Thursday 25th, after much trailing and publicity, Donal MacIntyre set out be
'mugged' in an investigation that sought to lift the lid on street crime. I give
you The Guardian TV review:
"He's back! Looking
for more trouble comes Donal MacIntyre, this time armed with a team of
investigators to help him find out all about street crime, drugs and the sex
trade...There's even a chance to see him getting assaulted and mugged at
knifepoint in front of secret cameras tonight."
What a shambles of an
investigation it was. Donal, with his team resembling something out of the US TV
show 24, dived through London (Brixton, apparently for added 'fear' factor)
actually searching for a 'mugger' to mug the silly fool. And what did
this generation's answer to the Cook Report tell us? That, interestingly, there
are people who commit offences in society.
Three nights Donal spent in
Brixton, walking around carrying an expensive laptop in a bag and a state of the
art Nokia. Now, every time this phone would ring, he would hold it out (and I'm
not kidding you here) about a foot in front of him. He had a habit of doing the
same with his wallet when parting with cash. He stopped and bantered with some
dealers passing on cannabis, and he asked for 'Charlie' while waving that phone
On night number three,
sometime after midnight during one of these displays of 'I have a Nokia, please
mug me for the secret cameras', (despite several utterances of warning from
shopkeepers, people on the streets and a host of others), his telephone was
snatched from his hand. With horror, he gave chase but the guy who snatched it
had gone. A 'friend' approached and (oh please) coaxed him to go off the
main road, near to a block of flats to visit his 'cousin' where they could get
the phone back. After parting with twenty quid (or more), and waiting for a good
40 minutes, Donal was surprised when this friend pulled a knife on him and
demanded the laptop.
What did this documentary
seek to prove? Did it explore the socio-economic dimensions of crime? No such
thing, just gross reality TV gone mad.
incidents took place late at night, in an area that had been introduced as
troubled. Why then would anyone walk around boasting their goodies where people
are in poverty, and ultimately in the business of getting together some
Check this out with me. If a
child is put into a candy shop and told to wait there, they get restless. Around
them are an assortment of sweets, but they are not allowed to have them. The
adult leaves the child, without money, in the shop and it gets more and more
frustrated. What is the child going to do?
What I am trying to say, and
interestingly this analysis was contributed by the only sensible ones in the
documentary - young people, is that people are involved in offenses and crime
for a variety of reasons. Be it drugs, or be in 'crews and gangs wearing the
latest gear' or as one young man pointed out, the need for help a Mum feed her
kids, if you tempt and parade yourself, you are going to be burned. Any serious
programme investigating crime should look at these things, not send a reporter
out in to the dead of night with over a grand worth of goods.
People have said to me that
the things I have listed do not excuse the crime. No, of course it doesn't -
but it helps to explain it. I'm willing to bet that the hot office water-cooler
topic of the day after Donal's programme would have been "did you see him
With all those slow mo
repeats of the Black young men swiping his stuff, the whole programme felt like
we were following Donal with his "hey, Black and Irish have something in
common" jibes, as he trekked into the urban wastelands of the Black
criminals. Oh, how we felt his pain, and oh, how we wished he could get out
safely as his 'team' frantically pressed buttons and spoke into mobiles to
locate their lost comrade.
This one man's silly circus was extremely
Jason Wood is the editor of Student Youth Work Online.