Recent events such as Hillsborough, the death of Ian Tomlinson and the now infamous Plebgate affair involving the former cabinet minister, Andrew Mitchell have caused the British public to question whether or not police officers can be trusted.
TheOpinionSite.org has to join those who are now asking, “Can the British police be trusted ever again?”
The revelations regarding Hillsborough and the appalling tragedy that took place during a football match were shocking enough in that senior police officers doctored evidence and statements, officers seem to have either lied or to have been forced to misrepresent events and over 1000 police officers are still to be questioned.
In the case of the death of Ian Tomlinson, not only did the officer responsible for Tomlinson’s death deny any involvement but once again, senior officers were ready to defend the perpetrator despite very clear and conclusive video and other evidence.
In the latest publicised infraction of the truth by police officers, the so-called “Plebgate affair”, officers belonging to the Police Federation lied about their meeting with the former and ousted Cabinet minister, Andrew Mitchell.
In the above case, it was only the fact that Mister Mitchell had taken advice from his wife which resulted in him recording the conversation with the police officers concerned.
Had it not been for this recorded evidence, some of which has been broadcast in the media, the truth – that police officers had lied – would never have been known.
So, should the police be trusted?
Given all the above, it is not unreasonable to ask whether police officers generally are untrustworthy and are simply a bunch of power-hungry liars who will say whatever they need to say in order to further their own ends or whether it is merely a case of a few ‘bad apples’ – or indeed whether it is only senior officers who are at fault.
The police in Britain carry out their duties by the consent of the British people and the alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear when it is necessary to ask ‘Can the police be trusted?’
The evidence suggests that they cannot be trusted; certainly not with the huge power they hold over the rest of us.
So concerned are politicians who wrongly – in the view of TheOpinionSite.org have continued to give the police more and more powers over the rest of us – that even the Prime Minister was forced during last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions to admit that the police had lied over the Andrew Mitchell affair.
The Home Affairs Select Committee have summoned three chief constables to attend Parliament this week in order that they may be questioned as to why no disciplinary procedures or action has been taken regarding the police officers who lied about their meeting with Andrew Mitchell.
In fairness, one should not pre-judge the outcome of such an interrogation – unlike so many police officers who, when investigating a crime and questioning a suspect, often pre-judge everything – but it is hard to see how our police can or indeed should ever be trusted again, given the evidence in the case of Andrew Mitchell and that in all the other cases of police dishonesty.
Recent surveys carried out by two different newspapers have shown that the public’s trust in Britain’s police force is waning.
A poll for the Sunday Times showed that only 66% of the public trust the police in Britain (when it used to be near 90%) whilst a poll for the Guardian showed that virtually no young people trusted the police at all.
Previous polls have showed that in the view of the public – and TheOpinionSite.org – the only people less trustworthy than police officers in Britain are politicians themselves; hardly surprising when one considers that the main interest of any politician is to remain in power…and to hell with everybody else.
The real question of course when considering the Andrew Mitchell case is, “If they can do this to a Cabinet minister, what can they do to an ordinary member of the public?”
That is indeed a very valid question given the extraordinary amount of power that the police in Britain have been given by successive governments over the years and also, as one very experienced senior probation officer told TheOpinionSite.org, “The police in Britain have only one mission in life: Arrest and bring to court.”
The ease with which policeman in Britain can stitch up anyone suspected of drug offences, sexual offences and even terrorism has been facilitated by the careful and calculated politically driven erosion of the rights of defendants, the removal in sexual offences of the need for corroborative evidence and the persistent mis-education and manipulation of public sentiment (through the generation of fear) by politicians of all parties over the last 20 years.
If the police in Britain were subject to the requirements and assessment of a British probation officer, the police would be regarded as being “very high risk”; an assessment the probation service is only too ready to apply to sex offenders, terrorists, those involved with drugs and anyone else often convicted on the very minimum of uncorroborated evidence.
TheOpinionSite.org is regrettably forced to the conclusion that it would be absolute madness for anyone in the UK to now take any police officer at his or her word.
The policing minister, Damian Green claims that there is to be a culture change in the higher ranks of the police that will solve the problem of corrupt, dishonest and lying officers.
Mr Green relies on his ‘direct entry’ system to be introduced next year and which will allow anyone with suitable experience and qualifications to enter the police at a senior level right up to chief constable, without first having to be on the beat for several years.
The fact that Green suggests likely candidates for direct entry will probably come in the form of former head teachers, social workers and army officers does not exactly fill one with confidence.
TheOpinionSite.org would suggest a much better solution to the problem of policeman who regularly tell lies in order to protect their own position or that of their colleagues:
Appoint a judge to oversee every police investigation, just as they do in Europe. That way, the police – as well as the suspect – are always under investigation during the course of any police enquiry.
It might also be a good idea for politicians to severely limit the ‘professional judgement‘ of police officers, given that their judgement has frequently proved to be anything but professional.
Regrettably, it seems certain that the police in Britain will never be regarded as ‘trustworthy’ all the time they have so much power; power – some would say – that they do not need and which they abuse on a daily basis.
It is also sad that those police officers who are professional and who can be trusted will nevertheless be regarded as barefaced liars from now on by very many people, even though they may actually be perfectly honest – at present anyway.
The problem is, whichever way you look at it, any newly recruited officer – no matter how well-intentioned – will very soon be battered into submission by their more dishonest and more experienced colleagues.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that serious limitations must be placed on police operational independence, much greater oversight and scrutiny from politicians (other than the Home Secretary) must be applied and a supervisory judge must be involved in any police investigation that could result in a lengthy prison sentence for the suspect.
These are the minimum requirements that are necessary if the police in Britain are ever to be trusted again by those most likely to come into contact with them; and that will not include David Cameron’s beloved ‘hard working’ conservative voters living in leafy suburbs who apparently hate the poor and those less fortunate than themselves and who will always support the police – even when police officers are exposed as liars, manipulators and power-mongers.
That is of course until those very same voters or someone in their family are arrested for something – and then find themselves being stitched-up like a kipper by the same police officers they are always so anxious to defend.
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