While those in authority ponder what to do with Hampshire’s Family from Hell, I have a couple of suggestions.

The Family, you will recall from Daily Echo reports last week, are causing not-so-merry hell for their neighbours on an estate somewhere in our region.

I can’t tell you who the family are, nor where they live and are causing so much nuisance that residents are demanding they be moved on. Despite the fact the family of ten have been moved four times in the past three years, such has been the misery wrought on residents – re-housing all paid for by us the tax-payer of course – the courts have chosen to give them anonymity.

Well, I say the court, in fact it is the councils themselves who have applied to the courts to slap orders on the media to protect the identities of the little darling children of the group; children who, by all accounts, are more a cause of the vandalism, abuse and nuisance than their parents.

So keen are the council to ‘protect’ the abusers rather than the victims - or law-abiding residents as might otherwise refer to them – that Southampton City Council were quick to contact this paper once it began running articles on the family to remind us – warn us – of the existing court orders ensuring their anonymity. No such haste in moving to protect neighbours. Perhaps, like me, you might think this a perverse sense of priorities for the authority.

In fact, when approached by this paper, the cabinet member in charge of housing at Southampton, Cllr Warwick Payne, explained he had no knowledge of the family’s latest outrages. With the family having been moved on so many times amid so many accusations of poor behaviour, you might think monitoring their activities would be pretty high on the councillor’s list, or at least those advising him.

Eventually, usually after months of grief, the council will steps in again, pay the family to move on to another unsuspecting neighbourhood, the ignorance of those residents underscored by the fact this paper and other media are powerless to warn them.

At the heart of the issue lies the belief, I will put it as strong as that, by councils and police that nothing can be done. No one is allowed to do any more than tut-tut at reports of abuse by this and similar families in case it affects their human rights. The rights of their poor unfortunate neighbours, naturally, do not matter.

Can I suggest however there is plenty those in authority can do. For starters they can all adopt a more aggressive – or should I call it ‘robust’ – approach to keeping this family in line. They should be left in no doubt that their actions will – sooner rather than later – see them re-housed far from the rest of humanity, some remote farmhouse perhaps, or property where the homes around it have been abandoned.

The removal of benefits should be a given, the possible removal of children living in such family mayhem should be implied and carried through if necessary. A regular police surveillance should be imposed to catch culprits red-handed, and having done so they should feel the full weight of law and its consequences.

Now, I’m no fool. I know full well how remote the chances are of this actually happening. So as a persuader I would suggest a clause be built into how local authorities deal with these kinds of issues: a three-strikes rule. That’s not three strikes and the family are out, but after their third move at tax-payers’ expense the rule should be that they are housed in the same road as the leader of the council. That would bring matters to a head sharpish.