There are always new schemes being devised to prevent or detect crime these days. There have been such brilliant ideas as handing out bubble-blowing kits to drunks rather than arresting them, advocating the wearing of flip-flops by female revellers so they don’t fall and risk becoming disorderly if they have one too many, recruiting everyone from plumbers to whoever to monitor activity in an area or sending text messages to victims of burglaries asking them to investigate the matter themselves.
Everything, it seems, rather than carry out any actual ‘policing’. So what next? Cardboard cutouts? Got it in one.
Shops in Redcar are to be equipped with cardboard cut-out cops in a bid to discourage crime. Several other police forces are either in the process of introducing such a scheme or are seriously considering it.
There are around 13 police forces in England and Wales who are investing in cardboard cut-out officers. The West Midlands police force has ordered 80 cardboard constables at a cost of £10,000. That’s £125 each. Derbyshire Police paid between £12 and £30 each for theirs and the Essex Police paid £95 each for theirs.
So why the price difference? And what does the deluxe model have that the others don’t? A uniform? And what happens if you have one at the entrance to the shop and it starts to rain? Quick sprint before he becomes PC Droopy?
Sounds like more money well spent! Anything, of course, is preferable to actually using the police force to ‘police’, catching the criminals and ensuring that they are suitably punished. Heaven forbid that that should ever happen.
An incidental benefit of such a system, on the other hand, is that if PC Cardboard should ever make an arrest, his evidence in court is likely to be more reliable than often seems to be the case recently.
Signs saying ‘CCTV in operation’ are one thing, you can’t immediately tell if it is true or not, although half the time it doesn’t seem to deter thieves anyway. The Americans tried it with inflatable officers sitting in patrol cars at the side of the road as a ‘deterrent’. All that happened was that people nicked the dummies as souvenirs!
But you never know, it could work and revolutionise policing as we know it. Next project, Parliament. Or is the system already in operation, hard to tell sometimes.