BBC doesn’t shut the fuck up

I was watching the BBC’s 10pm news this evening, delayed slightly due to coverage of Brazil’s less than impressive 1-0 win over Croatia.

The lead story was that of the police’s apology for the hurt they may have caused in their wrongful arrest of two brothers in east London. (The fact that the police weakened the apology by using the phrase "I apologise for the hurt we may have caused" is an aside.)

I was surprised by the BBC’s decision to air one of the brothers’ claim that the police told him to "shut the fuck up" on entering the property. While after the 9pm watershed, it was certainly a bold, admirable move to make on the primetime news. This is something that I think would be unheard of in the US.

I was equally surprised that the online coverage of the same story did not reference this line, although a full video of the briefing is available. In the past, the BBC’s online offering has been notoriously more bold/controversial than its TV counterpart.

The site often includes swearing in circumstances where it is intrinsic to the article itself. It usually chooses to place such references after the fold (where the bottom of the screen generally cuts the article when you’re at the top of the page), so that they are only read by people genuinely interested in the article, and so that they aren’t automatically pushed to other media (e.g. Ceefax) that are more widely accessible.

In this instance, the reference was important to the story, and warranted airtime. Heartening.


3 Responses to “BBC doesn’t shut the fuck up”

  1. Bob on June 17th, 2006 21:18

    In this case the cordon wasn’t wrongful and whilst you browsed Supertramp cds, men and women in the police force had to work near that van.

    Once you kick off a response to a perceived threat there is no hindsight to lean on.

    How many people would go into a house, with a known violent gun crime profile, looking for cyanide?

    None of the police knew if they will be seeing their families after the operation. The two targets walked away alive thankfully.

    A big bang, gun-shot or cyanide gas cloud – it’s not exactly an easy job, so most of us would indeed head for the cd racks.

  2. Dan on June 17th, 2006 23:30

    I am hugely grateful for the police’s actions that day in 1996, although I do question your views on my perceived taste in music.

    As for the recent events in east London, again, I admire the people on the front line. I do, however, question the source of the intelligence that seems to have pointed towards two innocent people. And I do believe that the qualification in the police’s apology was unnecessary and de-valued it somewhat.

    The police will make mistakes, as do people in any other line of work. However, they need to be answerable for those mistakes. I am still flummoxed by the lack of heads rolling due to the Stockwell shooting of Jean Charles Menezes, for example.

  3. Harry Snapper-Organs of The Yard on June 20th, 2006 07:54

    No heads have rolled for Stockwell because the independent report hasn’t been published yet! It’s due anytime now.

    Intelligence is often given to the police by other agencies, then its a question of minimum and maximum regret – do nothing or do something? Perhaps MI5 should apologise.

    How do you check intell. before acting? What if you delay and the risk materialises? Is there a formula for this? When to procrastinate and check?

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