Monday, 20 August 2012

UK Detecting Code of Practice, Who Was Deceiving Whom?

Heritage Action have announced that their recent story about the NDCMD adopting the offial Code of Practice for responsible metal Detecting in England and Wales wasn’t, as some metal detectorists were angrily claiming, a "hoax". I discussed this story here.

What  in fact (as some guessed) we were referring to was the statement of the NCMD Chairman in a joint press release on the PAS website (cached here in case it gets deleted at the request of 'partners'). It very clearly sets out the NCMD intentions:
“The National Council for Metal Detecting will be replacing its existing Code, a part of its Constitution, with the new one. Adherence to the Code when metal detecting is a condition of membership
The point is that is what was agreed back in May 2006. Since then that expression of intent has been neither explicitly amended nor actioned. As HA say:
So to be clear: our article wasn’t a massive hoax, it was ABOUT one.
Of course the pathetic NCMD now makes a half-hearted (for it can hardly be taken seriously)  attempt to explain the discrepancy between word and action. Their spokesman “Remic” explained (August 16, 2012, 09:55:02 PM ) on one forum to confused NCMD members what really happened:
unfortunately a mistake was made in the pre agreed press release whereby the term “replacing its existing code with a new one” was printed and issued as “replacing its existing code with the new one”. By the time it was spotted it had been issued.
Oh dear, its those wobbly tekkie literacy skills again at the root of the problem. Now perhaps before giving them the poor mites the benefit of the doubt and accepting that rather unlikely 'explanation', let's put it in the context of what the press release actually says (I'll replace "a" with its cognate "another" to show what I mean)
Steve Critchley, Chairman – National Council for Metal-Detecting said:
 “This Code is both fair and practical. By adhering to this Code the vast majority of metal-detectorists will be able to demonstrate that they have a genuine interest in the past and wish to benefit from the knowledge they gain from their hobby. The National Council for Metal Detecting will be replacing its existing Code, a part of its Constitution, with [another] new one. Adherence to the Code when metal detecting is a condition of membership”.
For further information please contact Hannah Boulton in the Press Office [...].
Does that make any sense to anyone other than a shallow-minded artefact hunter unwilling to see things in context? "THIS new code is both fair and practical, BUT the NCMD is going to replace the Code they have, NOT with this one, but ANOTHER ONE". Eh? Only a detectorist can see the logic in that I fear. 
Now, as to whether it was a mistake or not, we should note that this wording was on the version of the press release of the NCMD's own website  and there was an ongoing discussion about this at the time. Certainly the Director of the CBA (who - like the representative of the PAS - was at the meetings where this was discussed) was under the impression that the replacement of the NCMD code by the new one was what had been agreed, and was mightily surprised to learn from me several years later that this is not what had happened and their website says something else.

So what kind of an “historic agreement” is it if it never was in fact an agreement because it’s wording, “all parties are committed to ensuring its members abide by the advice set out in the document” was untrue. As Heritage Action point out it seems that NCMD:
signed this agreement knowingly – but then found their members wouldn’t play ball. (There was certainly an unholy row to that effect on the forums.) Then came the real mistake. Instead of honorably withdrawing from the agreement on the grounds they couldn’t deliver, they let it stand. Anyway, they’ve now publicly admitted they aren’t and never were party to the “historic agreement” so it’s incumbent on the The Archaeological Establishment to acknowledge the fact. 
We might all wonder: "How many false claims along those lines have been made since 2006?"

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