Storyboard 11 / Lock up your sons and daughters

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Indy Lifestyle Online
the plot

This week Labour announced plans to impose a curfew on children aged under 10.

The Sunday Times broke the story with "Labour plans youth curfew to cut crime", and the Guardian joined in next day with "Labour 'under-10s curfew' plan ignites row". The Independent harked back to a more innocent age with "Labour plans curfew for William and gang", while the Mail was pleased to see the "Blair gang divided over child curfews".

Shadow Home Affairs spokes-man Jack Straw, and the nation's pre-teens. Straw is convinced there is a growing problem, even in traditionally Tory market towns, of children roaming the streets at night in gangs. It would require primary legislation to give the police the power to take children off the streets after 10pm if they were unaccompanied by adults, but Mr Straw stressed that it would be up to the local authorities to decide whether or not to adopt the measure. "My preference would be for children aged 10 and under to be off the streets by 9pm," he said. "But this is not jack-booted centralism."

Home Office minister Timothy Kirkhope denounced it as "an affront to the majority of well-behaved young people", while Liberal Democrat spokesman Simon Hughes called it "the latest simplistic, unenforceable and dangerous Labour idea". The Independent warned that Straw was "reaching for the headline before working through the devilish detail of problem, policy and social circumstance", and the Guardian called the proposal "a right- wing, law-and-order lurch too far". But the Times, while admitting Straw's suggestions were "not a panacea", praised them as "a valid response to a deterioration in public order".

"Kids roaming the streets are obviously a problem, but this isn't the answer. Curfews in times of war or unrest are one thing, but restricting children to their homes just in case they intend to misbehave is quite another."

What you shouldn't say

"Never mind curfews. Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

"Watch out, the beadle's about!"

the key players

what the pundits say

what you should say

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