Police: ‘To protect and serve’ their own interests?

Unfit to wear the helmet: How deep does corruption run within our police? Do most officers still uphold the law without prejudice? Or do they use the uniform to pursue their own personal vendettas against innocent members of the public?

Unfit to wear the helmet: How deep does corruption run within our police? Do most officers still uphold the law without prejudice? Or do they use the uniform to pursue their own personal vendettas against innocent members of the public?

When did you lose faith in the British police?

Was it after Plebgate, the subject of a considerable controversy that has resurfaced this week? Was it after Hillsborough? Do you have a personal bad experience with officers whose interpretation of their duty could best be described as “twisted”, if not totally bent?

The Independent Police Complaints Commission says that the row involving whether former Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell used offensive language against a policeman who stopped him from riding a bicycle through the gates of Downing Street should have led to disciplinary action for the officer involved, along with others who supported his story.

IPCC deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass questioned the “honesty and integrity” of the officers involved and said that West Mercia Police, who investigated the affair, were wrong to say there was no case of misconduct for them to answer.

Now, there is plenty of evidence that this police complaints commission is anything but independent, and that it provides verdicts as required by its superiors – either within the force or politically. But the weight of the evidence that we have seen so far suggests that, in this instance, the conclusion is correct.

The Plebgate affair began less than a month after serious failings were identified in the police handling of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. It was revealed – after a 23-year wait – that serious mistakes had been made in the policing of the infamous FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, during which events took place that killed 96 people and injured a further 766.

In addition, post-mortem reports on the deceased were falsified and the police tried to blame Liverpool fans for the disaster.

These were both events that received national news coverage – but what about the local incidents that take place all around the country?

Sir Hugh Orde, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers said, “130,000 police officers are delivering a good service” – but are they really?

This blog has already mentioned the experiences of several people here in Mid Wales who have had unsatisfactory experiences with the police, including victims of serious physical, psychological and sexual abuse who were told to go back and suffer more of this personal hell by policemen and women who either couldn’t care less or were complicit in the crimes. Years later, attempts to get justice fell on the equally deaf ears of officers who didn’t want to know.

And this week the front paper of my local newspaper (the one I used to edit) carried the headline ‘Hello, hello, what’s going on here then?’ over a story about two local police officers who, while on duty, seemed more interested in having sex than upholding the law.

One was an inspector; the other a (married) constable. The inspector, prior to her promotion, had been instrumental in sending a friend of mine to prison on a particularly unsavoury child sex charge. There was no concrete evidence and the case hinged on the opinion of a doctor that was hotly disputed by other expert testimony. But my friend’s path had crossed this policewoman’s before and she had failed to gain a conviction on the previous occasion. It seems clear that she had not forgotten him.

I have always believed that the jury convicted my friend because its members were worried that he might be guilty – despite the lack of evidence – simply because he had been accused. “There’s no smoke without fire,” as the saying goes. It seems likely now that this conviction reflects the policewoman’s preoccupations with sex, rather than any criminal activity on the part of my friend.

It also seems to be proof of the fear raised by Andrew Neil on the BBC’s This Week – that police have been sending innocent people to jail and letting the guilty go free.

My friend is still inside, by the way. He has maintained his innocence throughout the affair but, having been released on parole and then dragged back to jail for a breach that was more the fault of the authorities for failing to give adequate warning against it, he is now determined to serve his full sentence rather than face the heartbreak of having his freedom stolen with another excuse.

Who can blame him?

19 thoughts on “Police: ‘To protect and serve’ their own interests?

  1. Thomas

    To be fair, the police have been ok to me, the only negative thing was that they searched me once (and found nothing illegal.) Yes, there are bad cops, but there are good ones out there as well, so I’m neutral towards them.

    1. paul196329

      Like ·
      Write a comment…

      1. Mike Sivier

        Please don’t ‘shout’!
        Using capital letters in this way just puts people off reading your comment – and I’m sure you want them to know what you have to say.

  2. paul196329

    its disgusting the police can lock you up for looking for justices im dieing after n.h.s cover up and the police locked me up at 11.30 at night then i was rushed in to hospital the police drop all chargers and now they have called me to say the dont want to up set me r lock me up for name and shame the n.h.s and the g.m.c all covered up disgusting Cheshire police

  3. Gavin MacMillan

    Guildford Four, Birmingham Six, M25 Three, Judith Ward, Stefan Kiszko, Bridgewater Four, Winston Silcott, Barry George, etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum. Need I say more?

  4. Jeff

    Hmm. While you are often absolutely on the money I think you might be a little off here. We often criticise the government of the day for making sweeping generalisations based on the most extreme media examples. Here you are conflating three stories that span thirty years and adding personal experiance of another one to institutionally damn an entire organisation.

