According to a report into police corruption in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, at least a third of the public believe that the police have a “problem with corruption”. In particular, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) says there is a lack of clarity about the boundaries in relationships between police and third parties, especially the media.
Although the report stops short of saying that corruption is endemic, it makes clear that there is a lack of consistency between forces in different parts of the UK and that there seems to be differing ideas as to what is acceptable. Unfortunately, as the review was undertaken by a policeman on behalf of the government, the report is perhaps not as revealing as it might have been had it been undertaken by a truly independent body.
We know for example that prison inspections tend to be honest, often blunt and are always straightforward as they are carried out by a fully independent Chief Inspector of Prisons and Probation whereas the same cannot be said about reviews undertaken by those who are, by definition, part of the establishment itself. One cannot help therefore but feel that this report might have gone much further and may have been much more thorough had it not been compiled by a policeman.
Inspector Roger Baker, who led the review, said: “While we found no evidence of endemic corruption in police service relationships, we did find significant variations between forces and authorities in how they defined what is acceptable and what is not.”
TheOpinionSite.org has written before about police corruption and has pointed out the connection between corruption and the arrogance of police officers, many of whom give the impression that they think they are above and beyond the Law.
This latest review was ordered, unwillingly one suspects, by Home Secretary Theresa May in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that has revealed what many people to believe to be high-level police corruption. What the home secretary seems not to have realised is that corruption seems to be rampant amongst police officers, as can be discovered if one searches on Google for incidents where police have been jailed for unlawful activity.
The report by HMIC was concentrating mainly on the connection between the police and the media and although not specifically stated, especially where forces have blurred the lines as to what is permissible in the way of mutual favours and possible manipulation of the media.
The relationship between the media and police in the UK is and has always been symbiotic with the police using, for example, the tabloid press to “encourage other victims to come forward” while the press using leaked information given to them by the authorities to sell an exaggerated or plainly dishonest, inaccurate story.
This has been brought to the attention of the public again in the Leveson Enquiry where unscrupulous journalists have stated that they are ‘proud’ of their sting operations, often citing themselves as having been responsible for ‘the jailing of paedophiles’ and ‘revealing the unacceptable behaviour of role models’, ‘protecting children’ and ‘unmasking wrong-doing by public figures’.
What all that sanctimonious rubbish above actually means is ‘using entrapment, leaked confidential information and illegal activities to sell newspapers to people that should know better than to buy them, not least because such papers are usually full of inaccurate accounts.’
With a third of the public believing that the police have a problem with corruption, public confidence in the police is draining away at an alarming rate. With officers unable to be sacked, getting younger, coming straight from university and having little or no experience of real life, it is hardly surprising that many are so arrogant and unsympathetic to those who do not share their God-like status.
Police officers in the UK have more power over the public than in almost any country in Europe. Couple this with a succession of governments over the last 30 years intent on offloading responsibility from ministers to the police and you have a recipe for disaster, a disaster that has now become reality with police officers being jailed for everything from possession of Class A drugs to sexual assault and downloading child porn.
It would be surprising indeed, given these circumstances, if the public were not suspicious of the police given their miserable record. Criticism over tactics in the form of “kettling”, their failure during last summer’s riots, the resignation from the Metropolitan Police of its commissioner and his deputy, the appalling display of apparently false protests of innocence during Parliamentary Select Committee enquiries…it just goes on and on.
Many people believe that all police officers have nothing but contempt for the Law that they supposedly represent but in truth, there are also some good officers that are not tainted. Nevertheless, when police investigate an alleged rape or instance of alleged child abuse, they will do anything and everything to manufacture evidence, genuine or otherwise, in order to persuade the CPS to get the case into court, secure in the knowledge that a jury is more likely to convict than not when deliberations are based on emotion rather than cold hard fact.
It is in these cases where the media is used, often involving the use of leaked information, to try to persuade anyone else with a desire for compensation or even a personal grudge to come forward, usually referring to ‘victims’ when at that stage of the investigation, absolutely no one has yet been proved to be a victim at all.
Indeed, if the evidence were limited to that of fact rather than hearsay or ‘professional judgement’ and opinion, it would perhaps eventually be proved that there never was a ‘victim’ in the first place, something that the police and CPS always want to avoid.
The appalling treatment of Christopher Jefferies by both the police and the media during the Joanna Yeates murder investigation is a case in point. The police must have known that what many tabloids were printing was blatantly untrue but chose to do nothing about it, preferring instead to use Jeffries as a fall-guy, just in case they couldn’t pin the murder on anyone else.
This manipulation of the public by the police through the media, assisted by sales-hungry editors, is as much a crime as that committed by an officer who accepts a ticket to a major sporting event or a free meal in a high class restaurant in return for favours. In some cases, it is an even worse offence.
Why should police officers receive gifts and hospitality anyway? How can it possibly be in the public interest? Why should the relationship between the media and the police be so cosy? Who does it help? What on earth are chief constables and detectives doing sucking up to newspaper editors? Such behaviour creates a breeding ground for dishonesty and corruption of the first order.
These are fundamental questions that go to the heart of the issue. Bribery is as old as mankind but organised policing is not. Any perception of corruption amongst those who have the power to lock people up and make life miserable for the rest of us is the worst type of confidence-eroding sentiment. In the UK, policing is allegedly by ‘consent of the people’; try telling that to some embittered or ambitious police officer next time you get stopped.
This month alone we have seen the reinstating of a ‘thug in uniform’ and the collapse of yet another high profile case of alleged police corruption, this time in Wales. Go back through the year and you will find many more examples of dreadful and dishonest behaviour exhibited by those who have enormous power over us.
As people become more restless, have less money and feel more rebellious against authority, the government will no doubt give the police more and more power. TheOpinionSite.org warns the government that the people will only put up with so much. Even the usually placid (some would say weak and hesitant) British will eventually fight back – and the police, honest or not, will then be used to annihilate any opposition, just as they were when they were affectionately known as “Thatcher’s Private Army”.
We know we cannot trust certain sections of the media. How then, given their current relationship with that same media, are we to trust the police when they have such a lousy track record anyway? How do we know that they are not becoming or have not already become a powerful, corrupt elite as they have in other countries? Many people, especially the young, would simply answer that indeed we cannot trust the police and that we cannot be sure of them or what they stand for – and regrettably, those young people and others may indeed be correct.
You can read the full report by clicking HERE