Black on Black serious violence and murder

In response to a request we have opened a thread to discuss Black on Black serious violence and murder. While the term “Black on Black” is seen by some as controversial in itself, the serious violence and murder data particularly in London suggests that there is a real issue here.
If you scan the series of murder victims photos in the London Teenage Murder page, it is clear that the largest majority of the victims are from a Black African and Black Caribbean heritage; where offenders have been caught and prosecuted, the majority are also Black. Similarly, the profile of serious Youth violence also suggests a disproportionate number of Black young men are the victims of serious violence, and perpetrators of serious violence.
Based upon a Freedom of Information request to the Metropolitan police the Telegraph newspaper reported that:

“The data provide a breakdown of the ethnicity of the 18,091 men and boys who police took action against for a range of violent and sexual offences in London in 2009-10.
They show that among those proceeded against for street crimes, 54 per cent were black; for robbery, 59 per cent; and for gun crimes, 67 per cent. Street crimes include muggings, assault with intent to rob and snatching property.
Just over 12 per cent of London’s 7.5 million population is black, including those of mixed black and white parentage, while 69 per cent is white, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The police figures also show that black men are twice as likely to be victims. They made up 29 per cent of the male victims of gun crime and 24 per cent of the male victims of knife crime.”

While some of these figures can be contested, for example: they are reliant on who police took action against – which could be more about who the police tend to arrest and charge; most robberies are unreported – so any figures could be un-representative of the true robbery picture; the Black and Mixed race population for young people in inner London is over 23% rather than the 12% figure for all ages. I could go on, however even if you nit pick away at the data provided by the Telegraph, which unsurprisingly focused much of their story on the offenders rather than the victims, there is still pretty strong evidence to indicate a disproportionate representation in Black offenders and victims for weapon enabled crime and serious violence.

Before continuing this discussion, when I talk about young Black men this includes those of both Black African AND Black Caribbean heritage. I emphasise this as the greatest number of those teenagers murdered in London over the last 6 years have been from a recent African heritage…. yet much of the discourse in this area seems to be focused on Caribbean issues or heritage. Like London’s demographic it is time to move these discussions on so they truly reflect the changing cultures and communities within the capital.

Bad places often create bad behaviour

In an environment that you believe to be violent you are probably going to value those attitudes and behaviours that can deal with it. Many of these young men think they need to be aggressive to ensure they do not become the targets of aggression. And this cycle is likely to continue unless there is action to break it. So an awful situation will often create awful responses, particularly if there are very few opportunities to get away from it, say through acquiring sufficient resources to move out. London’s violent places have remained remarkably stable and even before any increase in Black communities within the area; places like Camberwell and Peckham in Southwark were pretty notorious.

So I think one of the first points is that many of these young men are living and relatively trapped within pretty violent and unpleasant places. They adapt to this by taking on the behaviour and characteristics that they think will enable them to survive it.

Poverty is not an excuse

Well poverty is partly an excuse. Poverty and deprivation have a significant role to play in creating unpleasant and violent environments, (in the teenage murder review it appeared to account for around a third of the variability in the expression of extreme violence). But those of us who have lived in poorer areas, or older generations who recall a time when many people were poor but didn’t seem to attack each other with such extremes of violence, know that poverty and violence do not have to go together, and they are right. There are many deprived communities but they have different levels of violence, particularly lethal violence.

There must be other factors other than deprivation involved and while a general trend exists between deprivation and violence. The rates of violence between similar deprived areas can be very different; also in a single area there are very rapid increases or reductions in violence, that cannot be accounted for by changes in deprivation which take many years, sometime decades, to change.

Protective Factors – policing and the criminal justice system

Before moving on to cultural or personal factors, I think it is probably worth emphasizing the role of policing and other enforcement or criminal justice factors that may contribute to the expression of extreme violence.

