WHAT are we to make of the latest appalling case of the youngsters from hell, two brothers, aged just 10 and 11, who tortured, beat, burned and all but killed their victims in a chilling re-run of the Jamie Bulger murder?

Guilty pleas reduced the length of the court hearing but enough details emerged to make the blood of any ordinary human being run cold and led to the inevitable question: “How could boys as young as this be such violent sadists?” followed by the equally inevitable statement that somehow they had been “failed by the system”.

At this point, most, if not all clear-thinking individuals would ask: “Exactly what system are we discussing here?” These two mini-monsters were well-known to social services and the police as being out of control. They regarded authority with contempt and were responsible for a long list of crimes on the estate they reportedly terrorised. If anyone was being “failed by the system”, surely it was their victims. They wouldn’t have been the subject of so brutal an attack had the perpetrators been locked away, as they should have been.

Those who hold that view, and I confess that I am among them, were further outraged when it was revealed that, like the Bulger killers, these two will be given new identities and, presumably, new lives when released with, hopefully, all the negativity and badness gradually milked from their systems and replaced by positive thoughts, tolerance and social awareness. It is to be hoped that the people saddled with that responsibility are equal to the task.

This case has been presented as yet another savage indictment of life on Britain’s sink estates, and, as a consequence, has triggered a series of well-researched newspaper articles on the emergence and stealthy growth of the underclass; dysfunctional families where drugs and/or alcohol form emotional props for adults incapable of, or unwilling to, accept parental responsibility; where crime is endemic, reliance on benefits absolute and “work” the only four letter word not in use.

One such column, presented with a great deal of conviction, argues that given the boys’ background, a violent drunk of a father who left home, a useless mother with a history of drug and alcohol abuse and itinerant boyfriends, eight children systematically neglected, and social services guilty of dereliction of duty, it is hardly surprising that they became feral children in a feral family.

To be honest, one need only take an in-depth look at virtually any location in the UK to find examples of youngsters doomed from the cradle, raised among degenerates who know only crime, violence, alcohol, drugs, promiscuity and how best to play the benefits system. A suggested antidote for these social ills, one which hopefully would ensure the welfare and supervision of babies born into questionable surroundings, is that in order to receive benefits, parents would be asked to sign a contract, guaranteeing that the child, or children, would be reared decently, giving the State the right to intervene if that duty was ignored. That could be a welcome first step to removing the cancer in what claims to be a civilised society.