You know it’s been a strange week when you find yourself agreeing with Theresa May.
The permanently-embattled Prime Minister found herself under fire this week for claiming that falling police numbers were not the sole reason for a rise in knife crime in London.
Unsurprisingly, the police, who will never argue there should be fewer officers, disagreed.
So did the Labour party which, in a move of dreary opportunism, has demanded 10,000 additional officers to curb the rising tide of violence.
But it’s an incident closer to home that illustrates why such crimes cannot be tackled by tougher law enforcement alone.
On Sunday afternoon in Dundee city centre a thug put a brick through a car window in order to steal the princely sum of £3 from inside.
The owner of the car, Murray Chalmers said, with no little measure of despair: “It got me thinking about the way some people exist”.
And that’s something more politicians should spend their time pondering.
Most of us like to think of ourselves as decent, upright people who would never contemplate committing a crime or setting out to cause injury or distress to another person.
Even if a perfect, victimless crime did exist – basically the salami slicing scheme from Superman III where half pennies are shaved off a company’s payroll and deposited in Richard Pryor’s bank account – we would shy away from actually carrying it out because the risks far outweigh the reward.
Basically, even if we had no moral problem with the crime itself, the fear of getting caught and the punishment and shame that comes with it would stop us in our tracks.
Yet clearly there are some people who operate without empathy for their victims or any fear of the consequences of their actions.
Whatever drove somebody to break into a car for £3 in broad daylight, or to follow and rob an 83-year-old man, cannot simply be ascribed to badness.
If anything, it is more serious than that.
Not only did the perpetrator not care about the potential repercussions of their actions, they obviously gave no thought to their victim.
In a world where there is a growing disparity between the haves and have nots, they perhaps do not consider Mr Chalmers a victim at all.
After all, we still, despite a decade plus of austerity, live in an age of conspicuous consumerism where we are bombarded with images of cars, phones and clothes that advertisers tell us we need to live full, happy lives.
Those without can only look at those with as the lucky ones, even as they break into their car. The idea that they may be inflicting misery on someone else simply may not occur to them if they view the victim as someone who can afford whatever loss they inflict.
And that brings us back to knife crime.
Whatever it is that makes a young man, and it is usually always young men, carry a blade and be prepared to use it, is a problem that won’t be simply be solved by putting additional officers on the streets.
Crime is born out of poverty and despair.
Until we give people a reason to value their own lives then it’s hard to see how they’ll ever develop the empathy to value those of others.
Children to be heard but not seen
NHS Tayside has decided to play dirty in its bid to stop people smoking outside the entrance to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
Previously, a recording of a Big Brother style voice reminded smokers they were breaching health board rules and damaging their health by having a fly puff.
Now health board bosses have had three children record anti-smoking messages, which it hopes will shame smokers to stub out their fags.
If that guilt trip doesn’t work, they could always opt for another famous recording of children.
Playing There’s No One Quite Like Grandma by the St Winifred’s School Choir on a loop would ensure no one hangs about outside the main entrance for any longer than they have to.
Spectacular Own Goal
In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Angus Council’s income from the introduction of car parking charges is likely to be less than half the £300,000 the local authority hope for.
Everyone is fully aware of the financial pressures local government is under but this was a policy was never going to be a winner.
It’s been the equivalent of a goalkeeper trying to miraculously score a goal from their own box only to hoof the ball into their own net instead.
High streets everywhere are struggling.
Angus Council has made it harder for businesses – employers – to survive while irritating those used to free parking
As own goals go, at least it’s of the spectacular kind.