UK Policing – Media and Politically Induced Public Misconceptions

George Dixon

The entertainment industry has always influenced public perceptions of policing. From the first literary works illustrating private sleuths assisting bumbling bobbies catch the crook, or whimsical renditions of The Laughing Policeman in the music halls of the 1920’s, through to Dixon of Dock Green, The Sweeney and latterly The Bill. All these images of artistic licence have had a profound impact upon how the public view our police service.

Initially it may have been that artistic licence of our authors and the performing arts however a more worrying factor is ; today most of that influence now appears to be driven by our salacious news media machine. The knock on effect of their predominant methodology now means that in reality; society and politicians (courting public popularity) have a warped perception of policing realities.

In a BBC News Magazine article, A Point of View: The face of the law, the noted historian David Cannadine examined the public perception of the British bobby. In his piece he asked; What sort of personality – and what sort of shape – do we want our policemen ideally to have?

It’s difficult to know whether this tougher and more controversial image of the police that’s been conveyed on television in recent decades reflects public opinion, or moulds it… (David Cannadine)

Politicians, driven by austerity requirements and the need to save money, are rushing headlong into reforms that will cause irreparable damage to policing in the UK. Reforms that are based solely upon political expedience and self-preservation, as opposed to better service delivery to the public. They seem to believe that Police Privatisation is the sole answer after all, it’s less expensive and has less of an impact upon the public purse.

But, despite the humourous observations on the matter, what are the realities and true cost of this hatched job that is being dressed up as modernisation and reform?

Low morale amongst officers across the country

The Police Federation of England and Wales will hold a march in central London on May 10th 2012 to highlight the unprecedented attack on policing by this government and the consequences that these cuts will have for public safety.

Paul McKeever, Chairman of the Police Federation calls on all officers available on May 10 to join the march and demonstrate their outrage at how they are being treated by our Government.

20% Cuts are Criminal