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Bossybabe

Glasgow Gang Knife Fights Just Don't Stop

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I was depressed to read this in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Violence seems almost hardwired in the Glaswegian psyche.

The knife entered the boy's neck with brutal force and fatal precision: an artery severed, a haemorrhagic fountain, the desperate ambulance dash to hospital. For Reamonn Gormley, 19, it was all too late.

In the old stone mortuary in central Glasgow, the tiled floors are swirling with water and detergent. The day's post-mortems are over, saws and scalpels clean, slabs gleaming. The smell of disinfectant is sharp but it cannot chase away the reek of death.

The boy's body has already succumbed to the pathologist's knives and now lies in the third fridge from the left, waiting for the criminal justice system to finish its work.

Knife crime in Glasgow

A man with a history of violence who has been assaulted is disarmed by police officers before paramedics enter the building to give him medical treatment. Photo by David Gillanders

Gormley's killers, infuriated by his refusal to hand over a mobile phone but senseless with alcohol, pleaded guilty last week while his parents - and the city of Glasgow itself - rage and wonder why.

This nation of stone churches and Victorian grandeur, home of the romantic poet Robert Burns and legendary hero William Wallace, is drowning in blood.

In Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city, a stabbing occurs every six hours - and many more go unreported. Survey after survey, from the World Health Organisation to the United Nations, identifies Glasgow as one of the most violent cities in western Europe. Among young males aged between 10 and 29, the rate of homicide is similar to Argentina, Costa Rica and Lithuania. Alcohol-related death rates are three times the British average while Scots have one of the lowest life expectancies in Europe.

The nightmare is constant, a cycle of violence that each weekend sees the alcoholic and drug addicted, chronically unemployed and angry, the young and the old, take to the streets armed with knives, machetes and even samurai swords to battle the demons of disillusionment - and each other.

Three-quarters of all weapons crimes in Scotland occur in the Strathclyde policing district in and around Glasgow. Between 5000 and 6000 are recorded each year and more than 2200 hospital beds are taken up with the victims.

The raw statistics are mind-boggling. But they do not explain why blade-carrying is so culturally imbued among Glaswegian men, from the razor gangs of the 1930s to the 100 or so motley, territorial mobs who prowl the vast housing schemes around the city today.

Is it possible that generations of alcohol abuse, extreme disadvantage and social distress - combined with inculcated machismo and a modern drug culture - have created a cocktail toxic enough to see a penchant for violence hardwired into the Glaswegian psyche?

Inspector Dougie Stevenson, head of the Strathclyde Gangs unit, knows the problem better than most: "I was brought up on 'the schemes', on the border with Lanarkshire, and I didn't know who lived on the other side of the street. I didn't venture further than 100 metres from the front door … if I did, it'd be a rough ride," he says.

"There are guys I went to school with 32 years ago and I'm locking their dads up. They're still at it … 43-year-old men we arrest for gang fighting. I know it sounds like I'm talking about savages but we can be called to a gang fight and there'll be fathers n' grandfathers shouting 'C'mon, get him'. This is what we are dealing with in West Scotland."

For Dr Marjorie Black, news of young Gormley's death came at 5am, when the Glasgow winter sky was still dark and sleep difficult to shake away. A forensic pathologist with the Scottish Crown office, Black has seen the bodies of many who have died an unnatural death in Glasgow over the past 17 years - whether by their own hand, accident or violence.

On this icy morning, she was told the victim was a 19-year-old student. By the time the city woke to the news, she had witnessed Gormley's parents sob that their boy, a psychology student at Glasgow University, had just returned from a trip teaching literacy to children in Thailand.

In her small office piled with books, newspapers and tomes on drug toxicology and forensics, Dr Black exudes the resignation of a woman whose workload can never end: "Most of it is known to be gang related: there is this culture of defending turf … in Glasgow, if you stray into the wrong area, you are seen as fair game."

Week after week, she sees how one blow with a knife can kill, but the young men of Glasgow don't seem to register this: "They grow up in a culture where … showing off injuries is a mark of a man. Not enough people are aware of just how many people don't survive it," she says.

At night, Glasgow's vast housing estates are forbidding, grim and dirty in their baths of fluorescent yellow light. On patrol with a crew from the Strathclyde Gang division units, we head for the city's troubled east, passing concrete towers and bleak red-brick blocks which loom from litter-infested parks.

CCTV footage has identified stirrings of trouble at a roundabout between Drumhyde and Drumchapel, a historic flashpoint of territorial violence. Kids dart out of sight as they see the unmarked police van. Some look barely old enough to be out, let alone at night.

