When I was young I used to collect Copper Cards from the local bobbies. Based on the baseball card craze, it was one of those community relation drives to instil understanding and respect of the work of the police force in the young. You were given a wall chart with several topics and spaces for the cards – I think we obtained ours from a constable who visited our primary school – and then spent months collecting them fom police stations or PCs on the beat.
It was a pretty cool idea and as me and my mates were already big fans of Panini’s football sticker albums we all went crazy for Copper Cards. We’d seek out coppers on the beat and shout “Oi, copper! Got any copper cards?!” before trading them back in the school yard, slowly and frustratingly building our wall chart masterpiece. Of course, there was was always cards you’d never get hold of and the price of these almost mythical items rocketed. Swapping a ‘doubler’ wasn’t good enough, you’d need to add a bag of Flying Saucers and a copy of Whizzer and Chips just to begin negotiations. I’m unsure how many completed charts are out there but I remember well how I managed to finish mine – knocking on the door of the WPC’s house down the road and hounding her for weeks, my ligging skills proving successful even at an early age.
Of course this is before it became a risky business to stroll home from work if your job is a newspaper seller and your path takes you near a mob of gurning police constables that look more like stormtroopers on Red Bull than bobbies with a smile. But it seems that the Copper Card is back – with a twist.
It seems the Police have turned the tables on us and are collecting what looks like ‘Citizen Cards’ – obviously they have such a keen interest in the hoi polloi that CCTV and the DNA database is not enough for them to get their citizen fix – they now have their own cards that they no doubt trade on the playgrounds of climate change camps (fight fight! pile-on!). I hear Mark Thomas (‘H’) is worth 20 gobstoppers and a week’s pocket money.
Obviously the force are denying any such childlike-waste of police time and are insisting they are infact ‘Spotter Cards’ – used to identify individuals they consider to be potential troublemakers because they have appeared at a number of demonstrations. But I don’t believe them. I mean, look at the picture – they’re hardly fundamentalists are they? ‘O’ obviously works in a library, ‘A’ is a primary school teacher, ‘I’ is Evan Dando from the Lemonheads, ‘C’ is my unkle and ‘Q’ is still suffering from the death of Joe Strumer.
Sadly it seems even the Guardian has fallen for the police spin and you can read what they have to say on the matter here.