It would be useful if those running our society on our behalf had even the vaguest connection with the reality out here. That this is so is not immediately apparent from this latest spouting by Cressida Dick, someone who by some mischance has become Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police. That social media has an influence upon the wider society is obviously true, for it’s an important part of that wider society these days. But exactly what that influence is does depend upon that reality, not dreams thought up in some ivory tower.
Trivial disputes between children are escalating to murder “within minutes” due to the influence of social media, Britain’s top police officer has said.
Cressida Dick told The Times that the internet normalised violence, which is sped up by rivals goading each other on message boards.
It comes amid a recent spate of stabbings in London as 13 Londoners were killed in two weeks this month.
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said websites and mobile phone applications such as YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram were partially to blame for the bloodshed.
“There’s definitely something about the impact of social media in terms of people being able to go from slightly angry with each other to ‘fight’ very quickly,” she said.
She said that insults or threats online “makes [violence] faster, it makes it harder for people to cool down. I’m sure it does rev people up”.
This is a testable proposition. Social media pretty much didn’t exist at all 20 years ago and has really only become commonplace in this past decade. So, if the Twitters, Facebooks, Instagrams, are driving an increase in murder among children then we’d see an increase in murder among children over this past decade.
Have we? Well:
There were 571 homicides (murder, manslaughter and infanticide) in the year ending March 2016 in England and Wales. This represents an increase of 57 offences (11%) from the 514 recorded in the previous year.
The number of homicides has shown a general downward trend over recent years and the 571 recorded was still one of the lowest levels since the late 1980s, despite having increased from the previous year.
There were 9.9 offences of homicide per million population, and the homicide rate for males (13.8 per million population) was more than twice that for females (6.0 per million population).
Women were far more likely than men to be killed by partners or ex-partners (44% of female victims compared with 7% of male victims), and men were more likely than women to be killed by friends or acquaintances (35% of male victims compared with 13% of female victims).
There were 38 homicide victims aged under 16 years in the year ending March 2016, the lowest number since data on homicide victims by age of victim was first published in 1972.
No, we haven’t. The Commissioner is therefore spouting tosh, isn’t she?
How lucky we are that those we hire to do the difficult bits in our society have no sodding clue about that society itself, nor in fact reality. Aren’t we?