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10:14am on Friday, 30th June, 2006:

Policing Essex


Yesterday, we received a copy of Policing Essex, its catchy subtitle explaining what it is: the annual Report of Essex Police Authority and the Chief Constable for 2005/06.

They say you know you're getting old when the policemen start looking younger. That being the case, I was alarmed to see this chap on the front page:

My wife wasn't quite so pessimistic: "What's it mean when the policemen start looking nerdy?".

Inside are the usual selection of feel-good articles about how the police is sensitive and caring, intermixed with other pieces about their new high-tech equipment and forensic technology so don't even think about breaking the law, all in a slightly too-spaced font because they had 12 pages to fill and only 10 pages' worth of material. The use of Lucida Casual for all the headlines points to a home-brew production rather than a professional one, but that's good as it means my taxes aren't being spent supporting glossy media spods with a quest to put appearance over content.

The centre pages are a double-page spread showing a map of Essex broken down into its (new arrangement of) 6 constituent divisions, with little break-out boxes showing the senior officers in each one. I was particularly taken by the line-up for the South Eastern Division, which has districts Southend, Castle Point and Rochford:

Blimey! The Chief Superintendent has a head shaped like a rugby ball, and the Castle Point District Commander looks like she's one of the criminals rather than one of the law enforcement officers. The eyebrows alone are worth 3 months behind bars.

The last half page of Policing Essex is headlined We welcome your opinion. "On March 20, 2006, the Home Office announced plans to merge Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire police forces. Essex Police Authority is keen to assess the implications of these planned changes to our policing structure for the communities of Essex". Ah. So the real reason for Policing Essex is that Essex Police are going to be merged with two other forces and they don't want to be. This is borne out by the first question, which comes in 6 parts beginning:

The rest of the questionnaire is along the same lines, directing respondents to reply in a way reminiscent of, oh, how police officers will lead a suspect in a particular line of questioning in order to get them to say something they hadn't planned on saying.

I shan't bother filling it in, as the final 3 (from 9) questions want my age, sex and ethnicity. Yeah, right, plus I'd also be inadvertantly sending a sample of my DNA and my fingerprints if what they say in articles on pages 9 and 11 is true...

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).