Order is breaking down in parts of Britain, and is failing where it is most needed. The urban poor are already the least healthy and prosperous of our society. It is they who now also bear the brunt of an explosion in violent crime as a generation of young men raised without fathers reaches a brutal maturity.

Last week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that knife crime rose by 22 per cent in England and Wales in 2017. At the time of writing 62 people have been murdered in London since the start of the calendar year. Of these 36 have been stabbed to death.

The police are overstretched. They are also badly used, as a result of political failure. The neglect of hard questions about immigration and integration means that vast numbers of officers are tied up with counter-terrorism duties. The obsession with policing thought has come at the cost of preventing the vicious crimes which do ruin lives. The Metropolitan Police has “900-plus specialist officers” investigating hate crimes. Last year the Met’s “clear-up” rate on burglary offences was just 6.63 per cent.

But criminal activity is not primarily a question of police numbers or political priorities. It is also a matter of individual conscience. Conscience relies on morality and in many cases on faith. These are inherited things: we adopt them long before we understand them, and they are taught in the home.

A sharp rise in violent criminal activity marks a shift in public morality, a failure by one generation of adults to transmit their values to their children. It is the poisonous legacy of Britain’s culture of failed families.

The ONS tell us that “higher-harm” crimes are concentrated in London and the cities. These are the same metropolitan areas with high levels of family instability.

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