Media driven accountability witchhunts

Unlike many others who have commented (for whatever reason or purpose), I for one don’t feel inclined or comfortable to sit in retrospective judgement of the circumstances or ‘evidence’, that is what our courts are for (as intimated in the post below)…

Allcoppedout’s Blog: It’s time we were dealing with police accountability in an open public forum with evidence made properly available.  Wiltshire (Ruralshire if we are to believe an old slip of blog) police arrested a woman asleep in her car for refusing a breath test.  She’s pretty clearly assaulted in their custody and there was enough evidence to convince magistrates.  CCTV from the custody suite shows her being manhandled by Andrews… Read More

This seams like another one of those situations, like the Sunningdale incident earlier in the week, the Millbank Student Riot and Northumbria Police manhunt et al before. All incidents that highlight the age-old policing conundrum; your damned if you do and damned if you don’t. A factor also pointed out by Inspector Gadget.

Unfortunately and in my opinion dangerously, we appear to have reached the point whereby justice and punishment are actually being driven and metered out by the media. Our legal system may have its flaws but its the only one we’ve got and we should use it, and allow it to take its course.

If we’re not happy with it, it needs to be changed by informed and sensible democratic change, not by pre and post-event political rhetoric or social gut reaction and constant Facebook twittering. Post incident hindsight is a great skill to have but one which often misses the reality of situations.

I am all for accountability in public office but there is a fine line between accountability and witch-hunts!

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About Dave Hasney

National Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery - Previously a Recovery Worker and prior to that a Management Consultant and H&S Practitioner - Kept sane by Angling, Good Food, Real Ale & Wine - Cynical thoughts sometimes developed from others.

Posted on 20-11-2010, in Police. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Perhaps we are (once again) moving towards the Americanism that is ‘trial by reality TV’? How long before we have our own Judge Judy shite?

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  2. On his Grumpy, I think you have a lot right, but our legal system is so unfit for purpose it lets down the argument, making it merely conservative-reactionary. The media ‘are’ hopeless, but they could never represent the kind of public scrutiny we need. Old chestnuts like ‘the devil if you do, the devil if you don’t’ won’t do either, even if true too much of the time.
    I was a shipyard manager long after the writing on the wall and terminal decline had set in. Our CJS looks as much of a basket case now, though like the shipyards it could be saved, but won’t be because competing interests will try to swing things their way, rather than look for some real mutual understanding and new models.
    Our courts quite obviously let many people down, generally victims. They get loads wrong on evidence. In the Rodney King beating, there was no conviction on the beating – they had to bring in the civil rights stuff. There are parallels with CCTV see are seeing now, including the smear tactics police use. Sadly, if I was a defence brief, I’d hide any CCTV until after cops lied, as it’s now so easy to deny through various stories about ‘orange juice’ and ‘door gripping’. LAPD always claimed what King got was standard procedure. If what Somerville got was (as Judge Roy Bean says), then we will have to move to civil rights prosecutions. Sooner or later, juries will start to disbelieve police evidence, much as in NI, if we keeo up the denials of police bullying.

    What contributors to Gadget can’t see is the basic business reason for public scrutiny, which is improvement and the prevention of groupthink (which sadly they exhibit in spades). Andrews got the red and green light from different judges, though frankly I don’t think he should have reached court as he did. What if he does this kind of thing on a serial basis? Did anyone check? We prevent rapist anonymity (though we should not) in order to try and gather more evidence. If Andrews was acting like this on a regular basis, should the court not know? Whether assault or not, what he was doing was wrong, looked dire on what CCTV we have and is behaviour that would have led me to send him home and for psychological help (at least if there was a way to do this without killing his career – I suspect not).
    We have to think deeper than reaction on these issues. I suspect we cannot do this in broken Britain.

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  3. One day a case will be thrown out on the basis an officer can’t get a fair trial due to excessive press exposure of vital evidence and any associated detrimental comment.
    I don’t know how this video evidence is allowed in court. every judge tells you not to discuss a case when you have given evidence and it is still ongoing so how can anyone get a fair trial if the press have already convicted you prior to any case?

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