    Are there police unfit to wear the uniform? Of course. Just as there are soldiers unfit to wear theirs, politicians unfit for their seat and violent anarchists who claim to share my political ideals. The “Plebgate” row has always infuriated me as it is an example of something the murdoch media ran with and wound up helping the perpetrator. Consider this scenario:

    [conjecture] The officers involved having dealt with these privilaged pricks for years run into Mitchell. He goes off into his tirade complete with swearing. This isn’t in much dispute. Any member of the public would be under risk of arrest or at least severe censure for such actions. Not him, oh no, he can go about his day. Irked, the officer talks to a journalist friend (naughty) during the course of the anecdote the phrase “he might have well have called us plebs the way he talked” is used and the next day the headline is “Mitchell called police plebs” is on the front pages and the incident is now Plebgate. The issue stops being about an entitled minister feeling he can treat police with contempt and starts to be about whether or not he used the word pleb. [/conjecture]

    I predicted this course of events (that tory friendly media would attack a tiny element of the story and use it to unravel the credibility of the entire incident) at the time and have been borne out by the progress of the story. I too have anecdotal evidence of police behaving badly and also a stack of it for police behaiving exceptionally. Real cases of abuse of privilage need to be rooted out and mercilessly punished. Hillsborough is an excellent example and the fact that it has taken this long shows just how bad the problem was. The force is trying it’s damndest but lives in a grey world between the black of criminality and violence that they are tasked to deal with and the white of those of us who they protect. We point to every one of their failures and ignore the fact that the vast majority of officers do a decent job.

    Doubtless this won’t go down well with the “F**k the Police” brigade but consider this folks. Without them your lives would be immesurably worse. Please, Mike, don’t use the same tactics that the Scrounger/Striver narrative is being built on. It undermines some of the excellent work you are doing.

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  6. beetleypete

    Mike, you obviously have issues regarding your friend. His situation seems to stem from many issues, and I am sure your assertions may well be correct, in his case.
    High profile cases rightly expose mismanagement, or corruption, and that obviously exists. However, everyday policing remains a demanding and difficult job, and it is done, to the best of their abilities, by thousands of dedicated officers, who should not all be tarred with the same brush. You are right to bring these other cases to our attention on your blog, as long as there is some balance, and acknowledgement that to a large extent, we do rely on the Police to maintain a veneer of civilisation in society; whether we like it, or not.
    Here is my take on this issue, all based on first-hand experience.


    Regards as always, Pete.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I would certainly agree that there are police officers who try to perform their jobs without fear or favour and to the best of their abilities. But these are, of course, undermined by the kind of police that my article tries to put under the spotlight.

      I could have mentioned a police officer who was found speeding along an ‘A’ road at more than 160mph and was acquitted by a judge – or any of many other such stories in which the police got preferential treatment or broke the rules.

      I asked for readers’ stories of similar events happening to them (but I see the article hasn’t been shared as widely as many of the others).

      The fact is that none of this should be tolerated.

      1. beetleypete

        There are so many cases of officers being ‘let off’ charges, like the one you mention, many of them very senior officers too. The whole issue needs to be addressed at high levels inside the judiciary, and we should all campaign in the same way as you, when injustice is obvious.
        Perhaps many of your readers have no similar experience to tell Mike. The likelihood is most of us can go for years without ever encountering the police, but it is equally true that we all ring 999 when misfortune strikes.
        Your closing point is completely correct. It should not be tolerated, at any level.
        Regards, Pete.

      2. Mike Sivier

        Perhaps they don’t – although some are recalling particular high-profile cases in support of the contention that the five I mentioned (including those within my own experience) are not exceptions. I just thought of another – the Hartcliffe riot in Bristol, back in 1992 (if I recall correctly). The spark for this was a joyriding youngster who was killed when he was hit by a police vehicle (details are a little hazy now but that’s the gist). He was a criminal, yes, but he didn’t deserve to be killed and the suburb erupted for several days. And what about the shooting that started the riots in London two years ago, that then spread to other cities in England?
        The list could go on and on…

  7. Ulysses

    Battle of the Beanfield. Orgrave.
    The rave at Nelson’s Loamshaye industrial park…

    Some young drunk chap in Bolton a few years ago crossing the road in the town centre, a notorious place for drunks wandering across the road from pub to pub, if you cant avoid to drive down Bradshawgate, then you drive it at an absolute crawl… but not The Filth… oh no, they hit this young guy at such a speed as to send him flying 200 yard through the air and straight through a pub window. I look at that road in amazement, wondering how its possible to gain such speed on a normal quiet day, never mind a saturday night with hundreds of revellers filling the road.
    No charges brought against the police driver.

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  9. Glynnux

    I’ve personally had a sheltered experience of the Police. My uncle and cousin (his son) were both in the force (my cousin took his own life following the breakup of his marriage due to the pressures of his work).
    The guy that gave me my first job (having sat in the interview waiting room with 8 others) was an ex-policeman. He was one of the fairest most cheerful people you could wish to meet.
    The old lad that worked in the wages office was an ex-policeman. He always stood for what was right and proper and was willing to be (uncharacteristically) outspoken on such issues.
    Two of the lads from the fitting shop went to be constables. Both real nice blokes, the type that would tell a young lad when someone was pulling their leg.

    As a young long haired ‘hippy’ type I was occasionally stopped as I walked home late at night. I had the confidence to meet them with a smile and usually ended up having a laugh before walking on (never to be bothered by the same ones again).

    I realise that I’ve probably been fortunate not to have clashed with one of the bad’uns.
    I am aware of the use of the Police as political bullies and that some of them relish the task (and that others are disgusted).
    I am aware of the Hillsborough cover-up (and some of them were probably disgusted). No doubt others thought they were above blame.

  10. Gareth grey

    I have spent time in the UK and Australia & trust me UK police are the best compared to Australian Police. They are the corrupt-est, most self serving organisation I have ever experienced. And institutionalised racism is rife in all ranks, particularly senior ranks. UK residents – I would thank your lucky stars you have a proper police force unlike Australia.

  11. Anonymous

    Perhaps dealing with some of the worst things that happen to people and what people inflict upon each other on a daily basis has an effect on their perceptions of what everyone is like?

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