Friday, 12 December 2008

Crime and Disorder

First the crime - government spin merchants with the connivance of ministers pushed out a spurious claim about a fall in knife crime. They couldn't wait for March or April next year (guess why? See post below) when the true figures will be published. Consequently, many people who naturally distrust any figures from this government will distrust them even more. The thief-taker in this case is the aptly named Sir Michael Scholar, trying well to be a new independent head of a new independent UK Statistics Authority. If this is his first public test, he's passed.

Second the disorder - the sorry mess that is the Metropolitan Police and the verdict of the Menezes Coroner's jury. For what it's worth I reckon the Coroner was right in preventing the jury from returning an unlawful killing verdict. I also think the jury was right for finding, in effect, that Jean Charles was unlawfully killed, but without the option of the officers who pumped the hollowpoint rounds into this innocent young man's head being prosecuted. I don't think they should be.

They're not guilty of murder or of manslaughter but of disorder. They were insufficiently disciplined, inadequately led and poorly prepared. That they did the wrong thing is an institutional failure, not an individual one. And that, essentially, was the view of the ordinary men and women who sat in the Coroner's court for these weeks past and saw evidence of which I and you can only know a tiny part.

The Commissioner can't resign because he's already rightly been sacked for incompetence. His senior team - two of whom reckon they're capable of doing his job - are likewise tainted and should be eased out. Including Cressida Dick. They can doubtless see out their careers in minor provincial forces where they can do little further damage.

The management of the Met is desperately in need of root and branch reform. If Jacqui Smith is incapable of appointing a new Commissioner capable of carrying it out, and with cross-party confidence, her party-friendly nominee will have the shortest of shelf-lives.

The mess of blood, bone and brains so violently spread over those familiar tube seats can be laid at the door of Labour's desire to indoctrinate their social engineering message at the expense of operational management imperatives. The death of Jean Charles is just one more to add to Tony Blair's poisonous legacy.

3 comments:

JuliaM said...

"They're not guilty of murder or of manslaughter but of disorder. They were insufficiently disciplined, inadequately led and poorly prepared. That they did the wrong thing is an institutional failure, not an individual one. "

On some levels, that's true. And I agree with you.

But getting into the witness box and claiming that they shouted 'Armed Police!' (when no-one who really believed they were facing a suicide bomber could possibly think this was a good idea)? Claiming that De Menezes moved towards one of the officers?

For those lies alone, they should suffer some punishment, surely?

Raedwald said...

Yes, they colluded to get their stories straight and agreed on the lies to tell - that much is clear to anyone closely following the evidence.

Sadly, this is pretty well par for the course for the Police these days. Should we also punish all the plods who are almost every day exposed in stories in the paper lying to magistrates, lying to the CPS and lying to juries?

There will be officers who will try to justify it, claiming it's the only way they can do their job effectively, and that we don't understand, not being coppers. I've heard it all before.

Not much point in picking on the Menezes liars without dealing with all the rest, too. No, I reckon a Royal Commission on policing is the only sensible way to go to lance this boil.

JuliaM said...

"Should we also punish all the plods who are almost every day exposed in stories in the paper lying to magistrates, lying to the CPS and lying to juries?"

Yes, frankly...

"No, I reckon a Royal Commission on policing is the only sensible way to go to lance this boil."

For the State, yes. I wonder if it will? In the meantime, of course, the De Menezes family have other, civil, legal options open to them,