ATTEMPTING to take fast cars off our streets would be like trying to un-invent the internet.

Like websites, there are millions of them and, like social media, they are everywhere. It’s debatable which has been responsible for killing the most young people; online bullying, predatory behaviour and the like have led to the deaths of so many they must surely rival excessive speed and poor driving as the most dangerous of modern plagues.

And neither are going to go away anytime soon. They are both the products of technological developments created for the benefit of society which have resulted in unforeseen spin-offs with tragic consequences. And, like the genie of legend, they can’t be put back into the bottle.

As with the internet and social media, fast cars are not of themselves the problem; it’s the way they are used which creates the danger.

Controlling their use with rules and regulations is society’s way of handling the downsides of technological advancement but if a rogue element chooses to ignore those rules and live outside social norms, we have a problem. And if we do not have the resource to manage the problem, we have a crisis.

Bradford has reached that point with the issue of young Asian men and fast cars.

We must be careful to not generalise. In principle, there is nothing wrong with men or women of any background wishing to own a nice car, even one that can go very fast (in the right circumstances).

Most of us aspire to own nice things, be they cars or houses or sofas or TV sets or smartphones, but it should not amount to the be-all-and-end-all.

Nice cars are all around us: Bradford’s excellent Classic car show on Saturday – full of middle-aged (and older) white gentlemen proudly showing off cars they had aspired to own since their youth – makes the point. Saturday’s Telegraph & Argus featured a review by its motoring writer of a “hot hatch” capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds, one of many similar cars which – in common with hundreds of newspapers – it reviews each year.

But none of the above would suggest owning a nice car should be a defining end in itself. And yet that is the reality for a whole generation of young people in Bradford who have apparently retreated into a world of like-minded individuals for whom showing off their flash car to their mates is all that matters.

That scenario was at the heart of a documentary on BBC2 on Sunday night, presented as part of the broadcaster’s “Big British Asian Summer” series. Presented by Mehreen Baig, “Lost Boys? What’s Going Wrong for Asian Men” explored the challenges facing young Asian men in modern society.

She met groups of young men from Bradford, many of whom were in full-time and responsible jobs, whose social time mainly consisted of showing off their flash cars to their mates in empty store car parks.

She concluded they were the product of a background where they were treated like “little princes”, living at home with their meals cooked and laundry done for them, who had been brought up in segregated communities, attending mainly Asian schools, which had led almost to isolation from the wider community.

Many bemoaned being the victims of stereotyping and were sick of negative publicity which, they felt, led to the impression they were all drug dealers and gangsters.

These were not “bad boys” but the product of a social accident stemming from the way immigrant communities from one of the poorest parts of the Indian sub-continent developed in their new home country. As one young man eloquently put it: “We came to a First World country with a Third World mentality.”

We are in danger, though, of losing a whole generation of young men whose frustration can spill over into activities which create further segregation from our wider society.

These are the ones whom one of the city’s most influential imams, Muhammed Asim Hussain, says are being sucked into a “gangster” lifestyle of crime and dangerous driving, young men involved in a “status struggle” who think having a flashy car earns them respect.

“They see it as an easy way to make money. They don’t have much of an education, they don’t go to college and don’t have authority at home and have turned to the streets and drug dealing,” he says. “We have been sugar-coating these issues – dangerous driving, drug crime, gun violence, gangs – for too long.”

Imam Hussain’s intervention, along with that of the Council for Mosques and other community leaders, combined with TV programmes such as Mehreen Baig’s documentary, are at last starting to draw out the issues in a way that makes discussing them acceptable for those who fear causing racial or religious offence.

The biggest message here is that it’s not “them and us.” Bradford is a multi-racial and multi-cultural society and always will be and these problems belong to the whole community.

We must tackle them together – and quickly, before the hope and potential of a whole generation of young men is not only lost but turned against us.