WILTSHIRE Chief Constable Mike Vale is backing the recruitment of more armed officers in the wake of the Belgian terrorist attacks.

He believes this is the best way of deterring and preventing such outrages, and I’m not about to contradict him until I see compelling evidence for any other point of view.

I have just one suggestion, though, and I don’t quite know how to put it delicately so I won’t try.

The police service, like just about any other workplace, will have people of all intellectual abilities. There will be the very sharp people who lead and innovate, the slightly less sharp people who are nevertheless a reliable pairs of hands, the average people, the very average people and the people who are so less than average that they’re not even trusted with orders for the coffee machine or watering the rubber plant.

Before extra guns are dished out, could we please, please conduct some sort of test to find out which category each officer falls into?

If recent police-on-civilian shootings States have taught us anything, it is that giving lethal firearms to people who are intelligent, psychologically balanced and alert is relatively safe.

Giving them to people whose hobbies might include steroid abuse and drooling is not safe at all.

Before a single gun is issued, senior officers should ask themselves of each applicant: “If we were in the Deep South, how likely is it that this person would answer to the name ‘Bubba’ or its female equivalent?”

NHS 'Never Events' that won't happen

DID you see our story about the most recent ‘Never Events’ at Great Western Hospital?
One patient had an unnamed object left in their body, another had to be re-anaesthetised so a stray piece of gauze could be tracked down, and in a third incident an endoscopy was given to the wrong patient.
An endoscopy apparently involves taking a flexible tube with a camera on the end and sticking it down somebody’s throat – or in some cases approaching the problem from the other end of the street – so to speak.
I don’t usually have much time for no-win-no-fee lawyers, but if something like that happened to me I’d be straight on the internet, looking for a firm with all the morals of ravenous piranhas.
‘Never Events’ are so-called because they are never supposed to happen. This is in spite of the fact that they happen quite often all over the country. Presumably the NHS’s PR department has realised that calling them ‘Happen Quite Often All Over The Country Events’ would not be reassuring.
Completely truthful, of course, but not reassuring.
In a more honest society officials would reserve the term ‘Never Event’ for things which are far less likely to happen in our hospitals.
Good examples of such ‘Never Events’ include making staff pay and conditions sufficiently humane to attract enough people. Then maybe there’d be less risk of exhausted, stressed-out medics making serious errors.
Another ‘Never Event’ might be stripping out the layers of not very good professional managers who infest the NHS and replacing them with people who have clinical experience.
Or at least holding those managers to account whenever something horrific happens.
If I had my way, every local NHS boss paid more than 50 grand a year would be obliged to put their name into a hat every New Year’s Day. One name would then be drawn, and the lucky winner would get to have every ‘Never Event’ for the next 12 months replicated on their own body.
We might lose a few, especially if they were unfortunate enough to work in some place where a patient had the wrong organ removed, but I reckon the rest would sharpen their acts.
Either that or get the hell out of healthcare and leave the job to people who knew and cared about what they were doing.