While those who live close to violent people are the more likely to be harmed by them, many feel that Black on Black violence is a feature of the poor policing as well. The arguments towards this probably need to be provided in more detail:

  • It is suggested that the police do not prioritise crimes committed against Black people.
  • Because of this policing low priority, Black communities do not have the full protective capability of the police and are more likely to be victimized.
  • Without the recourse to a full and effective intervention by the criminal justice system, disputes and issues are more likely to be resolved within communities and localities and this can escalate towards very violent confrontations
  • Offenders are less concerned with capture and prosecution and as a consequence offend more regularly and more severely.
  • Some of these positions have been confirmed by the Home Office annual crime statistics report Crime in England and Wales 2010-11, where Mixed race and Black people report some of the lowest confidence in policing and criminal justice system (fairness and effectiveness) compared to other groups.

    It may be useful to provide an example to demonstrate how some of these issues could escalate into violent situations – if you are robbed in your area, and you believe the police will not take the offence seriously (or even turn round and start harassing you), the anger and grievance you feel might make it likely that you go back to the place where you robbed, possibly with a few friends along with you as back up, in the hope of spotting the offender. If that offender is seen the chances are that he/ she will suffer a very severe reprisal.

    There may be some truth behind some of this argument – although it is probably unfair to put it all at the police door, and police initiatives like Operation Trident (Black on Black murder team) were specifically developed to address some of the points made above. The reporting of crime is often lower within Black deprived areas, even for serious violent crime. And I think it is fair to say that over the last decade the police have made significant efforts (although not always particularly effective) to encourage crime reporting by Black communities. But suspicion of the police still remains and while they (the police) continue to be seen and present as a Force made up from, and perceived to be interested in the protection of the majority white population, then it is likely that Black people will feel that they are being policed against, rather than the police are there for them as well.

    Self image and identity

    There are features of a violent self identity that are useful, I have mentioned that they can be thought of as useful if you believe that you are living within a violent environment or you feel that protective factors such as the police or criminal justice system do not prioritise your protection .
    The protracted history of violence within areas of London also demonstrates that cultures of violence are independent of race or national heritage and the expression of violence can be linked to issues such as deprivation and low opportunities.
    However the expression of violence and particularly extreme violence can fluctuate very quickly and we should look at how individuals understand and interpret the situation they are in and their role within it, put another way – we need to understand the stories (or narrative) people tell about themselves and the places they live. And how these stories can come to dominate a group or community for a while and then fall out of fashion and be lost.

    The stories of self really do have an effect on how we feel about a situation and as a consequence shape the behaviour we express. They often reside in an area of consciousness that we are not entirely aware of and can make us respond to things even before consciousness has had the opportunity to fully process a situation. They can develop over a long period of time or can be written almost instantly if you experience a particularly powerful event. Another feature of these stories is that they can be passed on to other people and if they seem to be a good or useful explanation for what is happening in a particular place or time, they can rapidly infect a group.
    Infect a group is probably a very useful way of thinking about how these stories seem to be passed from person to person. And if we take the analogy further we can start looking at the processes and features that can either make you vulnerable or resilient to a harmful story.

    The spread of infectious disease in populations is studied using simple compartmental (SIR) epidemiological models, where the population is divided into three main categories: susceptible (S), infected (I) and resistant (R). Susceptible are those at risk of infection when they come into contact with infected individuals. Infected individuals are capable of transmitting infection to others in the population. Resistant individuals have recovered and are immune to the disease.

    to be continued…….

    This entry was posted in Black crime, gun crime, knife crime, murder and homicide, street violence, Teenage Violence Homicide. Bookmark the permalink.

    14 Responses to Black on Black serious violence and murder

    1. MandyJ says:

      What a useful reminder about London’s dangerous places! We all have such short memories and quickly forget that worry about young people, gangs and knife crime has gone on long before any increase in the Black community in London.
      Camberwell, Islington and East London were notorious in the early 50’s and well into the 80’s for their criminal families and the danger of knife crime.

      Thank you for bringing a bit of sanity back into the debate.

      • Jon says:

        It wasn’t like this in the past. Gangs of youths almost randomly and arbitrarily setting about one person and stabbing them to death..and then being proud of it. Even old school ‘hard men’ think the brutality now is despicable and incomprehensible.

