Wednesday, 20 July 2011
Londoners Deserve Better
Yesterday, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee rushed out a report - I understand it was made public at 5am - after it finished its inquiry into the phone hacking business - quite amazing when other Committees and inquiries - such as the Iraq inquiry - take months, if not more, to deliver preliminary findings. We now have the evidence that our politicians can, if their reputations are at risk, produce reports within a very short time.
This report's conclusions were that deliberate attempts had been made by News International to thwart the various investigations and that there had been a catalogue of failures by the Metropolitan Police.
It's not surprising News International made efforts to obstruct police investigations, they had an excellent example to follow and it seems there are more revelations to come.
What is surprising is the ineptitude and lack of skills of the Met. As a teenager in Peebles, I vividly recall the bursting pride of a neighbour when she announced her son had been accepted for the Metropolitan Police. From pounding the streets of Peebles to pounding the pavements of the world's largest city was generally thought a extraordinary achievement for a laddie from a place which Londoners probably never even knew existed. Back then, when Dixon of Dock Green was the must-watch television programme, I thought the Met was, for obvious reasons, the best police force in the world. The media were keen to impress this upon their readers too at the time.
Robert Peel must be birling in his grave when he hears, from his modern day colleagues, excuses such as those under examination are obstructing their investigations. In my naivety I thought the main duty of any police force is to use their skills to defeat obstructors, but I appear to be wrong. What is the 'elite' police force for if not for ensuring investigations are completed thoroughly and completely?
For senior Met officers to resign without reason shows the level of commitment these men have to their profession and fellow junior officers. It also shows the the Met, and perhaps forces throughout the UK, require complete restructuring. We need - and deserve - a policing service which protects us and ensures those who break the laws of the land are duly punished.
Update: Since I wrote the above this morning David Cameron has made a statement in the House of Commons stating his intentions to make radical changes to the policing system. Ed Miliband continues to play the 'good guy' yet conveniently forgets his predecessors were deeply involved with the media in the past two decades. The BBC persists in its anti-government agenda, content in the thought that their competition has been firmly subdued.
The whole network and culture of the 3Ps (politicians, police and press) does not serve this country well. We deserve better and nobody more than Londoners who, although they have the biggest police force in the UK and one of the biggest in the world, appear to be of little priority to those in charge of their safety.
Will Cameron's changes make a difference? Being a cynic I doubt it but I'd be very happy to be proved wrong.