How DO police find time for moonlighting
02:09 GMT, 30 December 2012
Working for the police is a privilege. Despite many changes, the force is still respected. Policing is also widely assumed to be a very demanding task, absorbing the full energies of those who do it.
So it is surprising to find that so many officers and back-up staff are enhancing their already handsome incomes by taking second jobs.
The latest total, of 23,000 officers and staff moonlighting in England and Wales, cannot be dismissed as a minor matter.
A shocking one in 10 police officers are combining their work with a second job, a Mail on Sunday investigation revealed
There are rules about this, but they seem to be very loosely and even casually enforced in many parts of the country.
The Police Federation, which sounds increasingly like an old-fashioned public service union from the Seventies, produces excuses for this behaviour, ranging from loss of overtime opportunities to a higher pension age.
It is missing the point on a grand scale. Public discontent with the police has been growing for decades, as officers have abandoned their old role, foot patrols have all but vanished and neighbourhood police stations have closed.
People who would once have regarded the police as beyond criticism will now be questioning the dedication and diligence of a force whose members and support staff have the time and energy left to work as chauffeurs, magicians, cooks, pilots, pall-bearers, ice-cream vendors, driving instructors or – in one astonishing case – a parson.
There is no doubt that many in the police service are still dedicated to keeping us all safe, that the job can often be unpleasant and dangerous and can sometimes require the ultimate sacrifice.
But that should not prevent the Home Secretary from launching and implementing serious and lasting reforms, under which this sort of moonlighting should be sharply reduced. The police are ultimately a force for good, and it is reasonable for them to be asked to make sacrifices to live up to their reputation.
An uncharitable act
Nobody doubts the good intentions of the RSPCA, or the continuing need for such a body. Nor is it wrong for this charity to use the weapon of prosecution to deter cruelty to animals.
It is also true that the task of finding new homes for rejected, homeless or mistreated animals is a huge one, and that it must sometimes be overwhelming.
Figures have revealed the RSPCA routinely puts down healthy animals, with 3,400 destroyed in 2011 for 'non-medical reasons (file picture)
But there do seem to be signs that this valuable charity may have its priorities mixed up.
The Society now destroys far more healthy animals than it used to. And many of its donors and supporters are uncomfortable about the huge sum spent on the recent prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt.
It is generally wise for charities to stick, as far as possible, to doing measurable acts of goodness rather than engaging in controversial political acts. We have quite enough politics in this country as it is.
History in the making
In any country undergoing political change, school history is deeply controversial. It shapes the next generation’s views and thoughts for the rest of their lives.
The battle over what should be in the history curriculum has now raged for more than 50 years, and most intensely since the Schools Council History Project of 1974, which ditched knowledge in favour of empathy.
Many teachers have grown up with the vaguest knowledge of our national past, and history has been pushed to the edge of the curriculum.
Good luck to Michael Gove in his battle to restore and reform it, but the task may be bigger than he thinks it is.