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Citizenship first: the case for compulsory civic service

Most people think that young people should be asked to give something back. Politicians agree. Yet a compulsory scheme has seemed too ambitious—until now. A civic service scheme could be the legacy of this recession

By James Crabtree   March 2009

Despite its impressive name, the London Boxing Academy isn’t much more than a shabby warehouse, set back from Tottenham High Road in one of the poorest areas of north London. Inside, a few young black men hit punch bags around a faded blue boxing ring. On the wall is a poster, frayed at the edges, warning: “get a life, ditch the knife.” At the ringside David Lammy, the local MP, listens intently to Chris Hall, the academy’s stocky, shaven-headed founder. Hall explains how he takes 30 young people a year­—all too tough for regular school­—and gives them an…

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