Crime Transference

Last week, after a fairly late night in the pub, a friend of mine (I’m going to call him Bill Smith) was making his way home across town. Bill Smith needed to catch the Piccadilly line from Hammersmith to Green Park, then transfer to the Victoria line to take him down to Brixton where he lives. It’s a simple enough journey in normal circumstances but unfortunately Bill Smith was a bit pissed up. Actually he really was quite pissed up indeed.

Somewhere between Hammersmith and Green Park he fell asleep and when he awoke he was in Cockfosters. I, like everyone in London, has heard the name Cockfosters spoken over a tube tannoy many times before – it’s the where the Piccadilly line goes. Until last week though, no one had ever actually been there; the temptation to get off the tube seemingly always overpowering the curiosity to find out what it might be like.

Last week though, aided by a full quota of booze, Bill Smith woke up in Cockfosters on an empty tube train. Not even the tube driver was still there, presumably having bailed out at Oakwood. It was at this point that Bill’s luck took a turn for the worse. Not only were there no more tubes back, but at some point while he’d soundly slept, a crook had reached inside his coat and taken his phone and wallet.

“So how did you get back home?” I asked, when he recounted his tale of woe.

“I had to walk,” Bill replied.

We checked the distance on Google Maps. According to Google Maps it’s 14.5 miles.

Cockfosters to Brixton on foot

Cockfosters to Brixton on foot

(Google Maps assumes he took the most direct route and had the ability to walk in a straight line, neither of which are likely in the circumstances.)

“You walked 15 miles in sub-zero temperatures? Are you insane?”

“What would you have done?”

It was a good question. He lives alone, so even if he found someone else who’d let him use their phone, who was he going to call in the early hours of the morning. Then a genius idea struck me:

“I’d steal someone else’s phone and wallet.”

Some of you may also just have been struck by the pure genius of this. In case you haven’t though, I will explain.

A crime has been committed. There is The Victim (Bill Smith) and The Crook, I’ll call him Jeffrey Archer. Jeffrey Archer is a wallet and a phone up. Bill Smith is a wallet and a phone down.

We can summarise this using maths:

NetCrimeJeffreyArcher = Wallet + Phone
NetCrimeBillSmith = – (Wallet + Phone)

Note in maths, negative crime = Victimhood

Bill Smith now cunningly steals a phone and wallet from an innocent passer by. I’ll call him Steve Davis. Bill lost a phone and wallet but now has replacements. He is now neutral in proceedings and is free to leave. Now the maths looks like this:

NetCrimeJeffreyArcher = Wallet + Phone

NetCrimeBillSmith = (Wallet – Wallet) + (Phone – Phone) = 0

NetCrimeSteveDavis = – (Wallet + Phone)

Note that Bill Smith’s net crime is zero and Steve’s and Jeffrey’s exactly offset each other. This demonstrates the First Law of Crime Transference:

“In a closed system, the sum of all crimes equals zero.”

This law is also known as The Conservation of Crime.

It is also important to note that Bill Smith is no longer referred to as The Victim. Having transferred the crime he is now The Intermediary and Steve Davis becomes The Victim.

Steve Davis can either choose to remain The Victim or cunningly steal the phone and wallet of another passer by in which case the victimhood is transferred once more and Steve becomes an Intermediary. Most importantly, however Jeffrey Archer remains The Crook.

This may proceed as many times as needed until Jeffrey Archer is caught. At that time Bill Smith’s wallet and phone are returned to whoever the current Victim happens to be and everyone is happy except for Jeffrey Archer and he shouldn’t be happy anyway because he is a Crook.

Let’s look at another situation. Imagine one morning you step outside your front door all prepared for your journey into work to find that your car has been stolen. You look up the road and see a car of equivalent value. Under my scheme, that’s yours!

