This week's prestigious Prat of The Week Award goes to none other than Nanny herself, and the Labour government as a whole.
For why, other than their lamentable record in office?
Specifically for this little tale of stupidity and indifference to the views of professionals. I refer to the 101 non emergency hotline, that Nanny foisted on six police regions as part of Labour's manifesto commitment to lessen to load on the 999 line.
Hampshire police have stated publicly that the 101 line has turned out to be a fiasco. The police forces who are piloting the scheme are being swamped with absurd questions about train times, and local tourist attractions.
It is estimated that around 66% of calls made to the 101 line are bollocks, and not related to its intended use.
Hampshire Police are demanding that the roll-out across the country be stopped, until Nanny and her ministers validate its usefulness.
The theory was that 101 would be used to report; intimidation, harassment, vandalism, graffiti, criminal damage, fly-tipping and other environmental problems.
However, Hampshire police receive calls such as:
"Can you tell me the times of trains to Brighton?
I'd like someone to test my smoke alarm.
Do you know when the next bus leaves for Southampton?"
Oddly enough, in the "old days" when police were more respected and less inclined to arrest you for knocking conkers down from trees, banal questions to the police were often encouraged as a means of establishing a rapport between the citizen and his local "Bobby". The old saying "if you want to know the time, ask a policeman" readily springs to mind.
Anyhoo, those days appear to have long gone, and the police no longer have the time or inclination to interact with the person in the street.
Deputy Chief Constable of Hampshire, Ian Readhead, thinks the 101 line is bollocks and said:
"We made representations to government.
We recommended it was too early to go live with wave two
and that the government should spend more time learning about this."
Superintendent Nigel Hindle, in charge of call handling at Hampshire police, said:
"The strap line for 101 is 'when it's less urgent than 999.
That was on a leaflet that went through every door in the county.
Across the month we receive about 50 calls that we consider emergency fire and health issues on the 101 service.
The operators are not trained to deal with health and fire issues."
Hampshire said that it alone needed 18 more telephonists, costing £450K, to cope with the calls.
Leicester and Rutland, Cardiff, Sheffield and Northumberland and Tyne and Wear are also taking part in the initial pilot.
A further 20 forces will join them in the 'second wave', expected early next year.
Nanny's chums in the Home Office have denied that the scheme will be ditched. Instead they are using the weasel phrase:
"We plan to carry out a thorough evaluation of the pilot areas."
Meaning that when all the fuss has died down, the scheme will be quietly dropped (just like so many other harebrained failed schemes that Nanny has introduced with a fanfare).
Nanny well deserves the Prat of The Week Award.
However, as said, the police would find their role in the community less traumatic and more productive if they sought to engage on a personal level with the man in the street. Trying to be helpful with regard to enquires about smoke alarms and bus timetables would in fact be a quite a good thing, not via a 101 line though.