    2. Graham H says:

      A crime epidemic of murder and violence because young Black men have been infected with a range of dangerious ideas about what what it means to be young, Black and male. OK I can handle that as a concept and how dangerous it might be to play into that whole story, not sure how you change it though and what would make you more resistant to these sort of ideas.

    3. Denis-m says:

      You just have to look at the Telegraph article and the kind of attitude that young black men have to deal with when trying to get eduction or employment is revealed in all its disgusting glory. Tackling those labels is tough and a constant uphill struggle, part of you just wants to say alright if thats what you think maybe that is exactly what you are going to get.
      I know its not just a race thing, if you have the “wrong” accent or you sound a bit too “street” you get the same hassle, but the whole violence label thing makes it a lot worse for black guys who just want to grow up, get a job and raise kids the same as everyone else out there.

    4. House of Commons Home Affairs Committee
      Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System

      Some useful background reading on this issue and one of the most comprehensive reviews of the issues, although now 5 years out of date but still pretty relevant.

    5. Arman says:

      Black on Black violence is partly due to the fact that people feel they cant snitch/ grass on other people in the Black community and we sort our own problems out without the police. When this is small scale things it is ok but when it is murder I think the whole keep it in the Black community approach becomes stupid.
      Another reason not to snitch is that you are scared that other people will come to your place to seek revenge, so even if the murderer is put behind bars you don’t know whether his friends will be lying in wait for you somewhere or come to your home.
      This fear of revenge acts as the main deterrent to report crime to the police and when we in the Black commuity feel that the police are interested and able to properly protect us, we will come forward.

    6. Kuci from Lambeth says:

      Lambeth looks like it has won the title of most dangerous place to live for shootings and gun related murders in the whole of Britain. The 20 year old shot on Black Prince Road adds to the list of at least 13 gun related incidents in the 6 months of 2011 where people have been either been seriously wounded or killed. The most horrific of the woundings was that 5 year old shot in a store on Stockwell road, but there has already been 6 gun killings (out of the 11 murders so far this year), 9 of the victims being young Black men.
      All of these shootings were done by black men who have become the most dangerous thing to other black men. There is no excuse for this cycle of death and destruction and where once white racists were the greatest threat to black youths, we have now become our own greatest enemy. Can’t blame racism on this one, as the racism was so much worse 20 years ago.

    7. TK Black Elder and Grandfather says:

      We know that Black people are often the last to get the benefits of good times and the first to lose those benefits in the hard times. There is no surprise that robbery and burglary are climbing fastest in deprived areas with black communities, or that knife crime and violence in Lambeth has started to spike
      I don’t know why people turn on each other in this violent way when things get tough. When the Brixton riots happened it was their local area the youths smashed not Westminster or Chealsea. When people are in pain they lash out at whoever is closest this happens in relationships it happens in neighbourhoods.
      Lambeth is a barometer and early warning signal that the hard times are biting and when shit happens in Lambeth it tends to pulse outwards to the rest of the city.
      This current set of tory ministers are very stupid. All they have done is destroyed hope, aspiration and dreams without putting anything else in place. Any idiot can smash and break things it takes real ability to build things. They once talked about broken Britain but have now come in and decided to really mash up any prospect for black people and anyone who lives in the inner city… damn fools!

      • Emilia Johnson says:

        Thank you! Good to see Black fathers and grandfathers coming forward to say that these youths need to buck up their ideas and realise that there is no excuse for acting out like this. When does the only aspiration of a youth become to be the most dangerous thug on an estate. Is that it! Is that the only thing left as something to be proud of. Who is teaching these children to limit their potential so much. Probably other black boys who failed at everything so want everybody else to fail. That is why when they see a black child getting on or doing well in school they want to destroy that poor boy. It reminds them that they have wasted all their own potential and will amount to nothing but some bend over boy in prison.
        The only thing some boys have is anger and aggression and they want to create a world where violence provides the opportunity, not hard work not morals, not brains. This is why they want to create a gangsters paradise. Because only as gangsters can they hope to succeed.

