How to deal with criticism of a public institution? Should the response be "a polite, non-committal response or avoiding contact altogether"? The PAS have made their choice. Rather than engaging with issues raised, whether it means committing themselves to dealing with them or not, they have decided to avoid contact like the plague (see here for this attitude). This is a pity because there really is no running away from the issues, especially when they are formulated in the usual inimitable eloquent manner of Heritage Action: 'A polite message to the Portable Antiquities Scheme' 4th April 2015.
It’s damage that matters, not its absence and (as PAS knows very well from their published figures), the great majority of detectorists don’t comply with the official code, don’t follow best practice and don’t report all of their finds. That is crucial information that is owed to the public and landowners in plain, unvarnished form, not glossed over by the addition of the “yes but” platitudeAs Heritage Action point out, when they are not shrugging their shoulders and turning away, the only response the PAS has ever given to them raising issues is name calling and insults. But:
Their complaint is never about what we say (how could it be? If our facts were wrong they would have said so, not just insulted us) but about what we don’t say.Heritage Action point out that the sort of assurances with which the PAS fob off public concerns ("the demonstrably untrue statement that “most detectorists are responsible”...") is nothing less than the PAS uniting with thousands of artefact hunters in misinforming the public and thousands of landowners weekly over many years. In that, they say:
We’re not going to join in, whether PAS continues to call us prejudiced and ill-informed or not.Quite rightly so. Have the PAS really nobody who can give a sensible answer to this? Really, nobody?