How not to offend 101; a London Metro police PC handbook

From The Telegraph U.K.

How not to offend religious minorities – by the Metropolitan Police

London’s Metropolitan Police force has developed a 100,000-word internal ‘handbook’ on different religions, sexual orientations, politically correct terms and youth culture.

By Ian Johnston
Published: 9:25PM BST 26 Sep 2009

The ‘Policing Diversity Online Intranet Resource’, which has been revealed for the first time following a Freedom of Information request, explains how “over the past 10 years, teenagers have developed almost a language of their own”.

Officers annoyed after being called “prity sik” by a gang member are able to learn it is actually a compliment meaning “great”, while anyone basking in the glow of apparent praise that they are “phat phree” can discover it means they are “uncool”.

However other terms suggest some members of the Met may be slightly behind the times if they need to refer to the explanations of commonly used terms such as “whatever”, “butt out” and “bling”.

A detailed, 7,000-word section on paganism describes how followers believe in magic and venerate nature. Druids, the guide explains, are “especially concerned with the ecological crisis” and working “in many ways for the healing of the Earth”.

Officers can learn about pagan gods such as Odin, “old one-eye, runemaster”, Idunna, the “Apple goddess”, and Frey, who is described as “The Lord, dweller in Elf-home”.

The guide, available on the force’s internal computer system, also lists some local spirits which may be revered: “The spirit of a spring or a toad or snake that might be the guardian of a house or Elves in England, the Little People in Ireland, Kobolds in Germany…”

Police dealing with a Seventh-Day Adventist are advised to “be sensitive” to their “attempts to avoid hearing popular music on a radio that may be audible or watching popular television programmes”. “Ask whether or not this is a problem,” the guide suggests.

Even non-believers in custody must be handled with care. While they have “no special needs”, officers are warned to “be aware that Atheists might feel offended by an assumption of faith”.

In other sections, they are somewhat obviously advised not to refer to people with learning difficulties as “retarded”, those with mental health issues as “mad”, physically disabled people as “cripples” or people with cerebral palsy as “spastics”. They are also told not to talk about a “disabled toilet”, with the preferred term being “accessible or adapted toilet”.

A chapter headed “avoiding sexual harassment” advises officers not to use “terms that might cause offence, eg ‘darling’, ‘sweetheart’, ‘boys’ when talking to adult males etc”.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the guide was not part of officer training, but was designed to be accessed when needed.

“The Policing Diversity Online Intranet site is a resource for officers to refer to should they require,” she said. “It is not required reading, but one of a number of tools for officers in understanding and engaging with London’s many different communities.”

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