The Notting Hill Dancing Coppers Versus Bureaucracy

A video has surfaced this week taken at the bank holiday weekend’s Notting Hill Carnival, where three lively police officers take to the centre of a large crowd of dancing carnival-goers and perform a spirited roll call of dances individually, before generating whoops of applause by joining together for a final dance move on the floor. The video has of course gone viral, to a largely positive reaction; I challenge you all to not raise a smile at it, particularly when you consider that these chaps almost certainly had thought up this plan pre-emptively, cooked up just for the opportune moment during the Carnival weekend.

The busy Notting Hill carnival
The busy Notting Hill carnival

Anyone with half a brain cell can tell you that not only is an event where police officers can interact with members of the public in such an impersonal and spirited way something to be promoted, but that anyone whose shrill cries of “Why aren’t they doing their job? Why aren’t they fighting crime like they’re paid to? Why are they wasting our taxes?” has probably never had fun, ever. This enjoyable, communitarian ethos that these fine officers displayed (hopefully more so than just this one incident) is endemic of the Notting Hill Carnival, showing that officers of the law can have a laugh too, when there isn’t crime to be fighting. But rest assured that there lurks a legion of clipboard-wielding jobsworths out there, eager to tear these Bobbies a new one for not fulfilling quotas, or acting with improper conduct whilst on duty, or some other pitiful drivel.

We saw it before, let us not forget; when footage appeared online a few years back of a police officer using his riot shield as a sledge, most of us applauded the ingenuity and the light-heartedness of the officers in question. Granted that there wasn’t an immediate community-building effect, but no doubt many social media users like me cracked a smile at the video, which was heavily circulated on the large networking sites. The officer featured in the video, as the video linked above suggests, was reprimanded for daring to have a little fun by one of his superiors, almost certainly by a pencil-pushing bureaucrat whose favourite band is Keane.

I fear that the same will happen to the three officers in the new video from this weekend’s Notting Hill Carnival. For daring to act like a human for just under a minute, and engaging in a healthy relationship with members of the public whom they ultimately are serving with justice or good humour accordingly, no doubt these chaps, should they see the instant success of their documented routine, will feel a pang of worry that a desk-bound superior may end up seeing it and fail to see its funny side.

DancingCop

I attended the Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday. Towards the end of the evening from a stoop on Ladbroke Grove and through a Red Stripe- fuelled haze, I personally saw a police officer walking an elderly Indian woman by the hand through the crowds, presumably to her place of residence, because she was no doubt apprehensive about the large crowds and the rowdy behaviour that may have made her feel a tad uncomfortable. This laudable action should be a paragon for all Bobbies; but under the bureaucrat’s world view, no good deed goes unpunished, and the heap of paperwork that this copper could potentially be rewarded for his act of servitude would be a fitting gift.

Every deed, observation must be heavily documented, all for the sake of…well, proper documentation, whilst police officers cannot find the time to actually police. None of the modern bureaucracy which is part and parcel of being on the beat in Britain aides the police force in fighting crime, aiding the public and/or upholding the law. Rather than concerning them with more forms and slips to fill out, we should be encouraging an environment where police can be called upon to do the job that we expect them to be doing, rather than swamped in a mire of desk-clutter. At the same time, with this (paper)weight off their backs, we would surely be able to enjoy a healthier relationship with the police, who would be seen as more approachable and up for a laugh when the time is right for celebration (like the carnival), and yet tough when it needs to be, without having to worry about the hard-nosed, grey bureaucrats whose swiftness to suck worry-free enjoyment and unimpeded justice from the taxpayer-funded police force falls nothing short of vampirism.

The amount of paperwork that police must fill out is shameful. If a police officer makes an arrest, that usually totals up to a minimum of five hours pushing pencils and filling out arrest reports (a statistic I took from Peter Hitchens’ book A Brief History of Crime). Any person who could tell me that this is an acceptable duty for a police officer in modern Britain should have themselves a good long look in the mirror. Of course there needs to be some level of filing involved for the sake of accuracy, and for the public record. But there is no question that it could be minimised, to a positive effect for society. Gone are the days when a bobby had the time of day to enforce the law at his or her (legal) discretion; now we have a force of bloated, beer-gut officers who have to sit around in taupe-coloured offices, filling out regulations and forms. Once we realise that the vast majority of police officers can carry out their civic duties in a sensible, rational manner that brings benefit to the community if they are only given the chance, perhaps we can all get back to giving bobby’s the respect they no doubt usually deserve. Power to good policing! Death to the bureaucrat!

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