Secret Policeman’s Ball 2014 – Response to Feedback

March 18, 2014 in main by Debbie White

I’d like to start by thanking everyone who came to the Secret Policeman’s Ball 2014 and helped us to raise so much money for such a good cause. It’s the biggest event in the GU Amnesty calendar and we’re always very happy to see it so well attended.
One thing we did a little differently this year was that after the event, we released an online survey form to get your feedback on how you feel it went. A huge thank you to everyone who filled this in; we’ve now compiled and gone through the responses and as a result of this, we wanted to let you all know our responses to some of the criticisms levied at the event. If you have further responses to make, or didn’t get a chance to fill in the survey, please contact us on and we’d be happy to discuss any feedback (both negative and positive) further.
We’re really glad that the majority of attendees who gave us feedback enjoyed the event; most of the acts were well received, the merchandise and snacks stall appreciated (so appreciated, in fact, that we ran out of popcorn after the first act!) and the decorations admired. The photo petition was well engaged with – thank you to everyone who took part and to our photographers!
Despite this, no event is perfect and we feel it would be wrong of us to neglect some of the criticisms that emerged from the feedback, and we wanted to address these as transparently as possible.
Many people pointed out the issues with microphones; this particularly affected some of the sketches, and we apologise that some attendees were unable to hear and fully enjoy the comedy as a result. We did look into hiring individual mikes for our performers due to this same issue arising last year. However, the cost we were quoted for this was prohibitive; we wanted to ensure that as much money was raised for Amnesty International as possible and thus decided against this extra expense. This will be something we consider again next year, perhaps looking into cheaper ways of sourcing the necessary equipment.
We were asked whether it would be possible to provide a line up list so that the audience were aware of what acts were coming up. We appreciate that, particularly due to the length of the show, knowing what acts are coming next would be helpful for some people and so this is something we would like to consider for next year, with the caveat that often last minute line-up changes occur making this difficult! For example, this year, the running order was changed just half an hour before doors opened.
The major issue that came out of the feedback, and something that we as the organising committee felt, was that the content of some of the acts was inappropriate and, at times, offensive. We apologise unreservedly to those of you who raised issues with the style of some of the humour and would like to make absolutely clear that we do not tolerate racism, sexism, ableism or homophobia, and that ‘comedy’ which employs these elements is not fitting for an Amnesty event. We shall be passing the feedback onto our compere and discussing ways to approach the line up next year, with an assurance that those comedians responsible for the offensive content will not be invited back. We hope you understand the difficulties involved in vetting a line-up, particularly when acts have performed at the Secret Policeman’s Ball in previous years without including such inappropriate content. That being said, there is no excuse for racist, sexist, ableist or homophobic jokes and we will be addressing these issues for next year. We would like to express our wholehearted disappointment that this occurred as we believe that Amnesty’s values of equality are not furthered by this style of comedy.
Again, we would like to thank you all for coming and hope to see you again next year – please e-mail us about any concerns you have and we will work hard to make sure that the seventh Secret Policeman’s Ball is a huge success!

GU Amnesty