Home Secretary Theresa May announced yesterday that the controversial Antisocial Behaviour Order is to be replaced by more progressive discipline strategies such as stopping pocket money, confiscating favourite toys, and, as a last resort, banishing yobs to the naughty step.
‘What these nuisance kids need is a short sharp shock,’ said Theresa May. ‘A spell on the naughty step – one minute for each year of their age – should be enough for even the most persistent trouble-makers to have a bit of time-out and to reflect quietly on their behaviour. Anyone trying to get off the step too early will be put back by a specially-trained community support officer and the time will start over again.’
One youth in Luton claims to have been completely changed by his experience on the naughty step. ‘When my time was up, the community support officer came down to my level and asked me if I understood why I’d been put there. I nodded, said I was sorry and we then had a hug to make up. I’ll never use Mrs Sillitoe’s front garden as a toilet again,’ he said.
But Ministers have been forced to deny that the plans are simply the result of the massive public spending cuts. ‘We’d been wanting to make better use of the nation’s existing infrastructure of steps for some time,’ said the Home Secretary. ‘Town hall and church entrances make perfect naughty steps, but best to steer clear of the steps outside the libraries, the courts and the post offices as they might not be there much longer.’
With naughty steps proving popular, the government is also believed to be looking into the possibility of making wooden boards available in town squares for youths to put their wrists through as they think about what they’ve done. ‘We aren’t calling on bystanders to throw fruit and other indicators of community disapproval,’ the Home Secretary emphasised. ‘But if ordinary citizens choose to mobilise pro-social sentiment in this way, we would simply regard this as an expression of the Big Society in action, and a helping hand to these thugs getting their five-a-day.’