Come along quietly or face our new secret weapon

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The Independent Online

The police have been experimenting with some exciting new weapons, in their pursuit of a caring, holistic, softly-softly approach to fighting crime. You may have seen in the papers that they've been trying out a stun-gun called an M26 Taser, which shoots metal barbs that lodge in your skin or your clothing and send 50,000 volts fizzing through your system. They tried it the other day on a Hounslow man who was wielding two guns, and the Taser was criticised for poor performance.

The police have been experimenting with some exciting new weapons, in their pursuit of a caring, holistic, softly-softly approach to fighting crime. You may have seen in the papers that they've been trying out a stun-gun called an M26 Taser, which shoots metal barbs that lodge in your skin or your clothing and send 50,000 volts fizzing through your system. They tried it the other day on a Hounslow man who was wielding two guns, and the Taser was criticised for poor performance.

"It did not work in the way that it should have," said a monosyllabic flatfoot. "What we don't know is whether it didn't work properly because of the way it was aimed or if there was something defective." Teams of experts in lexical analysis and applied semantics are exploring this pronouncement. Can it really mean that the police think there's something wrong with the new gun because an officer pointed it in the wrong direction? Rather than recall the firearm for further research, wouldn't it be simpler to buy the officer in question some spectacles?

But I digress. In the same Hounslow shoot-out, we learned, before the Taser was deployed, officers tried to subdue the miscreant by using another new weapon - a plastic baton round. Now I've heard of using rubber bullets to subdue unruly street protesters, but plastic batons are something new. They sound like the worst kind of compromise between old and new, the result of a committee where the chairman summed up by saying: "Look, lads, truncheons are Victorian and dated and a bit thuggish, so we can't use them any more. Machine guns are modern, sexy and glamorous, but they tend to kill people, and upset the Home Office. So, tell you what, let's invent a gun that fires truncheons."

Both the stun-gun and the flying baton are examples of a new police initiative, to try to find "less lethal alternatives" to conventional armaments before the streets of London and Manchester erupt in a blizzard of cordite.

It would be cheeky of me to offer the police advice, but I can't see either of their Weapons of Minimal Destruction working. It's time for some better alternatives. Things that will disable, threaten or appal a dangerous villain without loss of life...

Aaron Barschak's pubic wig. Perhaps the most hideous single object to be seen on these shores since the Invasion of the Giant Monkfish in 1357, the comic terrorist's jungly fake crotch was first displayed outside Windsor Castle to an audience of passers-by and suspicious policemen, several of whom required treatment for dizziness, convulsive retching and haemorrhaging guts.

Cigarettes. Now known to be more destructive than Sarin B, cyanide and anthrax all run together, cigarettes will shortly be banned in pubs, lavatories, garden sheds and people's homes. You'll soon be able to smoke only while standing in a meadow 40,000 hectares square, being constantly crop-sprayed with disinfectant. But cigarettes can be deployed against criminals. Offering a Yardie hitman a Marlboro Light should convince him you mean business. Showing him the new-style packets, displaying images of cancerous teeth, should have him begging for mercy.

Simon Cowell. The Home Office's secret weapon for years. Behind the high-waisted trousers and Pop Idol charm, this arbiter of musical taste is in fact a seasoned veteran of criminal encounters, using state-of-the-art sarcasm and bitchy putdowns. "Call that an Uzi?" he will sneer at a gunman, "That little pop-gun? Who told you to try being a criminal? You're having a laugh, coming here today, aren't you? Are you wasting my time?"

Dodgy Dossier. A dossier used to be considered a rather dull object - "a set of documents relating to a person, event or case". But it's recently had a makeover, been connected to sex, duplicity, warmongering, lethal weapons, lies and secrets, and now it's dynamite. Just hand your average criminal a Problematic Brief (as the dossiers are also known in underground circles) and watch him turn pale.

Jordan. No need for a stun-gun with our dream girl. Simply wind her up and let her go. Tests have proved there's no more frightening or emasculating sight than the glamour model advancing towards you quaking with the words, "Fancy a shag? Or have you got a tiny willy or something?"



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