The 'Today' programme provided a gem of juxtaposition this week. They had a report on introducing on-the-spot fines to cut assaults on staff in Accident & Emergency at a Manchester hospital. The next item was about how American soldiers in Iraq were every day dealing with the intractable threat of assaults.
I can't have been the only one to be struck by the possibilities conjured up by this incidental linking. As wars, after all, are an opportunity for the arms industry to test-drive their latest hardware (not for them the ethical alternative of animal experimentation), why don't we do the same in our bid at crime reduction. Why don't we, in the spirit of partnership, share our latest assault-busting initiative with our American colleagues? How about it: on-the-spot fines for those uncouth enough to attempt to blow up military personnel stuck in Iraq. That would show them we're not going to take no nonsense. Just pity the poor blighter who has to collect the money.
The alternative, of course, is to import justice from the war-zone to here. And in New Labour Britain -- where John Reid makes David Blunkett look a liberal, who, in turn, made Jack Straw look a liberal, who, in turn, made Michael Howard (Howard??) look a liberal -- it's probably best not to joke. ASBOs which do more than cut the goolies off? Just you wait.