What came before “PC” policing?

This morning’s potboiler issue on the Vanessa Feltz show was that the Metropolitan Police had scrapped its mascot, a 9-foot-high figure of a Police Community Support Officer (the recently introduced police-lite) called Steve, because it was discovered that Steve was white, middle-aged and male, and that wasn’t inclusive enough ([1], [2], [3]). So, it seems that they have spent £15,000 of their budget on producing three new mascots, two of them female and one or other of them Asian or otherwise non-white or something. Some people are up in arms, because they feel crushed under the jackboot of “overwhelming political correctness”.

To which I say, good. Does anyone remember what came before “political correctness” in the police? Among them was the practice, particularly found after a gruesome murder, of dragging out the local nutter or village idiot and “pressuring” them to confess to the deed by such means as depriving them of sleep, rather than doing their job and finding the murderer. Before PC, certain sections of the community were scared of the police. I am not talking about criminals, but certain ethnic minorities to whom the police were a menace because of their gratuitous harassment. Before PC was the sight of police officers intimidating a woman who complained of being raped, because they thought she was a tart and deserved it. And so on.

The issue of whether they actually need a mascot is, of course, a valid one to raise, particularly when it costs a five-figure sum. Why do these things cost so much? But the sight of a big white male copper may go down well in Cheam, where Steve was allegedly designed, but to take a 9ft model of a white male community “bobby” really gives the wrong message when trying to get communities “on side” in Brixton or Hackney. Come to think of it, PC really has nothing to do with it - Steve just wasn’t up to the job.

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