On the face of it the BBC’s new five-part documentary series The Met is nothing new. In recent years Channel 4 has spurned out a number of similar programs around the police and it appears that the BBC have now decided to jump on the bandwagon. The format couldn’t be more similar; cameras in the back of police cars, interviews to camera, following a particular Force during a raid, we all know the drill. But what sets this series apart is it’s subject matter, the certain moments in time captured on film for this documentary. It’s something the majority of people in the country will have an opinion on, making this show an extremely relevant and interesting watch.
The 2011 Riots began as a reaction to the now lawfully proven killing of Mark Duggan. As well as causing millions in damage, the riots showed that some members of the public had lost respect and trust in the police force and it’s something that the Met have been trying to rectify ever since. The man at the top of the chain is Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, current Commissioner of Police and strong supporter of this documentary. His hope is that it will “reveal the true scale and complexity of the challenges faced by officers,” something that I believe it does perfectly.
The first episode is fascinating. We’re shown exactly what members of the police force encounter on an almost day to day basis during a very hostile time in London. Filmed over the days around the Jury verdict on Duggan’s death, we’re shown the exact moment highly ranked officers hear the decision and their very honest reactions and thoughts. At times it can be a difficult watch, especially during the Police statement made to the press shortly after the verdict was announced. Being the daughter of a Policeman, I have the upmost respect for what they do and this documentary only reinforces my opinions. However, it is difficult not to understand and agree with certain viewpoints that are presented during the episode.
The subject of Race is heavily discussed, with Hogan-Howe freely admitting that it is still a problem inside and outside of the Force. The documentary isn’t shy in delving into this matter, pointing out that only one in ten Police Officers in London are of ethic minority (which is absolutely ridiculous considering it’s 2015). But on the other hand we are introduced to Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa, one of just five Borough Commanders of black or ethnic decent in the entire Met. He was brought in to work in Tottenham, the area of London in which Duggan lost his life back in 2011. His appointment hasn’t gone down too well with some local residents who believe his being there is a ploy in order for the police to seem more relatable to the community and that Olisa isn’t actually qualified for the role at all. It’s just one of a number of difficult scenarios presented to the police during this hour long episode, and this documentary does well to portray the thought and emotions that members of the Police Force have to go through every day. It is this that The Met does best as it manages to personalise members of the Police Force, presenting the fact that behind the uniforms, the police are just like everyone else.
While it’s clear that the BBC are trying to stamp some originality into this documentary with its subject matter, you’d be forgiven into thinking you were watching a Channel 4 show. The Met tries it’s hardest to stand out from the crowd but inevitably it is just another ‘Cop-Doc’. That being said, it is a pretty decent watch.
The Met Continues Monday at 9.00pm on BBC One.
Contributed by Kay Dekker