Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Britain is not like The Wire!

Yesterday I read in the Times that the Conservative Party's Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling argued that Britain had reached a US style 'Culture of Violence' as a result of a 70% increase in violent crime in the UK since Labour came to power. Mr Grayling made the point that in many parts of the country the US police drama The Wire had become part of real life! My immediate thought was don't be so ridiculous!

This is such a misleading and inaccurate comparison to make. There are obviously areas of the country with high levels of violent crime and social deprivation, but I don't believe you can compare anything in this country to some cities in America.

At times watching The Wire you have to remind yourself that this is America, the world's richest country. Yet many of the inhabitants portrayed in the series are living in areas that a nothing more than war zones, and were the standard of living appear to be at Third World levels!

I was glad to read today that the Evening Standard's Anne McElvoy agreed with me. She rightly pointed out that despite our problems with gun crime in some inner cities, gun violence is tiny in comparison to Baltimore where the series is set.

Chris Grayling has highlighted the direct link between the most deprived areas in the UK having the biggest rise in violent crime during the last year. This is all part of The Conservatives portrayal of Britain's 'broken society'.

Of course there are parts of society which are experiencing serious social and economic problems but it's wrong to say that our entire society is broken which is what the term implies.

I remember reading an interview with David Simon creator of The Wire in which he basically said that he'd walked down some of the supposedly worst streets in London, and also in other European cities but he still didn't think any of them compared to Baltimore.

Maybe Chris Grayling should get in touch with Simon to discuss this.

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