Why dont lawyers and the police speak like normal people?

Not long after pointing out the inadequacies (intenational or otherwise) of Alison Saunders’s grasp of the English language, I came on a new example of the way lawyers and police makes themselves sound totally implausible.

A woman was charged over her role in a row over a garden fence. The case (the details don’t really matter) was thrown out after 15 minutes. Yet the police and Crown Prosecution Service went into the most extraordinary verbal contortions to defend their actions.

I hope you find them as unconvincing as I did.

Defending the decision to pursue the case, a CPS spokesman said: “The allegation was that the damage to the tree went well beyond pruning and that it had been hacked back to little more than a stump. The compliant was the result of an ongoing and acrimonious dispute between the neighbours.

“A caution was not available as no admissions to the offending were made and so the police took the decision to charge.”

Note the tedious obsessive use of the passive. This makes the comments sound defensive and evasive – they would have been so much clearer and sounded honest if they had been delivered in sentences with subjects, verbs and objects.

And the South Yorkshire police were no better. A spokesman said about the case:  “A thorough investigation was conducted that resulted in a woman being charged and brought before the courts.”

Why couldn’t he just say: “We investigated the incident thoroughly, decided to charge Ms Gaynor (the woman involved) and the CPS brought the case before the courts.”

Why do lawyers and the police so often use language that makes them sound so defensive and which suggests they have something to hide.me


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