I was going to return to the farce surrounding the Matthew Street festival, with the latest war of words between Jason Harborrow & Warren Bradley. However, local thoughts are dominated by the murder of 11 year old Rhys Jones in Croxteth a little over 24 hours ago.
There is much to note about the area where it happened, the issue of gun crime, parental responsiblity (or lack of it) & other related topics. The police investigation has so far resulted in the arrest of two teenagers (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/6959761.stm ) .
As I heard the chilling details of the case on BBC Radio Merseyside this morning, two things struck me. Firstly, the parallels with the James Bulger case, not in the context & detail of the murder, of course, but the horrendous phenomenon of a child being killed by slightly older children. Secondly, I was reminded of a story on the Liverpool Times website last June (http://www.liverpooltimes.net/2007/06/11/gun-crime-in-knowsley/#more-647 ), which could now be seen as disturbingly prophetic.
Croxteth has long had problems with teenage gangs. In recent months the rivalry between gangs from Croxteth & Gillmoss has resulted in shootings, one of which claimed a fatality. The unspoken view from the police & local media was that as long as one gang of thugs was killing another gang of thugs, who cared? Now, however, it's different. An innocent 11 year old has been caught in the crossfire. The national & international media are all leading with the case. Warren Bradley, already under microscopic scrutiny after Matthew Street, now finds journalists from London comparing Liverpool's gun crimes to Manchester's, just three months before the city hits 2008. Hence his call today for a summit of civic leaders from all parts of the UK with the Home Secretary to address the issues of gun crime, teenage gangs, juvenile offending & anti-social behaviour.
As well as the continued media coverage of the case, I'm expecting someone, somewhere, to pen a Kelvin MacKenzie/Spectator libel on the city before the weekend.