Idling Watchdogs – Social Madness?

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Ciaran McAteer, Contributor.

The city council of Canterbury has recently settled on a policy of social madness: to cut carbon emissions, it seems a not-so-secret police force is about to be established.

Citizens will be actively encouraged to spy and antagonise their neighbours whilst receiving financial benefit, as well as the side of the law. There are multiple problems that concern me as an outsider about the Canterbury council’s policy.

Firstly, should it not be the police who are enforcing idling laws? It seems almost too sensible to suggest that a council uses the people being paid to do a job they’re already supposed to be doing. Therefore, are we to assume that the Canterbury council is admitting that the police are not doing their job properly? In which case, the money could be better spent hiring new police and creating more effective and moral policing to tackle this supposed egregious crime.

Secondly, I would contest that idling is a phantom crime. It’s the motorised version of jaywalking. You need to be a real clown to act upon it and it is so insignificant that any effort to stamp it out is futile and a waste of money. Not to mention that now, with financial incentive, traffic jams are about to become a serious problem as at any stop people will turn off their engines for fear of a fine. Surely the damage this will do to the daily commute doesn’t need to be spelt out, not to mention the annoyance this measure will cause parents picking up children from school.

Finally, we must examine the social damage such a policy threatens to inflict. Fraudsters will try to block people to “catch” them idling to collect as a government cheque. Neighbours will have 24hr surveillance to catch their fellows idling. Not to mention that on the BBC, where I first heard this ludicrous story, they interview a felon who boasted of having nicked 10,000 dollars’ worth from the pockets of his fellows after colluding with the state. Such a deplorable individual should surely be scorned for his collusion but no, he was presented as though he were a hero! This policy is suicide for the Canterbury City Council and all the others that have followed and I hope the damage of this is soon realised and the councils reconsider their decision.


Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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