Last Night’s TV – Vice Squad

by Lynn Connolly


Channel Five hosted this very enlightening, and let’s face it, voyeuristically entertaining show, which was all about the work of the Metropolitan Police’s Vice Unit. And I must say, I loved every salacious minute of it, even despite the fact that so many of the faces were ‘fuzzed out’, I began to suspect I had cataracts.

Vicariously, we got to take a peek behind the doors of those sex shops I’ve always been uber curious about but never had the bottle to go into, lest my elderly neighbour happen to see me, so to watch the comings and goings – pun intended – was fascinating.

And the phrase ‘comings and goings’ might be taken quite literally in Soho where it seems the sexual practise of ‘watersports’ is the going that causes the coming. Ewww. There was no sign of a jetski or a yacht either, but there were lots of magazines dedicated to this form of ‘pleasure’.

But as one of the unit’s undercover coppers told us in whispered tones, the law regarding these watersports is a tad odd. Apparently, it’s not legal to sell magazines or images of someone peeing on someone else, but it’s tickety boo to sell images of people peeing in the street for instance… again, ewwww.

Having explained that crucial difference in the law, he remarked of the shop’s stock of such mags, “There’s nothing here to worry about really.” Super.

Anyway, throughout the show, we got to see ‘toys’ the size of your average AK47 – and I really can’t begin to imagine who might use the things, other than the Jolly Green Giant’s wife maybe – along with bondage gear and equipment for the conducting of any one of a dozen fantasies.

But if your thing is midgets, it seems it’s illegal to film midgets in flagrante delicto, so if you were giving it some thought, don’t, because you’ll be contravening the Obscene Publications Act.

However, there was, inevitably, a dark side to all these goings on in Soho, and the Vice Unit have a non-stop job on their hands to keep so called ‘clip joints’ out of business and save naïve men from the clutches of scantily clad ladies who’ll lure them in, then introduce their new friend to a massive man mountain of a bloke who’ll rob the unsuspecting punter of everything he has on him.

They also offer shelter and a way-out to the sex trade workers they find who may not be part of the industry out of choice. And of course, they warn or arrest some of the men who lurk shadily in the area and send them off home, oftentimes with a very embarrassing flea in their ear.

And these coppers are all too often on the wrong end of some pretty nasty abuse, but I was astonished to see the fuzzed-out faces of two 14 year old girls being carted off by the police while yelling obscenities at them that were worthy of an old lag three times their age…

“Police are wa**ers. You’re going to rot in f***ing hell” were among some of the more tame barrages of expletives from these children. It may well be a sign that I’m getting very old, but that scene had me shaking my head and muttering, “What is the world coming to?”

Overall, this show wasn’t unique in concept of course, we’ve had any number of police fly-on-the-wall shows, but it was, as far as I know, the first time we’ve followed members of the Vice Unit as they go about their business of controlling porn and the sex trade, and I have to say, it did make for absorbing, if embarrassing at times, watching. The embarrassment factor for me was at its peak when my son sat next to me on the sofa as a parade of ‘dongs’ were on-screen…

He beat a hasty retreat and I pretended to find something very interesting to look at on the floor until he’d gone…

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.