Messages inside greetings cards received by friends of members of South Yorkshire police were dictated by senior officers, a new report published today shows. A study by the University of Leeds reveals that twenty eight cards sent to friends of serving officers in December 1984 contained this identical message:
“I was walking down insert name of high street when I chanced upon a branch of Clinton’s cards or similar. Upon entering the premises I purchased this card, in which I hereby take this opportunity to wish you season’s greetings. Unless you are one of them striking scum in which case it is my duty to inform you that further illegal assembly will result in instant arrest, in some cases using physical force legitimately available to officers under the Police Act, 1959. I hope you enjoy the humorous picture of a Santa slightly the worse for wear due to drink OR fat lady in the nude with mistletoe delete as appropriate.”
In other cases that year, officers from the South Yorkshire police had shopping lists dictated to them. One unnamed officer was disciplined for the use of the term “truncheon meat”. And examination of letters sent by officers to Father Christmas shows that 83% had asked for tear gas, water cannon, baton rounds and plastic shields. In 14 cases the words “after shave” was crossed out in red pen and replaced by "new notebook" or "boots".