Can confidence in the Metropolitan police sink any lower? Even before the past few weeks revealed the possibility of their complicity in the News of the World hacking scandal, and the past few months their brutal attitude towards the policing of students and other protesters, there were many who already had reason to mistrust those who claim to be “working together for a safer London”.
Take Ann Roberts, a special needs assistant, who was recently given the go-ahead in the high court to challenge the allegedly racist way in which stop-and–search powers are used: her lawyers claim statistics indicate that a black person is more than nine times more likely to be searched than a white person.
Or take the family of Smiley Culture, still waiting for answers after the reggae singer died in a police raid on his home in March this year. They are campaigning on behalf of all those who’ve died in police custody. Inquest, a charity which deals with contentious death, particularly in police custody, reports that more than 400 people from black and ethnic minority communities have died in prison, police custody and secure training centres in England and Wales since 1990.
Ian Tomlinson’s family may finally be able to see some justice when PC Simon Harwood comes to court in October on manslaughter charges, but if the story had not been tenaciously pursued by journalists (particularly the Guardian’s Paul Lewis) the police would no doubt be sticking to their line that a man had merely collapsed at the G20 protests and that missiles had been thrown at medics when they tried to help him.
The appointment of Cressida Dick as head of counter-terrorism following John Yates’s resignation is similarly unlikely to inspire confidence in anyone who remembers her role in authorising the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005, mistaken for a terror suspect because an officer decided he had “distinctive Mongolian eyes“.
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