occupational hazard. I know people who have 70+ criminal convictions stemming back to when they were 17 years old. They are now in their 50s, and have served more prison time than I have been alive
. And they are still committing crime.
Anyway, I still think you are demonizing the wrong crowd. This is like saying the drug-addicts downtown are the root cause of all that is wrong in society. They are merely a symptom, the blood pouring from the stab-wound.
They are the root cause of most of what's wrong in society. I know there's a hierarchy as someone has to supply them the drugs (this guy usually is otherwise decent, drives a land rover and lives somewhere really posh but has no obvious job), but it isn't the supplier who's breaking into folks' houses. The supplier himself keeps himself out of trouble. It's his bottom feeders who do all the damage and those to whom they supply.
The wrong approach is taken with addicts. Fuck methadone - just stick them in a cell for 6 months feeding them through a hatch and let the bastards go cold turkey. If we see them again, 12 months.
If people had a real chance at getting a okay job that earned them more money than what they get on the dole, I suspect they'd do their best to keep that job.
Most of those people don't want jobs because they've had it too easy on benefits. They feel hard done to because their benefits have been stopped. Imagine, if you will, a chick in a nest. Mouth open 'cheep cheep cheep - feed me feed me'. That's your average scum. Don't get me wrong - there are many decent people who are stuck in a rut on the dole. They don't go out committing crime - they jump through the hoops. Some do game the system a bit but the point is they aren't. committing. crime
. All scum are unemployed, but not all unemployed are scum.
I ask you this - if two people with identical qualifications (i.e., none...) walked into your officer for a job interview doing...I dunno, pretty much any fucking job ever, and one had no convictions yet the other had previous for, well, any petty crime (assault, damage, theft/shoplifting), which would you pick? It's a no-brainer. And rightly so! Why would I employ someone so evidently untrustworthy? Particularly theft or damage, mind as they're a liability to the business. I'm not saying this is wrong - I'm saying that the majority of these people - particularly career criminals - are unemployable. They will never, ever, be able to find work even if they wanted to (and they don't - they'd have to not drink as much cider, get up pre-noon and actually make payments on that 50 inch plasma screen TV that seems to be endemic to every scumbag's dwelling). They will forever be a drain on society, whether it's to provide them dole and methadone, or in police investigation time, or for time spent at Her Majesty's pleasure.
And if society had plenty of okay jobs to put people at work with, the dole would be much harder to get your hands on as well. ("No job? there's tons of jobs out there that pays better than what you get here will. In fact, here's three for your perusing, don't come back here before you've been to an interview on all of them.").
Getting an interview isn't easy - it wasn't for me when I was on the dole, and I have a university degree and a touch of workaholism. I applied to the sort of part-time shop jobs (i.e., jobs that were realistically 'beneath me') I was doing when I was still studying for my A-levels (16-18y/o) because that was all I could do, and none so much as sent out a rejection letter. Thing is about employing people is it's a buyer's market. However all the same as I said before not everyone who signs on goes out smashing people's houses up (typically shit-on-shit), beating folk up in a drunken set-to, mugging or burgling folk etc. Don't think the people I'm referring to are hard-done-to...they often have more disposable income than most workers because they're all but tax exempt. They always seem to have recycling boxes full of empty beer cans and cider bottles...
Just for example, allow me to describe, in some detail, your average scrotey house. Or better yet, allow me to describe what is these days quite a typical police matter:
You receive a call over the radio. "Uniform Charlie Two Four, can you attend 21 Smith Street, female reporting her ex-partner posting threats on Facebook."
With a sigh and a shrug, particularly upon reading the initial call (which has been transcribed and e-mailed to your work phone), you agree to attend. You've dealt with this particular female a dozen times, particularly with relation to that same ex-partner with whom she has had numerous drunken arguments. Only a week or two ago you attended and they weren't even ex-partners. "Yeah, roger that, I'm just turning onto Smith Street now, as it happens."
Smith Street itself is a council estate. Bright red brick houses from circa 1945, the majority of which appear to have received little or no maintenance. There are no driveways, despite each house having ample front garden room. The pavement has been dug up and patched countless times; the asphalt comes in approximately seven shades, with chunks missing and lying scattered about the pavement. Dandelions and other weeds have staked their claim to the gutters of the roads and you can see they're well on their way to eating into the kerb-edge. The uniformly brick garden walls are just as ridden, with many having bricks missing or simply having had huge sections fall (or be knocked) free. These sections sit in the front gardens, where they've sat ever since they came off. A few have collapsed so badly they can scarcely be recognised as a wall, save for the top of a bare brick sitting at below pavement-level. You hear a few dogs barking as you weave your police car to avoid yet another lump of concrete, still more potholes and a 2x4 that has just been left sitting in the middle of the roadway. You note the occasional car, one of which is missing a wing mirror. Another is missing a rear-three-quarter window. Its owner has 'repaired' it with a black bin liner secured with masking tape.
