kerrj20070821093840 Suffolk Lib Dem peer Lord Andrew Philips made a citizen’s arrest on a boy believed to be 10-years-old yesterday for allegedly throwing his bike to the ground.

While I’m also fed up up with the lack of respect and yobbish anti social behaviour of some young people (a minority of our population because we have so many we should be proud of too), I do think Lord Philips went over the top here, particularly bearing in mind his background.

According to a report in today’s East Anglian Daily Times, Lord Philips asked a group of young lads to stop riding bikes on a narrow stretch of path on Market Hill in Sudbury, famed for being the birthplace of our great artist Thomas Gainsborough.

The boys’ response was lippy, resorting to foul language, and then one of the boys threw Lord Philips’ bike to the ground. So the peer grabbed the boy by the scruff of the neck, who protested his innocence, while his friends told Lord Philips to “get off”. But he asked a passer-by to call the police, and an officer arrived within minutes.

What makes this particularly interesting is that Lord Philips has a legal background as a solicitor, so knows only too well how to apply the law. He has been on BBC Radio 2‘s Jimmy Young Show as their “legal eagle. And in 1997 he was awarded the OBE for establishing the Citizenship Foundation, of which he is president, and for his work with young people and the law. So one assumes he is used to communicating with young people, and in challenging situations.

The Citizenship Foundation aims to empower individuals and young people to engage in the wider community through education about the law, democracy and society, focusing particularly on developing young people’s citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding. In fact, the foundation was recently awarded 100,000 Euros for its work to ‘anchor civic engagement within the educational experience’. I wonder why Lord Philips doesn’t try and engage these young lads with the ethos of citizenship, let them learn and benefit from his experience with the foundation’s support?

This is how Lord Philips recounted the experience:

“I first saw the youngsters biking along the narrow path from the Borehamgate Precinct and told them that they couldn’t ride there as it could be dangerous for young mums with prams.

“They swore at me but it was nothing more than small change from some silly boys. But when I saw them then throw my bike on the floor, I thought ‘I’m not having that’.

“This not just a problem in Sudbury, this is a problem everywhere although our town does have its fair and share of this type of behaviour and it is unacceptable. These boys were not wicked, they just need to realise there are rules you have to stick by.

“This was certainly not brave, it was just a small gesture towards a community standing up for itself and knowing you can’t leave it to the police.

“This kind of behaviour is something I feel very strongly about – you can’t just pass on by and hope things will get better. I think this highlights the absence of beat officers which is unhelpful to put it mildly.

What do you think about this? I would personally like to see special neighbourhood courts set up to deal with anti-social behaviour in local communities. Have you ever made a citizen’s arrest? I wonder whether Lord Philips simply got out of bed the wrong way yesterday.