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

Financial Control Manager - Regulatory Reporting

£400 - £550 per day: Orgtel: Financial Control Manager - Regulatory Reporting ...

Lead Application Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am current...

Senior Networks Architect

£65000 per annum + 15% Pension, Health, Travel & Bonus: Progressive Recruitmen...

SAP BW/BO Consultant

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW/BO CONSU...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

How silly of me to assume it was Israeli bombs causing all the damage in Gaza

Mark Steel
 

Careful, Mr Cameron. Don't flirt with us on tax

Chris Blackhurst
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices