When is a knife not a knife? When it’s a bladed article, of course!

Here’s a piece of police jargon to make all journalists groan. The PCSO for part of Didsbury, in Greater Manchester, does an excellent job of keeping residents up to date with activities in the area via Twitter, but it’s probably advisable for GMP to invest in a jargon filter:

Now what could a ‘bladed article’ be that promoted the arrest? Was this man nicked for being in possession of a copy of the Times containing some sharp writing by Caitlin Moran (Sharp writing? Bladed article? – Geddit? Oh, I’ll get my coat).

No, the man was, as you might have guessed, carrying a knife – a point (sorry) the PCSO in question was quick to clarify when quizzed:

There’s a serious point in here somewhere. Police forces in particular have been very keen to embrace Twitter to try and communicate directly with residents. That’s a good thing – although a better thing would be being more open with the crimes they are investigating and return to the days where the media had access to local sergeants and inspectors to run through the overnight crime book every day.

But if the police are going to talk directly via social media, then surely it makes sense to encourage officers to ditch the jargon? In other words, call a knife a knife.

Update: A couple of other examples of police jargon which irritates journalists:

and

Any more?

3 comments

  1. A serious ‘point’ here yeah I get it [was that intentional?] I think this whole thing is pointless ..[that’s enough ed.]

  2. There’s a secondary agenda to that phrasing at least some of the time – “bladed article” is vague enough that when police are using it as an excuse to take someone in, it sounds sinister without actually saying what they’d found.

    For example during a raid on a squatted radical centre in London after the G20 demonstrations they mentioned the squatters had bladed articles – which turned out to be kitchen utensils (bread knife, cutlery…) – sounds impresive to a cub reporter who then goes back to the office to write about dangerous extremists. It’s seriously misrepresentative of the actual situation but helps the police to dampen criticism of heavy-handed tactics.

  3. A piece of PC Plod’s terminology that sends me reeling is “persons” as in “three persons were involved in the incident”.

    Isn’t the plural of person … people?

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