Last night I had the misfortune to watch BBC Scotland's much hyped "Hash in the Attic" documentary on home grown cannabis production. Or should I say the Scottish Police Service's documentary?
Because rarely have I watched such a blatant piece of establishment placed drivel of my TV set. "Propagandist" would be too mild a word to describe un-sourced assertion after assertion made in this programme - "a £100 million pound industry", ( apparently more than the total value of all Scottish vegetable production!) , and one with, of course, direct links to organised crime, illegal people trafficking and prostitution. Links which, in the view of the closing and unchallenged remarks of Scotland's top drugs busting plod, "should make people think long and had before they roll their next joint"
Aside from facts to back up any of this - but loads of police supplied video - the most obvious thing totally absent this "investigative report" was any alternative perspective, any questioning of why busting into people homes to seize hash plants was a police priority? ( I had to laugh as a council scheme in Leven was described by the BBC reporter as "suburbia"!)
And whilst we were told, totally unchallenged, the police view on all the valuable work they were doing to combat this evil "£100million pound industry", we got no information at all about the cost of the policing operation, its conviction rates, and the overall point of it - especially in light of epidemic in terms of hard drug dealing, to say nothing of alcohol abuse. particularly by under 18s.
But it was as a piece of investigative journalism, rather than the issues it purported to report upon, that most concerned me about this film. Is this police driven establishment propaganda the best BBC Scotland can come up with? And where was the "due impartiality? In the light of the litany of police driven urban myths to justify many of their high profile operations - "the 25,000 sex slaves" one most recently busted wide open by some real investigative reporting in The Guardian, is BBC Scotland operating in some sort of bubble of naivety, sold hook line and sinker this police placed mince ? In the same week as the UK Government's main drugs advisor was sacked for speaking some sense on the "war against drugs" it is genuinely depressing to find BBC Scotland, not just so craven, but so far off the pace.