Police need clearer guidelines on when they can deploy sarcasm or razor-sharp wit, according to a watchdog.
The Inspectorate for the Constabulary acknowledged that some younger officers would need training before attempting to use such powerful weapons, but claimed that even the threat of a withering put-down would be enough to keep most civilians in line.
“We’re witnessing a tremendous increase in civil unrest”, admitted Chief Inspector Ian Hills, “and that’s down to a lack of willingness to resort to ‘Does your mum know you’re out?’.”
“A choice personal remark delivered through a loud hailer can even disarm a rioter with their fingers in their ears going ‘la la la’.”
“Especially if you can make it into a chant and get everyone to join in.”
Civil rights groups are demanding safeguards for members of the public caught up in running jokes.
“We want an assurance that if there are tears, the officer nearest to the victim will apologise, declare that they went too far, and admit they were only guessing about ‘just what their mum said’.”
Derek Lucas of civil rights group ‘Act Your Age’ thinks more research should be done.
“From my experience, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can cause serious long-term self-esteem issues”, announced Lucas.
“Even the softest of ‘I suppose you were just putting that back down, were you son?’ can deeply wound a thin-skinned activist.”
“There needs to be a team of counsellors on hand, ready to offer a bit of kettling.”
But its not just protestors that are at risk of being cut to shreds by unfriendly quick-fire, with some police officers fearing significant collateral damage.
“When Dave heckled a fat lad stealing crisps from Tesco, I thought he was having another go at my glandular problem”, admitted PC Howell.
“I know I deployed the word ‘sorry’ as soon as I could, but I still feel bad about tazering him in the face.”