Sunday, 1 November 2009

Mnemonics and how to remember a legal definition

P = Private place
O = Over 21
O = Only 2 persons
F = Freely consenting
That was the mnemonic that I was taught by the Metropolitan Police Training School, Hendon, in 1971, to help me remember the law regarding those occasions when I needed to decide if homosexual activity that I might have stumbled upon, would be lawful. Our class instructor even referred to it as, "The Poof's Charter". David Steel (who championed the Bill through Parliament) would not have been pleased, but at least the mnemonic helped me pass my exams, as well as accurately separate lawful acts of homosexuality from the other sorts. I took my duty as a guardian of public morals as pragmatically as I could, but most of my arrests, of this nature, were for offences of `importuning for immoral purposes`, the most common being cross-hand boogies in a public place whereby members of the public were offended or outraged. Simple stuff really. But the police don't have to deal with this sort of thing very much these days.
However, its now 2009 and my spies tell me that a sergeant in a police station meal room... somewhere... recently... in England, was watching `Match of the Day`. Arsenal scored a goal and the multi-millionaire sportsmen showed their appreciation in the usual way by showering each other with kisses and bum-gropes (don't know if tongues were being used, but perhaps a Sun reader has a pic on his mobile that will appear in a later edition and earn him a grand). The 26 yrs service sergeant got up and walked back to his duties, but just before he left the room he made the strategic error of all strategic errors and muttered that the Arsenal players were `just a bunch of poofs`. A PCSO present in the TV room reported him and he is now being investigated by a team from the professional standards department for Gross Misconduct, a discipline offence that could get him the sack. My spy also tells me that the PCSO had `an ongoing issue` with him as the sgt had been chasing said PCSO for poor timekeeping.
Perhaps the sgt was taught the law by the use of that same mnemonic, but was mistaken by the degree of sexual activity he'd witnessed? I mean they were certainly in a public place, there was more than two of them, some or all of them may have been under 21 and the consent may well have only been given because of peer pressure but either way, any of those four elements would set off the nick-ometer. If he was Hendon trained from that era he may just have a defence, but I think he'll struggle. As a West Ham supporter and someone who counts a number of homosexuals and lesbians as close personal friends, I am in something of a quandary over this one. My homosexual friend will often refer to his friends by saying things like, `Oh I was out with the poofs last night`. Now whilst I would never use that term to describe Arsenal footballers, I have occasionally been heard referring to them, in previous clashes with my beloved Hammers, as a bunch of cnuts, without any complaints. How times have changed. NB: PCSO, for any trans-Atlantic visitors to this, or other UK police type blogs, stands for Police Community Support Officer. Please Google it yourself, or read about them elsewhere on UK cop blogs, as I have to keep an eye on my blood pressure.


Sage said...

It is sad when an off the cuff comment is used against you.. the political nazi's of offend no-one win again.. so much for freedom of speech and I hope the PCSO involved has the decency to admit their real motives in complaining.

Nice to see you back again

dickiebo said...

Don't start me off on mnemonics!! I'm forever quoting the few that I remember to people! The test of obscenity - WOOL (Wilfully, Openly, Obscenely and Lewdly exposes himself!).
Regarding the PCSOs; I recall when the first traffic wardens took over from City of Westminster Meter Attendants, and allowed to use our canteens, we very quickly learned that 'canteen talk' had to be 'modernised'!! Seems things don't change that much after all!

Hogday said...

Hi Sage and thanks, I've been resting;)

Dickiebo: `Jack Fed Hot Pig`?

Conan the Librarian™ said...

That mnemonic "WOOL" that for when they are pulling it over their eyes...

Anonymous said...

Why was the state so prudish in times gone by? Why did it care if people were woofters? Why did it care about orgies of any combination? A bar on public sex is one thing, quite another to be telling people what they can't do in their own homes...

I accidentally started reading the new guidance on Public Sex Environments a while back but gave up before I got to the "meat" as it were.

"Jack Fed Hot Pig"

Oh cripes I know that one, it's in here somewhere, *scratches head*, is it property that we aren't allowed to give back if handed in?

As for the Sgt and the PCSO, it's pretty unfair to use a political correctness weapon in a battle relating to timekeeping. I hope if nothing else that the PCSO isn't let off being chased. Words of advice to the Sgt would be sufficient, IMHO.

dickiebo said...

Jack Fed Pig rings a bell; I think it was what cannot be returned to a finder; Jemmies, Ammunition, cheques, keys, firearms, explosives, documents, p? items of Gaming and Gambling.
If that is anywhere near, then howsat? Learnt in 1959!

Anonymous said...

You're out of date gents ;-)



Hypodermic Needles
Offensive Weapons
Tablets and other Drugs

Pawn Tickets
Instruments of

Mobile Phones

SC White Notes

dickiebo said...

But......will you remember them into your 70s?

Anonymous said...

No chance. I had to look them up!

Evil Twin's Wife said...

Around here, if you have loads of gay friends, like I do - even though I'm straight, it's considered A OK to use terms like nelly fag or other derogatory terms in addressing ones' gay friends. It's all said in fun.

Hogday said...

Dickiebo: Very impressed old chum! You were almost there and helped me out with a couple.

SC: I'm totally amazed that it's still in use! Quaintly brought up to date by the addition of mobile phones which were only in the possession of Dan Dare in Dickiebo's day [and my first 15 years :( ] As for the `queer fear` thing, yes, I agree, and my only interventions were when they were being stoopid, like persistently trying it on in public places, which I [and also the Gay Liaison guys I worked with latterly in the `enlightened years`] considered intelligence-insulting and piss-taking.

Conan: As long as its only the wool they're pulling, in public, I'm fine ;)

ETW: With you on that, but fun has been socially engineered out of the police and other places and apologies are no longer good enough for some :(

Anonymous said...

Well our class had a good laugh about Jemmies and Pawn Tickets. I mean does anyone Jemmy the door in anymore? Who pawns their stuff when there's Argos and eBay?