The social problems going beneath the radar

Mick Gradwell
Mick Gradwell
Share this article
Have your say

Earlier this year I went to a casting session at FremantleMedia in London, which is the company that produces X Factor.

The job I was being interviewed for was the lead role in the new daytime TV programme ‘Crime Stories’ that is currently being shown on ITV.

Needless to say I didn’t get the ‘gig’ and the role went to Jane Antrobus, a former Detective Chief Superintendent with Greater Manchester Police.

It was the first time I had considered an acting role and it will probably be my last. I am far more comfortable doing live TV and radio interviews on current crime issues and acting as a policing consultant on factual documentaries. Also, there is rarely a shortage of work as many sections of the media choose to fill their headlines and schedules with items about current or historic crime events.

Although I don’t want to turn work away, I do wish the media, and in particular documentary makers, would spend more time covering the root causes of the problems that face society today rather than just the resulting crime issues. As an example, one area that would benefit from the glare of the media would be the issue of dysfunctional parents.

I listen to stories from people who work in the teaching, midwifery and social service professions and strongly feel their tales of woe are given insufficient coverage. Young girls are having children as a lifestyle choice in order to gain benefits, some parents rely on the state to teach their children the most basic of skills and there are the chaotic households where no family member has ever worked and their kids are allowed to run wild. It is not easy for the media to give ‘fly on the wall’ coverage to this area due to the confidential nature of these professions and because there are privacy issues with the filming of children, especially those who are on the brink of being taken into care. However, dysfunctional parenting is an important issue to cover, only last week the Education Secretary Michael Gove called for more children to be placed in care at an earlier stage. That is an unwelcome aspiration and more needs to be done to ensure problem parents take responsibility for caring for their own children. The media have an important part to play in thoughtfully covering this sensitive area and that takes time and money. Unfortunately, few media organisations will spend time and money on speculative and complicated projects that may not be a hit with the public.

So there will continue to be a proliferation of police and crime programmes, because they are popular, cheap and comparatively easy to make, resulting in really important issues not receiving the coverage they duly deserve.

If you would like Mick Gradwell to give a talk to your society, a presentation or an educational lecture, contact 01253 600800 for further information.