Note it has to be of equivalent value. If your Nissan Micra got nicked you can’t steal your neighbour’s Ferrari. If you did that you would actually be a Net Crook for the theft of a car of the value of a Ferrari minus the value of a Nissan Micra:

NetCrimeJeffreyArcher = Nissan Micra

NetCrimeYou = (Ferrari – Nissan Micra) = Porsche

(Note in this scenario we are making the reasonable assumption that your car was stolen by Jeffrey Archer.)

This demonstrates The Second Law of Crime Transference:

“To finish criminally neutral, the sum of the crimes a Victim may commit be must exactly equivalent to the one which was inflicted upon him or her. Otherwise they will finish a net Crook or a net Victim.”

It is important to note it is the sum of the crimes. Therefore you could steal your neighbour’s Nissan Micra, or you could steal several things of lesser value which add up to the same overall amount e.g. two motorbikes.

The final law of crime transference deals with the type of crimes to which crime transference can be applied. Some crimes are non-transferable. If someone beats you up, simply beating someone else up does not make things neutral as you are still all beaten up.

Example. Jeffrey Archer beats up Jimmy Krankie. Jimmy Krankie then beats up Audley Harrison. Here are the maths:

NetCrimeJeffreyArcher = Beating Someone Up

NetCrimeJimmyKrankie = Beating Someone Up

NetCrimeAudleyHarrison = – (Beating Someone Up)

Note that because this crime is non-transferable, Jimmy can’t take the fact that he was beaten up into account – he is a Net Crook. This scenario is also an obvious violation of the First Law of Crime Transference.

(Note also that this refers to a standard beating up – if Jeffrey Archer had simply stolen a kidney from Jimmy Krankie and Jimmy then stole one from Audley Harrison then it would be classified a transferable crime and Jimmy Krankie could go free.)

Therefore The Third Law of Crime Transference is:

“A crime is only transferable if the state of the Intermediary will remain unchanged after transference.”

And so concludes the three laws of Crime Transference – “But wait!” I hear you cry, “Crime transference does NOT reduce overall crime!”

No. It doesn’t. I never claimed it did. Crime transference just makes our lives easier if we’re caught in a tricky situation and I’ll explain how. At each stage of the crime transfer the Intermediary can decide if:

  • The crime really inconvenienced them and they need to transfer it
  • They fucking hated their Micra anyway, have an excuse not to turn up to work and can get the insurance money and buy a Cinquecento instead

In Bill Smith’s case there would be a great benefit to him to transfer the crime. He transferred it onto Steve Davis. Perhaps Steve Davis lived a 5 minute walk away in which case he wouldn’t have bothered transferring it. If he too lived a 5 hour walk away then he would simply have transferred it and we’d have kept going until it landed on someone for whom it was a lesser inconvenience.

Government cuts are only going to push overall crime in one direction. In circumstances such as these, wouldn’t we all rather have this choice?



How Tony Screwed Vince

Tony Blair has a lot to answer for. I’m not talking about Iraq though – not quite that bad but I’m still talking about something pretty terrible:

I believe that Tony Blair was personally responsible for David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

I’d better explain. Blair’s annihilation of IDS and Michael Howard convinced the Conservative party that they had to fight fire with fire. Wheeling out old people with poor communication skills wasn’t working. The Lib Dems had also tried it with Sir Menzies Campbell… but not for very long.

And so it came to pass that the other parties each created a leader in Blair’s image and lo, they were shit.

One politician who was not created in Blair’s image, however, is Vince Cable. On Twitter this week I wrote this:

I do feel sorry for Vince Cable. He looks like a man who ordered steak and chips but a turd sandwich arrived and his boss made him eat it.

Worse still, after he ate it, his boss made him go on TV and say, “Yum yum.”

(I would like to take a moment to apologise for saying “turd sandwich”. I shouldn’t have said that. I should have said “turd baguette” as a turd would fit much better in a baguette.*)

I do wonder how far Nick Clegg’s approval ratings have fallen since the heady days of the party leaders’ debates in the run up to the election. He did well in those debates, not because he had better policies but because he did the best job of articulating the problems with the policies of the other two. He did such a good job that I, and I’m sure many others, thought he believed in what he was saying.

