Unfair cops: it’s not about ‘bad apples’


Police Officers On Dutyoriginally by: Red Pepper
published: December 2011

In recent months the Metropolitan Police has been rocked by allegations of collusion in the phone hacking conspiracy and revelations of the extraordinary level of hospitality enjoyed by the former Met commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson. Even as it cleared Stephenson and three other senior police officers of misconduct, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was moved to comment that ‘the public will make its own judgements about whether any senior public official should accept hospitality to this extent from anyone.’

Other senior officers, including the now acting Met commissioner, Tim Godwin, and the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, Peter Fahy, have leapt to Stephenson’s defence. He was guilty only of ‘misjudgements’, Fahy insists. They have also repeated the assertion that police corruption is ‘not endemic’ – a view that is not easy to share.

Police forces have never managed to stem the steady stream of corrupt and dishonest cops going through the courts, although it is hard to know just how extensive the problem is.

There are certainly major issues relating to the misuse of police information systems. The Met alone has disciplined 84 officers over the past three years for illegally accessing computer systems. Demand for police information extends far beyond News International’s hacking exploits, and this is likely to be the tip of a large iceberg.

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