R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Respect.

Our Prime Minister Tony Blair wants a whole lot more of it here in Britain.

In one of his ever growing bold new initiatives, parents are now to be held responsible for the crimes of their kids, noisy neighbours evicted from their own homes and drunken yobs made to pay. Spit on the sidewalk and the instant fine will be $50.

But will it work?

Even the police and the judges are doubtful, because Britain has been too disrespectful for far too long. And the worst place in Britain is our second city, Birmingham.

Now in Birmingham you will never get a smile at the checkout or a door held open for you. Drop your shopping and there's only one person going to pick it up.

Birmingham drivers are Britain's most aggressive. They probably can't even spell the word respect.

The people of Birmingham were watched for months by academic researchers and have emerged with this dubious distinction – seventy seven per cent of the time they are inconsiderate, impolite and uncontrollably rude.

How on earth are such deep seated problems going to be tackled? Well, police in our northern county of Lincolnshire have come up with one original idea.

They've created a special course where unruly youths from the town of Spilsby are given eight weeks to be taught the brutal art of medieval chivalry. They learn courtesy the hard, old fashioned way – by being made afraid ... very afraid.

In medieval England if you weren't polite to the squire he'd probably pull out your fingernails, chain you in a dungeon, seize your gold and burn your house down – just for starters.

The police clearly enjoy teaching medieval justice. I am told they are encouraged to wear suits of armour and humiliate those who show any discourtesy. In the old days miscreants usually ended by being hanged drawn and quartered – which is the only thing today's police aren't allowed to do.

Even so youth crime in Spilsby has now been cut in half. Just don't tell Mr Blair how they did it, please.


By Ed Boyle

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