Tuesday, April 01, 2014

IPCC: Ten Years of Excusing and Ignoring

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is ten years old today. It's also the fifth anniversary of the death of Ian Tomlinson. Let's remember how they dealt with that.

The Met had already spun the story of the man who collapsed and the valiant bobbies who tried to save him.

The IPCC, a significant proportion of whom are ex-police, took the police's word that Tomlinson hadn't had contact with them. They believed the rushed, discredited first autopsy by a police-friendly pathologist who has since been struck off that said he died of a heart attack and did not mention the injuries inflicted by PC Harwood that actually killed him, nor even the bruising on his head and body.

The Guardian got pictures of Tomlinson on the ground surrounded by riot officers. The police and IPCC didn't tell the family. When the journalist made contact with the family, the IPCC accused them of doorstepping a bereaved relatives in a time of grief, and briefed other media to say there was nothing in the suggestions that Tomlinson had any altercation with police.

Nick Hardwick, chair of the IPCC, went on Channel 4 News to say that there was no CCTV in the area of the fatal attack. After it was pointed out that there were six CCTV cameras in the area including two police-owned cameras were pointing directly at the spot, this was amended to say that the cameras weren't working.

We can, perhaps, believe that the cameras weren't working on the platform or train that Jean Charles de Menezes was killed on (even though the company operating them and London Underground staff were reported to contradict that story). It was a sudden, unexpected incident. But the idea that cameras at the heart of a massive police operation with months of preparation - over a hundred officers were monitoring the camera feeds - tests the bounds of credibility.

When the Guardian published the footage of the fatal assault, the IPCC and police went round to the paper's offices the same evening and demand it be taken down. They said it would upset the Tomlinson family. The next day the IPCC and police went and met with the family and suggested that the assailant might have been a protester in a stolen uniform.

Despite witness statements from several Metropolitan officers, the IPCC took five days to decide the police shouldn't investigate Tomlinson's death themselves.

An IPCC survey showed the Police Superintendents' Association, Association of Chief Police Officers and Police Federation are all "satisfied" with it. They appear less concerned with asking how complainants or the public feel about its performance; we're not the market it is aiming to please.

All of this came after the Police Action Law Group, a body representing over a hundred lawyers who deal with claims against the police, resigned from the IPCC's advisory body citing a pattern of favouritism towards the police, complaints being turned down despite strong evidence, indifference and rudeness towards complainants and delays stretching over several years in some cases.

Put simply, the IPCC has neither the powers nor the resources that it needs to get to the truth when the integrity of the police is in doubt. Don't take my word for it; that's a quote from the anti-establishment troublemakers at the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Meanwhile, today's news from the other IPCC  - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - reminds us that if the authorities had not been so busy bribing, arresting, battering, infiltrating and sexually abusing those of us who stuck our necks out to prevent environmental devastation, we might have made the social changes needed in time to head off some of the worst effects of climate change.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article, thanks.