We have all read about and sympathised with the Hillsborough victims` families. Some might have been shocked by revelations of the police actions at the scene and the subsequent conspiracy to cover up their failings. And some including this former magistrate will not have been the least surprised. In just five minutes cruising the web this morning I have noted six articles which are deeply disturbing and revealing about the current state of policing integrity or the lack of in this country. These are concerned with senior officers and officials. For all ranks the figures are truly eye opening. West Midlands Constabulary eg has sacked 40 officers and staff for misconduct over the last four years. An example of the procedures required when disciplinary matters are considered within a police force is provided by these 29 pages from Derbyshire Police. *Yesterday it was reported that a Borough Commander in the Met Police was under investigation for gross misconduct. At this point of course it is solely allegation but the definition of gross misconduct is such as to be interesting. It is defined by the Met as, "Gross misconduct is defined as a breach of the standards of professional behaviour so serious that dismissal could be justified." Just yesterday after the Hillsborough verdict the newly appointed temporary Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police gave notice of resignation owing to her recent history in Manchester. Why on earth was she placed in post by the local Police and Crime Commissioner responsible? Surely her background must have been checked and found wanting and if not the incompetence is breathtaking. And he is not the only PCC to have had questions asked of competence and integrity. In Hampshire the PCC is facing serious questions also. Cleveland, the county where its Chief Constable was sacked in 2012, now has its PCC and Police Authority involved in a public dispute relating to matters arising from that dismissal. Not to be outdone, in Northamptonshire PCC Adam Simmonds is finding it awkward to extricate himself from allegations of illegal leaking of data.
The recently established College of Policing in its attempt to become a learned professional body such as the General Medical Council or the College of Optometrists has drawn up a working Code of Ethics. I wonder how long it will be before it is involved in its own controversy?
Over the years there have been public inquiries into many individual actions of police eg the murder of Stephan Lawrence. If any other so called profession had a similar history of incompetence, malfeasance and misconduct concerning senior personnel there would have been such outpourings from the great and the good not to mention public pressure that there would have been established a public inquiry headed by a Lord this or a Lord that into the whole operation of policing in this country encompassing all the strands encountered by the Independent Police Complaints Commission now renamed Office for Police Conduct.
There has been in recent years a renaming of the Border Agency and Criminal Records Bureau by the Home Office. It is a moot point whether apart from window dressing there has been any worthwhile benefit of such an exercise. Of one thing there is no doubt. There is an urgent need to clean out the Augean Stables.
ADDENDUM 4th May 2016
* It seems this sorry story has some way to run.