We need Miss Marple
Fighting crime is, surely, a job for us all.
Amid press and, apparently, popular outrage at the idea of the police "forcing the public to act as DIY detectives", it is, perhaps, worth asking whether that is really such a bad thing.
Is it reasonable to expect the police to investigate every alleged crime reported to them?
The notion that citizens should demand the police alone pursue and apprehend offenders has never been part of the deal. We seem to have forgotten the "historic tradition", as Sir Robert Peel described it, that the police are the public and the public are the police.
The report from the police inspectorate that prompted all the headlines about victims being asked to investigate crime actually begins with exactly that thought.
When we look, we find
The sexual abuse of children was, until relatively recently in Britain, a subject rarely discussed in public. Now, hardly a day goes by without some new horror hitting the headlines.
We are witnessing an important and significant shift in awareness and response. The latest revelations about the crimes committed in Rotherham are shocking to us in their violence and their scale. But they should be seen in a wider context, of a society belatedly confronting a deeply disturbing aspect of its character.
Z is for Zanzibar
Z is a destination, standing enigmatically at the extreme end of the alphabetical line. Crazy zigzags at odds with a gentle song, its qualities are both puzzling and exotic. After Z there is nothing.
Zanzibar, fittingly, enjoys not one but two Zs. It is a word that buzzes with African mystery and rare spices, of foreign adventure and dark magic. For a country looking to attract travellers and tourists, its tantalizing name is perhaps one of its greatest assets.
Advice for foreigners on how Britons walk
We drive on the left, but which side do we walk on?
Some friends from Australia asked me this question as we battled down London's Oxford Street the other day, weaving our way through determined shoppers, rushing office workers and ambling tourists.
Should teachers 'promote' British values?
Come September and every school in England will be required to promote British values.
Promoting something is not the same as teaching something or having respect for something. One can respectfully disagree. One can inform without endorsing.
'Trojan horse' scandal - extreme or diverse?
Where does diversity stop and extremism begin? That, it seems to me, is the central question posed by the so-called "Trojan horse" affair.
It is official government policy to create a "more diverse school system" with academies and free schools liberated from some state controls. They don't have to follow the national curriculum and they operate independently from the local education authority.
Is Britain really becoming more racist?
Journalists like their stories to fit into an accepted current narrative. With domestic politics dominated by concerns over Europe and immigration, and the rise of the far-right elsewhere in the EU, it is understandable that editors are alert to evidence of rising racism in Britain.
But today's figures are not evidence of rising racism. In fact, if anything, the trend is of flat or declining levels of self-reported racial prejudice.
Parks in peril
Cuts to funding has left the UK's parks "on the edge of a precipice", according to a landmark report to be published next month by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The research into the quality of Britain's 26,000 public parks is expected to conclude that new ways of financing their maintenance are essential to prevent a return to the crisis days of the 1990s. MPs then described our urban green spaces as "shunned, neglected and vandalised".