Police officers given guidance on how to be PC

Police officer Police officers can find the guide on the Force's internal website

Police officers in the Lothian and Borders area have been given guidance in what not to say in the course of their duties.

The list of "do's and don'ts" is on Lothian and Borders Police's internal webpage.

It warns against pensioners being called "old biddies" or gay people "batting for the other side".

The Appropriate Language Guide, tells officers to avoid insulting members of the public by using offensive terms.

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: "The appropriate language guide was produced by the force to compliment the diversity training course that all staff attend.

What not to say

  • Coloured
  • Half-caste
  • Ethnics
  • Old
  • The Disabled
  • Handicapped
  • Victim of spina bifida
  • Wheelchair victim/bound
  • Spastic
  • Cripple
  • Mongol
  • Mental handicap/mentally retarded

"There is an expectation that all officers and staff will respond appropriately when dealing with the diverse communities we serve."

However, the guide has been criticised by Bill Aitken MSP, Tory justice spokesman, who said officers in a modern force would be aware not to use terms such as "Mongol" or "coloured" while dealing with the public or colleagues.

He said: "There are complaints about police budgets, but apparently Lothian and Borders Police seem to have the time and the money to waste on politically correct and esoteric matters.

"They should cut this nonsense out and have a few more officers patrolling the streets of Edinburgh."

A spokeswoman for Age Scotland said: "We would hope that police officers don't need to be told that terms such as 'fool' or 'biddy' are offensive, whether age is an issue or not."

In the guide it reads: "You should be aware that some people may not enjoy being referred to as "one of the boys" or "one of the girls.

What to say

  • Black
  • Mixed Ethnicity
  • Ethnic Minority communities
  • Older people/elderly
  • People with disabilities
  • Disabled
  • Person with spina bifida
  • Wheelchair user
  • Person with cerebral palsy
  • Disabled person
  • Person with downs syndrome
  • Person with learning difficulties
  • Mental health problems
  • Blind/partially sighted people/people with visual impairment/
  • Deaf people/People with hearing impairments

"In a similar way, you need to be aware that terms such as "dear", "pet", or "love" can be devaluing and patronising, particularly when used by older staff towards younger staff. They are best avoided."

The guide also warns that terms such as "Afro-Caribbean" or "African-Caribbean", although used in the force's official documents, "can prove offensive to those of African or Caribbean ethnicity who have been born in Britain".

The guide also advocates language which is "direct, factual and, therefore, professional".

It adds: "Phrases such as "a person of the other persuasion", "a woman with lesbian tendencies" and "he/she bats for the other side" should be avoided."

Carl Watt, director of Stonewall Scotland, welcomed the guide, and said: "Lothian and Borders Police have a track record of working to build trust with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and making great efforts to ensure everybody is treated equally and fairly."

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