14 Sep Complaint Concerning “Frontline Police” S01E05, Channel 5


This disgusting, sensationalist programme on Channel 5 shows brutal, disproportionate conduct by police officers on a raid for personal possession alone. It then shows a raid on a 300 plant farm and dispenses the most absurd, inaccurate, scaremongering propaganda.

Particularly offensive is the gratuitous pleasure that the musclebound presenter, Rav Wilding, demonstrates at the distress and terror inflicted on peaceful victims of police brutality including children. He exudes the most despicable characteristics. He is vindictive and abusive towards those involved and is surely a completely unsuitable choice for a programme broadcast well before the 9.00pm watershed.

Broadcasters are subject to much stricter regulation than the press and Channel 5 has made some very serious errors with this programme.

This complaint has been submitted to Channel 5, to OFCOM, the broadcasting regulator and to ATVOD, the authority for television ‘on demand’.

—– Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
To: [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected]
Sent: Friday, September 14, 2012 12:28 PM
Subject: Complaint concerning Frontline Police S01E05, Channel 5

Dear Sirs,

Frontline Police, Series 1, Episode 5, first broadcast on Channel 5, 20:00, 10th September 2012

I wish to make a complaint concerning the above programme which is still available on Demand 5 at: http://www.channel5.com/shows/frontline-police/episodes/episode-5-366

I make the complaint on my own account but also in my capacity as the leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), a UK political party, of P.O.Box 674, Salfords, Redhill, RH1 9BN. For the purposes of correspondence, please use my personal address as below.

This complaint is being addressed to Channel 5, OFCOM and ATVOD simultaneously.

1. The programme is in breach of clause 2.2 of the OFCOM Broadcasting Code which states that “factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience.”

2. It is also in breach of clause 2.3 which cautions specifically about material which includes “violence, humilation, distress and violation of human dignity.”

3. It is also in breach of clause 2.4 of the code which cautions specifically about “glamourising violent or dangerous behaviour.”

4. It is also in breach of clause 5 of the code

i. which requires “due impartiality“, that “facts must not be misrepresented”

ii. specifically with regard to the presenter, “alternative viewpoints must be adequately represented” and “must not use the advantage of regular appearances to promote their views in a way that compromises the requirement for due impartiality.”

iii. which requires “an appropriately wide range of significant views…(to be) given due weight”

iv. which requires that “broadcasters should not give undue prominence to the views and opinions of particular persons or bodies”

5. The programme is a ‘reality show’ which follows the work of Essex police officers. It is, by its nature, sensationalist and seeks to dramatise the work of police.

6. The gratuitous pleasure which the presenter takes in seeing non-violent people including children treated with extreme violence and humiliated by the police is deeply offensive and in bad taste . It is my opinion that the programme itself may be a criminal offence under section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 as it is clearly intended to cause distress and alarm to viewers.

7. It is also clear that the conduct of the police officers is directly influenced by the presence of the cameras. Their brutal and disproportionate conduct is clearly encouraged by the presenter and by ‘grandstanding’ or showing off to the cameras and the production team..

8. The conduct of the officers should itself have been the subject of a complaint to Essex Police (and the Independent Police Complaints Commission if necessary) by the production team who witnessed it first hand. Their failure to make such complaint is negligent and irresponsible. They are in fact complicit in the actions of the police officers.

9. The sequence which starts at approximately 10:00 concerns a raid on a house where a small quantity of cannabis was discovered. The minor nature of the offences involved is confirmed by the sentence which the person concerned received – a 12 month community order. Nevertheless, a large number of police in riot gear made violent, forcible entry to a private home with children present and the coverage amounted to a shameful celebration of oppressive, brutal and disproportionate treatment of a peaceful family, inflicting terror on those concerned merely on suspicion of a trivial, victimless crime.

10. At approximately 28:50 a sequence begins which concerns a raid on a cannabis farm. The presenter describes it as a “factory”. This is deliberately inaccurate and misleading in order to be sensational. The word ‘factory’ is defined in every dictionary as a building where goods are manufactured or assembled. Cannabis is grown.

11. At approximately 29:42 a caption is shown which reads “Cannabis use can lead to impotence and mental illness such as schizophrenia”. This is inaccurate and misleading. There is no evidence of a causal link between cannabis use and impotence, mental illness or schizophrenia.

i. In the case of impotence, there is evidence of some correlation between cannabis use and erectile dysfunction (ED) but equally there is evidence of cannabis as a treatment for ED. I bought the Cialis and the side effects were but not severe. The erection was excellent. For the third or fourth time, the erection is so-so. I took half of the Tadalafil pill as want to get used to it, especially because my sugar level is pretty high. Cannabis has been used as an aphrodisiac for many thousands of years.

ii. In the case of mental illness, there is some evidence of correlation but risk is negligible, far less than for alcohol, tobacco, both OTC and POM medicines and even energy drinks. According to Hickman et al 2009, a review of all published evidence so, by definition, not cherry picked, the risk of a correlation between lifetime cannabis use and a single diagnosis of psychosis is at worst 0.013% and probably less than 0.003%. Furthermore, in 2009, the ACMD commissioned a study by Keele University into the trends in schizophrenia specifically to test the claims in the media of a link between it and cannabis. It looked at almost 600,000 patients and concluded that “..the incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining” despite alleged increased use of allegedly more potent cannabis.

12. At approximately 30:50 the presenter says “…obviously the plants they are dealing with are toxic.” This is inaccurate and misleading. According to Judge Francis D.Young of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, “cannabis is one of the least toxic substances known to man, less toxic than raw potatoes.”. The scientific measurement of toxicity is the therapeutic ratio – effective dose:lethal dose. The therapeutic ratio of alcohol is 1:20, of aspirin 1:35, of cannabis between 1:20000 and 1:40000.

13. At approximately 31:05 a caption is shown which reads “Frontline officers are trained to deal with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear situations”. This together with the video of officers in protection suits is deliberately to mislead about the toxicity and harmfulness of cannabis. The only substances that could potentially be ingested by anyone in close proximity to cannabis plants are pollen or dust. The chances of anyone ingesting these unintentionally in sufficient quantities to cause any form of illness are infinitesimally small. The officers could not even experience a ‘high’ as THCA which exists in raw cannabis is not converted into THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient, until it is heated.

14. At approximately 31:52 the presenter says -“The dust from the plants is a toxic hazard which can damage the officers’ lungs“. This is entirely false, inaccurate and misleading as set out above.

15. I have previously submitted complaints to the Press Complaints Commission concerning similar misleading statements and untruths by Northamptonshire Police and Hertfordshire Police. These have been resolved by apologies from the police forces and the publication of corrections in the newspapers concerned. Full details of these complaints and the resolutions can be provided on request.

I would be grateful if you would deal with this complaint at your earliest convenience. I shall be happy to provide any further information required, to substantiate any of my points with further written evidence or to give oral evidence in support.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Reynolds