Thoughts on knife crime

A few weeks back in Blackheath an elderly donkey, named Bimbo, was viciously stabbed. The story was widely reported and even made it into the national press. With knife crime on the rise in London and a growing list of victims killed or injured by knives, the column inches devoted to Bimbo might seem out of proportion. The reason they aren't, besides the fact that we are a nation of animal lovers, is that the case of Bimbo encapsulates the problem with knife crime and helps us explore the only solution that really works.

If you are anything like me, the fear of knife-wielding thugs on our streets is terrifying. I want the perpetrators of knife crime caught and I want them punished. If the police and criminal justice system can't do that then it's not fit for purpose. But focussing on punishment, retribution and detection totally fails to address the problem posed by knife crime, and violence generally, in our society.

When I walk down the street with my guide dog and my children, it would be good to know that anyone who punches, stabs or shoots us will be swiftly caught and thoroughly punished. But, in itself, that doesn't make me feel any safer.


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The Big Brexit Myth

I'm totally fed up of being told that opposing Brexit is anti-democratic.

I don't support Brexit. I voted against it. I'd vote against it again. I thought the referendum itself was a bad idea and, if I'd had a vote in Parliament, I'd have voted against that too.

But that's the point. I don't have a vote in Parliament. The people who do have been elected to represent us. It's their job to determine what our best interests are, then do their best to try to achieve them. Surely the fact that they are struggling to achieve any sort of Brexit should be interpreted as a message rather than a personal slap in the face by all those people who voted leave in 2016.

Also, the claim that trying to stop Brexit is anti-democratic entirely misses the point of what democracy is. Democracy isn't some sort of honour code. It's a system of Government. I cast my vote; the votes are counted; the person with the most votes gets to go and sit as my representative.

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Outsourcing: The Bees Knees or the Devil's Work?

At the London Assembly Economy committee this week the topic for discussion was outsourcing and procurement. Not so long ago outsourcing was the default position for local authorities and central Government alike. It seemed like things only stayed in-house if there were no private providers prepared to take them on. Many of our councils turned into little more than contract managers. Private sector good, public sector bad was the oft heard refrain.

With the collapse of Carillion and constant press speculation that the behemoths of private procurement are all teetering on the edge, outsourcing no longer looks like quite such a rosy option. Perhaps the idea that private sector magicians could continue to provide double-digit savings on a yearly basis while still delivering top quality services was, in retrospect, a touch fanciful.

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