Darcus Howe dismisses the Yardie threat

Should rural villages dig themselves in against the Yardies? I think not

''Beware Middle England, the Yardies are coming." This is a reasonable summary of the front-page lead in the Guardian of 14 June, written by the crime correspondent Nick Hopkins. Hopkins had interviewed Detective Chief Superintendent John Coles of Operation Trident, the police squad that investigates drug-related murders committed largely by Yardies, a fairly recent group of migrants from urban Jamaica.

Hopkins warns Guardian readers that the Yardies have spread through the villages of Somerset, Sussex and East Anglia, and as far north as Aberdeen, where crack cocaine is offered at the extortionate price of £50 for a mere blow. This seems unlikely when crack cocaine is distributed elsewhere by blacks and whites alike in whole rocks, which cost £10, £20 and £50. We are further asked to believe that the Yardies are bringing a fearsome violence across the Mendip Hills.

Hopkins quotes Coles calling for the mobilisation of "the white middle classes" to expel the Yardie menace from rural England. "Next to terrorism," Coles says, "this is the biggest challenge facing police in London, and potentially the rest of the country." Yet I have to report that Yardie violence is on the wane, primarily because the Home Office has made it nigh impossible for these Jamaican reprobates to get into the UK. They are no longer allowed to embark from Kingston without a visa issued at the British high commission, and the requirements for the visa are so forbidding that only upper-middle-class Jamaicans qualify.

Further, the fabric of this group is so fragile that no coherent gang organisation is possible. I was once told by an officer from Trident that, within 20 minutes of any Yardie murders (70 a year, reckons Coles, but I am told 20), Trident knows who did it, how, when and where. There exists extreme disloyalty among the criminals as they struggle at the backside end of the drug trade. They have on their heels a small but highly irritating group of British blacks who rob their pushers at gunpoint. In and around south London, that is the major deterrent to the spread of Yardieism, and the major source of violent conflict.

So Jeremy Paxman, for example, has no need to dig trenches around his pretty cottage to stave off the Yardie invasion.

And why this scaremongering? I suggested to Coles that Operation Trident wants an increased budget. He chuckled.

Darcus Howe is an outspoken writer, broadcaster and social commentator. His TV work includes ‘White Tribe’ in which he put Anglo-Saxon Britain under the spotlight. He also fronted a series called Devil’s Advocate.