By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent
Published: 12:18PM GMT 18 Mar 2010
Officers taking down a suspect’s particulars must now ask them for a “personal and family name” in case the word “Christian” offends Muslims, Sikhs or other faiths, according to the new official guidance.
Kent Police’s prescriptive diversity rulebook also tells officers to refrain from using phrases such as “my dear” or “love”, when addressing women for fear it may cause “embarrassment or offence”.
The guidelines warn that officers should not comfort people by “putting their arm around them” as it could be seen as “unprofessional”.
They also state that the term “mixed race” should be replaced by “mixed parentage” or “mixed cultural heritage”.
Police officers condemned the guidance as “the latest in a long line of annoying politically correct nonsense”.
Other recent examples have included Scotland Yard instructing officers not to use the phrase “gang rape” to describe such crimes because the term is too “emotive”. Sex attacks that involve more than one culprit are referred to as “multi-perpetrator rapes” instead.
Last year it was revealed that officers in Warwickshire had been warned not to say “Evenin’ all” – the phrase made famous by television show Dixon of Dock Green – because it could confuse people of “different cultural backgrounds” as to the time of day.
Other words now discouraged include, “businessman”, “housewives” and “child”, all of which organisations argue have negative connotations.
The new rulebook for Kent police, which has almost 7,000 officers, staff and community support officers, says it intends to “promote clearer communication” and “break down barriers” with diverse communities.
“Do not underestimate how your own cultural background may affect your perception and behaviour towards others,” it warns.
One veteran Kent police officer of 15 years, who did not wish to be identified, said: “Most of us are fully aware of how to treat people from different cultural backgrounds, but being told we can’t even ask what their ‘Christian’ name is just plain ridiculous.
“That is what we are brought up with – Christian name and surname – and to be honest if you had an officer ask for your personal name and family name it’s just going to confuse people.
“It’s just the latest in a long line of annoying PC-related nonsense that we keep getting shoved down our throats.”
Marie Clair, spokesman for the Plain English Campaign, said: “I would like to know who these people with religious beliefs are that are allegedly so offended.
“I do not understand why someone in an office somewhere is coming up with these guidelines when there has been no outcry or complaints made public to suggest that the word “Christian” is offensive in this context.
“It is political correctness being pushed to its absolute limits. All common sense has been lost. Why can’t we use familiar language which people understand?”