Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Me and The Police - Procrastinating

My return to the UK is rapidly approaching.  I feel I have many things to do but all my spare time is spent procrastinating!

My prospective employers in Sri Lanka have asked for a CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) check to be done - quite rightly, as I'll be working with children.  The form processing has to be done through an agency -  they have sent the paperwork via my sister-in-law in the UK, to me in India, back to my sister-in-law who attached a cheque, and it's now with the agency. That should all be fine and dandy and, as I've kept an address in the UK, it will probably cover all the time up to the date the form is processed.  It will also cover my 18 months in India - how do they know what I've been up to here?!

I thought I'd be squeaky clean and suggested I get a letter of "good behaviour" from the local Kovalam Police - how stupid was that?!  I've been twice to the police station.  First time they questioned how they could give a letter of good behaviour if they didn't know me (!) and didn't know I'd even been staying here.  I told them that my landlady had had to register me with them so I'd be in "The System".  But I saw their system - huge piles of daunting unsorted paperwork so I wasn't too surprised when they asked me to fetch my landlady.   On the second meeting I took my landlady, her husband and her daughter with me.  It was clear that they all knew me well so the Police mostly questioned them.  Unfortunately, they revealed that I worked at SISP but no worries, they weren't at all concerned that it's illegal to work on a tourist visa. 

The chief guy then got involved - the Sub-Inspector - and he asked the same thing: how could he write a letter of good behaviour if he didn't even know me?  I told him that that was the whole point - that if he didn't know me then surely it would mean I'd been behaving.  He didn't seem convinced.  Perhaps that reflected his confidence in catching miscreants!  I told him that the letter only had to say that I hadn't been in trouble with the police but he seemed suspicious about confirming that too!  They (by this time a crowd of brown uniforms had gathered) then decided that what they wanted next was a certificate from SISP saying that I'd worked for them, unpaid, for the last 18 months and had been a good boy.  After I said that that would be OK they thought a bit more and decided that, even with the certificate, they didn't have the authority to write a letter and I needed to go to the Police Office in Trivandrum (the Foreign Registration Office part).  This was starting to get somewhat ridiculous.  OK, well it still looked doable, if tedious, until I asked Paul Van Gelder if he'd write me a certificate.  That would be "Absolutely No Problem" per se, BUT he'd had to sign something in the past with the FRO saying that SISP wouldn't employ volunteers!!!   I'm not sure what paper was signed for what purpose but the warning was clear - this could bring big difficulties for SISP.  Stuck between a rock and a hard place!

Think I'm gonna give up on this letter idea and suggest that if any references are needed then the SL people can contact SISP or the local police themselves.

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