Monday, July 14, 2008

National Service to fight UK's knife crimes

As the number of knife crimes climb steadily in the whole of UK with London over-represented in terms of population, the new knife crime tsar, Police chief Alf Hitchcock, proposed the revival of national service for unemployed youths. On the other hand, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith proposes a much toned down initiative that reads remarkably similar to my earlier post.

Although the proposed national service is quite different from the military based one that was enforced in the UK between 1945-1963, it nevertheless hopes to achieve similar outcomes: to instil a self discipline and increase self esteem in these youths.

However, unlike the national service shelved in the 60s, Hitchcock's proposal has the additional element of promoting empathy where youths will be drafted to help out at elderly or disabled homes or be involved in overseas aid programs.

Will it work?

Singapore currently requires all able bodied males to serve for two years in the military national service. Males would have to leave the comfort of their homes at the age of 18 to learn weapons handling skills, combat survival skills and hopefully leadership skills.

For 24 months, these young men would have to put aside their education and subject themselves to the military regime, which can be harsh at times. Crimes committed while in national service is kept at a minimal as the perpetrators would be handed by the military court, which punishment involved the much feared detention barracks.

Hitchcock's proposal, however, is obviously more of a community service rather than the national service that we are more familiar with. Looking at the wide range of activities proposed, the main concern would be coordination and implementation. Instead of dealing with just one organization (i.e. the Army), the department-in-charge would have to liaise with thousands of groups with different objectives in mind. As such, youths may face different standards and expectations, which will ultimately lead to the demise of the scheme.

On the other hand, national service is undoubtedly an avenue where a young adult will get to make firm friends who are likely to stay with them well into their adulthood. The friendship forged will hopefully serve as the bedrock of support in times of moral dilemma.

However, at the end of the day, the focus cannot be just on prevention alone. For the initiative to have even a fighting chance to succeed, deterrence measures (i.e. swift and tough punishment) must be enforced. Until then, Hitchcock will be going into battle with just one arm.


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8 comments:

Dutchie said...

Let's hope that the dudes that left their combat fatigues behind after their NS will still be both An Officer n A Gentleman !

Did u enjoy ur 2yrs with Uncle Sam ?

C K said...

@dutchie,
Actually I enjoyed mine very much. But like many, I didn't realised how much I'll miss those days only after I passed out after my National Service obligation.

Made a couple of great friends, one of whom gave the name to this blog. :)

Petitehye said...

Hi CK,

Well, I think that is a great idea. I am sure they are doing it for the benefit of everybody. I wish my country officials is like what your country has.

Thomas said...

I think it's a great idea. Maybe they could have part of their community service to be patrolling the streets.

Deb said...

Huh, your police chief is Alfred Hitchcock? Ho boy. Anyway, I say compulsory NS for these aimless youth may be the thing to knock some sense into their heads. BTW, re your Obesity post a few days ago? Here's the funny photo of the advert for weight gain I spotted in Phnom Penh.

C K said...

@petitehye,
But there's a downside to that as well. Men, who would otherwise be economically productive, are drawn out from the system altogether for two years. That can really make an impact to GDP...

C K said...

@thomas,
Patrolling the streets.. hmm, not a bad idea at all. Instead of them loitering along the streets now you have them patrolling them.

But keeping these people in check would require some logistics management though...

C K said...

@deb,
Well, that's the idea, I think.

Anyway, your photo was hilarious! Talking about 'right to the point' advertising! lol