BBC’s ‘Bodyguard’ to entice a new generation to Counter-Terrorism Policing

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has experienced a spike in the number of people visiting its recruitment page as a result of the BBC drama Bodyguard 

Sep 24, 2018
By Serena Lander

The MPS Counter Terrorism Unit said that it hopes the excitement can attract a new generation of bodyguards and specialist staff to join the force.  

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi, the UK’s most senior female counter terror officer, said: “While the on-screen action bears little resemblance to the reality of fighting the terrorist threat in the UK, there’s no doubt that the show has captured the imagination of the public and generated huge interest in counter-terrorism policing. 

“We have seen thousands of people visiting our recruitment page as a result of Bodyguard and although the drama stretches reality to the limit, the programme does capture the passion and drive of our officers and staff as they work to keep the public safe.” 

The drama – which concluded last night (September 23) – attracted more than ten million viewers to follow fictional personal protection officer (PPO) as he defends the Home Secretary and works to uncover her attacker. 

Ms D’Orsi disagreed with the drama’s exaggeration of the relationship between the police and MI5, which she said was the “cornerstone” of counter-terror strategy in the UK.  

“Following last year’s tragic attacks in London and Manchester, the police and intelligence community worked hand-in-glove to keep our communities safe,” she said.  

However, she disagreed with critics of the show who argued that the Bodyguard overrepresented female and black and minority ethnic officers within the force. According to Ms D’Orsi, when the show was being filmed, there were “at least three female officers at the very highest level within CT Command”.  

“As long as you have the right skills and a lot of dedication you can rise all the way to the top, regardless of your background,” she added. 

“Are we completely reflective of the communities we serve? Not yet, but we are working hard to make it better.  In the 16 years I have been in the police service I have seen us take huge steps towards bringing in the type of workforce diversity which makes counter-terrorism policing better equipped to serve the public.” 

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Ray although it lacked some accuracies of the role, he recognised the excitement the show portrayed. 

“There’s no doubt that I have seen things I never thought I’d see and been to places I never thought I’d travel to, but my day-to-day life bears no resemblance to the programme,” he said.  

“Rather than work in isolation like the lead character, I’m part of a large and committed PPO team working to completely protect our principals – and it’s fair to say you wouldn’t last long in our team if you cross the line to form too close a relationship with the principal you were protecting. 

“But being able to assess threat and risk and have the courage to step in when you sense danger, that is real and is a big part of my job.” 

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