Monday, August 13, 2007

On the Cheap

Staff from the "Golden Orchid" Chinese restaurant were busily harvesting local sea food, clamped to the walls of the promenade at Birchington yesterday. I did try and point out that this wasn't such a good idea but was told, in very broken English, that the restaurant, advertised on the large collecting bags, was in London. I do hope our cleaner beaches now extends to the shellfish. I certainly wouldn't choose that particular spot to eat my lunch from!

Mind you, at Minnis Bay, a grubby unmarked van appeared, dropped one of its sides and started doing a healthy trade selling hot dogs and burgers to passers-by. There's true enterprise for you but I wonder whether the tiny kitchen area or indeed, its contents has never had a public health inspection. However, if the owner had met-up with the cockle-pickers around the corner, they could, between them, have started a whole new mobile seafood business. An opportunity missed!

I couldn't help but comment on today's barmy story in the newspapers and on the TV.

Thames Valley Police have recruited two 16-year-olds as police community support officers with the authority to detain and question suspects.

The pair, just out of school, will join foot patrols from a 'busy' police station.

Thames Valley PCSOs earn £17,000-£20,000, depending on the hours they work. A full PC starts at £21,000, rising to £33,000.

The move by Thames Valley Police has triggered a row about public safety and allegations that forces - and the Government - are trying to "police on the cheap".

The teenagers are two years too young to join the regular police force and yet are expected to take control of any number of difficult situations as if the were adults.

Other than another fine example of policing on the cheap, I'm wondering whether their presence on the streets may actually cause more problems than they might solve by encouraging other teenagers to square-off against them.

Let me ask you. Would you be prepared to have a 16-year-old PCSO working the streets of Thanet to deal with anti-social behaviour or would you prefer to have a mature adult? I think I know what my own answer would be.