Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Social Clubs

As befits and becomes a man born in 1961, I find that I am becoming more reactionary practically by the minute and it strikes me that I haven't contributed to Sir Ian Blair's call for a debate on the role and duty of the police.

Any long time reader might guess that I recommend that Sheriff Joe is appointed to a senior role in the Met forthwith and also - hat tip Clive Davis - I'm quite taken with this old school approach to neighbourhood policing:
When George W. Walling was appointed captain of police late in 1853 and assigned to the command of the district, he found the entire area terrorized by the Honeymoon gang. To suppress them he organized the first Strong Arm Squad and inaugurated a method of attack which was used very effectively in later years. Walling had always been impressed by the fact that the gangster would seldom stand up before a policeman armed with a heavy club, and that there was nothing a thug feared so much as a sound thumping. So he chose half a dozen of his bravest and huskiest patrolmen, and sent them forth in the guise of citizens. They simply walked up to the gangsters and knocked them senseless before the thugs could get into action with their sling shots, bludgeons and brass knuckles. After a few nights of this warfare the gang leader withdrew his men from their accustomed posts, but Captain Walling gave them no rest. Every patrolman in the precinct was provided with the names of the Honeymooners, and whenever one was sighted he was attacked and beaten. Within two weeks the Honeymoon gang had been dispersed, and its members had fled south into the Five Points and the Bowery, where the police were not so rough.
From Herbert Asbury's book "The Gangs of New York", not the misfiring film.

I'm also reminded of an old joke of my Dad's.

"Are you in favour of clubs for boys?"

"Only when the cane has failed."

The idiosyncratic blogger at Chase me .. has been considering criminal justice and deterence Stateside as well:
The annual execution rate for prisoners on death row in the US is 2%. The death rate for street-level drug sellers is 7%, so they would be safer on death row.

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