TV 'made police a laughing stock'

Romsey Advertiser: Ann Barnes was compared by some viewers to Ricky Gervais's David Brent Ann Barnes was compared by some viewers to Ricky Gervais's David Brent

A police and crime commissioner (PCC) has been rebuked by rank-and-file officers for making their force a "laughing stock" in a Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall documentary.

Ann Barnes, PCC for Kent, was accused of damaging the reputation of Kent Police through the Meet The Police Commissioner programme.

And she was accused by the Kent Police Federation of ignoring advice not to go ahead with the show, labelled by some viewers as a "car crash".

In it, Mrs Barnes, who travels around in a van she dubs "Ann Force 1", struggled to explain what her £85,000-a-year role involved.

She was filmed having difficulty explaining an approach to policing priorities called "the onion" and bringing her dogs into the office.

She also failed to write her title correctly on a whiteboard, was filmed painting her "flaky" nails and compared the force to a tin of paint that she wanted to "prise" open.

Also in the hour-long programme, Mrs Barnes said driving a Mercedes was not her "image" - and she was then filmed in the next shot arriving at work in a Mercedes.

Ian Pointon, chairman of Kent Police Federation, said: "I watched the show twice with a mixture of laughter, embarrassment, shock and disbelief.

"To be frank, it was a disaster and Mrs Barnes was ill-advised to do this fly-on-the-wall documentary. I know she was advised by Kent Police not to do it, so any responsibility must lie elsewhere. It was always going to end this way, with a mockumentary.

"It is clear this programme has damaged Kent Police's reputation and made us a laughing stock.

"Obviously this was never Mrs Barnes's intention and if there is one positive from last night's programme, it is Mrs Barnes's efforts to try and increase resources for Kent Police. I accept the reputational damage to Mrs Barnes far exceeds any to Kent Police."

Former teacher Mrs Barnes defended herself, saying it was not her intention to attract bad publicity to officers and staff.

But on Twitter, viewers compared her to Ricky Gervais's character David Brent - and one said the show was "depressingly hilarious, hilariously depressing".

One tweeted: "What an embarrassment Ann Barnes, PCC for Kent Police, is. Anybody watching this car crash TV? I'm not sure if this is a joke or not."

Another said: "Ann Barnes was like Kent's very own David Brent. A total embarrassment and waste of taxpayers' money."

Mrs Barnes, who was elected in 2012, said she was concerned by claims that her appearance had damaged the reputation of Kent Police.

And she said she was disappointed that the programme focused too much on her, rather than the work of her office.

In a statement on her website, she said: "Many people have given their views on the programme and have speculated about my motivation for doing it.

"The only reason I agreed to do the documentary was to help people to better understand the job of a police and crime commissioner.

"The decision to let a film crew examine the work of the office for four months was not one I took lightly.

"I hoped it would give an insight into what is being done to help achieve the best possible police service for Kent.

"The film does go some way to addressing the complexities of the job and illustrates some of the challenges involved.

"But I am disappointed that there is too much emphasis on me as an individual and not enough on the work of the office.

"I know that much of what the office has achieved was filmed and I am frustrated that these scenes did not make it through to the final version."

She listed her achievements in office, including addressing concerns about crime recording, developing a new victims' centre and investment in body-worn cameras and digital devices.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree