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The Stirrer’s Talk-in Radio Blog (7)



Police and cameras

No doubt about it. This weeks phone-ins were dominated by one subject – the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 summit. Stirrer editor Adrian Goldberg reports from the front line of his Talksport phone-in show.

The Ian Tomlinson story broke on Tuesday evening, and by the time I went to air at 1am on Wednesday, many listeners still hadn’t seen the Guardian video, showing the assault by a police officer in riot gear.

My colleague Ian Collins whose show precedes mine cautioned that we didn’t know what had happened before the short clip; nor did we know what had happened afterwards (a theme taken up by some of my callers).

Fair enough. But what was evident was that a man with his hands in his pockets and posing no direct to the police was whacked viciously from behind by an officer whose face was obscured.

I acknowledged that we simply didn’t know whether or not it triggered Tomlinson’s fatal heart attack; my argument was simply that this is not the kind of behaviour we expect from the thin blue line, no matter what provocation they had faced in the preceding few hours.

Not only did most of those who rang in agree with me, there developed an uncomfortable element of police bashing, with lurid tales of police brutality.

One black caller claimed that he had been arrested 711 times without being convicted of any crime, purely on account of his colour.

So many callers were hostile to the police that the following night (when we had the additional detail of an officer being convicted of dangerous driving after killing a young woman during a high speed chase) that I turned the question on its head and asked – is being a copper the worst job in Britain?

Although some callers were sympathetic to the police, I was left with the overwhelming impression during two nights of roaring business that the Dixon of Dock Green image of the British bobby has gone forever.

We no longer think of friendly officers helping old ladies across the road – but of a quasi-militia, wielding riot shields and with batons drawn…

This week’s Top Five Phone-In subjects

  1. The Police and the G20 footage
  2. Should the foxhunting ban be repealed
  3. Can high speed police pursuits be justified?
  4. Should Sinn Fein MP’s be allowed second home expenses
  5. Your Favourite Album of All Time.



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