Britain boasts an excellent international reputation. It derives this respect from its rich cultural heritage engrained in edifices like Buckingham Palace and traditions like Changing of the Guards. Despite this exemplary status, the nation’s record is not spotless. In 2010, the nation suffered a 0.3 drop in GDP. At the same time, cost of social services like child care (Save the Children ‘’UK Childcare among most expensive in the world’’1) and basic goods like gasoline soared (Boles “Cost of living is back on the rise’’ 1). The most pressing issue in Britain today however, is the social problem of youth delinquency. While the link between youth crime and Britain seems feeble, statistics prove the contrary. In March 2010 Britain together with Wales held a total of 2209 youth delinquents in prison (Natale ‘’Fact Sheet - Youth Crime in England and Wales’’ 1). In doing so, the nation detained more underage delinquents than any other European country excluding Turkey. Evidently, this youth crime issue is not as ambiguous as thought. It is unclear whether the British government should play a bigger, more substantial role to combat youth delinquency in the present. Therefore, the only solution is to draw lessons concerning this issue from the past. To find out what the current government can and should do, this essay will answer the following question:
How does the approach of two previous governments led by Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown compare in quality and quantity to what the current British government is doing to combat youth delinquency in Britain?
As mentioned, to measure the present government’s reaction to youth delinquency, one must first look at how previous governments responded to this issue. Therefore, this paper will begin by investigating what former PM Margaret Thatcher of the Conservative party (1979 – 1990) and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Labour party (2007 – 2010) did to counter youth delinquency.
Margaret Thatcher was so vividly opposed to youth delinquency that she based her campaign for PM on a harsh youth crime strike down (Pitts"Young people; 21 years of policy 1). After being elected in 1979, Thatcher started her anti campaign immediately in rhetoric and concrete action. After all, she was convinced law and order was to be restored (‘’Antisocial behavior: the construction of a crime." Walton 1).’’
To terminate youth delinquency once and for all, in October 1979 Thatcher together with her home secretary William Whitelaw devised ‘the short sharp shock regime.’
This regime meant severe punitive measures including:
“’The use of physical force, verbal humiliation and social isolation.’’ could be taken legally to correct youth delinquent behaviour (Scraton, ‘’Power, conflict and criminalisation’’ 41)
In addition, badly behaved youth delinquents could also be sent to boot camps where youth delinquents could be dealt with even more strictly, if this proved necessary (Scraton, ‘’Power,...