There's crime. And then there's HD Skycopter crime

What about the glassing, the beating, the robbery that doesn't happen in "riot week"?

It's natural, when you're a victim of crime, to wish horrible things on the people who did it. And I suppose we've been a collective victim of crime this week, seeing our country burn, shops looted, people attacked and rules broken.

It's a crime against all of us, what's happened. And those of us who've suffered at the hands of thieves, or attackers, or burglars, or whatever, will know the feeling: you wish for instance vengeance against the lowlifes who've done this; you want to see them suffer, and pay for what they've done. You want to crack their skulls and kick them in the face. You want to give them pain. It's a normal and understandable response.

The impact that crimes have on us, making us feel these horrible thoughts, is why people deserve to be punished for what they've done. But then, maybe a while later, the anger and the fear subsides, and you realise that, perhaps, it's probably best if the people who broke your window or nicked your telly weren't hung, drawn and quartered.

(It's no use telling me, by the way, that I'd think differently if I'd been a victim of crime, because I have been many times in the past, and I'm afraid to tell you that it hasn't turned me into a rabid watercannon-wielding Charles Bronson wannabe. If anything, it's made me more liberal about how to try and think about these things. Sorry if that offends you.)

It's right to punish those who've committed these crimes. But I wonder whether it's right to punish them more severely than the people who commit this kind of crime week in, week out.

There's a whole level of crime that we hardly get to hear about because it doesn't appear on the news, and probably doesn't even appear in the local rag either -- the police, concerned about "fear of crime", don't tell journalists about every single offence that takes place. Unless you've got someone in magistrates' courts 24/7, as we've seen this week, you won't find out about the low-level crimes and the kind of people who commit them.

But we are talking about it this week. A petition calling on rioters to "loose" their benefits has topped 100,000; a council says it is going to evict a parent for the alleged crimes of their child. We want revenge, it seems. It's completely understandable, while the anger is still raw. But what message does it send if we are giving disproportionate punishments to people who took part in last week's riots?

That ordinary crime doesn't count, perhaps, unless it's captured on the HD Skycopter or part of a big moral outrage, perhaps. You can chuck a broken bottle at someone, break a window or push a pint glass into someone's face at any other time and you might get a little ticking off or a community sentence, but do a bit of opportunistic nicking in a time of anarchy and you'll be sent away for a good few weeks.

Well, that's fine, if that's the message we want to send, I suppose. But what about those people who happened to be victims of crime in the wrong week? Do we just pat them on the head and tell them that, sorry, you just weren't the right time of victim, your crime didn't happen to take place during the riots?

I just wonder how people feel who were on the receiving end of violence and assaults, and who have seen their attackers walk free from court, and how they feel now about seeing people jailed for stealing a bottle of water instead. Sorry, your crime wasn't important. You being glassed, or beaten up, wasn't important enough, because it didn't happen during a riot.

In this week's riot panic, it's all been about the perpetrators. Maybe that's understandable, but maybe we should give more thought to the victims -- not just of these crimes, but the kind of crimes that happen week in, week out.

And whether we really are sending out the right message.

Patrolling the murkier waters of the mainstream media
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In your 30s? You missed out on £26,000 and you're not even protesting

The 1980s kids seem resigned to their fate - for now. 

Imagine you’re in your thirties, and you’re renting in a shared house, on roughly the same pay you earned five years ago. Now imagine you have a friend, also in their thirties. This friend owns their own home, gets pay rises every year and has a more generous pension to beat. In fact, they are twice as rich as you. 

When you try to talk about how worried you are about your financial situation, the friend shrugs and says: “I was in that situation too.”

Un-friend, right? But this is, in fact, reality. A study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that Brits in their early thirties have a median wealth of £27,000. But ten years ago, a thirty something had £53,000. In other words, that unbearable friend is just someone exactly the same as you, who is now in their forties. 

Not only do Brits born in the early 1980s have half the wealth they would have had if they were born in the 1970s, but they are the first generation to be in this position since World War II.  According to the IFS study, each cohort has got progressively richer. But then, just as the 1980s kids were reaching adulthood, a couple of things happened at once.

House prices raced ahead of wages. Employers made pensions less generous. And, at the crucial point that the 1980s kids were finding their feet in the jobs market, the recession struck. The 1980s kids didn’t manage to buy homes in time to take advantage of low mortgage rates. Instead, they are stuck paying increasing amounts of rent. 

If the wealth distribution between someone in their 30s and someone in their 40s is stark, this is only the starting point in intergenerational inequality. The IFS expects pensioners’ incomes to race ahead of workers in the coming decade. 

So why, given this unprecedented reversal in fortunes, are Brits in their early thirties not marching in the streets? Why are they not burning tyres outside the Treasury while shouting: “Give us out £26k back?” 

The obvious fact that no one is going to be protesting their granny’s good fortune aside, it seems one reason for the 1980s kids’ resignation is they are still in denial. One thirty something wrote to The Staggers that the idea of being able to buy a house had become too abstract to worry about. Instead:

“You just try and get through this month and then worry about next month, which is probably self-defeating, but I think it's quite tough to get in the mindset that you're going to put something by so maybe in 10 years you can buy a shoebox a two-hour train ride from where you actually want to be.”

Another reflected that “people keep saying ‘something will turn up’”.

The Staggers turned to our resident thirty something, Yo Zushi, for his thoughts. He agreed with the IFS analysis that the recession mattered:

"We were spoiled by an artificially inflated balloon of cheap credit and growing up was something you did… later. Then the crash came in 2007-2008, and it became something we couldn’t afford to do. 

I would have got round to becoming comfortably off, I tell myself, had I been given another ten years of amoral capitalist boom to do so. Many of those who were born in the early 1970s drifted along, took a nap and woke up in possession of a house, all mod cons and a decent-paying job. But we slightly younger Gen X-ers followed in their slipstream and somehow fell off the edge. Oh well. "

Will the inertia of the1980s kids last? Perhaps – but Zushi sees in the support for Jeremy Corbyn, a swell of feeling at last. “Our lack of access to the life we were promised in our teens has woken many of us up to why things suck. That’s a good thing. 

“And now we have Corbyn to help sort it all out. That’s not meant sarcastically – I really think he’ll do it.”