“Collective amnesia? Never heard of it. What does it actually mean?” was the response from a spokesperson from Surrey Police on their members' inability to remember high profile offences . It’s a rare condition, whose medical name is “Dementia Constabularia”, and for which there is no cure. It’s now understood to have broken out in the Metropolitan Police as well, with a Met spokesperson confessing that the London force can’t remember what institutional racism is: “It does sound nasty, and we’ll catch the people responsible, if this thing.. …institutional something-or-other …. turns out to be a crime. Once we remember the password to our PC’s then we’ll look it up on Wikipedia, and get back to you.”
It’s understood senior police officers have now collectively forgotten Hillsborough, the Miners’ Strike, the telephone number of the Sunday Times and the correct use of a truncheon.
In some cases, undercover officers are struck with the illness while embedded with dangerous environmentalists. They totally forget they are police officers, sleep with activists and in some cases have their children and even eat live yoghurt. When their official minders remind them they are police officers and not a violent terrorist threat to the fabric of society, they are understandably traumatised and approach the Guardian’s Mariella Frostrup for help.
At a conference organised by the Police Federation, officials asked for understanding about the condition. “Policing is a demanding stressful occupation, with risks attached that involve constant vigilance. It’s our duty to, er… uphold the em rule of…something. Law! That’s it! Uphold the rule of law! So we want to make clear, in answer to your..would you mind asking the question again? I can’t quite remember what it is. But if it does involve something that happened more than a week ago, I’ll have to write it down. If I can remember where I put my er…”