Post-apocalyptic films such as Mad Max often portray a lawless world ruled by violent psychopaths - and this was an option seriously debated by the Home Office in 1982 in a nuclear 'war game' scenario.
A scientific advisor to the Home Office raised the idea as part of plans for how Britain might rebuild after a nuclear attack - in a test exercise where the Home Office envisaged half of Britain facing 'unimaginable' destruction from bombs.
Home Office scientific advisor Jane Hogg suggested that psychopaths could be used to maintain order in lawless areas, saying that pscyhopaths tend to be, ‘very good in crises’.
Hogg pointed out that, ‘They have no feelings for others, nor moral code, and tend to be very intelligent and logical.
‘It is... generally accepted that around 1% of the population are psychopath. These are the people who could be expected to show no psychological effects in the communities which have suffered the severest losses.’
Hogg suggested psychopaths might be necessary to shore up numbers, as police would be tied up helping victims in areas which had suffered the most devastation from the blasts.
Her bosses were markedly less keen on the idea, and it was eventually shelved.
The test scenario predicted ‘unimaginable’ damage in areas directly hit by bombs, with ‘rings’ of damage spreading out from each detonation with ‘debris in the streets’.
The scenario - intended as a ‘war game’ to simulate the first six months after World War III - predicted that around half of Britain would be hit, directly or indirectly.
Even areas not hit directly would still suffer from radioactive fallout, officials predicted, and millions would die in a 16-hour exchange of hydrogen warheads.
The simulation waas briefly tested, but data for it was on a computer file that became corrupted, according to the BBC, and the exercise, optimistically entitled, ‘Regenerate’ was abandoned.