Saturday, 22 September 2012

Fuzzy thinking

It has been a funny couple of weeks when it comes to the popular perception of the Police, or maybe more accurately the media portrayal of that perception.

The aftermath of the Hillsborough report, and the sacking of the Officer who struck Ian Tomlinson  did not offer an encouraging image of our Police. A force, where individual officers seemed to view rioters and blameless passers bye with the same contempt, and a Force willing to conspire at the highest level to cover up their errors and shift blame.

There is no reason to presume that things have got better as a result of any positive action on the part of the Police. For the family of Ian Tomlinson, as it was for Rodney King, it is the ability for the press and public to record what the Police do that has made them accountable.

But then two PC's are murdered. They were unarmed and going about the business we want them for, tackling crime and making our world feel safe. And  we discover that Andrew Mitchell views the Officers that keep him safe with contempt.

In the summer of 2011 politicians were quick to try to criticise the police response to the riots, and claim responsibility for the resulting strategy.

Maybe within this lies the fundamental problem. Brave under rewarded officers taking big risks for little thanks, against a 'looking after our own' culture that fails to challenge thuggish violence and incompetence. Where do we go? The fresh air of scrutiny that modern communications allows will help. Recently in Bromley a young black man was able to use CCTV footage to rebut a bogus allegation of 'resisting arrest.' It would be much harder for Officers to be instructed to ammend their notes when mobile video and audio recording equipment is in everyones pocket. But this only feels like part of a solution.