I am horrified to learn that my satire on policing has attracted support within the Coalition. Reports suggest that the Government is thinking of just such a scheme as I outlined earlier this month with Voluntary Special Policeman being rewarded with a 50 percent rebate on their Council Tax. This confirms for me that there is no member of the Government with a sense of humour! Let us assume for a moment that the proposal is under serious consideration. What must be properly considered?
I have suggested that there are three important aspects of any National Scheme to get right.
1. Safety. We cannot play fast and loose with the safety of volunteers some who are old and infirm, and after all they who have the most time on their hands must be protected. Do we expect them to arrest burglars or break up teenage riots and group binge drinking on the village green? Of course not. I suggested arm badges, distinctive hats and whistles. Yes, police whistles to summon help and to scare miscreants. But it is well known that there is a national shortage of police whistles and large scale production in China has to be negotiated to make this possible?
2. Disabled people. I have it on good authority is that there is a scheme to get the disabled off their benefit by offering them a financial incentive to become a Special Volunteer Policeman. I pointed out that you cannot expect a woman in a wheel chair to tackle a rioting crowd without help. If this inducement is to work then it is necessary to ensure that each wheelchair volunteer is accomapnied on patrol by at least one able bodied person. We hear nothing about this problem.
3. Shifts There will be considerable difficulties in arranging shifts. It is important that this new species of Constable should be representative of the country as a whole if the scheme is to work. Many northern elderly ladies will be reluctant to go out on patrol when East Enders and Coronation Street are being shown. Younger people will insist on the continuance of watching educational programmes: X Factor and Big Brother. And what about football fans otherwise engaged with Football on three to four days of the week. Young men would not exchange these programmes even for the enjoyment of a good punch up!
There are no signs that the Coalition has considered these important issue. There are many more but regrettably I do not have the space and time to bring them to your attention. Anyway in the Big Society you are expected to think of them yourself.
I say to the Coalition that good ideas are not like butterflies in summer. You can no doubt come up with ideas but do you have the abilty to think them through as acts of social engineering? I think not. If I am to continue with my pioneering contribution I need to think that they will be taken seriously. If not, move over and let someone else try!