I’ve already scored v. well with this one. Biggest trick is to keep a straight face, of course.
Step one – steer the conversation towards the recent “civil unrest”/riots in the UK (not difficult).
Step two – mention that there are a lot of stiff sentences being handed down.
Step three – engage the person in conversation either about how “stringing them up is the only language they understand/bring back National Service” or “what do you expect if there are no jobs and benefits get cut” (either will suit your purpose)
Step four – mention an example of tough sentencing that you recently heard about. “This young lad, all he did was loot a calendar. He got twelve months!”
Step five – what the person say “serves him right” or “that’s outrageous”
Step six – wait for the penny to drop.