THE idea of a policeman being accused of stealing would once have been considered shocking. Not at the Times these days, it seems. It’s more of a joke.
Yesterday it reported that PC Simon Read of Cambridgeshire Police faces disciplinary charges after he allegedly stuck a 7p price label meant for a carrot on a £9.95 box of 12 Krispy Kreme doughnuts at a Wisbech supermarket and scanned it through a self-service checkout. He was said to be on duty and in uniform at the time.
This story was considered worthy of a ‘witty’ headline (roughly third form level), ‘Doughnut dodge claim has Cambridgeshire policeman in a jam’, and a ‘funny’ intro (horribly contrived and clunky): ‘The stereotype of an incompetent police officer eating doughnuts instead of fighting crime has long been considered an American import. However, PC Simon Read of the Cambridgeshire force, it is alleged, is not one to be outdone by his counterparts across the Atlantic.’
In rather horrified tones the report went on: ‘He is accused of acting dishonestly and without integrity . . . the breach of professional standards of which he is accused is considered “so serious that dismissal would be justified”.’
So I should think!
The paper then took the opportunity to waffle on about various other ‘amusing’ incidents involving police officers and confectionery.
It is not a very funny subject, though. Three days ago the Times reported that two British Transport Police officers failed to patrol the area of the Manchester Arena suicide bombing because they had taken a meal break of more than two hours which involved a five-mile trip to buy kebabs. Their chief admitted that they had let the public down.
I am not trying to judge whether the police officer did what he is accused of, and he has every right to a fair hearing. What I do object to is the obvious feeling at the Times that if a police officer goes to some trouble to steal goods from a supermarket it is of little account, just boys being boys, a bit of a laugh really. I find that attitude shocking – am I hopelessly out of date? Discuss!