Dark Heart stories

Drugs, lies and reverse racism: the dangerous world of Dave Francis

The Guardian, June 4 1997
Promoting the book 'Dark Heart'

About a year ago, I started to spend time in crack houses in Nottingham. I had gone there to finish the research for a book about the underbelly of Britain and I was trying to trace the roots of the epidemic of crack abuse which had swept the black community there just as it had in cities across the country. And while I was there, I heard this very strange story about a man called Dave...

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Crack cocaine and the middle-class addicts

The Daily Express, November 1 1997
Promoting the book 'Dark Heart'

I was sitting in a crack house not far from Kings Cross station in the middle of London. There was Vinnie the pimp, with his bare chest and his cigarette; a skinny blonde prostitute called Beverley who was so broke that she was using margerine for make-up; and Heather, a pick-pocket, who was about to go off to work in the big department stores in the West End.

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Child prostitutes and poverty in Britain

The Daily Express, November 1 1997
Promoting the book 'Dark Heart'

It is one of the lingering images of Victorian poverty: the little waif in a ragged dress standing in the lamplight in the foggy darkness of a city street waiting for the rich man in his carriage to buy her favours.

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The complex link between child prostitutes and poverty

Child Care Forum magazine, November 1 1997
Promoting the book 'Dark Heart'

The evidence is overwhelming. I personally first stumbled into it in Nottingham, where I found two boys acting oddly in the middle of a fairground site and realised as I watched them that while everyone else was intent on pleasure, they were engaged in the grimmest of commerce. They were selling themselves. They were aged eleven and twelve.

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New Labour: pretending to be fighting poverty

Red Pepper magazine, January 1 1998
Promoting the book 'Dark Heart'

Let's pretend that the two thousand grim old housing estates which now litter our inner cities are populated by men and women who have carefully calculated the relative merits of various welfare payments and then adjusted their lifestyles to maximise their income from the state.

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Cutting the welfare budget won't cut poverty

The Guardian, August 4 1998
Promoting the book 'Dark Heart'

Frank Field is a good man. He also knows more about welfare benefits than anyone else in Westminster. Nevertheless, for the 13 million men, women and children who live in poverty in Britain, his forced departure from the cabinet last week was good news.

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Poverty and damage

The Independent, August 10 1998
Promoting the book 'Dark Heart'

In the brothels in the West End of London, I came across a particularly poignant statistic. Whereas 10 or 15 years ago a rich man who wanted to take a cane to the back of a young prostitute would have had to pay £100 for each stroke, he can now do so for only a tenth of the price. It's a matter of supply and demand: there is a market surplus of desperate young women.

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The complexity of poverty

The New Statesman, October 1 1998
Promoting the book 'Dark Heart'

It is always the same. As you turn off the dual carriageway and first see the estate in the distance, it appears so neat and clean and comforting, all those tidy rows of red-brick semis with square patches of green and the occasional neighbourhood store, the very model of a public housing project. Then, as you arrive on the edge of the estate, you start to see the vengeful graffiti on the walls,...

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