Don`t you know who I am?
I did not have Porthcawl in South Wales down as a place that would see 35,000 visitors in one weekend, let alone 35,000 Elvis impersonators. But that is what happens every September at Europes largest gathering of fans of the dead musical star. I was also amazed to be told that the town has been chosen for deployment of the latest counter terror technology, but that too is true.
I did not have Porthcawl in South Wales down as a place that would see 35,000 visitors in one weekend, let alone 35,000 Elvis impersonators. But that is what happens every September at Europes largest gathering of fans of the dead musical star. I was also amazed to be told that the town has been chosen for deployment of the latest counter terror technology, but that too is true. This weekend, South Wales Police will use its facial recognition technology, which was famously used at the Champions League final in June, to identify wanted criminals and known troublemakers. Then it did not manage to spot anyone of note, but away from the event, the force made one arrest for which we are still awaiting an outcome. Now, it is relatively easy to see how scanning 70,000 football fans faces could help spot anyone banned from attending matches, presumably most would have a custody image somewhere on police systems, but using the technology on crowds in disguise has me flummoxed. Either the project leaders want a difficult test for the system or intelligence shows that a greater proportion of Elvis impersonators commit crime. Sources in the South Wales Police executive team deny they are so desperate for it to actually identify someone they will deploy it at a Womens Institute gathering next week if they have to. The massive rise in reports of child abuse poses more serious conundrums for policings erstwhile but short of cash leaders, in how to deal with impersonators of a much more dangerous kind. Recommendations have been put forward that say anyone caught viewing indecent images should not be charged and taken to court unless they pose a physical threat to children, that these low level offenders should be placed on the sex offenders register and given counselling and rehabilitation. This is so officers can deal effectively with dangerous paedophiles who exploit children through rape and the most awful sexual abuse, as the service just cant cope with it. Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs` Council lead for child protections solution is to look at alternatives to prosecution, but his recommendations are based on the assumption that counselling and rehabilitation work. Mr Bailey thinks they should still be arrested and managed. His faith in offender management is as remarkable as his trust in counselling and rehabilitation. An alarmed Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, has declared her nervousness at the proposals. She has observed that there are greater monthly arrests for fraud, criminal damage, public order offences, theft and drug offences, and asks why we are handling them but struggling to cope with lesser numbers of sexual offences. Perhaps these ideas have already been trialled, the Prevent strategy is expected to deal with increasing levels of terrorism, with potential terrorists being counselled and rehabilitated. I am not sure where that has got us. It seems that in the past few years detective work has changed massively; when I was last on the streets we didnt have any choice about arresting prolific burglars, shoplifters and car thieves. But then some people say I have impersonated a police officer for years. Yours, Stitch