Sunday, March 04, 2007

Police thyself

About a week ago I heard noise, shouting voices, just outside my front door. I went out and there was a group of maybe half a dozen teenagers there, sixteen or so years old, pushing and half-fighting on my drive, beered up and boisterous. I made them go away; it seemed OK. A couple apologised as they left, one or two glared a bit.

When I went out this morning to load up my dogs to take them for their morning walk, I saw paint stripper all over the roof and bonnet of my Land Rover. Maybe this is some kind of global warmening nutjob taking revenge for my carbonny ways. Or maybe it's one of the kids. I guess I'm not especially short of enemies, but I haven't had a death threat for months now, so my money's on the kids.

I needed a crime number for the insurance, so I called the police. I was given one, but most of the call consisted of information about data protection and the fact that my details would be passed to Victim Support. Miami Vice, NuLabour style: police in a call centre, counselling instead of investigation, and the insurance company picks up the bill. Good thing too - Ferraris are so carboniferous.

The police did suggest I could ask all my neighbours whether they heard or saw anything. If I managed to get some evidence, then they might look at it. That seems like a bit of role displacement to me. I thought the police investigated and then passed evidence on to the CPS. So now I do the police work and they... er... Well, they check for expired tax disks on the bypass, using those special number plate recognition cameras.

That seems fair. The traffic check vans are so cool, with their blacked out windows. Plus, it's raining, and I wouldn't want their "Serving the Community" badges to get damp.

Leaving the police to their thermos flasks and sandwiches, I get to do the house to house enquiries. For this, I need a clipboard, a reflective jacket - combining investigative work with high-visibility outer garments is something of a personal obsession - and some comfortable shoes.

Maybe I could take DNA samples from all my neighbours while I'm at it. After all, only those with something to hide could possibly object, and they'll need to give samples of body fluids to get their new library card when it comes up for renewal so they might as well get used to it.

All set. This is great. I haven't had so much fun since I placed my recycling bin four inches to the left of the designated pavement location one day and had to take my own bottles and cans to the dump for a month, to learn the virtue of civic obedience.

I'll write up the results of my enquiries in a few days. But first, it's time to proceed in a northerly direction.

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