Thrash the thugs and save Joan for London

By A.N. Wilson

Joan CollinsJOAN Collins is to the more fashionable London restaurants what the ravens are to the Tower: It is recorded in Ye Old Booke of Belgravia and other venerable legends that if she were not to be seen at her usual table in Daphne’s, the fashionable world would actually collapse in a pile of rubble.

Now she alarms us by announcing that London crime is so frightening that she has decided to leave her apartments in Belgravia and reside in New York because she is too frightened to walk the 400 yards to her hairdresser in Ebury Street. Let us hope that she does not mean it, and that Miss Collins is really just administering a well-deserved “short, sharp shock” to the Home Secretary and the Mayor of London. They must act, and act fast.

Anyone who was a teacher more than 25 years ago knows the mysterious change in the demeanour of the worst teenage offenders, the moment a large cane was produced and put on the desk.

Londoners are now in the position of teachers without the capacity to cow or threaten the aggressive teenager-menace.

We all know that most of the really dangerous muggers, rapists, burglars and vandals in London are between the ages of 12 and 25. They have mastered every legal trick and how to work the system so that as often as not their crimes go unprosecuted.

If Mayor Livingstone and Mr Blunkett introduced a system of thrashing the offenders, a large part of the crime wave would subside overnight. We, the grown-up and largely peaceable majority, do not want our money wasted putting these juvenile hoodlums through the expensive procedure of criminal trials, followed by a spell in those schools of crime, prisons. No, we want the oiks, the minute they are apprehended in wrong-doing, to be taken on one side by two burly officers and given the cane.

How else can Miss Collins be saved for the nation?