The Metropolitan Police is to introduce new measures to combat allegations of discrimination within its ranks upon identifying potential criminals.
From 1 April, it will be illegal for an officer to identify a suspect by “gender, ethnicity, religious items of clothing or anything else that could incite prejudice,” - instead, it has been recommended that less sensitive measures such as “eye colour or tattoos, as long as they are not offensive or specific to some sort of organisation or religion,” are used.
Concerns have been expressed, however, about the practicality of having so few indicators to choose from when describing a suspect. Lucy Rhodes, a recent robbery victim, claimed that her mugger would have “essentially been a walking tracksuit to the police, and even then I'd have to worry about the whole Scouser stereotype – where do we draw the line?”
Asked about how the new ruling would be enforced when dealing with victims' descriptions, head of the Met, Sir Paul Stephenson, stated that “officers should put their fingers in their ears and make sufficiently loud and rash noises if they believe they are about to be told information that could influence their judgement unnecessarily.” Sir Stephenson later demonstrated this technique when asked how features such as eye colour could be seen from the grainy, black and white images of a CCTV camera.
Since the new measures were announced, several novelty contact-lenses makers have already reported a significant increase in sales - there are also rumours of a resurgence of the black-and-white striped, swag-possessing, masked criminal, as this is one of the stereotypes soon to be banned from suspect descriptions.