Beasting or Bullying
But the judge, Mr Justice Royce, criticised the beasting, and also asked the jury to consider whether three non-commissioned officers had been put in the dock as scapegoats in place of Captain Mark Davis, who had apparently authorised the whole thing. In fact, I think he used the phrase "hung out to dry". Not trying to put words in the jury's mouth then...
This case all centres around whether subjecting someone to punishment that may be humiliating or physically difficult is a valid technique of training, or is just bullying. When I went to training school, we still had to parade on our "passing-out" day. This meant we had to practice drill, marching up and down like toy soldiers, on a regular basis. I HATED drill. I was also useless at it. For some reason, my arms and legs like to go the same side at the same time. Which is weird, because they don't do that when I run, or at any other time. I frequently got told off for my appalling "drilling" and had to go out on my own and march about with an ex-army guy yelling at me. I HATED this more than the normal marching.
My attempts at marching in the style of the Korean police did not go down any better.
However, I found the rest of training school fairly easy. The law and the role-plays were no problem, I didn't mind the rubbish accommodation or being away from home. Other people hated these with the vengeance I hated drill.
From one perspective, I was bullied, because I was rubbish at drill. From another, so was the guy in the class who regularly got under 25% in his law exams and had to re-take them in five weeks. (Getting under 25% in a four-way multiple choice test is quite some feat, by the way.) He probably felt about as stupid taking exams as I felt marching about with my arms and legs stuck together.
When does this turn from training into bullying? When the subject starts to cry? When they quit? When they collapse and die of an aneurism? When they kill themselves or someone else?
In today's climate of Equal Opportunities and Employment Regulations, drill has been dropped from police training because it isn't required as part of their role. It therefore couldn't be "justified" as a training requirement.
When I'm out on the street, and people who've never met me are calling me a "dirty slag", spitting in my face and waiting for an opportunity to jam a broken beer bottle into my throat, will I perhaps be better for those hours spent trotting about like a fool on a frozen parade square? If I can't take an ex-army guy yelling at me, how am I going to take that? In what way does 12 weeks classroom-based law training, visiting community centres, mosques and hospitals, wearing civilian clothes and doing every practical police exercise in a "controlled environment", prepare our new police officers for the job they are actually going to do?
But of course, in the twenty-first century, nobody is nasty to the police any more.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.