Three plain-clothes officers, Barry Inglis, Eilon Miller and Andrew McIntyre, are on the lookout for a kid in a blue tracksuit, spotted on camera throwing bricks. For the kids they collar for questioning - arms up, pockets emptied, legs apart - this is clearly nothing new. They are compliant, it's all routine.

"Tonight's quiet," says Inglis. "But you can see it everywhere; generations have been doing it, grandfathers, fathers, sons, grandsons. We hear it all the time when we bring kids in: 'I did it when I was a boy, what's the problem?'''

Across town, Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, is sitting at a big table in Strathclyde's Violence Reduction Unit. He is the homicide cop from central casting: silver goatee, shaved head and eyes that flash 'don't f--- with me'. But this detective of 30 years is a pioneer; an articulate, modern advocate of a revolutionary approach to tackle Glasgow's hard boys.

"The violence we see here is of such intensity that it's almost unique in western Europe … accepted as legitimate, a community norm, something that cannot be changed. The statistics are bad enough but much of what goes on never gets reported," he says.

"I will never forget one day going to a hospital to get a statement from a guy who had been stabbed, an attempted murder. The doctor said he'd signed himself out. We found him at his Gran's house, stripped to the waist with bloody surgical dressings all over his back. He's smoking, insisting he's OK. Then he dragged in the smoke. I thought, 'oh f---, it's coming out the hole in his back'. He thought that was normal. Or you'd go look for a kid who's wanted for something and his mum will say 'He's out gang-fightin' - as if he was playing out the back."

Carnochan is founder of Glasgow's Violence Reduction Unit, an experiment born five years ago when his police analyst colleague Karyn McCluskey found that despite decades of anti-violence initiatives, Glasgow's blade culture hadn't shifted in 40 years. It was an emergency doctor returning from a couple of years in Melbourne who pointed out the disastrous numbers. "He told us he dealt with more knife injuries in a month in Glasgow than he had in two years away in Australia."

Carnochan and McCluskey also realised that while communities in other cities such as London or Belfast took to the streets to demand action against violence - mothers banding together, victims support groups chanting for change - Glasgow seemed simply to accept that bloodshed was part of the weekend's recreational activities.

They decided it was time for change. Their experiment, known as CIRV (pronounced ''serve''), the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, is now in its third year and is starting to reap measurable rewards. It too is based on a three-pronged attack: targeted enforcement coupled with specialist support and early intervention services with a push to encourage a powerful moral voice from the community.

The Strathclyde police began three years ago and mapped 167 gangs, all guarding territory and turf rather than drugs - some covering just a few streets and laneways - then began a ''call in'' of gang leaders, to warn that every time an individual committed an act of violence, police would come down hard on the entire gang.

Carnochan and McCluskey then pushed for the creation of new partnerships between police and other government services: social workers, schools and teachers, housing and employment specialists, the military and sports organisations to ensure that anyone who wanted an out was supported.

The police made it clear they were not wanting to stamp out the very existence of gangs, acknowledging that for the kids of dysfunctional and distressed families, gangs can offer a sense of belonging and security.

The focus of the message remains: give up the knives.

Scott Breslin was 16 years old when he was stabbed in the neck. But he did not die. Instead, he woke up a tetraplegic, paralysed from the neck down.

In a suburban cottage on the outskirts of Glasgow, he is sitting in his wheelchair in a pool of soft, late-afternoon light. His carer is fussing around in another room while he fiddles with a mobile phone. His eyes, expressive and open, alight at the arrival of company.

He shows us the scar on his neck. It is no bigger than a 20 cent piece but the blade severed his spinal cord. He has limited use of one hand but this smart, good-looking young man will need constant care for the rest of his life.

Breslin was walking home from a party with a mate when they heard a friend was being chased: "We went to see what was happening; it was Pennilee just 10 minutes away. There were two of us but we were unknown there. We turned the corner and saw 10 of them, girls and boys. We tried to walk through and away, one started shouting, my mate fell, I went to help, I was stabbed in the neck," he says matter of factly.

"It felt like a short circuit, the lights went out, I fell to the ground, lost some teeth … I was about to start a new job, training as a glazer, when it happened. It was the first day of a two-week holiday."

Ironically, Breslin's catastrophic injury has opened the door to a life he would never have imagined: finishing school and a tertiary education. After months of rehab, he studied for his A levels and is now doing a business and marketing degree at Paisley University.

