As a child I well remember a friend challenging me to try tapping my head with one hand whilst forming a circle on my chest with the other and betting me a shilling that I couldn`t keep the rhythm going for more than ten seconds. In my innocent naivety I thought it was easy money. And like most of those to whom I later offered the same challenge I discovered that my right hand didn`t know what my left hand was doing. In retrospect a shilling was a small price to pay for my arrogance. It seems that that challenge to our physiology has become a metaphor for institutional incompetence.
In a recent edition of “Magistrate”, the in house magazine of the Magistrates` Association, a former bench chairman and somebody involved with motoring matters wrote a very interesting and informative article on a Speed Awareness Scheme. Such schemes are offered (within strict parameters of lower level speeding offences) as an alternative to the endorsement of penalty points to a speeder`s driving license and the fixed penalty fine which accompanies such an offence. They cost approximately £75 - £85. I do not know of any statistics which indicate the benefits of such courses insofar as similar re-offending is concerned. However there is one major caveat to such courses; errant drivers can attend only once every three years. Thus one would have thought that an attendee`s dispensation would be on some sort of national data base. One would have thought wrongly.
In the main these courses are provided by the private sector. In their current format they have been operational for about fifteen years. In Hampshire, Dorset and the City of London the courses are run by the local constabulary. And in the true tradition of simultaneous hand to head and hand to chest coordination or lack of it there is no joined up data base of those taking such courses with the result that second time offenders can theoretically evade penalty points and a Fixed Penalty Notice.
With probation services about to be divided between public limited companies (pay by results) and the state sector it appears that soon we will have more disassociation between left and right hand.