Untouchable elite seems ripe for reform


Police Paradeoriginally published by: The Guardian
1st April 2010

They are known as the “Muscle of the Met”, accused of being an untouchable elite who cover their badge numbers, treat the public with disdain and, most concerning of all, are virtually never held to account for their actions.

Senior officers at Scotland Yard acknowledge that the 730 officers in their territorial support group (TSG) have an image problem, but say it is cosmetic. They may have found themselves the subject of unflattering footage at the G20 protests, but their supporters point out they are deployed on the most volatile and potentially controversial operations, from stop and search to drug raids and demonstrations.

The Metropolitan police may be tempted to treat today’s acquittal of Sergeant Delroy Smellie as vindication of a unit whose battered reputation is, finally, on the mend.

Last week the force launched a series of TSG “goodwill tours” which allow the public to meet riot officers, and see policing from their perspective and – literally – try on their boots. But police reform campaigners argue these will do nothing to change the confrontational and inflammatory way the unit has been known to treat the public.

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