I SEE the team behind the excellent Save Swindon Libraries campaign are up for a Pride Of Swindon Award.

The awards are a great way of celebrating people who work tirelessly and selflessly to make life better for others.

Often, they spot horrible situations and leap into action to avert harm and damage.

If I had my way, though, there’d be another set of awards set aside especially for the people who cause some of those problems in the first place.

They’d be called the Shame Of Swindon Awards, and no two trophies would be alike. They’d be carefully crafted by local artists to reflect the achievements of the winner.

For example, if somebody won a Shame Of Swindon Award for – to choose an example at random – trying to shut down libraries, their award might be a model of an empty bookshelf.

Or perhaps a little model of a kid from a disadvantaged background standing before a barred door with a sign saying: “Your Potential – Strictly No Admittance.”

We are often reminded, of course, that outrages such as killing libraries are only perpetrated because of financial restrictions imposed by Whitehall.

Unfortunately, many of the people who issue those reminders seem reluctant to condemn the restrictions and the political big fish who do the imposing.

The reasons for their silence have never been made clear, although some mischievous commentators suggest the silent ones would rather knuckle under than risk being denied a safe seat at some future General Election – or perhaps something nice in an Honours List.

Their Shame Of Swindon Award might be a model of an ostrich with its head firmly planted in the ground.

A game no one wins

HUMOUR me, if you’d be so kind, while I invite you to play a little guessing game.

It’s called Who Is More Important To Our Lawmakers?

Although it’s not the happiest of games, it’s can often be interesting and enlightening.

Let’s look at two cases from Swindon Crown Court which were heard over the last week or so.

One of the cases involved a person called Lee Randall. Police officers who examined his computer found what was referred to in court as a paedophile’s guide to abusing children, along with a collection of fantasy stories about a child he knew and wanted to sexually assault.

The police were led to his door by posts on a Russian image-sharing website. And the other case? A woman calling herself Lady Deborah Anne Devonshire, previously known as Georgiana Cavendish, who fiddled the taxman out of 166 grand in a VAT scam.

Let’s begin our little game, shall we? Can you guess which offence the law took more seriously and punished accordingly?

Perhaps your answer is the obvious one, something along the lines of: “The man with the foul material on his computer would have received the longer sentence because people like that are clearly far more dangerous than people who fiddle the tax system.”

You may reason that the safety of children is infinitely more important than revenue lost to the taxman, especially if the sum involved is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the huge amounts various greedy international companies are allowed, year after year, to get away with not paying.

Well, you’d be wrong.

Randall got 20 months in prison while Devonshire got 32 months.

If you lost the game this time around, don’t worry. New opportunities to play can be found every few days or so.

School would be wise to welcome sniffer dogs

MAYBE I’m finally becoming befuddled, but I can’t think of a single reason why drug sniffing dogs shouldn’t be deployed for random searches at The Commonweal School.

There is clearly a problem at the place, which should be fully acknowledged and properly tackled, no matter how embarrassing that might be.

The only damage limitation anybody should be thinking about is limiting potential damage to young people who are either too silly or too troubled to know any better.

In recent days a serving teacher has spoken of certain pupils being too drug-addled to function in the classroom, and of pupils boasting about being on ketamine, a drug whose legitimate uses famously includes sedating horses prior to veterinary treatment. Former teachers have also come forward and spoken out.

The response from senior staff to our stories has so far included pointing out that theirs is not the only school with drug issues. That is entirely true – and entirely irrelevant.

There are also apparently ongoing efforts to educate young people about the dangers of drugs. Those efforts are evidently not working especially well.

There would be nothing remotely controversial about properly-organised random searches involving sniffer dogs. They’ve been used in other places for years.

The overwhelming majority of pupils, the ones who don’t use drugs, would get to say hello to a spaniel or two. The rest would get the help they needed.

Oh, and an otherwise fine school could get back to being in the news for the right reasons.