        Our job as Black mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, is not to allow this and to make sure that we do not allow these thugs to get away with their violence and murder. Even though the police are often our enemy we must use them and teach them to do their jobs to protect our community. Our children must be allowed to protect their community by putting on the uniform themselves. The white man club of London policing must finally move on and change will only happen when we have policing for the people by the people then and only then will black communities embrace the protection of the police.
        When a black boy knows he can put on a uniform to protect his community from thugs rather than have to buy a gun himself then we will see the end of the cycle of murder after murder.
        The Lambeth murders are a direct result of people taking the law into their own hand because the law consistency fails us!
        No more excuses Boris Johnson. I work hard and pay my taxes like many other black mothers in Lambeth. We pay the police but you do not give us the police we need or want.

    8. ivant Tegg says:

      I wonder for how long we black people are gonna keep comming up with excuses about our communities. Its always the government, the system, the neighbourhood.
      For starters, there seems to be a culture among we the black people of ranking our status in society based on what we have. The value of success in our community seems to be solely coined to a monetary ladder. A 20 year old young black man assumes he has succeed in life the moment he drives a BMW. And even the community will take him to that.
      The other problem is the lack of engrained life values that parents are responsible for instilling in their offsprings. As a teacher, I have been gobsmacked at the lack of discipline among the black youth and when you review the cause, it all starts from home. We seem to be so ignorant when it comes to instilling life long values in our youth as parents. I have seen parents come into my school and sometimes you couldn’t tell the difference between the parent and the child. I have seen 50 year old men with ear rings and kenrons with trousers falling below their waists turn up to pick up their kids. This image goes on to prove my point.
      When a young black man leaves home with a price tag on his cap, it tells you a lot about how low we value ourselves.
      It really suprises me when a parent appears on TV pleading for his child killers to be brought to justice, only for you to find out that this so called angel at 12 years of age was gunned down at 2:00a.m on the streets. That sums it up all. We need to search answers to those issues that I have highlighted.

      • Carl TJ says:

        60% of black children are brought up by single mothers. 56% of mixed race children are brought up by single mothers. That Black dad you saw is an exception BUT at least he was there to pick up his child!
        The kids out there have no image of what it means to be a real man, that is why they latch onto stupid things like BMW’s and other shallow consumer goods that supposed to demonstrate wealth. Without fathers there, teenage boys become a caricature of manhood, not real men. But they dont know anything else. Like men who dress up as women they overdo the make-up, boobs and high heels. So these black boys overdo the macho posturing and violence. They dont know that real men feel compassion, fear, sadness and cry. These boys are shadows of men just something they saw in a film, advert or music video, and thought that what a real man should be.

    9. Rich says:

      Black Africa is a total failure, the Carribean is not much better, Black Britons after 60 years are still in the slow lane, and have now developed a victim culture too, we wish you well but come on give us something to work with ! the other immigrant groups are just laughing at you, they’ve shut up and got down to work, and are reaping the benefits while you whine about how hard done by you are.

      • Andrew K says:

        Are you discounting that Britain fought a number of civil wars as did America before they settled down into a form of widespread democracy.
        An independent Africa and Caribbean have existed for around 50 years and had to overcome the dictatorships from Europe. South Africa overthrew white racism but rather than react with bloody vengeance whites were integrated back into society as long as they started behaving properly.

        Black children are now doing better in schools than the white working class across the UK, and dare I say it the black middle class are very comfortably off. What you hear about are those still struggling and reacting badly within that struggle. This gets the news more than people doing well and there seems to be a lot invested in keeping those negative stories going.

        Alas poor Europe is in decline and Asia and Africa have the natural resources and the work ethos to succeed.

        So don’t worry too much about Africa and the Caribbean they are plodding along and improving, getting their qualifications and finally removing the last vestiges of imperialism. Save your concern for Europe as it slowly diminishes as producers of anything other than fake and useless financial products.

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