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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 September 2005, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Aborigine 'Alco' slur is avoided
Aboriginals
Australia's Aboriginals are among the country's poorest communities
Australian police working in Aboriginal communities have withdrawn new uniforms after they appeared to poke fun at many Aborigines' problems with alcohol.

New South Wales police ordered 50 green vests for Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers - known as ACLOs.

But the vests arrived bearing a much more insulting acronym - ALCO, used all over Australia as slang for alcoholic.

The error was missed until it was almost too late, prompting embarrassed apologies from senior police chiefs.

ACLOs are deployed to be a visible presence in Aboriginal communities with the aim of calming trouble and easing tensions.

Instead officers almost took to the streets clad in a luminous insult aimed squarely at the people they hoped to placate.

'No offence, mate'

Although the original purchase order did spell the acronym correctly, it was misspelled by the manufacturer at some point during an exchange of e-mails.

No-one spotted the error on receipt, and the vests were distributed to individual officers, who reported the error back to Sydney.

Redfern, Sydney
The Sydney area of Redfern was rocked by Aboriginal violence
A spokeswoman for Police Commissioner Ken Moroney said he was annoyed by the mistake and apologised for any offence caused to Aborigines.

"Uniform services accepts the blame that they did not inspect the writing on the vests prior to them being dispatched," she said.

"There was no intention to offend anybody. It was a simple printing error." Australia's indigenous Aborigines make up many of the poorest communities across the country.

Alcohol abuse is widespread and police are often called to intervene in violent situations.


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