You exit your vehicle and take another look, counting up the addresses to 21. The houses bear many cracks and most of the doors are old wooden things with big muddy bootprints all down the bottom half. A couple have little glass features which are all grimy and fogged up. Ceiling tiles litter the gardens nearest the houses and a few houses stand completely without any form of guttering. With the exception of maybe one or two houses, all the gardens are wildly overgrown - more jungle than feature - and the only disruption to the two-foot high palisade of dandelion, hemlock, thisle and yarrow are the aforementioned chunks of wall, children's toys which probably haven't been touched by a child in about three years, a plastic dog bowl or two which contains nothing but green, mossy, stagnant rainwater and, in one garden, an old sofa, its upholstery fading and turning black from mould and decay. A faint aroma of cannabis from the street. You make a mental note to submit a report of which house you passed when it smelled strongest to you.
You breathe a sigh of relief as you reach 21, as you note that the route from pavement to house is lined with paving slabs. Uneven, yes, and the front gate is completely off its hinges, held upright by a threadbare old shoelace, but at least you aren't trudging through the wilderness. You aren't completely safe yet, though - you regret having taken an inward breath for that sigh you sighed as your nostrils are assaulted by the smell of dog shit. You almost
put your boot in it as you walk down the path but you sidestep at the last possible moment. You see a children's kiddy-car with pieces of plastic missing and clearly irreparable - one wheel is lying in the gutter-grate.
You knock politely on the front door, which you think used to be white. It hasn't been white in about eight years and the paint is peeling away quite profusely. The doorframe actually moves a little as you knock on it and then you notice the clear tape holding even that in place. You hear a big dog barking and can hear its paws skittering across woodwork toward you, but you get no reply. A shred of hope! You knock again before reaching into the pocket of your stab vest for a calling card (we can't just leave these things - we have to invite people to recontact. If they don't call back another bobby will inevitably be sent back there later). This time, you hear 'thump thump thump' of shoes on wooden flooring and then the door opens, nearly taking the doorframe with it.
You see a short woman who is clearly younger than she looks, with hair so knotted, scraggly and unkempt the only way to rescue it would be to shave it all off and start again. Her face is gaunt and yellowed, and her skin is clearly blotchy. Worse, she's answered the door in her nightie, dressing gown and a pair of slippers so you are met with a sight you really didn't want to see. Her eyes are yellowed and glazed and in her right hand she holds a half-smoked cigarette. You already knew she smoked - even if you hadn't seen the 500 tab-ends littering the front curtledge you are fraternising with the Underclass - they always
smoke. Her hand shakes as she lets go of the door and steps back for you.
"Come on in, love," she says, taking another drag on her cigarette. A lifelong non-smoker, you politely hold your breath for a second while the cloud of smoke disperses around you.
You step over the threshold, and then it hits you for the umpteenth time today. The Smell. A stale and potent concoction of stale fag smoke, old dog shit and chip fat. Most of the houses you go to have the very same smell. A pudgy Staffordshire bull-terrier jumps up at you, putting pawprints on your pristinely-pressed black trousers that you only hope is dirt from the garden. You shove it back with a knee, and it has another go. "Don't worry he won't hurt you," she says, before shouting and admonishing the dog.
You take a moment to wipe your knees and look around. The walls that aren't plastered are just bare brick, and none have ever been brooked by the threat of being painted or wallpapered. There's no carpet on the floor or even laminate/linoleum, just bare floorboards throughout. The majority of the cupboards are missing or falling off in the kitchen, which is where the woman leads you as she's corralling the dog behind a baby-gate. A dining room table is completely buried in piles - or more correctly, heaps - of clothing. You aren't sure if that's the clean pile, or the pile waiting to be washed. One thing's for sure, though, the iron clearly doesn't work. You're still breathing shallowly because of The Smell. Your nose usually becomes desensitised to smells after so long of exposure so it can concentrate on new ones. Not so with The Smell. This smell is so putrid it's only your strong constitution (and familiarity with The Smell) that keeps you from barfing. The walls of the kitchen are discoloured and spattered with various reds, oranges and yellows and empty takeaway wrappers litter the worktops. The sink is brim-full of unwashed dishes and pots and the bin hasn't been emptied in what looks (and smells) like weeks. The lady is conscious about the wider environment, though; her recycling bin is full of empty cans of Oranjeboom lager and crushed plastic bottles of Betterbuy cider. Some of these bottles and cans have gone rogue, though, scattering about the various flat surfaces around the kitchen and living room. You also see a small half-empty green medicine bottle, and you know she's on methadone. "Do you want a cup of tea, love?" she asks. You decline, politely.
