The condemnation on Radio 4's 'PM' by Lord MacDonald, a former DPP, of the Commissioner's TV statement was coruscating. Hogan-Howe was 'complacent', public faith in the police had been completely eroded and they no longer commended the respect and consent necessary to function; as a body they had lied, cheated, deceived and wriggled away from proper blame so often that they could no longer continue to function without fundamental change - a Royal Commission was needed.
And indeed the Lawrence abuse has capped Plebgate, the beating to death of a drunk paper seller and the centuries of unjust jail time served by the victims of 'fitting-up'. The police can only work with public consent, and they've lost it. Even the experience of middle-class middle-England over the past years has turned it to consider Plod to be just another crim but in uniform; for the past year, millions of rail passengers headed for London Bridge have passed the abbreviation ACAB in four-foot letters painted on a gable wall. The rail people are in no hurry to remove it.
Hogan-Howe's weasel words can't hide the reality that the 1964 Police Act sent UK policing in a completely wrong direction by increasing the size of police forces, reducing local public accountability and substituting greater control by the Home Office. There is a place for nationally or regionally organised police specialisms - terrorism, financial crime, arts and antiques, but the police cannot use this as an excuse for large merged forces. More than 99% of all police work is local plod-level call outs to disturbances, drunkeness, petty thefts and motoring offences for which there are no economies of scale and which need no specialist equipment or unique expertise to manage. Many consider the shadowy ACPO organisation itself to be inherently criminal, and indeed when that organisation challenged the powers of the Home Secretary it had its wings clipped. But not, unfortunately, its neck wrung.
Once the police have lost public confidence they have lost their place in our society. If that point has not quite been reached, it's not far from it. Hogan-Howe's banal sticking-plaster words are not what's needed - only an admission by the Home Office that it can no longer effectively police Britain will secure the change needed.