Monday, 26 July 2010


Jeremy Taylor thought he was singing a comic song. Nowadays there are more jobsworths than ever before and they all think they have the power of judge and jury over everyone else. If he had known what was coming, this song might have had a darker edge. If it was written today it would probably be by Slipknot or Rammstein and would end with the jobsworth's head on a spike.

There was a short story, long ago (1957), written by Brian Aldiss, called 'All the World's Tears'. In it, the wild man foxes a platoon of robotic guards, and one gardener robot, by using their inherent jobsworth attitudes. Approached by the guard robots, he pulls two branches off a bush and stands still, holding them out. The exchange goes something like this (from memory, I can't hunt out the book now):

Robots: Identify yourself.

Man: I am a rose tree.

Robot: Rose trees cannot speak.

Gardener robot: This is not a rose tree. This is a breaking buckthorn.

Man. I am a breaking buckthorn. I cannot speak.

The robots are thrown into confusion. The guards want to destroy the man/bush but the gardener cannot allow it. Plants are his job, not the guards'. Yet it is not a plant he recognises so it must be an intruder and he can't deal with intruders. Yet it has leaves and has stated that it cannot speak... None of the possible scenarios presented by the wild man fit into robot logic. It's a much longer exchange than above and if you ever find a copy of the story, well worth reading.

The author notes that if the man had been faced with one robot he would have died. Faced with robots of different jobsworthiness, he set one against the other. The robots had to retire to ask their owner what to do. The wild man went on his way.

It is rare to encounter multiple jobsworths. On trains, there are these. There are pseudoplods in the street and the old pompous parkie can now arrest you for having a bottle of wine with your picnic (but he'll leave you alone if there are ten of you in Burberry with a case of Stella each). Multiple jobsworths could be fun and it is inevitably going to happen. An off-duty C3PO is bound to fall foul of Train Jobsworth sooner or later. Train Jobsworth is bound to meet Park Jobsworth eventually.

The most likely place to meet multiple Jobsworths is currently just outside a railway station. If you take a photo, are you under the jurisdiction of Train Jobsworth or Street Jobsworth? If you can take a photo of a station from within a shopping mall, that also brings Mall Jobsworth into the game.

None of them have actual powers of arrest, any more than the straight 'citizen's arrest' which would now see the rest of us in court, charged with 'interfering with a criminal in the course of his duties'. See, the police need criminals in order to make targets. They can't have the rest of us taking their ticked boxes off the streets. If you want human rights, break a law. You don't get them otherwise.

So far, the opportunity to play the rigid logic of one jobsworth against the different, but equally rigid, logic of another has not yet arisen. It is bound to arise, as they continue to proliferate, and when it does I hope to be there.

They certainly do not have the power to delete photographs. The police do not have that power either. If they believe a crime has been committed then they are demanding the destruction of evidence and for that, they should face prison.

They never do. They don't even face a telling off. That is why the jobsworths proliferate. They are never accountable for their brainless actions. None are fired. None are prosecuted. None are even publically named. They can continue to be utter wastes of space with impunity.

If a Train Jobsworth claims he is making demands based on Section 44, is he a police officer? Has his chief constable authorised the application of Section 44 in that area at that time? If not, then he is impersonating a police officer, is he not? He is making a false arrest, is he not? Demanding the destruction of evidence when he suspects criminal activity is a serious crime, is it not? If I did the same thing, what would happen to me - and why will it never happen to him?

As long as the jobsworths are protected, they will only get worse. One, at least, must be prosecuted for his actions in order to send the message to the others that they are not police. They have no authority. They cannot get away with picking on the innocent while ignoring the problems they are allegedly paid to deal with.

Until it happens, they will continue to get worse. This new government has done nothing to stop them. The Cleggeron Coagulation is already on track to be just as despised as the Brown Gorgon and the Tiny Blur.

It seems they want it that way.


St Paul said...

A pal of mine is just retiring after 30 years in the fire service. He was caught speeding earlier this year by a safety camera. He was offered a speed-awareness course, instead of points on his licence. These courses are not a regular option for speeders in this area. Of the 20 course attenders 2 were firemen and 8 were plod, all "lucky" to have had this opportunity of avoiding points.

Lord T said...

I don't think prosecution by a member of the public is an option.

Public execution seems a more viable option for the public. Its the only option available via the 'court' available to us. Its our version of the justice system. Plod has theirs. They have fines, prison and the full force of Plod. We only have the facility to kill them, kick the crap out of them and have nearly 60M of us to help and provide logistics.

Furor Teutonicus said...


I am surprised no one yet has kicked the living shit out of one of them.

MUCH more..."educational" to them than a prosecution.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Is it not a pitty that one of these "jobs worths had not been the first to try and tell a certain arsehole called "Moat" not to take photographs?

Mr Civil Libertarian said...

There's a passage in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged in which similar things happen.

Except there, it results in a train going through a long tunnel with a coal rather than an electrical engine, and everyone on-board suffocates.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Leg-iron

Brian Aldiss's 'All the World's Tears' is narrated here:

The exchange is approx 17 mins in and the whole story takes about 24 minutes. Well worth listening to.


banned said...

My local park has been made the subject of an "Anti-Social Behaviour Order" whereby Police and CPSOs have been empowered under whatever section to disperse groups of "two or more persons, often under the influence of alcohol or drugs, causing distress".
It says so in full colour plastcized sheets attached to all the park entranceswith facsimile signatures of a Chief Inspector and someone else, complete with a detailed plan of said park as if we didn't know where it was.

Next time I see a CPSO there I'm going to complain about the intimidating gangs of single mums and their noisy offspring who regularly infest the paddling pool area to my considerable distress since I want a bit of peace and quiet.

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