Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The thin blue line

Saturday's post about art history and its discontents pointed to Charles M Rosenberg's handy list of alternative careers for art historians. Now there's another option: Scotland Yard has been recruiting part-time volunteer constables to its art and antiquities division. The catch is that you already need an art-history related job.

So far 13 special art constables (who receive a month's basic police training, wear a police uniform, and have the power to make arrests) have been recruited to the ArtBeat scheme, recovering stolen art and working on fraud and forgery cases. The special constables work two days a month on police art business, while their salaries continue to be paid by their employers, the major British museums and galleries who effectively sponsor the scheme. Zoe Jackman, whose regular job is booking school groups at the V&A, tracked down and arrested an art thief only a month after starting her job.

Given that some sources suggest that art-related crime represents the third highest-grossing organised criminal trade over the past 40 years, maybe it's something for New Zealand to look into? Though on reflection, a liberal application of turps might be the most effective solution for many of the art crimes perpetrated here ...

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