In conjunction with Thames Valley Police, the paper is publishing details and photographs of two dozen wanted criminals from the local area in what is memorably designated the 'Badvent Calendar'.
For the third year running, every day until Christmas Eve, the paper will reveal a new 'festive fugitive' suspect and details of his or her crimes.
Oxford area commander Supt Chris Sharp last night said: “It ties in with the advent calendars that are a tradition at Christmas. [...] We want to make sure we gather these people before the end of the year."Thus, along with the 'Cinderella' shoplifter who left his own shoes behind at the scene and the robber who held up a cosmetic counter with a pair of scissors,
Lurking behind door seven of our criminal Christmas calendar is an Oxford woman suspected of shoplifting and staying at a “high quality” hotel without paying.Now I can't speak as a Christian, but isn't there something just a little odd about linking this rogues' gallery with the expectation of the Nativity?
I have to admit I'm enough of a linguistic pedant to be annoyed at the whole concept of 25-day 'advent' calendars that have less to do with Christianity than with the products of industrial confectioners or Walt Disney, implying that the eagerly awaited arrival in question is that of a materialistic shower of gifts.
And one of the earliest posts on this blog was prompted by the 'advent calendars' for dogs and cats being sold in a local petshop, which take anthropomorphism to a whole new level - although St Francis of Assisi might have approved.
But while this tendency towards the secular and the introduction of chocolate are relatively harmless - if somewhat depressing as a reminder that, for Generation Entitlement, every day is a treat day - I can't help feeling that something about this Thames Valley Police initiative seems just a little bit tasteless.