A BOM correspondent draws our attention to the free pizzas thoughtfully provided by Derbyshire police (HTP Spent Copper). After more than 150 local residents had signed a petition complaining about a 30 strong gang of youths hanging around outside local shops and intimidating people, the police response was to offer them free pizza. The youths that is, not the residents.
The petitioning residents are not impressed:
"Shopkeeper and organiser of the petition Dinesh Bhandari, said he did not think the pizza plan was tackling the problem. "Everybody's saying they're doing this, doing that but I don't think they're doing enough, they're just ticking boxes. With the new pizza thing, they [young people] are going to that, having the pizza but then coming here beforehand, then rounded up and taken there as if it's a pat on the back."
So much for Derbyshire police's response to the concerns of local council tax payers.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles and a public service world away from Derbyshire, local taxpayers in Maricopa County Arizona are so happy with their elected sheriff, they return him to office over and over again. And no wonder (you may well have seen this before, but we need to capture it on BOM):
"Sheriff Joe Arpaio created the "tent city jail" to save Arizona from spending tens of millions of dollars on another expensive prison complex.
He has jail meals down to 20 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.
He banned smoking and pornographic magazines in the jails, and took away their weightlifting equipment and cut off all but "G" movies. He says: "They're in jail to pay a debt to society not to build muscles so they can assault innocent people when they leave."
He started chain gangs to use the inmates to do free work on county and city projects and save taxpayer's money. Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn't get sued for discrimination.
He took away cable TV until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails. So he hooked up the cable TV again but only allows the Disney channel and the weather channel.
When asked why the weather channel, he replied: "So these morons will know how hot it's gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs."
He cut off coffee because it has zero nutritional value and is therefore a waste of taxpayer money. When the inmates complained, he told them, "This isn't the Ritz/Carlton. If you don't like it, don't come back. Criminals should be punished for their crimes - not live in luxury until it's time for parole, only to go out and commit more crimes so they can come back in to live on taxpayers money and enjoy things many taxpayers can't afford to have for themselves."
He told all the inmates who were complaining of the heat in the tents: "It's between 120 to 130 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents too, and they have to walk all day in the sun, wearing full battle gear and get shot at, and they have not committed any crimes, so shut your damned mouths!" (HTP Thom)
Now, where do we sign for those elected sheriffs?
Joe for Derbyshire Sheriff
Update 18.6.08: Well waddyaknow. This morning a report from the Cabinet Office says that most people lack faith in our criminal justice system - they think it's distant and unresponsive to the concerns of ordinary people, and also stacked in favour of the criminal rather than the victim. Yes, yes. So the Cabinet Office wants elected sheriffs and more prison places? Er... not exactly. They want people to join some kind of community engagement wibble, another Czar, and some kind of overhaul of community sentences that will, you know, kind of make everything better, sort of idea. It's the same report that already span the media with promises of "high visibility bibs" for criminals working on community sentences. Wonder if they'll be like the high visibility Tommee Tippee Roll n Go bibs the junior Tylers used to wear for dinner - the ones with the built-in scoop to catch dribbled pizza (see this blog, and this, for just how spectacularly useless community sentences actually are).
Update 2: When it comes to people not having faith in the criminal justice sytem, let's just note the release from a British jail of Abu Qatada. He's only reputed to have been Bin Laden's right hand man in Europe, and he's only a foreign national wanted by his home country, where he has already been sentenced to life in prison for terrorist offences. Still, maybe he'll be made to wear a bib while chilling at home.