Tuesday, April 01, 2014

New message needed for police: you can run - but you can’t hide...

IT IS EASY when allegations of police malpractice drop fast as autumn leaves to write off all 120,000 men and women in blue as contaminated by the wrong-doing of those who are caught out: Stephen Lawrence; Hillsborough; plebgate; undercover officers having sex with political activists; miscarriages of justice during the miners’ strike.

This catalogue of the headline cases, outlined this week in his first report by Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, has damaged the reputation of the police in England and Wales to an extent that 30 years ago most would have considered impossible.

But the root of the disillusion lies in the past unreal faith in the police. Decades ago those who had little to do with the police cherished a belief that the people who donned the serge uniforms and swore an oath of allegiance to the sovereign were a race apart: incorruptible, honest, solely motivated by the public good, brave, high-minded.

The truth, experienced by many on the receiving end of police practices such as ‘verballing’ - inventing incriminating remarks and producing them as evidence – was that officers were, and always had been, as capable of misbehaviour as the rest of us. But, because they were trusted by the establishment, they were subject to limited oversight – and thus malpractice was allowed to flourish. Full story...

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