Topic Originator: sammer
Date: Tue 1 Feb 19:27
We should be careful not to jump to conclusions about police culture based on recent highly publicised horror stories concerning the Metropolitan Police. The Met has never enjoyed a very good reputation over the years. But the Sheku Bayoh case, which still lingers on, might be an indication that there is a problem across the board.
My own experience of police culture is very limited and at least 20 years out of date from when my wife worked as a civilian for Fife Police, as it was then called. On a number of occasions I socialised in the company of civilian and police officers and cannot for a moment imagine they would have held the kind of opinions reported recently, never mind actually voice them. I’m sure they would all have been as disgusted as the rest of us.
However there were areas where I felt the police culture was very myopic. Their view of the law, which they were required to uphold, was very one sided. In their view everyone who ever found himself in the dock was guilty and if the accused was found innocent then it was on a technicality. Or down to a criminal defence lawyer like Derek Ogg confusing the sheriff/jury. Ogg, whom I’d known since primary school, was a real hate figure in their culture. He was also a well known campaigner for Gay rights but to be fair the police never held that against him: they hated him because he got criminals off the hook.
Their other bête noir was ‘Human Rights.’ They showed no awareness that the Declaration of Human Rights, established after a chastening World War, was an attempt to balance the rights of the individual against the rights of the state. For them Human Rights was a get out of jail card for criminals who could afford fancy lawyers. The concept that Human Rights applied to them as police officers, as well as any other citizen, seemed irrelevant. As police they thought the law would support them anyway if they got in hot water, so what needs Human Rights?
The most disturbing attitude to the law came from a young policeman who later went on to hold very high office within Police Scotland. I referred to the Birmingham Six case and he announced that despite being exonerated, they were actually guilty. He had seen transcripts of taped meetings which proved their guilt. I pointed out that the Establishment had moved hell and high water to try and defend the conviction and such tapes would have been thrown in along with the kitchen sink to keep them in jail. Not so, he told me. For technical reasons the tapes could not be used, and the guilty men were only released to try and solve the political crisis in Northern Ireland.
The general police culture so far as I could make out was that they- the police- knew better than anyone else (the public, high court appeal judges) who was actually guilty and they would have welcomed a relaxing of legal constraints to make their job easier. Politically, the ones I met at least, were semi literate but they were conservative (with a sm