Monday, March 22, 2004

A culture of abuse and impunity

The Police-rape inquiry seems to have spurred a general airing of dirty laundry within the police. Now four former officers have come forward claiming that there was a culture of violence and brutality within the police during the 90's. Officers would use unnecessary violence, "set dogs on surrendering prisoners, falsify evidence and lie in court". Furthermore,

the officers said when they tried to speak out they were alienated and that officers who did not share the same attitudes and culture as the rest of the force were unlikely to be promoted.

Taking things to the Police Complaints Authority was "a waste of breath", as it simply whitewashed everything.

It is clear that we are not doing an adequate job of watching our watchers. In order for the police to enjoy public confidence, we have to know that they are serious about investigating (and if necessary, prosecuting) their own misdeeds. The only way to ensure this is with a fully independent complaints authority, with its own investigators. Trusting the police to watch themselves or to do the legwork in investigating their fellow officers is simply an invitation for a culture of abuse and impunity.