A picture of Nick Clegg before the election

A picture of Nick Clegg before the election

Just a few weeks later it became clear this could not have been further from the truth. Once Cameron dangled his mouldy carrot of power in front of Clegg’s mouth, there was no turning back. Since that day pretty much everything that Clegg preached before the election has been swept under the carpet and while I can understand the lure of power I am still, in equal measure, impressed and horrified at how easily he has forgotten everything he put into his party manifesto.

Vince on the other hand hasn’t found his turd sandwich quite so easy to stomach. I think, in fact, he would be a happier man today if the general election had resulted in a decent gain of seats for the Lib Dems but no coalition. Vince was impressive in opposition. I also think he would be impressive as Chancellor in a Lib Dem government. He is distinctly unimpressive, however, when it comes to maintaining a smile whilst implementing policies with which he doesn’t agree.

This phenomenon reached a whole new level this week though when Vince announced that he might not vote for “his own” policy on university tuition fees. “His own” policy, by the way, is to allow universities to charge tuition fees of up to £9,000 per year.

I will now take a step back. I was lucky enough to attend university shortly before tuition fees came into being. I received the maximum student grant and had a huge amount of help from my parents but it was still a colossal task to pay off the £9,000 of debt I had when I left. If I did the same today under the proposed scheme I would likely have around £40,000 of debt. I have no idea how I would pay that off.

An argument often used in favour of hiking up tuition fees is that the mean lifetime earnings of people with degrees is higher than the mean lifetime earnings of people without one. While this is true it is pitting a simplistic argument against a complex problem. For a start, if you plot earnings vs number of people earning that wage you will see a skewed distribution – i.e. there are a small number of people earning huge wages which pushes the mean up to be higher than what most people actually earn.

Additionally there are of course, careers which require higher educational training which pay well below the mean. If I were selecting a university course today I would not, as I did 14 years ago, choose the subject in which I was most interested. I would instead choose between:

  • Which subject gives me the best chance of being able to repay a debt of £40,000?
  • I am not going to go to university

Tuition fees are not right and tuition fees are not wrong. I could write a whole other post on what I think about that subject and still only skim the surface. This blog post is not about what the best policy is though – it is about Vince and I must bring it back to that subject.

My belief is that Vince is more or less a good bloke but is currently in a position of terrible inner conflict. Does he go with what he believes or does he go with what David Cameron believes? I think he is one of the most capable politicians in the current government but sadly, I have serious doubts as to whether he will be able to stick it out in his cabinet role and a resignation before the next election would not surprise me.

I don’t know the reasons why Vince Cable decided to get into politics but I suspect his current predicament wasn’t in the plan. He is caught between two Tony Blair clones when he never wanted to have anything to do with Tony Blair at all.

When the labour leadership election was going on I wanted Ed Miliband to win. Not just because he had a better understanding of the important issues than his brother did but also that David would have been a third Tony Blair chucked into the mix and I couldn’t have voted for any of them. Ed will now have the problem of trying to break the “let’s all be Blair” stranglehold on British politics but I sense that most of us are more than ready to put that behind us so maybe he might just stand a chance.

You will have noted above when I said Vince might vote against his own policy I put “his own” in quotes. I did that because although it was widely reported in the media as being his own, I actually don’t class it as his own policy at all – it’s David’s. Vince’s own policy was the one under which the Lib Dems fought the last election and it’s interesting because it is more than a little bit different. It goes like this:

We will abolish tuition fees.

Think about his position for a moment. He wanted tuition fees abolished and yet he is now expected to be the one who takes responsibility for increasing them. It’s not easy to reconcile those two policies is it?

I mean – the difference between them would cause a pretty fucking massive problem for anyone, right?

Anyone that is, except for Nick Clegg.


*Yes, blatantly stolen from Alan Partridge’s “infected spinal column in a bap”.