The short arm of the law

The words "crackdown" and "getting tough" imply that government is actually going to do something about a problem they have vowed to solve. But sometimes they simply don't have the resources. They've bitten off more than they can chew. For example the Mail Online says that visa checks on Pakistani applicants to britain are a sham.  "Figures showed that just 29 out of 66,000 applicants were interviewed by officials since a 'rigorous new system' began operating last October."

Home Secretary Alan Johnson admitted in June that all passports of Pakistani applicants are checked, but not always their other paperwork. In July it emerged that the 'hubs' employ just 11 entry and clearance officers and two managers, meaning they have on average 11 minutes to examine each application. The Home Office says a further 200 backroom staff process paperwork but the shortage of frontline immigration officers contributes to the small number of applicants quizzed.

In other news British newspapers report that "dozens of convicted Islamic terrorists are back on the streets after being freed early from jail". Twenty are being released now and and another 75 will are scheduled to leave jail in the next few years to be housed in "hostels around the UK and supervised by staff more used to dealing with drug dealers and thieves."

But security sources say the cost of monitoring them in the community may be more than keeping them in jail. It costs the taxpayer around £40,000 a year for a prison inmate and £25,000 for a hostel place. But those who pose the greatest risk need constant police surveillance upon release, which is extremely expensive as it involves two 12 hours shifts of 16 officers on permanent duty.

In reality police control is a very expensive way of keeping order in a society. Culture does most of the heavy lifting. People avoid dumping trash on the sideway or shooting up their neighbors largely out of custom and social pressure. Once it is "OK" to do things that were formerly proscribed, the inhibitions fall away. Combined with setting a high standard for guilt, the amount of police resources that are necessary to hold back a tide of formerly unacceptable behavior becomes inordinate. Once a "culture of corruption" gets going it proves difficult to eradicate short of reprogramming a multitude of people

Officials at ACORN say they sending a clear message to those in its ranks that they will not tolerate voter fraud. The Miami Herald reports:

Eleven people hired to register potential voters in Miami-Dade County before last year's presidential election were being sought Wednesday for falsifying hundreds of voter registration cards. The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office issued arrest warrants for each of the 11 suspects, all of whom worked for the local chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, (ACORN). By early Wednesday morning, six were in custody, authorities said. ...

The arrests are "further evidence we've been policing our own folks and report people attempting to commit voter registration fraud,'' said ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring. "This was really some individuals who were trying to defraud their employer.''

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle praised ACORN. "We've been very aggressive about a lot of these cases,'' she said. "But we would not have known about these workers unless ACORN brought it to us."

Apparently, suspicions were aroused when "Paul Newman and James Taylor" appeared in the cards submitted for registration. Such vigilance is to be commended. Let's hope it is kept up. To some extent the problem that Pakistani passport control officers and perhaps ACORN officials have is that of counteracting signals, emanating from the unofficial culture that certain things are permissible.  Official attitudes are not always the ones commonly held within the millieu and that can complicate things.


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