Friday, June 02, 2006

Le Boot Camp?

It's printemps and young Frenchmen's attention turns to rioting. So, the politicians are competing with each other to enforce law and order:

PARIS, June 1, 2006 (AFP) - France's Segolene Royal, the Socialist frontrunner to succeed President Jacques Chirac, has broken ranks with her party by calling for a crackdown on youth crime that is set to rival the centre-right on its home turf.

....She charged that tough anti-crime policies led by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy -- the top centre-right contender in next year's election -- had failed to prevent an explosion of violence in poor French suburbs.

However in a break with her fellow Socialists -- who demonise Sarkozy as a hardliner -- the mother of four called for "a much firmer approach" towards young offenders.

"The left has long underestimated" the problem, she said. "Now is the time to tackle it head-on."

Military-style academies could be set up for young offenders aged 16 or over, she suggested, steering troubled youths into aid work or apprenticeships and teaching them "how to behave as citizens".

Herself the daughter of an army officer, Royal said Chirac's decision to scrap military service in France in 1996 had been a mistake.

For younger offenders, parents would be enrolled on compulsory courses at the first sign of trouble -- with social benefits scrapped for those who failed to bring their children back into line, she said.

Serious troublemakers under the age of 16 should be removed from schools and placed in special boarding schools under close supervision by teachers, sports workers and volunteers, she said.

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