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Mists of management-speak

The fog of jargon and management-speak has left many of us wandering clueless. The now sadly familiar word, 'redundancy', used for losing a job, is cushioned with ever more obscure words such as, 'displaced', a term originally used to refer to refugees. One employee was told that their job was to be 'offshored', although it is doubtful that this referred to working from an exotic island office. And the latest cloak for bad news refers to redundancies as 'transitioning out of the business'. Naturally, no-one likes to be the bearer of bad news, but this lack of clarity can raise suspicion about the true message.

Plain English Campaign have previously criticised the 'ploddledygook' found in communications from the police. But a recent joint news release from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire police forces, is a damning example of the serious danger of words that can hide the true meaning.

The police news release aims to inform the public of the recent changes to firearms licensing reviews in the East of England, as a direct result of necessary budget cuts. Essex police managed to communicate the news in a two-line statement. But the heavy use of management-speak by Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Police Forces resulted in 351 words promoting their own successes before telling us that the existing home visits, made to every gun owner as part of their licence renewal, will be replaced by a 'risk-assessed process' with 'enhanced intelligence checks'.

Marie Clair, spokesperson for Plain English Campaign says, "How many people will appreciate what the loss of 'blanket visits' really means? The lack of clarity in this information leaves us wrapped up in frustration or apathy."

Plain English Campaign supports the proposals made by police forces like the Metropolitan Police to the Home Office, to reduce police bureaucracy and paperwork. The campaign suggests that the use of plain English in all public communications may be helpful in redirecting resources from less-needed communications, such as unnecessary marketing style slogans, to critical information.

The original press release has now been removed from the Hertfordshire police website.

A comparison in the Telegraph of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire police statement and the Essex police statement.

Since we wrote this article, Cumbria police have announced that they will continue to make home visits when gun owners apply to renew firearms licences.

Article in the Whitehaven News about the Cumbria police announcement.

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