Comments flood inon ‘Coppers’ debate

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE’S number two cop has explained his force’s involvement in a television documentary series still stirring debate a week after it began.

Deputy Chief Constable Chris Eyre spoke a week after an episode of Channel 4’s ‘Coppers’ documented the work of Mansfield and Ashfield detectives.

The show aired last Monday night and quickly fuelled a heated public debate.

Mr Eyre’s comments, issued yesterday, followed criticism which included strong words from a former senior officer with the force.

Bob Walton, a retired superintendent, said he was ‘surprised, disappointed and embarrassed’ by the programme.

Mr Eyre said in a statement yesterday: “We saw the programme as an opportunity to show the problems encountered by a modern day police force and the professionalism of our officers in dealing with those challenges.”

Other viewers and officers backed the programme this week, with more than 70 comments flooding the Chad Facebook profile and Chad.co.uk.

Last week’s programme featured detectives investigating local burglaries, searching for missing people and interviewing suspects.

Contentious scenes included footage of the recovery of the body of Mansfield man Grant Bennett, found in woodland in Forest Town in July 2011.

The show also broadcast footage of the arrest of 43-year-old Shaun Tudor, later convicted of trying to rape a 10-year-old boy near Rainworth in the same month while on leave from a mental health unit.

The second instalment of the series aired on Monday and focused on policing in Nottingham city centre.

Throughout ‘Coppers’ officers are seen talking openly about the ups and downs of the job and some are seen swearing.

Said Mr Walton, who retired in 1997: “I have to question the judgement of the Chief Constable and her command team in allowing officers to be shown displaying such unprofessional standards.

“I wonder if, like me, they and some of those in the programme cringed after watching.”

Mr Eyre did not detail what input the force had into the final cut of the programme, but said overall public reaction so far ‘has been positive and the majority of people extremely supportive’.

But he added: “There is no doubt some have found these programmes uncomfortable viewing and have expressed concern or disappointment at what they saw.”

While acknowledging ‘excellent work shown by many participants’, he added he had also reinforced an expectation officers ‘will act professionally at all times and demonstrate their commitment to our communities through an unqualififed respect for the dignity of those we serve and with whom we work’.

One officer currently serving in the force questioned this week whether or not support should have been provided to those in the programme.

The officer, who asked not to be identified, told Chad this week: “I was aware of the film crews being around the place and wondered if the officers and staff involved had received any kind of training or whether there was a strategy in place to assist officers through the filming process.

“I don’t know either way but even if there was a strategy in place or some kind of training provided would the public have got a true picture of what policing is like and would it have been a totally different programme?

“I personally thought it portrayed officers in a true light and as normal as possible.”

Communications watchdog Ofcom said it received a ‘small handful’ of complaints about last week’s edition of the programme.