Monday, June 24, 2013

self-investigation injustice (slight return)

To make undeniable trouble go away, hire someone sympathetic to run an inquiry. Then fend off all specific complaints with, 'it would be inappropriate for me to comment while the inquiry is ongoing'. Then keep it running for as long as possible in the hope that the general public loses interest and forgets, and those personally wronged get worn down, crumble under the stress and give up.

Mick Creedon, the Chief Constable of Derbyshire, is investigating the undercovers scandal.

Creedon offered a "100%" assurance the matter would be properly investigated. He added that prosecutors were already being asked to consider whether criminal offences had been committed by generations of undercover operatives who had been planted in protest groups over the past 45 years.

This includes the possibility of prosecuting officers who committed criminal acts, such as sexual assaults. But then we're told

Keith Vaz MP, the chair of the home affairs select committee, has already called on Scotland Yard to inform parents whose children's identities were used by undercover police.
However, Creedon said it was "highly unlikely" he would contact the parents because it would require confirming the false identities used by former operatives.

It would only confirm their fake name, not their real identity. However, they cannot prosecute an officer without publicising their full name and details. If they won't do it for fake names, they certainly won't do it for real names. Which means that prosecution will only be an option for thiose who have been caught by activists and journalists. So far that is twelve, out of what is believed to be between 100 and 200 officers.

So Creedon is actually giving about an 8% assurance that it will be properly investigated. We're also told it may well run - and they appear to be serious - until 2016. In the Care Quality Commission cover-up scandal the minister in charge was pleased that those responsible were rapidly named. What's different here then?

To be fair, what institution would do a daming report on itself? It's no insult to presume bias. This is why, in most fields, the more serious the charges the more independent the investigation into it. But Creedon specifically rubbishes the idea of an independent inquiry, saying he will do a better job than they could.

In case you've any residual confidence in this self-investigation, he blithely ignores the long history of extensive cover-ups involving thousands of officers that - even when exposed - still don't get anyone convicted. Instead he gets in there first with his supposed affrontery that tells you all you need to know about where his allegiances and biases lie and what the report will say.

"There has always been public concern about police investigating the police, but I'll be brutally honest: there is no one as good at doing it as the police," he said. "We don't seek to hide things. We do actually seek to get the truth and we do it properly and I frankly find it almost insulting that people suggest that in some way, because I'm a police officer, I'm not going to search the truth."

Stephen Lawrence. Orgreave. Christopher Alder. Greenham Common. Blair Peach. Joy Gardner. Hillsborough. Colin Roach. Ian Tomlinson. Liddle Towers. Mark Duggan.

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