Wednesday, 14 October 2009

And the wiener is...

Finian's Rainbow is a musical with a book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy, lyrics by Harburg, and music by Burton Lane. The Irish-tinged score also includes gospel and R&B influences.

Finian moves to the Deep South from Ireland with his daughter Sharon, to bury a stolen pot of gold near Fort Knox, in the mistaken belief that it will grow. A leprechaun follows them, desperate to recover his treasure before the loss of it turns him permanently human. Complications arise when a bigoted and corrupt U.S. Senator gets involved, and when wishes are made inadvertently over the hidden crock. All ends happily.

Oh, no, it’s Finnigans Rainbow.

POLICE chiefs in Lancashire are celebrating after the force was today named the country's top performer.

Calm down at the back. Were talking about public sector benchmarking and value addition here: nothing dirty.

The force, which is led by the Chief Constable, Steve Finnigan, is ranked joint first with Leicestershire…

Sparkling company, that.

Puts the Red Rose County’s top rozzer alongside this lambently beautiful fellow: Superintendent Steve Harrod, head of criminal justice at Leicestershire Police, acknowledged that the criminal justice system was set up to avoid sending juveniles to prison.

He said police officers were only allowed to issue warnings to young troublemakers unless their behaviour was judged to be serious.

"I'm not sure if people know but low-level anti-social behaviour is mainly the responsibility of the council”.

He, to be fair, was only explaining why Leicestershire Police are a bit worried that if juveniles (such as the gang that brutalized Fiona Pilkington so often and so long that she committed suicide and killed her disabled daughter in despair at the absence of police action) go to prison or something, they’ll likely turn to crime once they get out again.

You can’t fault the logic in that: punish them for their years-long campaign of abuse, threats, persecution of a family and violence against their property and they’ll instantly become criminals at the drop of a gavel. Public sector moral philosophy imitating art.

‘"He's a villain, sir."
"A villain..."
"And a jail-bird, sir."
"I know he's a jail-bird, Savage, he's down in the cells now!’

out of 43 forces assessed by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) for service provided to local communities.

However, Lancashire's Assistant Chief Constable, Chris Weigh, said that there was no time to be complacent.

You know, that’s just what I think. Complacency’s the last thing you want in a county constabulary: right after treason, torture, rampant corruption, cannibalism and just not doing the job properly - or indeed at all.

And she… (Sic. I looked him up. He’s a slap-head in the finest traditions of the Northwest’s northbound hairlines) the(n) added that there was still work to be done to improve their performance in some key areas.

He said: The Pledge is about the delivery of good services and I am obviously delighted with the HMIC grading. And I think that this accurately reflects the hard work we have carried out in Lancashire.

This is the pledge.

It describes how the police intend to do the job of being police by employing such state-of-the art techniques as police work. And also spin, plus some meetings with local groups and setting higher standards of attendance to the practically bionic ‘within 60 minutes’ for the vulnerable and upset and interestingly, at incidents ‘that we have agreed with your community will be a neighbourhood priority and attendance is required.’

I’d love to know who constitutes ‘your community’ and what their neighbourhood priorities might be, but still. But still, if someone’s breaking into your house, by that measure, the gallant Bobbies of the County Palatinate are pledged to arrive at the scene before your body’s gone cold, and well before your property reaches eBay.


(Non-geek readers will notice that the Pledge is available in pdf format, in common with many, many public sector authorities who think that pdf is cute, and not the unmanageable and difficult to read POS that it in fact is. There is a little known clause in the Single European Treaty that stipulates that the use of pdfs must never, ever be explained to those who are expected to read them by anyone who knows how to use them. Compared to the Common Agricultural Policy, however, this is as logical as A is A, or 2+2=4.)

We are only nine months into implementing the Pledge and whilst we are delivering in most areas, we will not be complacent or stand still.

We aim to continue to improve the basics.

And, in the words of the late, lamented Heath Ledger’s masterful characterization of The Joker: Here we go.

That includes answering phones, attending crime scenes, responding to emergencies and working with neighbourhoods to agree priorities about crime and policing in local areas.

To be fair, I don’t expect they’re intending or even implying the breakneck speed of that 60 minute response time when it comes to answering phones and working with neighbourhoods to agree priorities – that kind of essential back-up service takes time.

Our reputation for delivering neighbourhood policing is second-to-none.

And worth twice as much as that, I’d guess.

I've seen Lancashire Constabulary’s shiny-vehicled roadshows heading into the war zone council estates nearby. One estate contains a house owned and operated by Police and Community Support Officers, but who (according to no-doubt malicious local rumours) never leave that house during the day on the estate at all until it’s home time. They prefer to plod about the nicer terraces and semis of the city’s owner-occupied neighbourhoods. These are the communities with whom the brave officers of Lancashire Police liaise; I’m sure, prior to meeting with said communities.

I’ve almost always had PCSOs out to me when my car’s been vandalized rather than the police.

And much of the Pledge is delivered through this approach. However, the Pledge isn't just about neighbourhod policing.

This is about all departments and areas of policing working to deliver a top quality service that meets the needs of communities in a truly citizen focused way.

That’s reassuring: I’m glad to guess that we’ve moved to from treating, say, the invading Romans and occupying Normans better than the people who were actually born here, though I’m fairly sure that if my new Polish neighbours are burgled while they’re out at work they’ll get the same victim support leaflet that I was given on the seven occasions when I reported the migration of my wing mirrors. I’m not greedy, I gave up calling them in after incident number seven. Wouldn’t want to distract the fuzz from their relentless pursuit of prizes…

I am very proud of the result.

