The big questions: Do problem families need visits? Will we get an Olympics legacy? Talk or text?

Answered this week by Harriet Sergeant

Share
Related Topics

Would daily visits to problem families (as recommended this week by Louise Casey, government adviser on the London riots) help to prevent a repeat of last year's disturbances?

Teenage boys like the ones in the south London gang I befriended are rarely at home. They are on the road committing crime or hanging around street corners with nothing to do. The home visitor envisaged by Casey will join a long list of people – teachers, social workers, probation officers, YOTs, Connexion and Job Centre staff – who fail to provide what young people like my boys require: education, training and a job. "We don't need another social worker," said the leader of the gang, "What we need is a social worker's wage."

Are bankers worse role models than footballers for our nation's youth?

The boys in my gang are clear. Footballers pay their fines. The bankers robbed us and got off scot‑free. Tuggy Tug, the gang leader, rang me from prison recently. "Everyone's got a scam going," he pointed out, "but only us get jail time."

If you had the power, would you decriminalise some or all drugs?

New research into the brain reveals it is still developing well into our twenties. It is imperative we stop teenagers taking drugs both for brain development and the links to schizophrenia in adolescent boys. Bulldog, the only white member of my gang, took drugs from the age of 10 and ended up in the Maudsley. I would decriminalise all but crack and heroin, forbid the selling of drugs to anyone under 21, shift the emphasis of possession from the criminal to one of addiction and roll out a public health campaign on the effect of drugs on the teenage brain.

Will the Olympics produce enough of a legacy for ordinary Londoners?

Never mind the future, what about ordinary Londoners right now? Not even the Blitz locked down London for six weeks. "Zil" lanes are closed until midnight so we cannot even party. Ordinary Londoners are being made to feel the Olympics would run just fine if we were not clogging up the city. Locog's priority is to give good TV and keep the 40,000-strong Olympic "family" happy. With that attitude, what hope of a legacy?

Is, as Doreen Lawrence contends, the Independent Police Complaints Commission failing in its duty?

The IPCC's failure to delve "deep enough" into the murder of Stephen Lawrence puts into question its very existence. As Mrs Lawrence said, "It's still police officers investigating police officers, even though they're retired." The murder of her son was a racist act. But the suspicion is that the botched police investigation was due to the corrupt relationship between lead detectives in the Met and known criminals such as Clifford Norris – whose son was later convicted of Stephen Lawrence's death. To the bitterness of many officers, the IPCC is perceived to have allowed the police to be labelled a racist organisation rather than investigate the Met for corruption. It is a decision I still find startling.

Is Hilary Benn right to seek a cap on rising rents in the private sector?

The last time that was tried in the 1970s, landlords fled the market.

Is it a regrettable thing that texting has overtaken talking on the phone?

Not where love is concerned. One of the joys of a modern romance is the exchange of texts. Sexy, funny, unexpectedly emotional, they ambush you throughout the day, a subversive delight compared with the telephone call. So for love – text me every time.

Harriet Sergeant is the author of 'Among the Hoods – My Years with a Teenage Gang', published this week by Faber. It describes a middle‑class woman's four-year friendship with a London gang. She is also a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies and author of six reports including 'Wasted – the Betrayal of White Working-Class and Black Caribbean Boys'.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference