Friday, 31 October 2014

Can we still trust the police?

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This report worries me:

Police investigated the political beliefs of a grieving woman – including her views on human rights and the war in Afghanistan – after she complained about the police’s handling of the death of her mother.

The police also claimed that the woman appeared to be mentally ill and placed her on an official register for vulnerable adults without consulting any medical professionals. They later conceded that she was not mentally ill.

Internal police documents reveal how Sussex police compiled a 14-page secret report on Eccy de Jonge, a philosophy academic, shortly after her 83-year-old mother died in a road accident.

The police carried out “full intelligence checks” on de Jonge and gathered comments she had posted on media sites.

It seems to me that this is an abuse of power plain and simple. Perhaps the police here were over-zealous and the woman in question was persistent in her complaints. But the defence put up is equally disturbing:

“There are objectively no credible grounds on which to base an allegation of police officers being engaged in secret operations against the complainant or seeking to protect any officer involved in the tragic road traffic collision.

“In fact, we have done everything to seek to resolve allegations in a fair and proportionate way and attempt to act in the complainant’s best interests.

“Officers are entitled or expected to have discussions as to how to address complaints, make decisions, or how to attempt to make progress with fatal road traffic collision victim’s relatives – this is not evidence of nefarious dossiers, collusion, or protectionism.”

Now there may be more to all this than meets the eye but I fail to see how trawling through someone's life to see if they're 'anti-police' is not why we employ police officers. And more to the point the spokesman is wrong - we know this because the police did compile a 14-page document that did not relate in any manner at all to the matter under investigation (a complaint about the handling of a road traffic fatality).

This story reminds me that the police probably haven't got enough to do, are not subject to sufficient scrutiny and have more than sufficient powers. We are told that "if we've done nothing wrong, we've nothing to fear" - the woman in this case did nothing wrong yet the police used their powers to set about compiling a hatchet job - we do have something to fear after all.

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