Well, I’ve certainly stopped reporting minor assaults on property, so I’m proud that with my newfound determination not to add three more car trashings to the statistics I have done my best.

But I am also very clear that the work doesn’t stop here."

Areas of activity specifically highlighted as good practice in the HMIC assessment report included: a drop-in centre for Eastern European members of the community;

You mean you hand over the Tough shit, you’ve been burgled. What do you expect us to do about it? leaflet with a cup of tea and polite chatter about accordions, beetroot soup and stuff? I for one am glad that our new neighbours are being treated with the same respect that I got, mostly, after the hoody horde passed by and disappeared untraceably to their ASBO-postcode council houses.

…the creation of one-stop shops to provide enhanced customer service;…

What was that old-fashioned word they taught us in school again? Petard? Paleolithic? Police station?


…community volunteers to enhance neighbourhood policing;

And what’s the betting that these volunteers will last right up to the very nanosecond when some volunteer is accused of ‘brutality’ by some freelance furniture mover or herbal remedy salesman, and the real police decide that he ‘took the law into his own hands’ instead of waiting for Scotty to beam down two red shirts with phasers on stun within 60 minutes of seeing them break some door down or passing goody bags to some neighbour’s teenage kid?

…publicising neighbourhood teams and their priorities; keeping victims of crime up to date of progress; and introducing Citizen Focus Bureaux to deal with dissatisfaction.

…and introducing on drums, it’s Citizen Focus Bureaux! Give ‘em a big hand folks, they’ve come all the way from the West coast to be here tonight.

Friends, I know that there are coppers of all ranks out there still doing the job: still getting bricked and bottled and shot at and abused by people unworthy to shine their boots (if Magnum combat boots can shine, that is). I know that there are a number who also feel oddly free with the hitting at demonstrations - a few that shake my faith in the guardians of law and order. But there’s the rub – it’s the guardians of something or other, rather than the telegraphs of law and order, that make me despair.

Perhaps this is a Twenty-First Century revival of Bobbies-on-the-beat with an inescapable added gloss of bureaucratic groupthink.

But what’s the betting that in fact Lancashire and Leicestershire have won an in-house award by meeting standards set by our dopey central government and was assessed and handed over by people in the same invertebrate chatstream, and not the ones on the sharp, dirty end of the permissive society?

So is Castle City and its north-western sister towns safer for The Pledge and the award that it brings? Perhaps.

Bet your life?

Only the Shadow knows.

But hey, it doesn’t take much to win an in-house award here, now does it? Not when it only takes 14 days in your new job to change the world and the whole way it does business, by helping out prospects for world peace.

I’m beginning to wonder if I might be in line for an award myself someday soon.

When I found myself much to my surprise in this social conservative lark a year or so ago I assumed I’d be in for a long apprenticeship. You know the kind of thing: I’d spend a few months feeling unaccountably tense upon noticing skateboarders and then move tentatively on to pricing up net curtains from Wilkinson’s, and perhaps draught a strongly-worded but never published letter to the local free sheet about the late-night noise from Castle City’s many nightclubs. Maybe in a few years I’d have worked my way up to frosty altercations on Saturday afternoons in Market Street with Green Party recruiters or Amnesty canvassers or leading a boycott of cruelty-free goods from the city’s Sainsbury’s, and all the while quietly dreaming of pipes and snuffboxes and bidding modestly for the collected non-Narnian fiction of CS Lewis.

Eventually, I imagined, after putting in several hard, dedicated, grumpy decades of showing not only how the world was going to the dogs but also identifying the particular breed of dogs and the hereditary diseases that each strain is prone to, I might finally be recognised by my peers for my efforts and presented with the traditional dreadful post-war Kenneth Moore/Freedom Association curly side-swept haircut and bow tie. And maybe, just maybe, just before my retirement a Lifetime Resentment Award would be mine; complete with its iconic shabby Demob tweed jacket with double oak leaf clusters and shiny suede elbow patches.

But now it’s looking much more hopeful if mobs like the showers above are getting peer-reviewed plaudits at the public expense. Reach for the Sky is no longer the limit. At this rate, if I can get my fellow sociocons to see my sterling work for the miracle of contemporary pessimism that it is, I could be looking at international glory for my charitable work championing the beleaguered panda baiting tribes of Red China as they try to cling on to their traditional nose-clamps and paw-traps, or perhaps I'd be in line for some kind of major cash prize for outstaring Britain’s most deeply-masked and abusively-married hooded women. I can’t expect much kudos from publicly dismantling the ’Tory’ Party’s leading homosexual victimologist piece by piece because it’s already been done.

However, nobody’s so far taken the obvious golden opportunity of punishing on You Tube those pinko French dolphins that refused to mine the Rainbow Warrior.

Now, where did I put that trebuchet?


James Higham said...

But still, if someone’s breaking into your house, by that measure, the gallant Bobbies of the County Palatinate are pledged to arrive at the scene before your body’s gone cold, and well before your property reaches eBay.


Can we be prosecuted for not inviting the burglars in and offering them a cup of tea and five large rubbish bags to cart the stuff away with?

North Northwester said...

Um, you'd have to offer them different kinds of bags in Castle City, or risk a substantial, instant, and trial-free fine. One bag for electrical goods, perhaps; a a different one for precious metals and jewellery (I wish!); and a third for cash, credit cards, and personal documents.They'd probably get around too fining you for crimes committed using your biographical data as a result of identity theft.

JuliaM said...

"Non-geek readers will notice that the Pledge is available in pdf format, in common with many, many public sector authorities who think that pdf is cute..."

And it's prabably not even the most up to date version either...


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