You hear a screech of a hungry eighteen-month-old child from the living room at the other side of the house. She comes running in wearing nothing but her nappy, gnawing on the teat of her empty bottle. Her hair is only slightly less dissheveled than her mother's, but at least she has an excuse. She seems happy enough, in spite of the fact that half her toys are obviously broken and the other half are lying on a floor that is not only uncarpeted but also littered with empty crisp packets and drinks cartons and huge clumps of hair float like tumbleweeds as they're disturbed by your movement. You ache longingly for the overgrown garden as the female moves towards a pile of paperwork on a moth-eaten armchair. Much of the correspondence is letterheaded as being from HM Revenue and Customs, the local council, the local rehab clinic and the Department of Work and Pensions, and she dutifully shoves it into another heap on the floor and invites you to sit down, "Sorry about the mess," she says. "Don't worry about it," you say. You perch precariously on the edge of the seat, not from your excitement and enthusiasm to deal with the job but to minimise the amount of your precious arse actually touching this haven of vileness. Your head glances sideways to the brand new Samsung 50 inch TV sitting in the corner of the living room, juxtaposed totally against the rest of the decor save for the fact there's a layer of dust on it so thick you struggle to make out that the outer casing was black, and the screen is tinged slightly yellow from the cigarette smoke clinging to it. Spots of mildew and damp show through the corner of the wall immediately behind the telly, gratefully masked by the showing of Jeremy Kyle. The volume of the broadcast remains unchanged despite your presence in her home to speak to her.
In between intermittently playing with and shouting at the child in response to its incessant screeching and throwing toys around the female relays the crime of the century. Her on-off ex with whom she made a split last week (and who fathered the screeching infant) has posted some private Facebook messages which she says are threatening. You ask if she would like you to go around and have a word, she says this isn't good enough because he's previously done things. That's right, folks - an internet flame war is actually a police matter for which people could potentially be arrested. You ask to see the messages. The worst he's said is that she is a "fucking slag" - a sentiment which would not even necessarily constitute slander as far as you can determine, but that's a civil matter not a police one in any case - and that he wishes he'd never met her. She has replied with equal venom and as mention of 'court' and 'social services' have batted around in the exchange it is now quite clear to you why you're really there - to make him look bad for the purposes.
You admonish her for her participation in the exchange, and advise to block him on Facebook. "But he'll just register with another account and carry on!" she pleads, conveniently forgetting that he could already do that anyway, and it's not exactly beyond the realms that she could block him again and again. She tries to pull a rabbit out of the hat saying that the argument spilled onto SMS messages, in the hope you will then spring into action. "Change your number," you offer, to which she replies, "but I shouldn't have to do that."
You do the only thing you can do at this point. You ponder, "what would Captain Picard do?" Then you facepalm. You tell her that there are no criminal offences and there's nothing threatening. Short of advising him not to contact, your options are nonexistent. She sighs and tells you that you're not bothered about her, and how when he comes around kicking off it'll be your fault, and how it'll take her being beat up "again" before the police will do anythng. She cries crocodile tears. The child is still screeching hysterically. You tell her that's all you can offer, take some details of all parties involved for the mandatory Domestic Violence report (bear in mind nobody's been injured or attacked, and this has been nothing more than an e-row. They haven't even seen eachother since they split up!) that you have to submit if two fuckbuddies so much as look at one another funny, then you leave, remembering to dodge that brown landmine on the path back up to your car. You think you'll have five minutes drive-around before you write the job off and say you're available for another one. Which will probably be much the same. You can still smell The Smell deep in your nostrils and in any case you want to clean the pawprints off your trousers.
Just an example of what we do. A vast majority of what we do, when we're not doing paperwork. And there are real people out there with real problems, but we're swamped with calls like these! This is not an uncommon street, house or job.