Right before we start I suggest you go ahead and give yourself a pinch or two, no really, pinch yourself. Awake and alert? Yes, well here we go.
The new Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, Ann Barnes, has appointed a ‘youth commissioner‘ for the area, a Ms Paris Brown. Ms Brown has just turned that pivotal age of 17 yrs. Yes, that’s correct she’s not even old enough to vote! But she is a youth, of that there is no doubt.
And her pay for this job; £15,000.00 year for a 37 hour week, (£7.80 per hour). But I’m going to be fair here, Ann Barnes has agreed to a salary reduction herself to cover 33% of Ms. Barnes salary. She will also get a desk, a telephone, and an official car with her own emblem. Will she be given an emblem-ed hoodie as well I ask? Perhaps if she asked nicely I think.
Well is Ms. Brown an exceptional example, mature beyond her years able to contribute to society as a whole? Well not exactly. ‘The only reason young people hang around on the street,’ she has offered, ‘is because there’s nothing else for them to do.’ Genius, I’d never have thought to think that the youth might just need something to do. She’s already worth every penny she’s paid! I think not!
She plans to ask the youth what they think would help them to get off the streets. She thinks jobs are the answer and would like to remove the “stigma of being young”, as if this is a stigma.
So her ideas are just about as original and insightful as the average school leaver, does this mean the £15k is value for money? or could Ms. Barnes have worked this out for herself? whats really needed I suggest is adequate education, parents that actually care where their offspring are and what they are up-to at night, plenty of activities to do in the evenings (hopefully run by those caring parents who want themselves to contribute to society) coupled with pretty robust sanctions for the children and parents alike when they are found to be vandalizing property or hooliganising the neighborhood.
Worse still at the weekend, some of Ms Brown’s views were reported: to be precise, foul-mouthed, idiotic rantings on Twitter, (these were subsequently deleted once the balloon went up over them). These revealed she has a fondness for drugs and alcohol, as well as a number of potentially violent, racist and anti-gay comments. Other messages referred to her cravings for sex and cakes laced with marijuana. She’s 17 years old!
Never-the-less Ms. Barnes believes her to be exceptional. I beg to differ.
I think a much more suitable description would be ‘deeply, totally, hopelessly immature’. It’s hard to think of a more inappropriate choice for a post in law enforcement.
Although I don’t totally blame Ms. Brown for her appointment, Ms. Brown is at an age when teenagers are still full of hormones and trying to make the transition from childhood to adulthood. Her effort to minimize the fall-out from her remarks; she claimed she had been showing off, she said that she had never actually taken drugs and did not condone people who did. Nor was she an alcoholic, merely drinking a small glass of wine from time to time ‘when I sit indoors with my mum’.
In other words she still needs her mum just like most typical teenagers do at this awkward and troublesome stage in their lives.
So we are left with the question of what on earth did Ms. Barnes think she was doing when she appointed Paris Brown? The answer of course is she was trying to bridge the generation gap. That mythical missing bridge between teenage and adulthood where teenagers fall into a hormone induced state of feral frenzy. However, to suggest that this particular 17 year old is the bridge is folly indeed.
Mrs Barnes is herself being paid £85,000 per year to bridge the worlds of the police and the community they serve. If she felt she lacked the ability to represent the police to the young of that community, and vice versa, she perhaps shouldn’t have put herself up for candidacy for the job.
It is actually astonishing to think that, in this time of austerity, yet another bureaucratic government ill-thought through scheme should now be spawning yet more jobs that have everything to do with power and status and nothing to do what so ever with public safety and well being. Virtually every organisation the government comes into contact with (whatever shade of government is in power that is makes no difference just a different emphasis) will falter with the required weight of extra pointless, needless jobs for pen-pushing desk-jockies whose role is fill out the forms ensuring political correctness is embedded by their mini-tyrannies throughout the whole organisation; The Police, The NHS, heck even the Military is going this way.
So Ms. Barnes has thrown an extra £15k down a bottomless black-hole, she isn’t the first and wont be the last I’m willing to bet. In response to her star youth recruit’s rantings about drugs, violence and sex, Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner merely dismissed them. She was sure Ms Brown would be ashamed of these comments, and said — that even though any parent encountering such sentiments on Twitter or Facebook would be shocked, ‘that’s what kids do’. £15k of public money well spent then?
To put this into perspective, nationally we now have 41 police and crime commissioners earning anything up to £100,000 per year. Quite a number of them have appointed deputies and assistants, sparking allegations of cronyism and money-wasting.
I do have some sympathies for Paris Brown having entered the public eye for a £15k salary + benefits but ill-equipped to deal with the (much) wider fall-out for her appointment. But she wont be on her own.
Are we just creating more PC-jobs for the sake of them or are we actually adding to the national bank of intelligent thought?