The police often have a hand in giving out long sentences. Now theyâ€™re writing them.
A potentially record-breaking 102-word single sentence appears in the Association of Chief Police Officersâ€™ comeback to a government report on policing. Hereâ€™s the offending passage (note â€“ do not attempt to read this before operating heavy machinery):
“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.”
If you made it to the end: well done. This kind of meandering, jargon-heavy sentence would almost certainly lose most readers a quarter of the way through: 35 words should be the maximum length in such a document.
Although a spokeswoman did hold her hands up on behalf of the police chiefsâ€™ verbosity, she also posed the defence that the piece was written primarily to persuade civil servants. She claimed it was therefore written in â€˜a language familiar to themâ€™.
The civil servants weâ€™ve worked with certainly deserve a lot better.
But if sheâ€™s right about ACPOâ€™s audience, itâ€™s little wonder that weâ€™re all prisoners to paperwork.