Sir Paul Stephenson, Britain's most senior police officer, claims that money is being wasted fighting speculative law suits by civilians alleging brutality or wrongful arrest.
Along with other proposals he wants the public to be charged a fee for FOI requests which, he said, were burdening police forces with unmanageable levels of paperwork. The tick-box target system which the police authorities enjoy don't amass mounds of paperwork of course.
In a letter to Theresa May, the Home Secretary he wrote:
The civil rights group Liberty condemned his comments: "The ability to challenge police misconduct in court is a vital constitutional safeguard against abuse of power. Under current rules, if you lose a case in the civil courts you can expect to be ordered to pay your successful opponent's legal costs. A service bound to uphold the rule of law should not attempt to carve out an exception for itself."We believe there needs to be a radical shakeup of the system; currently for every pound paid out in compensation, up to £10 or sometimes more has to be paid out in legal costs to the claimants' lawyers."One of the key aspects is that the average settlements are well under £10,000 and most under £5,000, in other words these are not major areas of police misconduct with long-lasting consequences but often technical breaches."
The family of this man may be seeking some explanation if not compensation. The constable told the inquest: "I think because of the flat being in darkness and him lying on his back there was no outward sign of anything untoward." It was later, when the undertakers sought to move Mr Denis, they found the knife in his back.