Police Camera Action

Ever since the pilot episode when Sergeant Barnett was called out to collect Bobby, the police have played an important in recent year, and with Jack, one of the latest in the long line of cops on the show, leaving we take a look back at those that have gone before and those that will be taking over him, now he is six fee under.

As mentioned above, Bob Barnett was the first man of the law in Summer Bay, and he was very much of that era of the show. A slightly round middle-aged police officer dealing with break-in's and the like, none of which would be troubling Scotland Yard, though later on he had deal with Dodge's arson amongst other things as the show began to stretch itself as it consolidated itself into the TV schedules. In 1989, Chris Hale made his first appearance and though he never made the main cast, he was a fixture of the bay for the next seven years. Such was his importance to the Bay that he was given his old big exit storyline to tie in with the tragic death of Shane Parrish earlier that year. When Simon Broadhurst did some investigating, he discovered that there was a reason that Sergeant Hale didn't want the truth about the hit and run incident that Shane had suffered in 1995, Hale was the driver who had hit Shane and had been paying Angel money through guilt. In the middle of Hale's seven year stint Nick Parrish was a main cast member and also served as a policeman. However, Nick suffers from the fact that he comes in that period in the early 90's that is probably the least covered of all Home and Away's eras. However, whilst Nick was never the most interesting of characters, however him being in the police force didn't adversly effect him to the point where he was never seen trying to solve a crime.

Striking a blow back for equal opportunities, Terri Garner became the bays female cop for a while, with perhaps her major storyline being the occasion when she shot Saul Bennett, which is kind of the stock standard police officer storyline in soaps and one that we would revisit when Jack arrived in the Bay. When the Nashes came to the Bay, the much older Terri got into a relationship with Tom Nash, whose father Joel decided to give up teacher and rejoin the police force. The late nineties probably saw crime begin at least to play a larger part in the day to day life of the show, with Robert Perez terrorising Gypsy and the Nash family being one of the greater storylines during the time. Around the same time Inspector Carter came in. However there was no police gear and dirty work for him, rather a nifty suit and an interviewing technique that would strike fear into the most hardened of criminals, with murders, company fraud, rapes and hostage situations to deal with. Ironically it was probably the biggest crimes commited that saw Carter leave with him bowing out in the middle of the Angela Rusell mystery storyline, where he was replaced by some city cops, probably more well rehearsed in these sorts of crimes. After they left, Pia Corelli took over a short stint, setting Jesse's heart a flutter for a short time, before she disappeared and in came Peter Baker, who took crime fighting on the show to a whole new level.

Brought in to solve the Felix-murder case, he soon found himself dealing with the deranged Sarah Lewis. In all forms of crime fighting he actually appeared to fail and a knock over the head from Sarah put him in a coma for 3 months. However, he was soon up and about to fight a much bigger problem, The Summer Bay Stalker. Defusing bombs, chases around warehouses, nothing was beyond Peter and just in time, he discovered that Zoe McCallister was actually Eve Jacobsen and saved Sally from her clutches. From then on, he was a bit in and out, but he got engaged to fellow police officer Clare Brody. As Peter was leaving, Jack was arriving and before he had got his foot in the door he had already got on the wrong side of Martha and was being chased out again by a father whose daughter he had shot.

Jack's arrival though saw a shift in the shows storylines though. Whilst Joel and Nick had been in the police force, but just as likely to be seen at home or in the diner doing nothing, a lot of Jack's scenes were in the police station solving high level crimes. First off he discovered that Corey was poisoning Irene, saving Martha from his clutches and then set about finding out about The Believers. When Peter returned the following year, there was the Josh West murder, Stalker Mk.2, the Summer Bay Arsonist etc. etc and discovering the Peter was still alive. What made it worse that throughout all this there was one clear strand, Jack was completely incompetent at his job and just as Bevan Lee appeared to have got Jack out of the police force, the new writers found they had nothing to do with him and put him back in the job, which ultimately has killed him.

Throughout this police heavy era, we were also introduced to a supporting cast of police officers, each with their own personalities and all apparently more competent than Jack, including Fitzgerald, McGrath and Harper. Lara Fitzgerald especially got a cult following and in a bizarre appearance this year turned up pregnant. This year we have seen Charlie arrive as well as Angelo and though there has been some cop action, it doesn't seem to been as heavy as it once was. Of course, that may change with Jack being killed in action.

So, what to make of the use of police in Home and Away. Done correctly it is effective, but over the past few years it has been overdone, coming close to a cop drama in the theme of The Bill or Blue Heelers. Every so often someone will break the law and some greater power will need to be called in, but the drama of car chases shouldn't be at the expense of scenes exploring the relationships which are the bread and butter of any soap.