During President Obama’s recent visit, the connection between Britain and the United States was referred to as something more than Special. It was described as Essential. Now, this may sound like the way in which Harry Potter describes his relationship with the Dursleys. Nevertheless, we must not snigger.
It is trendy in Britain to laugh, from time to time, at a certain part of America. I’m thinking of the part known as the American people. How we titter when, every so often, we hear that 63% of Americans do not have a passport. As we are laughing into our warm beer, we would do well to remember just what an enormous and incredible place the USA is. Presented with the beaches and cities, the mountains and deserts, the prairies and rivers, I would forgive someone for taking a little while to think about leaving.
In fact, I think that we should use the magnetism of the United States to our advantage.
Last week I spent half an hour sitting in the public gallery of one of the courts of the Old Bailey (the Central Criminal Court) in London. Members of the public are free to watch trials of all descriptions. I have been doing this since I was in my late teens.
This was a murder trial. Watching the young men in the dock, I wondered how things might have turned out differently and what, if anything, might have stopped them from doing what they were alleged to have done.
We can threaten young people with community service or with prison. With suspension or exclusion. We can paint them grim pictures of the places they will have to visit if they commit certain crimes.
Is it crazy to suggest telling them about a place they will NOT be allowed to visit?
Knowing what we know about how strict the authorities are about who they will (and will not) allow into the country.
My half-formed idea is to go into British schools with a crime deterrent based on one single word, place and idea;
Visiting schools with short films showcasing the United States, in all its beauty.
Do you think that this would have any effect whatsoever on the number of young men committing violent crimes on our streets?
If not, then what would?