Both today and yesterday Associated Newspapers, who publish both the Mail on Sunday and the Evening Standard, have been trying to make a story out of Ealing Council’s envirocrime activity. They obviously have a bit of a thing about this term which is really about cleaning up the neighbourhood as anyone who follows this blog knows – click on the Ealing envirocrime category right for background.
Yesterday the Mail on Sunday published this story with the headline “‘Envirocrime’ snoops paid £30,000 just to check your rubbish”. Their angle seems to be we are being wasteful and paying these “snoops” too much. Like much of the Associated Newspapers output this is rubbish. The MoS takes the £142K budget for expanding this service (see press release, dated 6th February) and divides by 4 to give some indication of what these officers are paid. Only this number includes what we call “on costs”, ie employer’s NI, pensions, heat and light, office rent, you name it. In any case we need pretty sophisticated people for these roles as they work pretty much on their own in a ward meeting the public and businesses and helping to clean the place up, for instance by ensuring that businesses handle their rubbish properly, derelict land is cleared, street cleaning is done properly, graffiti is cleaned, plus a whole long list of other jobs. Also these people are going to be working in London where the cost of living is very high.
Today the Standard carries a shorter version with the headline “‘Bin bag police’ to target the rubbish rebels”. The Standard knows full well that the envirocrime team does not persecute hapless residents putting out their rubbish. The team chase people who repeatedly mess the place up but that is not the story that the Standard wants to print so they are happy to print rubbish. So-called journalist Alex Stephens is the latest rubbish journalist from the Standard to cover this story. His skill set clearly encompasses cutting down yesterday’s news story to fill a blank space.
I can’t imagine what the Mail on Sunday told Isitfair’s Christine Milsom to make her say this:
They are being heavy-handed. We are living in a world where everything we do is watched and regulated. George Orwell has arrived. If you go to work early it is difficult to get it right with the rubbish.
If I were her I would feel that I had been manipulated into giving a quotable quote by the MoS. Nasty people.