Communications tech is the most important advance in the provision of justice since we first suggested maybe not murdering each other. Most Westerns are based on the idea of riding a horse until you find someone who’s even heard of the guilty party, then riding further to find one who hasn’t been shot. Nowadays you can call in crimes from anywhere, and in our efficient techno-world many criminals save everyone time by using phones to catch themselves. If phones were any more effective in reducing crime they’d be Robocops, but the authorities don’t always have the best ideas for using these intuitive devices we all carry around with us.
1. “999, I’m being followed!” “Yes, that’s us.”
Strathclyde plain-clothes police officers spotted a car driving dangerously on a motorway, so they engaged in a high-speed chase in an unmarked car. Because the best way to calm someone down on a motorway is convince them they’re in an action movie. When you’re chased by the police you realise you’d better stop (or are insane). When you’re chased by two random and extremely-serious looking strangers there’s the exact opposite effect. When the panicking and now even more dangerous driver called 999 to report that he was being chased by scary strangers, the police replied “Yep, that’s us!” At this point the man pulled over because that’s what you do for police, even when they’ve just proven they may be too stupid to hold that position.
2. “What is your emergency and credit card number?”
An American city is planning to charge for emergency services, and you can tell they’ve really thought about the important issues here: they’ve already got their rates set out. (They don’t seem to think there are any other issues.) $1,000 for fires in any building over four stories high and $600 for car fires. We know American cars are big, but that math means they’re over six meters tall. Passaic city insist that the charges will only be levied against insurance companies, because apparently, the city council is poor despite living in a magical fantasy land where insurance companies just hand out money without complaining. Passaic residents can look forward to new insurance surcharges like “living in a penny-pinching madhouse like Passaic”, which we expect to be between $999 and $1001 dollars. No, wait, insurance, so call it $2000. Plus tax.
3. The Idiotic Informant App
West Virginia has developed an app which lets anyone submit “Suspicious Activity” reports to the police and other federal agencies. It’s available for both iPhone and Android, which is weird, because it must have been developed by people who’ve never even heard of the internet. The app allows people to send anonymous text and pictures. The only anti-terrorism effect of anonymous web users being able to upload photos to the police is that the police will no longer be surprised if a terrorist flashes his genitals or starts misspelling swear-words at them.