Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 15:30 UK

Having a go 'the right thing to do'

A think tank has claimed Britons are passive against crime and the least likely in Europe to become "have-a-go heroes". But BBC News spoke to one exemption to the supposed rule.

Crisbian Floyde
Mr Floyde would not hesitate if someone needed his help

It was a balmy August evening on Southend beach in Essex when Crisbian Floyde witnessed an assault and decided not to stand aside.

The 38-year-old was sitting with his girlfriend and her mother on a cafe veranda which jutted out on to the beach.

He was pouring the tea when he noticed two pairs of legs sticking out from beneath the veranda.

"I thought it was strange, the way the legs were grouped together," he said. "At first I thought he was trying to tickle the girl."

He then heard the 20-something woman say no, and saw the man raise his fist and pull her head back.

"He was trying to take off her trousers," said Mr Floyde. "I reacted so quickly, the table went flying.

"There was a dozen or so people within five metres and no-one was doing anything. Even when I intervened, people just walked away. There were three strapping blokes nearby who carried on eating."

The man squared up to Mr Floyde's 6ft frame but realised it was one battle he could not win and walked away.

Reciprocal help

Mr Floyde wanted to call the police but the woman, who said the man was her boyfriend, just wanted to be left alone.

"The boyfriend was drunk and although that is no excuse for what he did, I was angrier with those who did nothing," said Mr Floyde.

There used to be a line in the sand but it isn't there anymore. We live in a stand-offish society
Crisbian Floyde

This incident happened two years ago and it was not the first, or the last, time the IT worker has intervened. He has martial arts training but he says he is never cocky and "minds his own business".

"I'm aware that being overconfident can get you in trouble," he said. "But if I see someone in trouble, I will help because I hope someone would do the same for me."

He was not surprised by the report from think tank Reform which concluded that Britons had become "passive bystanders" in the fight against crime.

He says people are reluctant to intervene because they are worried about their physical safety and possible prosecution.

"People have the right to use the force deemed necessary at that point in time," he said.

"Rights of self-defence are not clear. They are also worried they will go over the top as situations can escalate."

'Stand-offish society'

He went on to say the report pointed to a wider problem of social breakdown, where parents are not teaching their offspring the difference between right and wrong, and children have no respect for authority.

"For me personally, this has come about from the time they did away with the cane," he said.

"The education system had a right to bring children into line. These days the children say they have human rights and cannot be touched or they will have the teacher for child abuse.

"There used to be a line in the sand but it isn't there anymore. We live in a stand-offish society."

He said tougher punishment was needed for those who cross the line and rather than give someone an Asbo, which he called a "badge of honour for the idiots", he said national service should be brought back.

"We need to teach children respect," he said. "They don't understand the meaning of discipline. We need to give incentives to young people to actually be part of society.

"Those who are not willing to get an education, should have some form of national service. It doesn't need to be military - perhaps working in the community or something to give them a sense of purpose."

Although the messages from politicians and the authorities can often be mixed, Mr Floyde believes "have-a-go heroes" should be praised and others encouraged to do the same.

While he does not advocate intervening when weapons are involved, he said it is simply the "right thing to do" in most cases.

He said he still lives by his school motto and wished every UK citizen would do the same: "God first, others second and self last."

"Even if you don't believe in God, putting others before yourself is what we have forgotten as a society."

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