CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

It’s obvious that there is widespread distrust of the police

07 August, 2020

‘It appears rare for there to be any adverse consequences for the police’

• YOUR editorial (Comment, July 30) complains of “folded-arms obduracy” by the police about the terrifying experience inflicted on a 12-year-old boy and his family.

In the past four years alone, the Metropolitan Police Service have paid out £19.6million in damages to victims of malpractice. That does not include undisclosed legal costs.

Do such gigantic sums suggest an organisation that very occasionally gets it wrong or something far worse starting with indifference?

When Lord Scarman reported on the Brixton riots of 1981 he called for an independent system of investigation of complaints.

The then government refused this on grounds of cost. Forty years later, the police still largely investigate themselves with limited outside oversight and predictable results.

The value of a trusted police force is enormous to any community. But, at present, there is little incentive for the police to be too concerned about malpractice.

The money paid out comes from the public whether directly or by insurance premiums.

It’s all too easy to point to the good things the police do and close ranks employing bureaucratic parrying manoeuvres to fend off criticism or action against them or as a last resort pay out for things which should never have happened.

It appears rare for there to be any adverse consequences for the police themselves whatever they do. It’s obvious that there is widespread distrust of the police corrosively eating away at confidence in and acceptance of their service.

Independent investigation of complaints is essential to restore confidence and indicate to the police themselves that they cannot assume that the system will ensure that no matter what they do their own organisation will fight tooth and nail to protect them.

The current system is not fit for a modern civilised state.

MICHAEL NEWLAND,
NW5

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