Homeboys hit the streets

16.04.05: BRITAIN IS bringing back national service ­ but only for the under-18s. After trial runs across the country, the Home Service and the Childcare Army, the new regimented community care schemes, go nationwide this week.

From June 2006, no school-leaver will be eligible for national assistance until he or she has spent at least six months in one of the schemes.

Home Service recruits operate as community patrollers, general helpers and good examples. The Childcare Army supports teachers and carers in the growing number of pre-school nurseries in England and Wales.

At present, the Home Service is 70% male. Jamie James, the supervisor of the service's Salisbury training camp, says male school-leavers are not attracted to the Childcare Army.

"Rising testosterone levels and childcare don't really go together," he says.

"Anyway, boys are better off outside, getting fresh air and exercise. There are three things you have to do to turn young men into useful citizens. You give them a hard time. You keep them busy. And you make them too tired to have sex."

You also make them too tired to wreak havoc on the Net. According to a recent Home Office report, 37% of acts of computer sabotage are committed by young men or boys aged 15 or younger. A disproportionate number of them were unsuccessful applicants to the new selective schools.

Recruits to both services study parentcraft and home economics but they are also given army combat training. As James says, "If your job is to keep the peace, you've got to be prepared to up the ante." MF