"Life's too short to hate. I want to make the most of my life, the best I can,'' he says. ''And if talking about what happened to me helps get one person to put a knife down, I've done something."

John Carnochan doesn't believe in a silver bullet to cure Glasgow of its violent disease. However, if investment in prevention delivers "a thousand smaller victories" and even incremental, long-term improvements, that in itself is a win.

His boss, Campbell Corrigan, is just as frank. He has led a major re-think of policing strategies, releasing 60 per cent of his 8000 officers from traditional areas into more preventive, pro-active work. The programs range from enforcing curfews to management of repeat offenders and face-to-face work with gang leaders. Work is being done to enforce bail conditions that require sobriety, and work to detect domestic abuse has yielded a 65 per cent success rate, significant for a crime so shrouded in shame and secrecy.

Despite a downward trend in weapons crimes and homicide rates, Corrigan remains cautious: ''There is less violence in the pubs and the streets but that could be a shift from outdoor to indoor violence … highest levels [of domestic] violence in Europe."

Their take-no-prisoners attitude has inspired many, however, including a group of the city's maxilo-facial surgeons and their colleagues in accident and emergency. Says Dr Christine Goodall: "Research shows us that that if you live in a deprived area in Glasgow, you were three times more likely to have a facial injury or trauma. If alcohol is involved, the likelihood rises and is seven times higher than if you lived in a more well off neighbourhood.

"We were seeing people in their 20s with cirrhosis of the liver, kids of 14 who would take hours to be stitched up and when you tell them the scar would be there for life, they'd say it was OK … for them it was a badge of honour. We decided we were spending so much time on fixing the results of violence, it was time to work on prevention."

Medics Against Violence was born of this exasperation. The project now sees more than 130 surgeons visit schools to talk to kids about what double-bladed, home-made razor knives can do to the face and body - if they don't kill. A film, scripted for teenagers, shows how one, alcohol-fuelled moment can change lives - and encourages classroom discussion of alternatives.

Among the graphic images are shots taken by the Glasgow-born boxer turned photojournalist, David Gillanders, who spent months with Strathclyde police and medics documenting their quest to stymie the city's violent bent. The photos, in black and white, are haunting: a young man embracing his dead mate on a hospital gurney, his grief palpable and raw; middle-aged men lying unconscious on beds after a fight, fresh slash wounds among the scars of older battles; young men with ears and cheeks sewn up many times. Others, lunging blindly at police and each other, their faces a mask of alcoholic rage.

Today, the images adorn Carnochan's offices, a bloody and permanent reminder of the determined cop's thankless task.

"The young men's faces are scarred from the conflict but these scars label them not as the victims they are, but as fighters, violent men. This means they can't get jobs, find a relationship,'' he says. "Functioning in a society that is fearful of violence is difficult, too … we shouldn't forget that either."

Things just don't change, do they?

I grew up in Paisley, home to the worst housing scheme in UK in the '70s. It's now a gun crime focus.

No wonder I emigrated to the Isle of Wight.:unsure:

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Labour's legacy in housing estates up and down the UK:

"At night, Glasgow's vast housing estates are forbidding, grim and dirty in their baths of fluorescent yellow light. On patrol with a crew from the Strathclyde Gang division units, we head for the city's troubled east, passing concrete towers and bleak red-brick blocks which loom from litter-infested parks."

:(

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Sheffield in the 1920s was known as "little Chicago" due to it's gang violence. A Scottish police officer, Percy Shillito and the "Flying Squad", sorted it out, using methods that were a bit beyond the pale even then (made Gene Hunt look like a fairy).

Gang warfare in the 1920s was nowhere more violent than in Sheffield, dubbed Britain's 'little Chicago'. One man was murdered, two hanged, and many others gaoled before the gangs were finally smashed, after five years of knifings, shootings and razor-slashings, years in which the law-abiding citizen became afraid to walk the streets of his own city. The Sheffield Gang Wars is the only full and factual account of what is an integral part of British criminal history. It reveals how and why the gangs quarreled and who were the real aggressors. It questions the guilt of the brothers Fowler, hanged for their part in the Princess Street murder. It details the controversial tactics of the Home Office-instigated Flying Squad. It puts the gangbuster reputation of Chief Constable Sillitoe - later to become head of M15 - in true perspective. The Sheffield Gang Wars tell the real story as it happened.

LINK

There is no way the methods used then would be used now, so basically there is no chance of the police doing anything more than holding the line.

