Miles Kington: The villains would like you to help with their inquiries

In their disguise as members of the police, these villains immediately gained the trust and respect of the public, or the staff of Securitas
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The Independent Online

Excuse me, do you mind answering a few questions?

I wonder if you have been following the news recently, in which certain incidents have occurred?

Such incidents as the outrages in Iraq last week, in which mosques were blown up and recruits murdered?

Or the incident in Kent in which millions of pounds worth of bank notes were nicked?

Or even the incident in Glasgow in which an accountant who was due to be a key witness in a fraud case was abducted?

You wouldn't think there was a common link to all these, would you? Would you be surprised to hear that they did all have something in common? You would?

Well, you wouldn't Adam and Eve it, but had you noticed that, in every case, it involved some of the criminals being disguised as policemen?

And that, in their disguise as members of the police, these villains immediately gained the trust and respect of the public, or the staff of Securitas, or the ordinary Sunni or Shia in the street, or, in Glasgow, the unfortunate accountant?

It makes you proud, doesn't it, to know that a police uniform can still elicit such immediate feelings of reverence? Or, at least, fear and foreboding? Even when worn by out-and-out baddies?

At the same time, does it ever make you wonder just how easy it is for a gang to disguise themselves as members of the police force? I mean, police uniforms don't grow on trees, do they?

You can't just walk into a fancy costume shop and get a really authentic police kit, can you?

Or if you can, it shouldn't really be allowed, should it?

In other words, if you were a gang preparing to invade some distant part of Heathrow and relieve them of their gold bullion, or going to go down Kent way and take away some unwanted banknotes from Securitas (nice to see Latin still being used as company titles, by the way), wouldn't you say to yourselves: "It's going to help a lot if we dress up as policemen, because people will do what we say then"? And then say to yourself: "Hold on, where are we going to get the uniforms from?"?

You might stage a raid on a police station, mightn't you?

And take all their uniforms?

Though that would look a bit suspicious, mightn't it?

Because even the police might tumble to the fact that these police uniforms were not to be used at a fancy dress ball, but rather to be recycled as accessories in a crime, mightn't they?

So wouldn't it be safer to go straight to a professional supplier of costumes? A theatrical costumier, perhaps?

Though even then, wouldn't it look a bit odd if you strolled into Nathan's or wherever, and said: "A dozen assorted police uniforms, please, officers and men", and they said: "Oh? Is this for The Bill, then?" and you said: "No, actually, it's, um, for the police chorus in The Pirates of Penzance" and they said: "Oh, you'll be wanting Victorian uniforms then!" and you said hastily: "No, no - it's a modern-dress production - modern uniforms, please!"?

All in all, don't you think the best thing to do would be to bypass the whole dodgy supply-and-demand chain, and to make the uniforms yourself?

So would you be surprised to learn that recently the British criminal fraternity have actually gone to China and set up a factory unit which does nothing but manufacture police uniforms for use in British-based crime?

And not only fake police uniforms, but fake traffic warden uniforms, fake AA patrolman uniforms and fake customs officer uniforms? Which are increasingly being used in modern, cutting-edge British crime?

Makes you proud to be British, doesn't it, knowing that your home-grown crime is safe in the hands of experienced and skilled international professionals?

This statement has been prepared and paid for by the British Crime Industry. And remember, the next time you see a person in police uniform, be very, very careful. He might actually be a policeman.