‘They would learn these tricks anyway’

THE BBC effectively finds itself in the dock today after being accused of teaching new tricks to criminals.

Police have raised concerns about the hit series The Real Hustle after one of the scams featured on the BBC Three show apparently inspired thieves in Edinburgh.

At least a dozen victims have been targeted in the city in a spate of copycat crimes.

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There is no doubting that the show, which exposes the latest techniques of con artists, can make for fascinating viewing.

But when it shows in detail how offenders dupe their victims it is natural that questions will be asked about the wisdom of the BBC screening it.

The “charge” against the public service broadcaster is essentially that it is offering a masterclass to enterprising criminals.

Of course there has to be a risk in showing such material on prime time television. A programme which educates the public about new crime patterns will teach all viewers, both honest and dishonest.

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The real question is whether the good it does by arming the decent majority with the knowledge they need to protect themselves outweighs the potential harm of spreading “good practice” among con artists.

The reality is that The Real Hustle is not giving away trade secrets that offenders would never otherwise learn. We know these tricks are soon enough spread along the criminal grapevine. At worst, the BBC is spreading that word a little faster.

Surely on this occasion the corporation has got it right. We must all be a little safer knowing the tricks to look out for when we are going about our daily business. Far better that than being left in the dark while the fraudsters slowly swap their tricks.

Oh Calcutta!

There is definitely something in the air ahead of this year’s Calcutta Cup.

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The clash with the Auld Enemy always makes for a special occasion, but there is an extra buzz about tomorrow’s clash at Murrayfield.

There is genuine hope among Scotland fans that this could be a good year for our boys, just at a time when England may not be quite at their best.

The presence of nine Edinburgh Rugby players in the national squad can only add to the feelgood factor following the Capital side’s Heineken Cup heroics.

All this optimism is enough to make any Scottish sports fan giddy.

Let’s hope that tomorrow’s game is memorable for all the right reasons. C’mon Scotland.