In response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week posts, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.
I posted once on this story, so it feels appropriate to post again, to give international readers a sense of closure.
For the charity work I do, I needed to get a criminal record check.
This is of limited value, because it only covers my past, not what I will do. It shows the charity at least that I have no track record of dishonesty, and on that basis they then trust me to work with vulnerable people.
And I suppose, at the charity level, that’s as much as you can hope for. Otherwise, if you start looking at what I might do in the future, you’re in the realms of psychological tests, and even then, nothing is guaranteed. Way beyond the resources of a charity.
But they shouldn’t be beyond the resources of the police. In terms of the risk, my role is nothing, compared to what policemen are expected to do.
Do you remember Sarah Everard? The woman who was killed back in March just walking home? One death might not be memorable, but the protests it sparked should be memorable enough, which specifically focused on man-on-woman violence. There was also bad publicity for the police, because it tried to step in to prevent the protests. You couldn’t really blame it because it had been charged with trying to stop the spread of COVID at the time, and a large gathering was a red rag to a bull. I thought it was disappointing that its commanders did not “get” that the issue was so important that people were willing to take their chances with COVID, but there we go.
Anyway, the reason my post gives a degree of closure is because the guy who committed the murder pleaded guilty last week. No sentence yet.
He was a policeman, and this was a big focus of the news reports. How on earth can somebody get into the police force, if they have the temperament to go out and murder someone?
You can imagine that in the police force, there is a certain amount of fire-fighting going on. We regret this event, blah, blah, blah. While at the same time denying that the force is institutionally misogynist. It has a big problem with that word institutional – if people use that word against it, any possible introspection very quickly shifts to stonewall denial. It’s not the barrel that is rotten, but the apple.
Regret does not cut it. We all regret her death. The important thing, what is the police going to do about it? About someone within its ranks being a potential murderer? How is it going to ensure that an untrustworthy person does not get to represent it? And, if its vetting procedures are sufficiently weak that a potential murderer can get in, then unfortunately it is the barrel which is rotten.
Which brings me full circle, because no vetting process will ever be 100% accurate. So the police is on a hiding to nothing – it can’t win. And that’s why I feel for it here.
But it has to at least try, doesn’t it? I’m sure it will say that it does, but surely it needs to try harder? Sara Everard’s death happened, after all. Nobody made that up. You can’t just shrug your shoulders and say a bad guy might have slipped through the net, but the police’s procedures are okay. The police has a big credibility issue in the UK, probably as big as it does in the US, and I think this indicates why.
I agree that no one can predict the future and no vetting will ever be 100% accurate — because people change, attitudes change, influenced by forces yet unforeseen. A person may be totally stable today, but we can’t predict that five years from now some event might throw them for a loop. Perhaps a beloved spouse or child will die or desert them and they’ll go into a depression or a fit of anger or start drinking too much. Perhaps a friend will be killed and that sting might turn to resentment and bitterness. Or incredible outside pressure will crack them. The police in particular are under tremendous pressure, especially in the US where anyone might pull a gun and shoot them.
But if you say “The barrel is rotten; we should throw it out and start again,” what will you have left? I believe police should always do the right thing and, if wrong, admit fault and administer discipline. On the other hand, there are dedicated anarchists who are ready to jump up and start cop-bashing whenever and wherever possible. They have an agenda, too; the more law enforcement gets crippled, the happier they are.
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True, but did you mention the 90% of ordinary people who buy into the need for a police force, but who expect that police force to obey the law? That seems absolutely reasonable to me.
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Yes, I think I did. Police should always do the right thing. We expect that and are disappointed when they don’t. 🙂
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