Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nothing to hide?

Following the widespread media sneer at Cameron's "Hug a Hoodie" speech the other day, I have been having a bit of a think about this much-debated sartorial issue. As anyone who lives in a built up area will agree, clusters of swearing, spitting and behooded youths are intimidating and, whether justlifiably or not, give the impression to passers by that they are contemplating or have just been engaged upon a mini crime spree. There is something about the furtive nature of the Hoodie. He can see you (and size up what you are wearing or carrying and who is with you), but you can't see him. In fact, you'd be lucky to catch a glimpse of his nose or eyebrows, even if you were brave enough to risk a quick sideways glance in his direction (never an obvious look, unless you're looking for a fight).

Defenders of the hoodie point out that Hoodies are merely trying to protect their identities, in a reaction to the fact that we are, as the inhabitants of these fair isles, among the most photographed people in the world. In fact, William Rees- Mogg writing in the Times in January states that "Britain has four million CCTV cameras, which gives the UK a quarter of the world’s cameras to photograph 1 per cent of the world’s population."

And I would tend to concur with this reasoning. Why should the local Council, the police, petrol station owners, shopkeepers, your pervy neighbour, etc, be entitled to record your image and whereabouts on their CCTV cameras? This rings especially true if you are doing nothing wrong.

The problem is, a significant (albeit small) number of Hoodies cover their identities precisely because they are considering doing something wrong. These thugs are well aware that in order to secure a conviction of crime, the police are going to have to produce some proof that they were involved. In the absence of witness testimony, a grainy CCTV image of a hooded figure at the crime scene might just fail to nail the defendant.

I disagree with the governmental line which is being used to justify everything from ID cards, databases, increased CCTV, phone tapping, etc, that if you nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear, however, I do think it somewhat fictitious and downright naive to pretend that Hoodies are simply troubled youths in need of some TLC. Come on Mr Cameron, do you seriously believe that someone who chooses to wear a hooded top, in the middle of Summer, is not up to no good? We don't.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think cameron should be commended for trying to deal with a sensitive issue. As soon as he had spoken the Labour spinners were making him out to be soft on crime but he is right - the current government has been all too quick to punish young people without looking into the causes and the reasons why. It is always easier to try and stop the problem than look at the cause. Take depression for example, Prozac and other biological treatments may help the person in the short term but they do not treat the under-lying problems as to why the person is depressed.

Read my view of the hoody issue here.

2:18 pm  
Blogger Token Bird said...

Political Teenager - I totally agree with you that not everyone who wears a hoodie is a criminal. Unfortunately for law-abiding hoodie wearers everywhere, the hoodie has been hijacked by a small minority of criminally minded people who see in it the ideal way of obscuring their identity whilst engaging in antisocial if not downright illegal activity. As to the underlying causes of youth crime, you can look no further than the increasing fragmentation of the family unit (by undermining marriage and the role of fathers, for example), failure to provide genuine incentives and rewards for academic achievement, inceasing infantilisation of society by the burgeoning welfare state and failure to punish convicted criminals properly. How do you fix these problems? It's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, but since we've tried pouring money into the welfare system and education and not seen any tangible results, perhaps we should be trying to come up with policies aimed at reversing these trends. So how about (1) reinstating married couples' tax allowances, (2) reintroducing selective education (albeit without the rigid cut-off at the 11 plus stage), (3) changing the focus from funnelling all teenagers into universities and encouraging those that would rather pursue a trade into suitable training (4) increase the tax free allowance so that the very lowest income earners pay no tax (and thus obviating the need for the farcical family tax credit system and (5) build more prisons.

Just some suggestions...

10:53 am  

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