The poor old British police force. Bad headline after bad headline with no end in sight to a number of claims. At least the latest Twitter gaffe was dealt with swiftly. It turns out that you cannot publicize a view such as “Police 1 Immigrants 0″ through official channels without at the very least apologizing and deleting said view moments later.
That, unfortunately is the tip of the iceberg. Plebgate, or the preferred Gategate, is still going on. As is the fallout from the Hillsborough disaster, although the endgame is very much in sight, with the police looking to be big losers.
All three incidents carry varying degrees of seriousness, with none enforcing a trustful reputation or increasing public confidence in the ‘Old Bill’. Nor does the latest predicament to get a public airing; that of undercover officers being accused of what I suppose is intellectual/emotional rape. When I first heard interviews with a couple of the women involved I struggled in deciding who, if anyone, was really at fault. I gave up in the end, as it is quite complex.
The crux of the story is during the 1990s an undercover branch of officers, set up to infiltrate certain protest groups in the UK, made slightly more contact with the ‘enemy’ than they should of done. Emotional involvement, sexual relationships, living together for an extended period of time, and in one case the relationship progressed to talk of starting a family. In all cases the male officers just disappeared one day, never to return. The women interviewed on BBC Radio Four’s ‘Women’s Hour’ (a very interesting show, available as a podcast) weren’t satisfied with being ditched out of the blue, and dug so far in attempts to get closure (one victim flew multiple times to New Zealand) that they found out what had really happened to them. They are now trying, as a group, to bring criminal proceedings against the police.
This is no doubt the reason MPs have acted swiftly in bringing about a new code of ethics for undercover officers to stop what one MP described as “state-sponsored sexual deceit.” Publicly, at least, it is now illegal to have sex with someone you are spying on. I say good luck forcing a code of ethics on people whose job it is to be
deceitful creative with the truth. There is also some irony in politicians handing down codes of ethics, whether it be for this or press regulation. That will no doubt be lost to them, as will another bit of public confidence in the police.