Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ooh - Suits You, Guv

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ooh - Suits You, Guv

Article excerpt


IN a country in which a senior police officer, his car caught by one of his own speed cameras, escapes a fine because he "can't remember" who was driving, while poor, tortured Michael Barrymore is persecuted over cannabis, it isn't always easy to be a cheerleader for the boys in blue. So when the chance comes along, you have to take it with glee.

Let us, then, acclaim the Sussex force for its plan to make scruffy plainclothes detectives wear uniforms.

There was a time when convention held that detectives were employed to solve crime.

Nowadays, however, when clear-up rates have crumbled in any cases not involving Tory politicians or celebrities, crime solving has become an irritating PR headache compared with the serious business of getting on Crime Watch.

With detectives no longer expected to detect, the Sussex theory seems to go, sticking them in uniforms will not only lift the spirits of those officers normally forced to wear pointy helmets (the poor lambs feel demeaned, apparently, like tie-wearing fifth-formers glancing enviously across the playground at sixth-formers in mufti), but will also assuage fears about the dearth of coppers on the street.

Obviously, looking spruce will be a huge boon to detectives chasing drug pushers on rough council estates, and the Sweeney will welcome this sartorial guidance as well, while perhaps regretting it didn't happen 25 years ago in time for the telly series.

Imagine Regan and Carter, all neat jackets, constabulary ties and smart caps, in the stock scene in which, to quote from Squeeze's Cool For Cats, they catch a gang of villains in a shed up at Heathrow. "Right, you slaaaags," bellows Regan, the sun glinting off his shiny buttons and blinding the villains. "You're goin' dahhhn." He slams the ringleader up against a wall.

"Guv'nor, no," screams Carter.

"Leave 'im." "What are you on abaht, George?" asks Regan. "Your left sleeve, guv ... there's no cuff link.

Illegal arrest due to incomplete uniform. Nick him and he'll walk."

"Christ, George, you're right. All right, you toerags, get out of it ...

and mind yourselves."

Once the scheme has been in operation for a couple of years, and concerns are rampant about the dramatic downturn in uniformed officers volunteering for undercover work, we will move smoothly to stage two when Sussex will take all the old uniformed bobbies out of uniform and put them in tatty jeans and jumpers so they can fit in unnoticed among snouts and the like and do a little light detection.

It's fiendishly simple, isn't it ... but then the truly brilliant ideas so often are.

Springtime for Tony and Germany

WITH the worst teacher shortage in 35 years forcing frantic recruitment overseas, while the NHS is being legally obliged to send patients abroad for surgery, how much longer can the apparent public distaste for closer integration with Europe survive? …

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