Bring back the birch

Teen tearaways should be thrashed, says councillor

An Antrim councillor has controversially called on the authorities to ‘bring back the birch’ to thrash teenage tearaways back on to the straight and narrow.

Against the backdrop of a debate on the culture of crime sweeping over the UK’s youth, there have been impassioned pleas for an uncompromising new approach to tackle what is widely seen as public enemy number one across the borough.

With intimidation, terror, violence and vandalism becoming an unwelcome fact of life in many of the borough’s housing estates, there have been concerted calls for an uncompromising crackdown to stem the rising tide of teenage trouble-makers.

Ulster Unionist Adrian Watson said that the time has come to ‘reclaim the streets’.

Mr Watson, a member of Antrim District Policing Partnership, firmly believes that the authorities should have the power to smash the gang culture – and then have the “legal clout” to punish the defiant delinquents.

And he added that a “few licks of the birch” would send out a clear message to any would-be offenders.

“People are sick, sore and tired of being held to ransom by these young reprobates,” he stormed.

“These smug, know-it-all kids don’t give a damn because they know they’ll get away with it.

“There has been a lot of talk coming from Downing Street this week about young people having no respect and I’m afraid that’s very true.

“When I was a lad and you were up to no good the police would give you a clip around the ear and tell you to be on your way, but now children of 10 or 11 are telling the police to ‘f— away off’.

“They know there’s not an awful lot that the police can do, which must be terribly frustrating – and then this is compounded when they bring some before the courts and they get away virtually scot free.”

Mr Watson believes the malaise can be traced back to the family home and the classroom.

“I believe that the removal of corporal punishment was a mistake, and the consequences are still being acutely felt with another generation of smart alec kids creating all sorts of havoc.

Alliance leader David Ford believes that society at large has a responsibility to tackle the rampant lawlessness – though the former social worker stressed that parents must be in on the front line in any war on crime.

“I think there are clearly problems in society but I believe the main responsibility must lie with parents.”