The chairman of Notts Police Authority says he fears the portrayal of police in a television show may undermine confidence in the force.And he’d probably have been right. You see, I watched the ‘riots’ episode of this a few days ago, having taped it.
Councillor Jon Collins said that if the authority had been consulted by Notts Police about the filming of Channel 4's Coppers, he would have advised it not to take part.
And it was eye-opening. There’s no doubt about that. It gets a fair bit of praise on Gadget’s blog for ‘showing it like it is’ and providing a good insight into the lives of the people they are so often called to deal with, and the totally petty offences they are having to manage. And it’s true that it’ll be a shock to those who never see that sort of behaviour (should they bother to watch it, which is unlikely).
On at least two occasions in that particular program, the problem (and resulting arrest) was caused as much by the behaviour of the officer as the behaviour of the member of the underclass.
The first was the ‘mouthy but toothless drunk’ incident. Cops turn up to move on drunken tramps in a city centre square, and one gets a bit lairy, swearing as he moves away. But the crucial thing is that, as we can see from camera shot, he does move away. However, not quick enough for our hero, who starts to push him bodily; at one stage, he falls down backwards, which – given PC Simon Harwood is due for trial this year and Channel Four’s cameras were turning merrily – seemed a nonsensically stupid thing to do.
And then, in struggling with the guy (who continues to try to eat his sandwich all the while!), he rips off his jacket and throws it behind him. At this point, the tramp (who can’t really make himself understood well, having both no teeth and a mouthful of sandwich) just wants to get his jacket back, and keeps going forward with that aim in mind, leading to more pushing and finally an arrest (for which he didn’t show up at court, quelle surprise).
But why not just…give him his jacket back? If he then continues to try to get back to the square, fine. But as it was, it looked petty and unnecessary and ultimately futile.
And the second was the ‘chav party from hell’ incident. The finest specimens of Nottingham underclass were on full display, and it wasn’t pretty. Tattooed, drunk, unshaven, aggressive and incoherent. Some of the men were equally as bad. One woman – well, I’m assuming, it actually looked a lot like someone had put a walrus in a dress and applied a thin blonde wig and some lipstick – was acting like a child (as one of the cops admitted onscreen) and was told to go behind a line denoted by a lamppost or she’d be arrested. Of course, the next shot is of her tiptoeing across the line behind the officer and promptly being arrested.
And this was apparently meant to prove the ‘people behave like children’ quip. Well, yes. And it seems, so do police officers. They then had to put her through all the custody preamble, just as with ol’ toothless above, and for what? A child learns not to cross a line dictated by authority figures because there are consequences. This woman never will, because there are none! All it served was to take one police officer off the streets to deal with her.
There’s an old saying – ‘Never wrestle with a pig; you both get filthy, but the pig likes it!’. Yet here we saw cops going out of their way to wrestle with those pigs, despite all the whining about ‘pointless jobs’ on Insp Gadget’s blog.
And for no result, either for them,. or for society.
Labour leader Alan Rhodes said: "In my view, Coppers was an unmitigated disaster for Notts Police – the senior officers who allowed the show to go ahead displayed naivety.Hmmm, and what did he do? Well, since I’ve now caught up with the episode in question, I fully understand their description…
"However, one officer – Steve Porter – showed a fantastic, caring and considerate approach which shows how community policing should be."
But some officers appearing on Coppers were praised at the council meeting. PC Steve Porter, of Worksop, was seen on Monday's programme mediating in disputes involving feuding neighbours and a mother and her 10-year-old son.Ah. The ‘not police work’ part of the job, then? The bit that, frankly, no-one should be employed by anyone to do (‘mediate’ between an inadequate mother and her portly, ‘ADHD’ son)? Well, that just figures, doesn't it?
Police are employed to keep the streets safe, bust up drugs dens, ensure rival football teams don't knock seven bells out of each other and the like. We saw plenty of that, but did they get praised for it? No...
Notts Police says two incidents in the programme have been referred to its professional standards department.I wonder if those two incidents referred to are the ones I saw in that ‘riots’ episode? They should be.
Jackie Alexander, head of the department, said: "We acknowledge that the language and behaviour demonstrated by some of those participating in the programme do not meet the professional standards that we expect for all our officers and staff and we will be addressing this with the individuals concerned.
"We are also commencing work to ensure that everyone representing Notts Police clearly understands why such comments and behaviours are contrary to the values we hold."
I bet they aren’t though. I bet one of them’s the weary reference to a city centre drug dispute shown on CCTV leading to a stabbing as a ‘s**t on s**t attack’. Probably for being insufficiently respectful to a ‘victim’ of crime…
If anyone else has watched it, I'd be glad to know your thoughts as to which way it goes. Me, I think it's a little of both. And that's surely no bad thing?