News that Scotland’s new single police force is dispensing with counter services in some rural stations has brought mixed reactions from the underworld and service industries dependent on it, we can randomly recycle for you. In an exclusive investigation, a number of industry insiders gave us their own perspectives on the present state of the often misunderstood misdemeanour business and the crucial role it plays in maintaining large swathes of the wider economy in everything from burglar alarm and CCTV manufacture and installation to actual crime detection, social service delivery (in the community, too!) and perfectly avoidable emergency healthcare provision.
A spokesman for Police Scotland told our reporter, “Criminality trends have changed in recent years. Modern technology has opened up a whole new world of offending.” He went on, “With improved education and hysterical, politically driven media reporting, we’ve seen a move away from traditional crafts like bank robbery and car theft to more specialised acts of niche impropriety, such as computer hacking and designer drug manufacture. Of course, theft is as popular as ever and with social networking, generalised abuse and bullying are enjoying almost unlimited possibilities with massive potential for social harm.”
But, he explained, the closure of redundant counters was an inevitable response to a changed marketplace. Barely feigning interest, he sighed, “The public are simply too lazy and generally apathetic to come traipsing down to the station to speak to us when they can just as easily phone. Such ease of contact was one of the primary selling points of modern communications technology, after all. Frankly, we can’t be bothered meeting them either. If it’s Dixon of Dock Green they’re after, they can forget it."
But this was not the only bad news for wrong-doing in the North in recent months. Later, a representative of the Sutherland criminal community gave us his views on the recession in general and particularly the impact of the closure of Dornoch Sheriff Court and the transferring of its business fully 10 miles south to Tain. Earlier in the year, the Scottish Court Service had cited a decline in caseload due to a downturn in criminality and stressed that, tragically, the economic argument outweighed the undoubted loss of civic amenity as reasons for this regrettable decision.
Speaking on the basis of anonymity on a locally stolen smartphone behind a pub in Golspie, Archie “Fingers” McPhee, 34, told our reporter, “This latest blow is a reflection of just how far-reaching the impact of George Osborne’s economic hooliganism has been, like.” While being handcuffed by police officers he explained that the black market in electrical goods had been particularly hard hit. “Everybody is so skint that we end up nicking stuff from each other just to keep our hand in. It simply isn’t cost effective anymore; and it breaches minimum wage legislation, too. And as most people now have at least three mobile devices, we’ve already had to drop our prices to get rid of the damned things.” Summarising his position while struggling with 4 giant policemen, 7 stone, 5 foot 6 inch McPhee shouted, “There is an urgent need for regulation to stop this pattern of boom and bust, as well as the infrastructure investment required for our more remote customers.”
While strenuously denying knowing nothing about anything, he added, “The extra time and expense of travelling to Tain every Monday means yet more lost productivity in already challenging times and a market place now dominated by large criminal institutions who are putting small sole traders like myself out of business." As he was led away to the police van he remarked, "Petty thieving’s just not the job it used to be. I’m encouraging my girlfriend’s step kids to take up identity fraud or perhaps people trafficking.”
And business hasn’t been looking good for menacing drunks and village psychos either, with the rising price of zoo-stength cider and mind-warping hallucinogens being widely blamed for a marked decline in arbitrary violence and mindless vandalism.
It’s not all bad news, though, with figures yet to be released expected to show motoring offence levels holding steady despite a prolonged downturn in drink driving, which isn’t expected to return to levels seen in its heyday during the boom decades of late last century.
A police spokesman told us, “The loss of interest in drunk driving across all age groups has obviously left a gap in the market, but we’ve found that most of these idiots are just as dangerous sober. Now that they can no longer afford to sit in the pub getting stewed all day, they go out behaving like morons on the road instead, with obvious knock-on benefits for the other emergency services. At least when they were juiced, they spent less time on the road. A&E departments have never been busier and today’s miscreants certainly keep us on our toes. It’s heartening in these austere times to see such tenacity on the part of the socially retarded community.”
He went on to say, “We are convinced that crime and general idiocy have a healthy future here and as the economic downturn persists we expect to see an overall increase in numbers of desperate unemployed people and, of course, homeless sorts bugging the hell out of pedestrians and shoppers. Cyber-crime and related activities now add to the mix and present challenges we never faced before, so it’s an exciting time for us, too.”
The future of Dornoch Courthouse itself is as yet unclear. There had been the prospect a buy-out by the clearly devastated community where as many as two low paid part-time cleaning jobs were lost in one of the most prosperous areas of the Highlands. One suggested use for the building was to turn it into a heritage museum celebrating the history of general maleficence in Sutherland through the ages. The sheer range of criminality recorded since the Bronze Age demonstrates just how rich the traditions of crookery, thuggery and general stupidity really are in the North. This proposal was later rejected on the grounds of it being completely untenable, with some even suggesting that it would be a profligate waste of time, energy and public money.
So, nobody knows what the future holds for the courthouse so many people throughout Sutherland have such fond memories of. But, of course, no matter what changes the modern world might throw at us, the Scottish parochial press will still be cutting and pasting from court records and keeping us up to date with the best misdeeds of the week, as ever, all introduced with the immortal words, “a Brora man appeared in court on Monday.”