This is a guest post by Jo O’Reilly.
As an Essex Girl I am (yes, still) used to jokes mocking my perceived lack of intelligence, but as a Briton whatever that means these days I can usually cling to a sense of intellectual superiority compared to those across the pond, but no more.
Thanks’ for that Essex Police.
On Monday they made us looks not only as a county, but as a country look pretty bloody stupid.
Following a bizarre but innocuous tweet about a missing budgerigar at the Westcliffe Co-Op came the either bad attempt at humour or cause for taxpayers concern:
‘Colchester man, 20, charged after allegedly using Blackberry to arrange water fight. Will appear in court on Sept 1.’
Yes, that is right a water fight, not even partaking in a water fight but arranging one. I spent my childhood in Essex arranging water fights that often didn’t go ahead, (we were told to come home for dinner) of course I didn’t have a blackberry back then so it was clearly far less sinister.
They must have been astounded by the amount of criticism, hilarity and confusion this caused as they followed with another tweet explaining much more clearly:
Re water fight comments – police believe there may be more involved in light of recent disorder.
Oh well that is OK then, in light of recent disorder in London planning water fight by BBM in Essex is now illegal.
Now we could give the police the benefit of the doubt here at assume that they are just really bad at PR. That actually the accused was planning to arrange some form of serious violent criminal act via his blackberry messenger service, or was at least attempting to incite a riot. That in fact whoever is charge of the Essex Police Twitter account is just a bit well, silly.
However if you pay a visit to the Essex Police Website, you will find the page they have dedicated to reassure us, the people of Essex that they are keeping us safe from riots – riots that never actually happened within the county, and the incident is there in plain legalese:
“A 20-year-old man from Colchester who allegedly sent messages from a Blackberry encouraging people to join in a water fight has been charged with encouraging or assisting in the commission of an indictable only offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007. He has been conditionally bailed to appear at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on September 1.”
Encouraging people to join in a water fight is an offence under the serious crime act 2007? The SERIOUS Crime act. What, was there acid in the super soakers?
The tweet caused so much attention on twitter from those concerned that they may now need a license for owning water pistols, that the NY Time caught onto it and it was covered in the NY times news blog.
So there you go Essex Police are now a laughing stock but at least they are working to keep the country safe from water fights.
As one astute commenter from Boston posted
“Sometimes ‘zero tolerance’ equals ‘zero IQ’.”