OMG, like that’s totally shocking, that’s outrageous I pay their wages, thought they were supposed to protect us? Etc. Etc.
Browsing through any newspaper I’m always interested in the clever and usually emotive, use of headlines and initial paragraphs. Those initial few lines often make the difference between someone reading a story or not and, I’m no different to the remainder of that potential readership I suppose.
Where I do differ to most however; I usually read with a questioning and critical mind, especially when the story relates to a subject I have some knowledge of. Take the following piece as an example; now I wasn’t party to the ‘facts’ of this individual incident, but neither was the journalist. However, I am fully conversant with all the processes and procedures involved in dealing with it correctly, unlike the journalists…
Mothers anger after hit-and-run (Darlington & Stockton Times): THE family of a disabled man have spoken of their frustration after a hit-and-run driver who knocked him down in the street escaped police action… (Read more)
Firstly and obviously, I hope Mr King wasn’t badly injured and indeed, has made a fully recovery however; the tone of the article tends towards implying the police haven’t done their job correctly. On the face of it I would expect this to be untrue and in addition, contrary to popular public belief, the final arbiter as to whether or not a case is brought to prosecution or not, is no longer the remit of the police. It hasn’t been for some time.
Since the inception of the Crown Prosecution Service in the late 1980’s, the sole responsibility for placing a defendant before a court has been theirs. They make those decisions on varying facts and circumstance i.e. is there a realistic likelihood of a conviction and/or is the prosecution in the public interest? Unfortunately (many would point out), in these days of public financial constraint, there are also considerations made as to the cost effectiveness of the case. All that said, when someone avoids prosecution, for whatever reason, the public tend to blame the police exclusively and ignore the remainder of the Criminal Justice System.
It is only a minor point, all be it one which has probably had a profound impact upon those involved however; I wish our media were a little less emotive sometimes. As most people have little or no contact with the police throughout their lives, they tend to form their opinions about the police by what they read or see in the press and media. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a fully accountable legal system and the police are a major part of that system.
However, much of the (often) unwarranted mistrust in that system today has been propagated by irresponsible journalism and sensationalism. I have to wonder; is this factor one of the predominant reasons behind some of the public’s mistrust and lack of support for their police and, an element that compounds today’s lack of social cohesion?