Has anyone been watching the BBC1 drama Criminal Justice (running every night this week)? Critics are mostly raving about it, because the cast – led by the marvellous Maxine Peake – are first rate. There’s no doubt, too, that ex-barrister Peter Moffat, the writer, has considerable story-telling skills. But one aspect of it stinks to high heaven. As in almost every BBC drama that I can think of (apart, perhaps, from Waking the Dead), the coppers in it are portrayed as both idiotic and corrupt. Andrew Billen, in the Times, put it very well:
Are we expected to believe that policemen still remark in a solictor’s hearing that she has “nice tits” or that a senior officer encourages a suspect to make a confession after her lawyer has left or that he instructs a PC to lie about where they both were for a crucial hour?Even Moffat did not seem happy with having his wicked DI Chris Sexton baldly deny that rape within marriage is possible, a fallacy beaten out of coppers’ heads by any number of consciousness-raising workshops in the past decade.
I am not as sure as Billen that there aren’t cops who still think like this, and I also hate the way the police have become agents of political correctness gone mad. But one thing is certain: in the BBC’s world, cops are mostly incorrigibly bad, even when it makes their otherwise powerful dramas look idiotic and far-fetched.