Corruption is rife in British Policing and the authorities are failing to protect whistle-blowers according to two separate reports by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Serious Organised Crime Agency. The reports show drug dealing is on the rise amongst officers, some of them have had sex with witnesses and half of all cases of corruption are never investigated.
According to the reports there were three thousand allegations of corruption against officers last year, but London’s Metropolitan Police still only suspended 73 in the past two years. However, a report by Neil Darbyshire in The Spectator claims senior police officers believe the solution to this is to shut down criticism from a free press.
Mr Darbyshire cites evidence of the use of the Official Secrets Act to compel a Guardian journalist to reveal the source of a story about celebrity phone hacking. The act was intended to be used to track down traitors during the Cold War, but the Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe authorised its use in this case.
Hogan-Howe also put two hundred police officers onto the investigation into journalistic wrongdoing after the Leveson Inquiry. Darbyshire claimed this had “wider implications” for police integrity and was an example of the leadership “stretching the law” to “bully and intimidate” its opponents. He claimed this in turn led lower ranking officers to conclude they could do the same.
Darbyshire warns this attitude could lead to “a culture of semi-criminal behaviour” in which legitimate whistleblowers are hunted down like traitors.
“The police appear to be retreating into a bunker of secrecy and paranoia where all news must be ‘managed’ and freedom of information is considered a threat. On its website — alongside some vacuous rubbish about ‘declaring total war on crime’ — the Met claims to be committed to carrying out its duties with ‘humility’ and ‘transparency’.
“Could anything be further from the truth? With its constant leak inquiries, harassment of whistleblowers and journalists, and scandalous misuse of terror legislation to tap the phone records and emails of ordinary citizens, the Met is probably more authoritarian and opaque than at any time in modern history. This culture comes directly from the top.”
Police corruption, he warns, is probably more entrenched than at any time since 1970 when the Times splashed across its front page a sensational story headlined ‘London police in bribe allegations.’
The story, backed by taped conversations, bluntly accused three Yard detectives of planting evidence and taking back-handers from criminals ‘in exchange for dropping charges, being lenient with evidence in court, and for allowing a criminal to work unhindered’. If it had been just those three rogue officers, the story might quickly have been forgotten. But the tapes hinted at a far more endemic culture of graft and criminality.of corruption that came as a profound shock to a nation accustomed to seeing its constabulary through the prism of Dixon of Dock Green and Z Cars. A leading criminal lawyer of the time remarked: ‘It was like catching the Archbishop of Canterbury in bed with a prostitute.’
Over the next few years, the Obscene Publications Squad was exposed as a tawdry protection racket extracting regular tithes from pornographers and Soho club-owners; drugs squad officers were shown to be running illegal cannabis deals; and half the Flying Squad was in the pay of criminals. These were not the clandestine activities of a few low-ranking detectives on the take. Whole squads were involved and the seniority of some of those taken down at the Old Bailey was shocking. In the words of trial judge Mr Justice Mars-Jones, it was ‘corruption on a scale that beggars description’.
Darbyshire says that the police’s ongoing war on the free press would make such an exposé almost impossible today, risking the police becoming untouchable. He claims the reason for the secrecy was the background of senior officers, largely from management training schemes, who have little experience in the rank and file.
Fast-tracked and homogenised from an early stage, they can be difficult to tell apart. Often laden with degrees in law, business and ‘criminology’ accumulated during their police careers, they are more managers than police officers — managers of budgets, managers of public relations and, most importantly, managers of risk to their own careers. They speak in the obscure, vapid jargon of stakeholder engagement, paradigm shifts and proactivity. So much for transparency.