Monday 27 October 2003

Good evening sir ....

Katie Grant has been watching the highly publicised BBC programme in which one of their reporters posed as a police recruit. Ms Grant is not amused:
WATCHING the now infamous The Secret Policeman, I was struck not just by the violence of the racism expressed by the individuals who have now either been suspended or resigned, but also their filthy language. Every second word was "f ***", or sometimes "c***".
She continues:
You might say that policemen only reflect the language of the streets down which they will be patrolling, and that the ones we heard swearing were swearing in private. That is true enough, but policemen are not supposed to reflect us, they are supposed to protect us, and a man whose private communication skills are so limited that he can do nothing but swear is, as any psychologist will tell you, a prime candidate to resort to brute force when thwarted, whether at home or at work.
I am sufficiently ancient to recall an incident that would be unthinkable nowadays. I used to travel home from school by bus from Ayr to Prestwick. One afternoon one of the lads sitting upstairs at the front of the bus used the "f" word. Unfortunately for him he was overheard by the conductress. She immediately rang the bell several times, the bus pulled into the roadside, and the driver rushed upstairs. He yelled to a now silent group of schoolchildren: "If any of you do that again I'll drive the bus straight to the police station where you will be dealt with and your fathers informed." That was the last time I heard such language until I moved to London at age 18. Part of me accepts that the police should reflect the society in whose name they act but I am inclined to agree with Ms Grant that this does not mean that they should "reflect the language of the streets".

Of course, it is a truth universally acknowledged that once the police have been privatised they would speak like characters out of Jane Austen.