Saturday, 18 July 2009

Perceptions and Media Games

It was hardly a copper shocker story but I was watching sky news about the conviction of Ingrid Tarrant, the presenters commenting about her arrest for illegal parking. It would appear the facts were rather more complex, her driving off whilst getting a ticket for leaving her car in a bus stop when shopping. There then followed a 2 mile chase before she was arrested and "thrown" into a police cage.

The gist of the presenters was this was over the top for a parking matter. Of course the presenters are entitled to their opinion but this woman was out of order, and committed a quite serious offence of failing to stop for police. Nothing contentious at all as far as I can see, but she got a sympathetic airing for some reason. This is exactly the sort of story that sticks in the mind of the public and might alter their perceptions of police if they are asked to fill out a public satisfaction survey.

See The Sun article here and a natty picture showing the officer described as an "out of control psycho" by her. Well it looks to me that he was just writing out a ticket.

All this on the same day as the police bravery awards, also sponsored by The Sun. The winners of the award were Sgt Stephen Hayter, PC Barry Leban, PC Richard Cousins, and PC Michael Carroll from the Metropolitan Police. They were fired at by a villain with a gun, chasing him down and making the arrest.

OK it was on the news and got coverage, but was a small detail missing? Correct me if I'm wrong but are these officers not all from the Territorial Support Group? The same unit that has been slaughtered in the press recently over G20 events and a high complaints record. Now is it the media who choose not to mention their unit or is the Met doing some spinning?

Top work by The Rhinos


Anonymous said...

Police bloggers often moan about negative press and I think that it's right they do so. It's a sort of ying to the Daily Mail's yang.

But I sometimes think that the media are getting somewhat of a, well, "bad press". That is, when you consider the popularity of shows such as Street Crime UK, Traffic Cops and the now legendary Road Wars. I've even encountered members of the [CRO] club who proudly boasted, "I got nicked by Pat and Carl".

To conclude. Those shows cops in a great light and the public love them.

- Altercation

Stressed Out Cop said...


The CRO club I'm sure don't give a + slant if asked as a MOP about police.

They might be popular shows but personally the end results would not excite me - great chase followed by another NFA as another scote decamps from a LOS. Don't be fooled by the clever editing .. Hours of footage for a few mins of good TV.

We now employ press advisors at local nicks and still the perceptions against us are mainly negative. Me thinks if the award winners had been identified as TSG it would not have got as much coverage as it suits some to portray them as bully boys (and girls)

Officer Dibble said...

Well said!

I think these lads should be further commended for,in the line of duty, having close quarter contact with three brazen photo opportunists.

Dandelion said...

It is very difficult for me, as a MOP to understand why the police find it so difficult to grasp that while there are bad apples who are not seen to be being held properly accountable, public opinion is bound to be negative. That police officers don't seem to be able to understand this also makes me feel more negative towards them - it makes police look arrogant and ignorant - not a good look in your line of work.

If you want a positive public image, the best thing you can do is make noises towards better accountability, the louder the better. Then the public would be right behind you all the way.

Dandelion said...

Unless of course you like working for a corrupt and incompetent organisation...

Stressed Out Cop said...


The police will never be perfect and there will always be bad apples. I would like to think these are in the small minority.

The Tarrant example is a case where the officer did nothing wrong yet again the press (SKY) hint at overbearing policing. Every case on it's merits and all of us not to be judged by the negative ones.

Don't know about corrupt but incompetent, well you know I prefer a common sense approach.

Hope you are well BTW .. SOC

Anonymous said...

"Police do something good" stories are rarely best-selling headlines. Much better to raise some shout about some major alleged controversy. I think it's a sign that the police are still (mostly) respected that people still care when something does go wrong.

Personally I do not let any of the mainstream media into my head because all of their "news" is filtered through a prism of assumption and worldview.

Anonymous said...

Worked with units from one,two and three area at a festival over the weekend. had help from a female PC from two area to restrain a drug dealer all in plain clothes. what a good bunch of coppers professional committed and willing to go and do what the career minded PC senior ranks wont do... go after the scum!!! If I can get fit enough I'll try and join them!!!!! The media dont like the POLICE probaly a throwback to their student days smoking pot, left wing rethoric and CHE GUVERa posters on the wall!!

Dandelion said...

Hi SoC

I still don't think you've taken on board what I was saying. It is a fact of life that while bad apples are not seen to be held accountable, public opinion of the police is bound to be negative, however few and far between they are. While the police can't be trusted to police themselves, the media are bound to reflect the ensuing public opinion. Which makes life harder for all the good apples. There's a simple solution, isn't there? Police need to lobby for external accountability. I wonder why they don't...

The Tarrant case example looks like the officer did behave in an excessive and overbearing way. That this does not count as "wrong" in a professional standards way is neither here nor there. Like you say, every case on its own merits, not on the officer's bullying ego-trip or malicious and unnecessary escaltion of the matter.

Dandelion said...

Hope you're well too, btw :-)