Open letter to The Guardian in response to: Night Coppers Review

Open letter to The Guardian in response to Night Coppersreview by Joel Golby – published Sat 9 Jul 2022.  In the (likely) event that they decline to publish we reproduce here for completeness…

Dear Guardian,

I read with interest Joel Golby’s review of Channel 4’s Night Coppers published Saturday 9th July 2022.

Joel describes himself as an author and journalist who also writes for Vice, a Canadian-American magazine with a reputation for provocation.

A review by its very nature is an opinion piece and it’s great that publications such as the Guardian encourage varying voices and freedoms of expression. Because of that I’m sure you’ll extend me the same courtesy and allow a right of reply to what I consider to be a reckless and damaging piece.

The reviewer begins by telling us that “The big mistake of Channel 4’s Night Coppers is that it expects us to care about the police”. I think you’ve set your stall out nice and early there Joel.

He tells us “To enjoy it you need to do one thing – ignore the police officers.” Calm down a bit Joel – you alright Hun?

The premise of the show is that it follows police officers attempting to control some of Brighton’s Friday and Saturday night revellers. Here Golby makes the analogy between policing and midwifery inasmuch as “….it’s fine to put cameras in a delivery room for One Born Every Minute because there hasn’t been an inquiry into the entire industry of midwifing this year, with the city’s head midwife being forced to resign.”

I think what you are alluding to here Joel is the recent happenings in the Metropolitan Police Service. However this is Sussex – a completely different geographical policing area.   In any case it’s all starting to get a bit dark now for a television show review isn’t it?

Golby is in fact just getting warmed up. He goes on to spell out his objection that the programme is trying to portray that “The police are all right, aren’t they? The police are normal!”

The police depicted as normal human beings? We certainly can’t have that now can we?

After a few more paragraphs, reinforcing that he has no interest in anything any of the police officers in the programme have to say, Joel eventually concedes (with some sadness I hasten to add) that the programme is also “…very well made, gorgeously shot and very, very human”. Clearly Joel is not including the rozzer participants in the latter observation.

He rounds off the piece with the flash of positivity that “It is possible, then, to watch Night Coppers and focus more on the night than the coppers.”

Well, thank heavens you found a way around it Joel.

It’s a very emotive piece that raises several issues for me. Beginning with my first burning question: just how many points have you got on your driving licence Joel?

As a fellow writer one of the things I’ve learned is to be succinct and not waste words. With that in mind I’d say that it’s possible to edit Joel’s 860 word article down to the following sentence:

“Really well made and entertaining television documentary but I hate all coppers”.

Joel’s hatred of the police is clear and consistent. I’m sure some of his edgy and confrontational style is deliberately laid on thick to get some sort of response and so to that end he’s achieved his aim.

The Guardian is a respected publication that I wouldn’t generally have put in the ‘cheap-and-dirty clickbait gutter press’ category and so I’m surprised about your apparently deliberate decision to drive a political anti-police agenda under the guise of a television review.

Why would the Guardian even have someone that hates the police write a review on a documentary about the police? How did you think that would go?

I’m not keen on football and so, in the same vein, here’s my advance review of the European Cup Final: ‘It’s Shit! And here’s my review of the upcoming Rugby, Australia vs England 3rd Test: ‘That’s shit too!’

More reviews of things I don’t like to follow.

Allow me to say at this juncture that I’ve nothing against the Guardian. In fact you’ve previously published some of my opinion pieces. You’ve even reviewed my tour shows, not Joel obviously – he doesn’t get out much.

The Guardian prides itself on reporting with honesty, integrity, courage and fairness. The irony hasn’t escaped me that those who consider themselves to be champions of exposing bigotry are often blind to their own.

That’s what this is of course – it’s just plain old bigotry. Defined as “Prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group.”  Prejudice isn’t just that driven by race or religion it also applies when declaring hatred for people that wear the blue uniform of policing.

So am I just a whinging old ex copper with no sense of humour? Maybe. But here’s my issue. Since policing pay and conditions began to plummet 12 years ago some experienced officers began to leave – almost unheard of in my former vocation.

Since the national media-driven negativity towards policing the number of experienced officers leaving has accelerated. Whereas conversely recruitment is proving very challenging. After all who would want to be a copper when they return home after a long gruelling nightshift, having been disrespected, assaulted and spat at, only to see newspaper articles like Golby’s? Attrition rates in some forces are 20% for new starters – which is the worst in policing history.

To those that blindly hate the police my question is this: What’s your outcome?

Is it to drive even more experienced officers away, make it harder to recruit capable people and therefore drive down the standard of policing? It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy being encouraged by the Joels of this world and enabled by publications like the Guardian.

The police aren’t asking for favours just fairness. And balance.

Why is that important? Because every time an unjustified, unfair and unbalanced piece of anti-police hatred like Golby’s is published that further erodes confidence in the police. Every attempt to dehumanise these ordinary working class people increases their chances of being assaulted or killed while they’re out there trying to do their job protecting the public.

And a final word to you Joel. It’s not for me to speak on behalf of Sussex police but if you ever find yourself in danger in the fine city of Brighton, then I’d suggest you ring the Guardian.


Alfie Moore

Alfie Moore is a former police officer and now a writer and broadcaster. His show It’s A Fair Cop Live’ will be at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 5-26 August where he’ll be offering a view point from the other side of the riot shield.

If you’d like to come up and review the show Joel – don’t bother you’re not welcome.