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Lack of awareness on police violence – Black Lives Matter

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ISLANDERS’ shocked reaction to the Guernsey Police recruitment drive video led to the head of law enforcement taking down the high-octane, action-packed ‘day-in-the-life’ promotional material yesterday.

A screenshot from the now-withdrawn Guernsey Police promotional video which was removed from circulation by Head of Law Enforcement Ruari Hardy after being heavily criticised.

The video had drawn widespread mockery in the national media too.

Organisations, such as the Guernsey Black Lives Matter movement, said it was a very unrealistic portrayal of what police work in Guernsey was actually like.

‘As the international Black Lives Matter protests and anti-racist activists over the decades have attested, police violence disproportionately affects black people as an outcome of systemic racism,’ said a Guernsey BLM spokesman.

‘The recent recruitment video from Guernsey Police shows a real lack of awareness on these issues, through treating the use of weapons on the job as fun and exciting.

‘We do not believe it was Guernsey Police’s intention to put across such a message. However, in treating police use of violent weapons such as Tasers and guns as a light-hearted matter, and even as an expected part of routine police work instead of as a last resort, they are undermining the seriousness of police brutality cases.’

The spokesman added it was one thing for a film to make light of a police environment, but another for an actual police force to push this as the reality. ‘This kind of thing can be funny when you see it in Hot Fuzz, but this is the real world, where normalising systemic violence is harmful, especially to minority communities,’ they continued.

‘Let’s learn from this as an example of what we don’t want the police to be like, instead focusing on providing adequate funding for issues such as mental illness and domestic abuse, which is where a lot of police work is concentrated in reality.’

Others said the video had fulfilled its purpose to attract interest and a reaction to it.

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The video featured in several publications, including the Metro and the Police Professional, a UK law enforcement journal.

The Times, in particular, poured ridicule on the footage by weighing up the activity in the video compared to the actual statistics of when these things happened in real life.

According to Bailiwick Law Enforcement’s annual report, during 2019, there were only two incidents of a Taser being used, while a firearm was discharged only once in 12 months.

Crimewise in 2019, there were 25 offences for weapon possession, 84 burglaries and 130 drug offences.

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Deputy Barry Brehaut said it looked to have done its job in grabbing people’s attention. ‘When I saw it I assumed it was a parody,’ he said.

‘A tongue-in-cheek representation of the island to get attention and recruit police officers.

‘It’s definitely not an accurate representation and the risk is that it can be taken this way.

‘Being a police officer is more of a social worker role and I think the video could have captured that more.’

People were divided on social media, with some loving it and asking for a sequel, while others said it was an embarrassment and questioned the justification of spending taxpayers’ money on it.

Joe Langlois said: ‘Not sure what all the fuss is about – this is fantastic.’

On the other hand, Jamie Thomson said: ‘What a way to sell a career in the police to the younger generation of Guerns, by glamourising armed response units, high speed car chases and bomb disposal squads,’ he said.

‘As if that regularly happens on such a quiet island with a relatively low crime rate.

‘In light of what’s happened in the last year or so, with acts of police brutality coming to light every day, I really thought you might try a different angle.’

Joshua Cox added: ‘This video is an absolute joke. How is this a reflection of actual police work and how on earth do you justify spending taxpayers’ money on a recruitment video that glorifies the use of Tasers and guns on our incredibly peaceful island.’

Danielle Kenneally

By Danielle Kenneally
News reporter

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