Losing the Battle against Police Misconduct

Just read this disturbing post on injusticeinseattle.blogspot.com.

“Slowly, but steadily, we are losing the battle against police misconduct…

Police unions and other organizations designed to increase the influence of the police in the political arena are growing rapidly in number and in strength…
Yet the number of citizen activists and organizations that deal with police misconduct issues are diminishing in number and in ability to talk freely about abuses.

New laws are continually being enacted to protect the police from charges of abuse and to keep the public in the dark about cases of misconduct, yet activists and the press continue to have access to disciplinary information restricted and their voices censored…

While those who were targeted in those raids have continued to cover police activities as best they can, the implications of these intimidating tactics and the arrest of credentialed journalists have sent a chill over all who try to cover police misconduct issues and act as advocates for victims of police brutality. It appears to signal a new chapter in the story of constant battle to improve accountability, the use of direct police action against critics by the police without any second thought to adverse public perception or civil rights abuse charges.”

The full post is well worth reading!

How long before we witness these developments in the UK I wonder? Indeed things already appear to be heading in that direction.

About fotdmike

Occasional photographer; occasional writer/blogger; occasional activist; occasional computer-geek. Bit of a fool really.
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10 Responses to Losing the Battle against Police Misconduct

  1. forkboy says:

    Welcome to the world as the Republican Party would have it.

  2. tam says:

    YEP! Oh, forkboy has hit the nail on the head!

  3. fotdmike says:

    Yeah… but how come our so-called “New Labour” seem just as bad?

  4. forkboy says:

    Well, try electing the Conservative Party and see if things get better or worse. Then you’ll really know!

    We’ve had 8-years of W. & Co.: we already know.

  5. fotdmike says:

    Ah… but the Cons seem to be just another face of “New Labour”… as do the other lot!
    All tarred with the same brush if you ask me.

  6. Matthew says:

    Well, the ‘Independent’ Police Complaints Comission is run by the police in the UK. The police investigating the misconduct of the police.

    Also, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, if you’ve a complaint about misuse of covert surveillance you first go to the tribunal. The tribunal asks if a warrant has been issued. If the answer is no then they tell you there has been no breach of the Act… They don’t ask, for example, has any covert surveillance taken place. There are only two outcomes of a RIPA tribunal, one is ‘there has been no breach of the Act’, which could either mean a warrent has been correctly issued and you have been spied on in accordance with the law, or no warrant has been issued. The other outcome is ‘a warrant was issued incorrectly’ which just means that you have been spied on, but not in accordance with the law so you get a little compensation.

    If there has been a case of covert surveillance without any application for a warrant then that’s a crime, so you have to go to the police… interestingly, the police are most likely to be the ones who’re spying on you without having applied for a warrant. So again we are asking the police to investigate the police.

    I personally don’t think the police should be trusted to investigate the police when the honesty and integrity of the police is what is being questioned. Even if the police aren’t guilty they can’t clear themselves, there is always a question mark over the outcome of the case. You need an honestly independent body to investigate the police, and that doesn’t mean one with ex-police officers on it. Sadly, the Association of Chief Police Officers, who have no constitutional mandate, have so much power that they can block any attempt to create such a body.

    Sorry, massive and ranty comment. Suffice to say that we in the UK are probably leading the way, rather than bringing up the rear.

  7. fotdmike says:

    I agree… the cops investigating the cops is just so wrong. But what’s the alternative… an “independent” review type set-up, a la the Hutton Inquiry which still utlimately resolves into the Establishment investigating the Establishment? Same horse, different colours.

  8. Matthew says:

    How about something shiny and new? Unique even. A group, with nothing to do with the establishment from appointment to reviews to funding, which investigates these kinds of things. Something which is maybe elected seperately, with party politics being illegal (if only the founding fathers of America had had the balls to actually fly with that one, it might actually be the only reasonable example of a democracy, instead they’ve a ‘two party state’ with 100 parties).

    Never going to happen, I know. I can dream though.

  9. fotdmike says:

    Hmm… interesting thought.

    Well, the first thing that hinders change is by believing it can’t happen… history’s littered with examples of changes that “couldn’t happen”. 😉

    So let’s say it could happen… just for the moment.
    Not too sure about an elected body though. Once that enters the scene you get campaigns, power-plays, trade-offs and all the rest of it. Basically, a lot of the shit that’s corrupted the present system.
    So what about some sort of body that sits on a “per inquiry” basis, members drawn from a fairly random cross-section of the community… maybe a bit like jury service?

  10. Matthew says:

    The reason I would prefer an elected, long term body over a jury system is that it would allow for a more specialist, knowledgeable panel. One of the major problems with juries is the total lack of expertise meaning that sometimes they are really, amazingly bad at deciding on controversial or divisive topics, such as rape.

    The system I would imagine would work similar to the re-election schedule of the US Senate, 6 year terms, 33% of them re-elected every 2 years. This is good for a number of reasons – sudden political ‘fads’ and swings don’t result in sudden changes in the panel. I would also have the re-election be on the same day each year so that elections can’t be used for political games.

    One of the major problems with the current electoral system is the party politics. X can’t possibly support proposition A, despite how sensible/good A is, because X is on the other party. Party politics establishes and re-enforces this sort of mind-set. The House of Lords provides a good template for a sensible set-up, with an equal number of Lords of the major political parties (300 Labour, 300 Conservative, iirc), but also a sufficient number of cross-benchers who don’t have to vote along party political lines. Hence why a lot of the better decisions of recent years have come from the second house, rather than the Commons where majorities have been huge.

    The major drawback of elections such as this that I can see is that it’s yet another election, to add to (in my part of the world) Council Elections, Welsh National Assembly Election, General Elections, and European Elections. A lot of elections. The number of elections we have at the moment encourages voter apathy, adding another one every two years would probably result in a further decrease in turn out for the ‘lesser’ elections.

    The only reason I say this couldn’t happen is because it would involve people with power (currently the government of the day has so much power over inquiries that it’s stupid, allowing them to pick the question and thus limit the scope of the inquiry is just shambolic) giving it up voluntarily, and for an issue which has almost no mass movement behind it. The majority of people are perfectly content with inquiries running the way they do. They may moan about the results of certain inquiries, but they don’t sustain a demand for change. Changes along these lines require sustained effort, which isn’t present, even a little bit.

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