Alex Massie

The Enraging Case of DC Shepherd & DC Jarrett

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The case of Leanne Shepherd and Lucy Jarrett - the job-sharing police constables whose child-minding arrangements have become a matter of some controversy*  - rightly enrages all sensible folk.

To recap: the two women are best friends and share a job, each working 20 hours a week. Their husbands, also policemen, work irregular shifts. Their daughters are essentially the same age. And also friends. So it makes a good deal of sense for them to pool resources and arrange for whichever woman isn't working to look after both children. I dare say there are many women who had as convenient and elegant a solution to the child-care problem as that.

But not Ofsted who accuse the pair of running "an illegal child-minding business". Because, apparently looking after a friend's kid constitutes a "reward" and that, whaddyaknow, they need to be "registered" with Ofsted and, presumably, subject to a litany of generally pointless regulations.

At this point, I don't think there's any need to say anything about the Nanny State, is there?

Caron's Musings has more on this, here, but it's worth noting one other aspect to this story: the women were shopped to the "authorities" by some presumably disgruntled member of the public. No surprise there, perhaps, given how ghastly many people can be.

But, you know, sometimes people in this country hop on our high horses and mock the French and other peoples who faced the awful task of calibrating their response to Nazi occupation. Now Ofsted and New Labour ain't Nazis, but that only makes the sort of person who'd complain about DC Shepherd's child-care arrangements an even worse specimen. They don't have any excuse. Equally clearly, this kind of person would have felt right at home in East Germany. Which is to say, that we weren't "better" than the French in 1940, merely luckier in that our response to occupation was never, outside the Channel Islands, tested.

*Actually, they haven't caused controversy because no non-halfwit can think there anything wrong with friends agreeing to look after one another's children. This is only controversial if you're a time-serving, dull-brained, timid bureaucrat whose sole joy in their otherwise slab-grey lives is causing trouble, inconvenience and hurt to other, innocent, members of the public. In other words, only a couple of million people could find this controversial.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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