Asda was this week celebrating a big cut in crime at a store in Manchester after adding a new staffer to its multi-talented team.

A cardboard cop - dubbed PC Boardman - has been on patrol in the aisles, with staff moving the 2D crime-stopper around to maintain the illusion of activity. So lifelike is PC Boardman that dozy shoppers have apparently attempted to engage him in conversation.

You can’t help but wonder whether Asda has been trying out cardboard cashiers in recent months as well, judging by the sparkling banter you often get at the tills.

Greater Manchester police insists it represents the cutting edge of crime-fighting, rather than simply reflecting how bad the staffing situation has got.

But Bogof distinctly remembers something similar being done by nerdish shopkeeper Carl Sweetchuck in one of the Police Academy movies.