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Glasgow is the UK murder capital. I wonder what house prices are like there? :D

http://www.independe...als-737329.html

http://www.theglaswe...02692-22374138/

Some things never change under Labour....... "Tough on crime tough on the causes of crime" but not tough enough!

I find it somewhat ironic that the poorest in society who inevitably slip into crime because of their poor lifestyles were the very ones Labour claims to help, yet Labour helped them into more crime just like they straddled the country with more debt and wasted hundreds of £billions over their terms in office at our expense!

Labour really are Loonies!

Perhaps the 2000 bed days taken up by knife and gang crime are where the cuts should fall in the Scottish NHS.

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Come on 'Mel in W3', log in and tell us how Scotland will be as rich as Norway once they get devolution. These kids will be fighting with Gucci diamond encrusted knives.

Anyway, surely this is all the fault of the English?

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Come on 'Mel in W3', log in and tell us how Scotland will be as rich as Norway once they get devolution. These kids will be fighting with Gucci diamond encrusted knives.

Anyway, surely this is all the fault of the English?

You mean independence?

Devolution was in 1999.

Fault of the English?? No .. Thatcher had a big part right enough and sure as sh1t Westminster cares nothing for the mothballed youth of any inner city (unless they are Black or Muslim of course - that gets the middle class liberals all worked up, but by GOD do they hate, despise and fear the ethnic British lower classes).

Add to that 70 years of local Liebore control and it's not hard to see why things are the way they are...

Time for a change eh?

Suas Alba.

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It doesn't matter what statistic you have, Glasgow will tend to top the board in the whole of Europe. Life expectancy, dental health, knife crime. Although I think Edinburgh beats them for injecting heroin and Aids.

Bearsden is very nice though.

Poverty and despair has that effect...

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Iz it coz they iz black?

no.

Chances are that it's 'cos they were only born to give their mother a passport to housing and benefits.

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Thing is we employ harsher methods at war and to restrict our military from being able to kill would render them useless so could this same justification be used by the police when dealing with some of the harsher elements of the criminal underworld?

The way I look at it, we talk about the "war on crime", yet we field a police force with all the power and might of a Belgium, up against "crime", which has no qualms about being a France or a Germany.

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Chances are that it's 'cos they were only born to give their mother a passport to housing and benefits.

Unlikely, given that Glasgow's gangs are overwhelmingly of white Scottish ethnicity.

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I'm sure they could slice some of that time by just asking the gangs in for random slicing and dicing before getting really sticthed up. ;)

:D

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The way I look at it, we talk about the "war on crime", yet we field a police force with all the power and might of a Belgium, up against "crime", which has no qualms about being a France or a Germany.

they've set up CIRV though :o which has positive measurable results. the article doesn't state what positive results, it does however say that it's probably the stabbing capital of europe and one would assume that this violence is on the rise.

still, they probably got a whocking payrise for the initiative anyway.

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they've set up CIRV though :o which has positive measurable results. the article doesn't state what positive results, it does however say that it's probably the stabbing capital of europe and one would assume that this violence is on the rise.

still, they probably got a whocking payrise for the initiative anyway.

Within 6 weeks some 63 of the gang members who attended the initial sessions had taken up the offer of help. By December 2009, one year later, 368 had signed up – over half the estimated total East End gang members – and pledged to give up violence. Over 100 of the youths have been routed into full-time employment, work placement or training including 60 new jobs in conjunction with the UK Future Jobs Fund. Enforcement activities have been directed at those continuing to offend.

Police reported after the first year that the programme had led to a 49% reduction in violent offending by those engaging with the initiative. It also had a domino effect among gang members who refused to participate, with violent activity among the ‘disengaged’ falling 18%.

Community leaders described the effects as ‘incredible’ with one commenting ‘The community are telling me they see a real difference and they feel safer’.

You can read more here.

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Thing is we employ harsher methods at war and to restrict our military from being able to kill would render them useless so could this same justification be used by the police when dealing with some of the harsher elements of the criminal underworld?

There's a logic to that but what would be the consequences? The police turning into just another gang? And with wars the public gets pissed off and the government gets fed up with the moans and spending all that money that they could be giving to the banks, so the soldiers eventually go home. We'd be stuck with a "Whatever is justified" police force for good. At the end of the day the question is who will you end up being more threatened by - the police or the gangs?

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And another 2 just this weekend:

AAirdrie

Greenock

Not Glasgow itself but on the periphery.

