Are the police corrupt? Well, they’re the ones who will tell us
I have a copy of a letter from a senior policeman to a senior member of parliament. The names are not important to this story so I shall replace them with [policeman] and [MP]; and the subject with [John Jones]. The letter is genuine and dated April 2012. It responds to a letter from [MP] concerning [John Jones] that was sent to [policeman] in November 2011. For starters, let’s just point out that that’s more than 4 months to reply to a letter.
[John Jones] made a complaint to the police that his private medical records had been altered and illegally made available to a third-party. “His allegations were investigated by xxx CID,” writes [policeman] to [MP], “with assistance sought from the CPS. The CPS concluded that the allegations were not capable of being dealt with criminally.”
[John Jones] made a formal complaint against the CID officers “alleging a failure to investigate properly. This was investigated by the Professional Standards Unit at [the same police unit].” This too was dismissed.
[John Jones] then appealed this decision to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, who subsequently wrote to [John Jones], “I consider that the police have investigated your complaint appropriately and your case will now be closed.”
“I trust I have answered your concerns,” concludes [policeman] to [MP]. And that would appear to be that. Clearly this incident has been thoroughly and independently investigated and found to be without merit.
But is that true, and is it without merit? That is certainly what we are meant to believe. But [John Jones] has taken independent legal counsel which has advised him that the case does have merit. So what’s going on?
Turn now to an article in This is Kent, 5 June 2012: Call for better probes into police corruption. In answer to an FoI request, the paper learnt that of 204 complaints of corruption, only 3 were investigated by the IPCC. “The rest were handed back to be investigated internally by the force itself after the IPCC deemed they were not serious enough to justify its time,” writes the newspaper. Think about that – more than 98% of complaints about police corruption are not independently investigated. Even where a complaint is made, and Joe Public is told it is being referred to the IPCC, the overwhelming likelihood is that the complaint will be handed back to the police station he is complaining about.
Is that corruption in itself? You bet it is. Asking officers to investigate the station, and at least by implication its senior officers, can never get an unbiased result. Who is going to implicate the people who control their own professional future, and by association their mortgage, family and most certainly pension? Are the individual investigating officers corrupt? Possibly, but probably not. It is the system that is corrupt.
And it is a corrupt system that is telling [John Jones] and his [MP] that he has no case, despite independent legal counsel saying he has.