Coppers Review: Arresting

COPPERS: Monday 9th January, C4, 9pm

The tough-talking tactics of fictional bobby Gene Hunt are not often thought of as an example to be followed. Yet you can’t help but agree with some of the police officers of Nottinghamshire who wish the days of the forthright detective were not quite so long gone… “Sometimes I watch Life on Mars and think, if only it was still like that…â€? says one otherwise demure policewoman.

It isn’t difficult to concur with this perspective whilst watching Coppers; a highly compelling documentary following policemen and women during their daily fight against the criminals they pursue. This first episode follows the detectives of Nottinghamshire police’s Criminal Investigation Department, battling against a non-stop barrage of burglaries and petty crime; they give insight into how they truly feel in the face of distressing crime scenes and a frustrating lack of convictions.

An example of the type of bright spark prevalent in today’s society is burglar Thomas Hodgkinson; a twenty-four year old cretin who currently holds nineteen convictions and is under questioning for a twentieth. Despite his ‘bad-boy’ image consisting of cigarette smoking, trackie-bottoms, and appearing defiant in the face of his incessant crime-mongering… he lives with his grandmother and bursts into crocodile tears whenever he’s arrested. He also replies with ‘no comment’ to every question that is fired at him, even refusing to give away the unquestionably vital information that is his shoe size… It’s safe to say he’s an unbelievable numpty (as well as a soft-lad).

Alongside providing an outlet for their frustration towards eejit’s like Hodgkinson, this documentary also gives insight into the sometimes strange relationships and emotionally fragile states which being a police officer results in. For example, despite doing their best to charge the man, the detectives who interview ‘Hodgey’ as he’s known, sometimes bum him fags and call him ‘mate’. The truly shocking case of a convicted paedophile re-offending against a ten-year old also shows the sometimes indistinct boundaries between officer and criminal. It is also a testament to what a truly tough job they have. The hardened officers are forced to repress any instinct towards the reprobate as they come into close contact with him after his offence and subsequent arrest; it’s astounding how one officer is able to separate the man from his crime, seeing him simply as a man with – in the words of The Saturdays – a lot of ‘issues’.

Quite.

Coppers is blackly funny at times. The detectives undoubtedly gain a buzz from the job they do, despite often questioning whether or not they should admit to such a fact. “Have a breather… he’s not going anywhereâ€? quips one officer whilst moving the body of a man who has committed suicide… It appears that in a job whereby the shocking state of humanity is dealt with on a daily basis, a little humour is needed for fear of going home and – as one officer admits to – “having a good cryâ€?. A combination of the two would probably work best.
This documentary is a winning formula. Allowing the often humorous honesty of the police-officers to shine through amidst the desperately testing occupation they have chosen, it will leave you reeling… and probably with an all-new respect for the long (and often frustratingly short) arm of the law.

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