The arrest of the Chief Constable of Cleveland and his deputy is yet more proof, were it needed, that the higher up the police promotional ladder one looks, the more police corruption one is likely to find. Indeed, TheOpinionSite.org feels that it is time to ask the question, “Are the UK police institutionally corrupt?”
Whilst it may be true – to some extent at least – that the ordinary bobby on the beat is simply doing the job for which he gets paid, the resignation of the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in recent weeks has done nothing to dispel the idea that senior police officers are more interested in furthering their own interests and satisfying their own requirements than they are in protecting the public.
The latest arrests in Cleveland should come as no surprise after seeing the displays of “innocence” put forward in recent weeks from those in authority who have been questioned by various parliamentary select committees.
Ironically however, the fact that we have corrupt policeman at all may be due more to the actions of ministers and politicians in general than to human nature and the self satisfying ambitions of those wearing the uniforms of senior police officers.
The fact is that the British police have been given more and more power over the last 20 years to the extent that they are now one of the most powerful police forces anywhere in Europe and possibly in the world.
Time after time we have seen successive Home Secretaries, including the current Home Secretary, Theresa May, give the police more and more power over the rest of us whilst at the same time ensuring that there is less and less opportunity to realistically challenge the actions of those who allegedly enforce the law in order to protect us.
The second question which must therefore be asked is, “Who protect us from the so-called protectors?”
The historian and moralist, Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
Another English politician with no shortage of names – William Pitt, the Elder, The Earl of Chatham and British Prime Minister from 1766 to 1778 said something similar, in a speech to the UK House of Lords in 1770:
“Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it”
Despite these warnings from history, the police still get everything they ask for from our politicians who are too weak to stand up to them. Decisions that should be taken by senior ministers are instead being passed to police officers in order that the government can claim the decision was “independent”, even if it was not.
The latest example of that mechanism at work is the decision by the Home Secretary to allow a senior policeman to decide whether or not someone should come off the Sex Offenders Register, a mechanism that may in any case be unlawful.
To ask a Janus-faced policeman to agree to a sex offender being allowed not to register is absurd. It is the police who monitor sex offenders and it is the police who seek enforcement orders against them from the courts. Impartiality is therefore impossible.
The problem with allowing senior police officers to make these types of decision is that given the ever increasing flow of revelations of corruption, there is no guarantee anymore that the officer making the decision is not in fact himself corrupt, dishonest or politically motivated. In short, the police can no longer be trusted.
What then can be done to stem the tide of corruption within the police force?
A good start might be for politicians to rid themselves of their ill-gotten arrogance and to realise that important decisions are often best handled by judges. Certainly, they are more likely to be impartial than a vote-seeking politician or a promotion-hungry, money-seeking senior policeman.
Neither the police nor MPs would like that idea very much but it is also quite clear that neither can be trusted to be honest and objective. There is therefore little option but to place potentially contentious decisions, such as those regarding sex offenders outlined above, into the hands of someone who can act in an unbiased manner.
The House of Commons is currently at war with the judiciary, which they see as making life difficult for MPs. In order to preserve an illusion of justice, ministers therefore hand over more and more power to non-elected policemen who then use that power to their own ends. To be fair though, one must remember that ordinary constables rarely make important decisions; that is left to someone with at least a couple of pips (and possibly a few chips) on their shoulders.
The problem with that is that the further up the food chain one goes, the more corruption and abuse of power one is likely to find.
This was perhaps most recently illustrated during the hearing of the Home Affairs Select Committee when they questioned the former Assistant Commissioner, Andy Heyman, the ex counter terror chief. When asked if he had ever accepted payment from journalists, Heyman’s display of false indignation was amazing to watch. It resembled that of a burglar who had been caught red-handed robbing a house yet still denied having anything to do with the alleged offence.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that the only answer to the problem of police corruption is for the police to have many of their decision-making powers taken away from them. For this to happen however, ministers and MPs must be brave enough to pass these decision-making processes to the judiciary. For that to happen, politicians must stop behaving like a bunch of primary school children bickering in a playground claiming that everything is “unfair”.
Policeman are only ever interested in two things: arresting people and bringing them to court. They care very little whether or not they’ve got the right person for an alleged offence. In the case of alleged sex offenders and terrorists it is even easier for the police as virtually no real proof is required and no one is prepared to challenge the status quo for fear of criticism.
In exactly the same way, politicians do not care whether a decision-making process is fair or unfair, just as long as it produces the result most likely to win them more votes.
We have seen blatant disregard for the law amongst politicians, some of whom have been sent to jail, albeit ridiculously short periods of time. We have seen senior politicians such as the former Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith rip-off the taxpayer for tens of thousands of pounds and possibly more, yet she was spared the embarrassment of having to face justice and potential incarceration.
Now we are seeing more and more policeman at senior levels being arrested or questioned in relation to possible dishonesty and corruption.
Short of civil war and a complete reordering of society in Britain, there is no solution to the problem other than for our elected representatives to stand up for what is right, take away much of the excessive power that they have foolishly given to the police and to allow impartial judges to make important decisions that cannot be trusted to others who may themselves be corrupt or criminally minded.
The police and the politicians serve us, the public. They are elected or appointed in order to promote the public good, protect the citizens of Britain and the UK and are expected to be beyond reproach. It is quite clear from recent events that we can expect more corruption to be discovered in high places. It is also worth pointing out that the introduction of elected police commissioners is unlikely to solve the problem and may in fact make matters worse.
We have said previously on TheOpinionSite.org that often the only difference between the police and the people that they arrest is that the police carry warrant cards and alleged criminals do not. Now, it seems that it is becoming more and more true that many criminals do in fact carry warrant cards and wear uniforms.
Some other European countries regard the UK as being a police state, a view that has always been rigourously fought as being untrue and impossible. Perhaps after all it is not as unlikely as may once have seemed and maybe now, as more and more corruption is uncovered, the proof that an abusive police state really does exist in the UK is finally with us.