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Sunday, October 09, 2005


Better than cure?

Over the past year or so, Senior Management has sternly told us that the number of Parking Tickets issued has dropped. They seem to be very unhappy about this. This is no surprise to me, as the better we seem to get at our job, the more difficult it gets to book errant motorists. Another thing is that the number of assaults on Enforcement Officers has gone down.

When it comes down to the reduction in tickets, I suppose it was inevitable. As for the assaults, a lot of that is down to us ditching the ‘procedures’ and using our brains instead. The big hefty looking guys on the team look after the smaller ones and behave in as visible a manner as possible. This often means that you issue fewer tickets, but by the same token, you don’t have to.

Maybe this is how the old Police beat system used to work. You got a big hefty looking bloke who looked like he could handle himself in a barney, put him and a bunch of like mates out on the streets at all hours of the day and night as a visible presence. The purpose being to act as a preventative to low level crime, because said big hefty bloke is empowered to ‘keep the peace’, mainly by persuasion. I suppose the theory is that by acting as a preventative to low level crime like petty vandalism and drunken abusiveness, the potential malefactors get ‘headed off’ before they can graduate into more serious practices like breaking and entering, drug abuse and assault.

Not that the old Police beat system will ever be reinstated. It doesn’t fit in with the statistics and spreadsheet driven ‘box ticking’ management approach that measures crimes after they happen. This is so entrenched that it will take years to flush the ‘stats’ driven managers out of the system, especially in local government (Which I’ve often considered an oxymoron.).

You can’t measure prevention. Rather like you couldn’t measure how effective the animal protein rendering process temperatures were before an industry lobby group got the government to lower the legal rendering temperature limit so that the ‘box tickers’ could make a ‘saving’ on the fuel it took to produce high protein feeds for livestock. Result; cross species infection and variant Creutzfeldt-Jacobs disease (vCJD, or BSE).

Similarly, you lower the number of beat officers on the streets because their ‘arrest rates’ are low – less cover, more temptation for those who would stray into anti social behaviour. More emphasis on the ‘rights’ of the anti social and violent – the rest of us find our freedoms curtailed. Likewise a reduced number of Parking enforcement officers mean more opportunity for those who clog up the streets with their refusal to travel bipedally, and so on. Simple really.

We keep on saying that we are preventing contraventions to Senior Management when they complain about ‘Ticket Revenues’ falling. Of course the number we hand out is decreasing. Even the dumbest idiot in a 4x4 will think twice about stopping on double yellows after getting one Parking Ticket. Given that there is only a finite number of people who have cars, sooner or later the message ‘don’t park here’ gets through and if there is no contravention, what is there to book?

It is simple mathematics. We are working on the law of diminishing returns. Ideally speaking our Management should balance lost ticket revenue up against the increase in revenue from car parks because people are using those more. Sadly they have so far not seen fit to inform us of any such figures. One is not going to hold ones breath.

All I can tell you is that our streets seem clearer, and either I’m becoming more accustomed to it, or it’s easier to breathe. Wonder if anyone has checked the pollution figures?


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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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