Essex Police Chief Defends Pub Raid Over Golliwog Dolls
No Regrets Despite CPS Dropping Case
Chief Constable BJ Harrington of Essex Police expressed no regrets regarding a police raid on a pub that had golliwog dolls displayed behind the bar. The raid took place in April at the White Hart Inn in Grays, Essex, which has since closed down and removed the dolls. Although the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) later announced that no further action would be taken, Chief Constable Harrington defended the investigation.
Defending the Police Action
In an interview with BBC Essex, Chief Constable Harrington asserted that the police did not overreact to the situation. He explained that when a crime allegation is made, it is their duty to investigate it proportionally and gather evidence. The evidence is then presented to the Crown Prosecution Service, which assesses the case based on evidence and public interest. Harrington emphasized that the police acted within their responsibilities and made no apologies for their actions.
Initial Complaint and Seizure
The investigation stemmed from a complaint by a member of the public on February 24, stating that the golliwog dolls displayed in Benice and Chris Ryley’s pub caused alarm and distress. On April 4, the police seized the dolls from behind the bar, leading to the Campaign for Real Ale removing the pub from its Good Beer Guide the following week. Mrs. Ryley, the landlord, had displayed the collection, which was donated by her late aunt and customers, for nearly a decade.
Subsequent Events and Closure
The situation escalated further when the pub was vandalized on April 16, prompting a separate police investigation. Mrs. Ryley eventually closed the pub on May 1, citing a boycott by brewing companies and the maintenance firm Innserve.
Background and Controversy Over Golliwog Dolls
Golliwog dolls have a long history, with differing opinions on their symbolism. Originally created by Florence Kate Upton in 1895, they were a popular mascot for products like Robertson’s jam in the UK. However, by the 1980s, they were widely regarded as offensive and racially insensitive caricatures of black people.
Robertson’s, a marmalade firm, removed the golliwog logo from its preserve jars in 2002 following complaints from campaigners. The debate continues, with some seeing golliwogs as a nostalgic childhood memory and others considering them symbols of a racist past.
A YouGov poll conducted last year showed varying opinions on the acceptability of selling or displaying golliwog dolls, with 53% finding it acceptable and 27% disagreeing. Regarding whether it was racist to do so, 63% said it was not, while 17% believed it was.