I SEE some more CCTV images of various crimes were released recently.

In one or two of them there were clear details of people’s faces, but in some of the others there were clear details of not very much at all.

The collective forces of law and order – the police, the Government, Crimestoppers and anybody else with an interest – could cut crime at a stroke by demanding an end to rubbish CCTV.

As long ago as the 1960s, spy satellites were capable of reading crossword clues in a slightly soiled page of Pravda used by a Moscow road-mender to wrap his sandwiches. Today we have cameras the size of drawing pins capable of delivering clear images from drones flown by catastrophically drunk people at midnight.

Is it really beyond the capability of CCTV providers to ensure their images are of recognisable people?

Vague blobs which could be anything from a fly on the lens to Bungle the Rainbow bear are neither use nor ornament.

Charity begins with the right volunteer

THE RNLI has announced that door-to-door fundraising by volunteers wielding collection boxes is to be stopped from next year.

Its decision comes in the wake of controversies over amoral paid fundraisers which brought Parliamentary attention.

While I salute the RNLI – which was unsullied by the scandal – for its sense of honour, I can’t help wondering whether it’s overreacting.

Should anybody from certain other major charities be reading this, here are a few home truths about the public.

Firstly, we can tell the difference between a volunteer fundraiser and a paid fundraiser from some agency when one turns up on the doorstep or is seen in the street.

The volunteer kind will be carrying a receptacle for coins and notes, and wearing identification.

The other kind will be carrying a clipboard for direct debit details and wearing the desperate, hungry look of a salesperson who knows they’ll be out on their ear unless they make their quota.

We know the volunteer kind are there because they consider the charity worthy of their time, given freely. We are therefore more likely to consider the charity worthy of our money, and give our money freely. The volunteer kind will announce the name of the charity they represent and ask whether we’d care to give them some money.

The other kind will pounce like a trapdoor spider and ask a load of blatantly obvious leading questions about whether we care for such and such a thing.

If they are on our doorstep they might peer into our home and remark on how nice our furnishings are, thereby implying that if we do not hand over our bank details we’re self-centred monsters. The volunteer kind will know a great deal about the charity. After all, it’s sufficiently dear to them that they’re willing to go out in all weathers on its behalf.

The other kind will generally know only as much about the charity as they were told in some half-hour briefing, and will forget it all as soon as they remove their tabard at the end of the week and move on to the next client.

Some are no doubt sincere and committed, but too many give the impression they don’t care whether they’re saving babies, butterflies or fugitive war criminals, so long as the money’s decent.

If we tell the volunteer kind that we do not wish to donate or are unable to, they will almost completely without exception bid us a polite goodbye.

If we tell the other kind that we do not wish to sign a direct debit or are unable to, they will often look at us as though we’d just confessed a fondness for chucking baby chicks in vats of acid because we’re amused by the resultant fizzing noise.

This is wholly unwarranted on the street and thoroughly despicable on the doorstep.

When we give money to the volunteer kind on the street or on the doorstep, we know we can expect a thank you. If we give on the doorstep, we also know we can perhaps expect another visit at some point in the future.

When we sign a direct debit to the other kind, we know there’s a good chance of spending the next few years dealing with phone calls demanding that we up our monthly contribution. Some of those calls will be from apologetic people who clearly don’t want to be where they are. Others will be from oily, manipulative creeps who clearly relish trying to make others feel uncomfortable and guilty.

Another home truth about the public is that we are generally kind and usually not stupid. Still another is that we like to help good causes, but don’t like to feel bullied. Certain fundraising agencies claim high-pressure sales tactics get results. So would approaching the public with a rabid wolf on a frayed leash and demanding we empty our pockets, but that doesn’t mean doing so would be right.

  • DID you read about the travellers who brought their caravans to a playing field in Wroughton the other day?

    Local people were extremely worried – until it turned out that the travellers in question were polite, quiet, respectful, and carefully gathered their rubbish for disposal.

    It also turned out that they were from France, Germany and Norway.

    I bet the makers of certain fly-on-the wall documentary series are terrified by the new development. They wouldn’t want this sort of thing catching on.

    They’d have a hell of a job exploiting people for ratings if the most controversial thing those people did was eat pickled herring and give the odd Gallic shrug.