A Vocabulary Lesson
If someone's found guilty of assault police, they should be described as "a violent yob". If their conviction is overturned and the police officers who arrested the person are under investigation, the phrase used should be, "highly regarded war veteran".
If there is no controversy over the arrest, you should say that "police apprehended a male for drunk and disorderly conduct". If the incident has provoked a Crown Court judge to fury, instead say "police set upon a male following a jolly night out in an unprovoked and despiccable assault".
If the police officer is cleared of all wrong doing by an independent investigation, you should say that the force and officer are "institutionally racist and corrupt". If the same police officer later becomes a figure of public sympathy, you should say that he was "cleared of all wrongdoing".
The story of three police officers savagely beating up heroic Lance Corporal Mark Aspinall for apparently no reason is all over the internet and media this week. Never mind that the footage being pored over by every criminal justice expert in his or her front room was shown to a courtroom of magistrates who found no problem with the police's actions before convicting the same hero of assault police. Magistrates have no love for the police, but they deal with this kind of petty street violence far more often than Crown Court judges.
CCTV only tells half the story. Something you would think Judge John Phipps would know. Then again, this particular judge makes no bones of the fact he prefers his justice served up warm and cosy, and not out on the alcohol-fuelled streets of his city. Perhaps fraudster Robert Barwick summed him up perfectly...
Maybe one or all of Mark Aspinall's detainers acted unlawfully, even brutally. Maybe his hands and teeth were doing things that the camera couldn't see, and all force used was with a legitimate aim. Either way, let us at least make some attempt to learn from our mistakes, and not create another PC Mulhall.
Believe it or not, police officers know which parts of their towns are covered by CCTV, and most of them wouldn't risk their job, family and liberty for a five second scrap with an abusive drunk they will never see again.
"Distraction strikes in order to place the male in handcuffs" or "savage repeated blows to the head"... you decide?
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.