Most of the stabbings attributed to Glasgow don't happen in the city, but far away in the peripheral housing estates or satellite towns of the west of Scotland. But it makes nice reading for the nationl press to call them "Glasgow stabbings". It's like saying a stabbing in Slough is a London knife crime.

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The boy mentioned in the original post (Reamonn Gormley) was stabbed just a few miles from where I grew up. A tragic waste of a young life. Yes, the area he lived in (Blantyre) is well known as a danger area, however it does make me wonder what are folk his age who aren't in gangs supposed to do if they live in a "bad area"? Should they just never leave their homes after dark for fear of being murdered for no reason? That seems ridiculous, even if it sounds like the wisest option for now.

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Unlikely, given that Glasgow's gangs are overwhelmingly of white Scottish ethnicity.

Not sure that makes a difference to my original point.

(the use of the word "passport" had no ethnic connotations).

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The boy mentioned in the original post (Reamonn Gormley) was stabbed just a few miles from where I grew up. A tragic waste of a young life. Yes, the area he lived in (Blantyre) is well known as a danger area, however it does make me wonder what are folk his age who aren't in gangs supposed to do if they live in a "bad area"? Should they just never leave their homes after dark for fear of being murdered for no reason? That seems ridiculous, even if it sounds like the wisest option for now.

That was a terrible waste of life. However he wasn't murdered in Glasgow, but a town about 10 miles outside the city.

I've been to Glasgow many times, never had any problems. I wouldn't walk around some of the outlying estates or towns in the daytime, never mind at night. Figgy Park near Paisley being one of them.

The immediate answer to your question is more police and tougher sentences. Mr. Gormley's alleged killer had just been released from prison a few days earlier, where he was locked up for violent assault.

Longer term, jobs and education are the best way to reduce gangs' influences, still backed up with the deterrent of long sentences for knife crime. Just my opinion.

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That was a terrible waste of life. However he wasn't murdered in Glasgow, but a town about 10 miles outside the city.

I've been to Glasgow many times, never had any problems. I wouldn't walk around some of the outlying estates or towns in the daytime, never mind at night. Figgy Park near Paisley being one of them.

The immediate answer to your question is more police and tougher sentences. Mr. Gormley's alleged killer had just been released from prison a few days earlier, where he was locked up for violent assault.

Longer term, jobs and education are the best way to reduce gangs' influences, still backed up with the deterrent of long sentences for knife crime. Just my opinion.

Couple of points regarding Mr. Gormley's "alleged" killer.

1) There is now no need to use the word "alleged" when discussing Daryn Maxwell. He has already entered a plea of guilty to killing Mr. Gormley, albeit for culpable homicide. (See here: Daryn Maxwell admits killing student Reamonn Gormley)

Fortunately the crown has rejected his plea for culpable homicide and intend to prosecute him for murder. He has still openly admitted being the killer of Mr. Gormely though.

2) In July 2009 Daryn Maxwell was sentenced to 32 months imprisonment for stabbing a man twice in the groin. Maxwell was out on licence from a young offenders institution when he committed this crime. (See here: Thug Gets Jail For Stabbing Man In Groin) He was therefore due to be released in February 2012. He killed Mr. Gormley in February 2011, meaning he was released after serving just 20 months of his 32 month sentence.

I'd like to know who made the decision to release this individual so early, especially as he had already shown he could not be trusted to be allowed out in public.

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Thanks for the update. I wasn't aware he'd confessed.

The scumbag should be locked away for life...at least 30 years. But he'll be out in 10 :(

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Most of the stabbings attributed to Glasgow don't happen in the city, but far away in the peripheral housing estates or satellite towns of the west of Scotland. But it makes nice reading for the nationl press to call them "Glasgow stabbings". It's like saying a stabbing in Slough is a London knife crime.

Indeed. I generally lump the 'West' altogether. There are scum bags all over Scotland. No doubt about that. Many here in the 'posh' city of Edinburgh and everywhere else in this country.

However the goings on in 'the West' is on a another level altogether. Why this is - who knows.

History ? More poverty ? A combination of the both ? I have no idea.

There are very few places in Scotland I would be worried about getting randomly battered other than the West coast. Even in dodgy areas in Edinburgh or Dundee or whatever. Whilst these sort of incidents do occur all over Scotland - they are very rare. In the West they happen literally every weekend. Every single Monday morning on Reporting Scotland you get at least one case. I sit there and say to myself 'Glasgow area or surrounds I presume......'

At a rough guess 9 times out of 10 it is. There is something very diffferent going on in the West of this country compared to the rest.

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  • 284 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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