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UK Government officials considered recruiting psychopaths 'to keep order' after nuclear attack

Adviser to Home Office suggested psychopaths would be ‘very good in crises’ 

Heather Saul
Saturday 01 November 2014 12:38 GMT
A scene from the Hollywood film 'The Road' paints a bleak portrait of the future
A scene from the Hollywood film 'The Road' paints a bleak portrait of the future

A Home Office official suggested recruiting psychopaths to help restore order in the event England is hit by a devastating nuclear attack, files released by the National Archives have revealed.

In 1982, the Home Office tested how the UK would cope after 300 megatons of nuclear bombs have been dropped within a 16-hour period.

The detailed top-secret exercise, which was named ‘ Operation Regenerate’, imagined many cities flattened, millions killed by the blast and millions more suffering from radiation sickness.

It focused on the six-months after the attack in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, the BBC reports.

The exercise established a series of local events as war drew nearer and after the nuclear bomb attack had taken place. “Players” in the war game would have been civil servants, police officers, fire fighters and members of the military.

Officials in the exercise predicted how “rings of damage” would hit parts of the country, looking at where epicentres of the nuclear bombs would be. Advisers suggested approximately half of the country would remain untouched by the blasts.

Meanwhile, disorder would hit the streets of the worst-affected areas, where resources would be low. The report imagined vigilante groups emerging in the days and weeks after, a weak administration and uncertainty over who would lead any industry that survived.

Maintaining law and order would become increasingly difficult as police would be busy helping victims of the radiation fallout.

These predictions led Jane Hogg, a scientific officer in the Home Office, to suggest the police could recruit another group of people to help restore order – psychopaths.

She wrote: “It is... generally accepted that around one per cent of the population are psychopaths.

”These are the people who could be expected to show no psychological effects in the communities which have suffered the severest losses.“

Ms Hogg suggested psychopaths would be "very good in crises" because "they have no feelings for others, nor moral code, and tend to be very intelligent and logical".

However, her colleagues were not persuaded by the suggestion, with one writing: “I am not at all sure you convince me. I would regard them as dangerous whether or not recruited into post-attack organisation.”

The exercised mirrored the plot of 1994 BBC drama Threads, which followed two South Yorkshire families attempting to rebuild their lives after a nuclear attack.

Some officials tried to play the war game in Yorkshire and found it focused too much on what to do before a nuclear attack. The exercise was never properly played out.

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