Sunday 24 February 2013

Nosy Parker

Mike Todd wrote a while back on Narrowboat World. "I am unhappy with the adverse implication in the use of the term 'spy' to refer to people who send information to CaRT regarding boats that abuse their rights in using the canal system—or indeed any other illegal act. This puts the people concerned, even more than those who ask them to do this, in a bad light, suggesting that they are doing something morally wrong, and siding with the 'enemy'. As in a past age, such characterisation risks people being treated in the way in which collaborators were treated—and that was not nice.
Surely the better comparison is with Neighbourhood Watch Schemes which encourage residents to report to the police any information about suspicious behaviour in their area. It is then up to the police to investigate and take any necessary action. People who support Neighbourhood Watch are classed as good citizens and applauded for their commitment to maintaining an orderly way of life. Of course I am not advocating or supporting intrusive behaviour but if people go about doing things that are suspicious, there is every reason for them to be reported to the appropriate authorities."
I am picking up on this, because I find Mike Todd's remarks very curious. The reporting of unlicensed boats is an easy function - there is a web page that lets anyone report such issues. But this is not reporting the day to day stuff. This is covert spying and the collecting of evidence by way of note taking and photography. It is intrusive behaviour and I am sure that many others will think the same. A popular saying to justify such spying is "if you are doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear."

Now, if anyone I don't know comes around me, my family members or my boat. Covertly or overtly pointing a camera. I think that that is suspicious behaviour, whilst I would not think it threatening. I would want to question their actions. If when spoken to, the person decided to run away, then that is a change to being very suspicious behaviour.

Is it a burglar casing the joint, is it a pervert, is it a paedophile, I don't know, but I do know that it certainly is not someone behaving normally. I am not going to take any chances, and the production of an  IWA membership card does not hold any authority, to me and I am sure to the police. For intruding, photographing or just being a plain nosy parker and to be observed spying suspiciously round my personal property. You are doing something morally wrong despite Mr Todd protestations. 

People doing this sort of thing are placing themselves at risk of being confronted and detained until the police arrive. After all, the popular saying is "if you are doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear." Anyone being brought to the attention of the police will have the details recorded against their identity and it might have some serious consequences later if a employer or prospective employer decided to do a background check. 


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