Nanny, you will recall, many moons ago banned Gollies on the basis that they were deemed to be racist.
However, sometimes with Nanny simply banning things does not quite give her the "kick" that she used to get in her younger days. Therefore she has to resort to more draconian measures in order to feel the same "rush".
Nanny's chums in the West Mercia police were in need a of a little "rush" themselves recently, evidently arresting criminals doesn't quite provide the same buzz that it used to. Therefore they decided to arrest some Gollies, who were "loitering with intent" in a shop window.
The dolls were seized from the window of a shop on suspicion of causing "alarm, harassment or distress" under Section 5 of the Public Order Act. I can't quite see the scenes of "alarm and distress" that a few stuffed toys can have caused, but evidently as the result of one complaint from some sad individual the police felt that they had to act; you know that they always act very quickly when it comes to robberies and other acts of criminality.
The dolls were on display in the window of Pettifer's hardware and general store in Bromyard Herefordshirewhen, owned by Donald Reynolds.
Mr Reynolds feels that the entire event was "a ridiculous farce".
He was having lunch on February 12, when the police called. He was asked to bring a key to the shop, where he found an officer.
"He said, 'I've come about the gollies. We've had a complaint they are causing offence'.
I couldn't believe it."
The officer then clambered into the window display and seized the dolls. I would note at this stage that it is perfectly legal to sell Golliwoggs. However, Nanny warned Mr Reynolds that putting them on display could be judged offensive.
Mr Reynolds had bought 100 Golliwoggs in three sizes, and they had been selling like "hot cakes".
Mr Reynolds added:
"When I realised what the police wanted with me that day I thought, this is society gone mad.
When the police said they had received a complaint
I thought I was on Candid Camera."
Needless to say, the police eventually realised that they had acted stupidly, and returned the Gollys.
The police said:
"Officers consulted appropriate partner agencies and the Crown Prosecution Service.
No offences have been identified and the items will be returned.
Suitable advice about the sensitivities of placing such items on display is being provided to the store owner.
West Mercia Constabulary considers the matter to be closed."
Note the phrase "no offences have been identified". In other words they acted without there ever being a breach of the law, but they looked very hard to try to find one!
Can the police, or rather should the police, be able to do that?
Is it their role to act as "thought police"?
I think not!
The police, having given the Gollys a large amount of publicity and drawn everyone's attention to the matter, can now be content in the knowledge that the Gollys will be publicly sold at an auction for charity.
Nanny at her finest!