Sunday, April 28, 2019

As if we didn't know

The decline of heavy industry in Britain during the Thatcher era led to a significant increase in crime, according to the first study of its kind.

Research has found that in areas where the coal, steel, ship and railway industries were hit during the 1980s, young people were much more likely to find themselves in trouble with the police. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of young people receiving cautions was 21% higher in those areas with the highest level of job losses than in those with the lowest rise.

Professor Stephen Farrall, who carried out the research with Dr Emily Gray and Dr Phil Jones, told the British Sociological Association’s annual conference, “If you had a dad who was down the pit or in a steel mill, you were expected to follow him into that occupation, and if his pit or mill closed, that pulled the economic rug from under you,” Farrall said. “So the process of de-industrialisation took away young people’s hope and aspirations when they were young by making their parents unemployed and hitting their own job prospects. That could lead to them turning to drugs and crime.”

Farrall said that the policies, which saw overall unemployment in Britain double from just over 4% in 1979, to over 8% by 1981, hit the industrial heartlands of Britain hardest. In areas where unemployment stayed low – at 4% or under – 14% of people surveyed had police cautions. In areas where it rose to 8%, 17% had cautions, a rise of three percentage point, or 21.4%.
"...the early phase of Thatcherite economic policies created quite profound and immediate economic problems which fell disproportionately on those communities which had relied on heavy industry – mining, steel work and the associated industries such as railway yards and locomotive depots,” Farrall said.

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