Plain English Campaign have a hot runner for their Golden Bull awards for 2009 with this 102-word quote taken from the Association of Chief Police Officer's (ACPO) response to the Government’s green paper on policing.
Most police officers, if not the public, may be aware that the green paper is one of the most important documents in recent police history. It changes the way that police forces have to look at assessing their performance with a shift away from crime figures and towards public satisfaction. The public will now have a much greater say in how policing is done. So, it would be logical to expect that any information contained in, or relating to, the green paper should be clear and readable for the public. So what excuse is there for this single sentence containing 102 words?
‘The promise of reform which the Green Paper heralds holds much for the public and Service alike; local policing, customized to local need with authentic answerability, strengthened accountabilities at force level through reforms to Police Authorities and HMIC, performance management at the service of localities with targets and plans tailored to local needs, the end of centrally engineered one size fits all initiatives, an intelligent approach to cutting red tape through redesign of processes and cultures, a renewed emphasis on strategic development so as to better equip our Service to meet the amorphous challenges of managing cross force harms, risks and opportunities.’
Marie Clair, spokeswoman for Plain English Campaign says, “I fell asleep halfway through that sentence and didn’t get round to pondering the meanings of ‘centrally engineered one size fits all initiatives’ or ‘amorphous challenges’ – is that wrestling with a jellyfish, maybe? This is not the example we need from the top. There’s nothing but confusion and mistrust in using jargon when plain English will do. If we are to have a say, let’s hear it clear and honest to start with.”