Fear and mistrust an epidemic affecting more than the legal world

Fear and mistrust an epidemic affecting more than the legal world

Apparently, less than half of the public trust lawyers to tell the truth.

Last week the results of a YouGov survey of 1,702 adults found that just 42% trust lawyers to tell the truth, down from 47% in 2011.

So is this lack of public confidence is something the law profession should be worried about?

Although the Legal Services Consumer panel, who commissioned the poll, will no doubt be concerned they need to see the bigger picture

This is something we should all be worried about – every man, woman and child in the UK, because this miserable survey isn’t just about lawyers. The decline is mirrored in other professions with lawyers more trusted than accountants, bankers and estate agents, but behind teachers and doctors.

Britain’s under 50s are the least trusting people in Europe according to the New Economics Foundation think tank.

Also, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who campaign for social change, published a report almost 5 years ago asking why are Fear and Distrust Spiralling in 21st century Britain.

It’s an in-depth report, but the upshot is fear and mistrust are inexorably linked and we live in a fear based society, despite crime figures reducing since the mid 90s we appear crippled by fear.

The media plays it part in the report, for peddling stories of fear, as does inequality in society. I suppose it goes hand in hand, where the haves with all their stuff these days fear the have nots.

However, having been involved in the media for so long I find it hard not to see further than this and for good reasons.

I worked as a news editor on a daily paper and it was very rarely that good news was on the front page. However, a horrible and rare crime like a murder would be splashed all over the paper day after day.

These tales give us a far bleaker view on society and mankind than is realistic.

Take for instance child murder, probably the most horrendous crime imaginable. Well it appears that UK statistics prove that it’s no higher now than it was in the 1970s when I spent most of my school holidays playing in the park with friends, unlike today’s cossetted kids.

I believe rolling news, hearing these bad messages several times a day and the way the media goes so in-depth into bleak tales adds to this.

We live in a country where there are 60 million or so people, when there’s so big a population there are bound to be some awful incidents, but as they say at the end of Crimewatch they are incredibly rare.

In short we have a fear epidemic and that’s a bigger problem than most of the crimes reported. It’s a huge challenge changing mind-sets, but recognising the problem is a good place to start.

It might be worth bearing this in mind when you next hear the news.

If we didn’t think people were so bad we’d all be happier.