Some people think so. After all, they say, PAS comprises dozens of hardworking Finds Liaison Officers hoping to preserve our knowledge of history. Unfortunately though it’s not hard work or aspirations that matter, it’s whether after 17 years the behaviour of artefact hunters has been changed. As to that, even PAS no longer pretends that most detectorists keep to the official responsibility code and report all their finds. They can’t, because they don’t and that reality is the only yardstick PAS should be judged against – for changing behaviour (not “partnering” or amassing a database or any other “sticking plaster” aims concocted later) was what it was set up to do.
Detectorist “edmundy” has just demonstrated the grim result of ineffective outreach: “I would still give every new landowner I work with the option of me getting things recorded by the FLO at our club meeting. It’s just in the last seven years none has asked me to, happy to keep things confidential between ourselves.” So, in 7 years of detecting he has reported nothing to PAS (despite PAS being paid oodles to tell him it was irresponsible, as is detecting where you can’t report). Equally it appears the farmers were unaware they should never, ever let non-reporting artefact hunters onto their land – despite PAS being supposed to tell them (and the sad reality that a single full page advert in the farming press would have delivered that message to them and tens of thousands of others and hence have prevented the loss of countless pieces of knowledge!)
So it’s not “mean” to highlight the behaviour of “edmundy” and thousands of others, it’s actually a public service – for each instance is a failure of outreach and a loss of knowledge. Taxpayers are funding PAS to outreach and the same people as heritage stakeholder are losing out year after year because the outreach has been demonstrably inadequate. So this hasn’t been a mean article, it has been kind – to the public! Those who deny it are the mean ones.
Update 15 Dec 2014
As usual the thread to which this article refers has disappeared. Everyone can draw their own conclusions.
At the same time, THIS has appeared on another thread (about nighthawks) on the self-same forum: “for every One Hawker People should be taught to understand there are Hundreds of Good Decent Enthusiasts more than willing to Record our Heritage with almost every piece of History we Unearth. There’s always a Rotten one in almost every Barrel, it’s just a matter of sorting them out from the Good ones”
So detectorists say not recording on the part of thousands of their colleagues is perfectly excusable on the grounds that “recording is voluntary” whereas they say nighthawks who don’t report their finds are “Rotten”.