Happy Valley shows how policing should be done – how come the BBC gets this, and not the Met? | Dal Babu

From the diversity of the top brass to Sgt Catherine Cawood’s model of best practice, the BBC drama should be essential viewing for senior officers

  • Dal Babu is a former chief superintendent in the Metropolitan police

I’m not usually a fan of police dramas. After 30 years working for the Metropolitan police, in a career that spanned working in firearms, hostage situations, murders, riots and domestic violence, I’m usually frustrated with how inaccurate TV portrayals are of policing (I know, this is sad). But then Happy Valley has come along again, and instead of resisting, I decided to watch it.

What have I learned? Aside from the fact that unrealistic police procedures still abound on television (mobile phone data analysis missed; a survivor of a kidnapping and sexual assault joining the force and being allowed to work in the area in which the offences recently occurred), what struck me most was that the writer, Sally Wainwright, and the BBC commissioners have grasped something the police still haven’t: that diversity matters. I was the only person of colour out of 300 new officers when I joined the force in 1983, and you could count on one hand the number of Black and Asian chief superintendents even when I retired in 2013.

Dal Babu is a former chief superintendent in the Metropolitan police

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