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PAS has launched an appeal for donations. They’re entitled to expect that detectorists, whose bacon they and the taxpayer have saved for 18 long years, will promptly respond. Surprisingly, just £3 a week from each detectorist would cover all their running costs!

However, there’s a lot of evidence that the “partnership” between PAS and detectorists is only platitude-deep with each side seeing praising the other as essential to their own survival. Thus, while most detectorists indubitably don’t report most of their finds to PAS they invariably claim they do – and PAS constantly ties itself in quite elegant linguistic knots to avoid admitting that crucial truth to the public. But now PAS seems to have inadvertently committed a big tactical error by asking for money instead of fine words – for so far, after three and a half weeks, there have been just 8 donations (and not all from detectorists) totalling £370. That equates to less than 10p per detectorist per week! Little more need be said.

Or does it? Were those in charge of “New PAS” quite so naive, or were they actually perfectly well aware of what the response would be and are using it to send a coded message to the Government? Is it all a way to demonstrate, without needing to say so themselves, that they see they have inherited a voluntary system which is not as it has long been portrayed? Who knows, but if so, someone is to be congratulated for they have arranged matters so that it is detectorists, no-one else, who are doing the demonstrating – in a way that simply can’t be denied or spun. The taxpayer has been giving £30,000 a week to support PAS and the voluntary system whereas detectorists have mostly abused the voluntary system and are now collectively giving just £100 a week.

I do hope “New PAS” has done this deliberately. My guess is that they have, for since they took over there has been a slackening of the selective “good news” propaganda and this latest development fits in very well with that change. Could this be the beginning of Britain shaking off it’s bonkersness and starting to move towards treating its portable antiquities like other countries do? “Regulation” is not a dirty word and is only opposed by those detectorists who have something to hide – literally. Let the rest of us voice it more openly.

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