Suzanne, on right, in advisory mode.

Tales from the front line: making 'Grime and Punishment'

EHP Suzanne Lane talks about working with a camera crew over her shoulder.
19 September 2019 , EHN magazine

Suzanne Lane, EH officer at North Hertfordshire District Council, appeared in the Channel 5 series Grime and Punishment. She told EHN what it was like making the documentary:

"My manager told us at a meeting that we’d been approached by the company that makes Grime and Punishment for Channel 5. Would anyone be up for being filmed? Everyone put their heads down.

"We were reminded that it would be good to promote our role as EH officers, not only as a profession, but also within North Hertfordshire District Council. So while I didn’t leap at the chance, I did offer to give the public an insight into our work.

"The company contacted me to try to find an inspection that was suitable. They said they’d be in the background, but it seemed obvious from the name of the programme that they wanted somewhere particularly bad. This put us in a bit of a quandary because most places aren’t like that on our patch. Even if it they were, it might lead to a prosecution and I didn’t necessarily want a camera crew over my shoulder when trying to collect evidence or cautioning people.

"So I picked a fairly new business that had been brought to our attention through a couple of complaints about rubbish at the back of the shop. It was a fast food place and I’d visited it initially in an informal advisory way. Then I’d gone back to do the inspection and found they hadn’t followed up on my advice.

"When the camera crew accompanied me I knew the place wasn’t going to be spick and span, but I did hope the conditions would be better than we actually found.

"When I was doing the inspection, I switched into my normal work mode and they got to see my tougher side, rather than the advisory version.

"I did wonder if it was going to be aired because it was all about systems, paperwork and the labelling of food in fridges. There wasn’t much grime, but there was punishment and I think they liked the fact the business was reluctant to do even the minimal things.

"One colleague said she didn’t normally watch those kinds of programmes because sometimes the people on them aren’t the best but she felt it was a good advert for an EHP. That’s pretty much what everyone has said, and my 10-year-old daughter told me she was very proud."

Grime and Punishment (S1 Ep4) is available until 3 July 2020.

This comes from an article that appeared in the September issue of EHN.

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