The idea for this post came mainly from the comments on the Smiley Culture post but also on a few others. I never cease to be amazed at the outdated and paranoid views of some contributors regarding what they perceive as a culture of corruption within the police. The truth is that, in general, the opposite is the reality.
Fifty years ago under the auspices of good old Dixon of Dock Green, the truth was that public disorder was largely dealt with by the police by way of a beating in a dark alley. Suspected criminals were arrested, confessions were coerced, and occasionally where evidence was lacking, it was fabricated and the bad guys went to prison. The police didn't care what you went to prison for, if you deserved it that's where you should be. Very occasionally an innocent person was convicted and there have been a number of high profile cases showing this. Despite this, some people yearn for a return of the Dixon of Dock Green era.
Legislation, accountability and bureaucracy were introduced to address these cultural issues within the police. Over the last 50 years summary justice has disappeared. Rather than covering for one another there is now a culture of fear meaning officers are hampered in their effectiveness and watching every word they say, worried that another may report them. For example, violent offenders are assaulting police officers because they are not being robust enough, concerned that use of force may be perceived as excessive by a colleague. I am not naive and there are a few exceptions, particularly in some specialist departments. The Met TSG is one. I know two supervisors on the TSG. They are good supervisors and are slowly changing things but there is still an element of covering for some officers poor behaviour.
One of the worst changes in the police is the big brother approach to political correctness. When you attend one of the numerous diversity course it is drummed into you that on or off duty you must report inappropriate behaviour. One of he results of this is that supervisors are reluctant to attend any function where alcohol is present. So celebrations and leaving do's are high risk. The reason is that after a few drinks there is always a chance of someone making an inappropriate remark. It could be a sexist joke or, God forbid, a derogatory remark about sexuality for example. If you hear such a remark, and choose to ignore it, but someone else reports it, the risk to you is that you will be disciplined for not reporting it. For a PC that might mean a reprimand, for a supervisor it almost certainly means dismissal. I rarely attend off duty functions.
Regarding the comments about the police covering for each other and not getting rid of bad apples, nothing could be further from the truth. Every day, police officers are resigning or are sacked because of inappropriate behaviour. Every month a police officer is standing in a dock charged with an offence. In more than 90% of all these cases it is the police who have uncovered and dealt with the crime or behaviour. Officers being disciplined or charged as a result of complaints by the public are few and far between because the majority of complaints have no firm basis. That is another story.
Rather than corrupt thugs, the 2011 police 'service' is fast becoming staffed by ineffective automatons all made in the same PC mould.
The opinions and views expressed here are mine, and mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect the policies and views of the Utopian Police Force nor the City of Utopia.
The stories I tell here are all true but my purpose is not technical accuracy. My purpose is to illustrate the nature of policing in an educational and entertaining way.
I have tried to respect the privacy of the citizens of the city and to relate specific facts without identifying individuals. I believe I succeed in this but if you do recognize yourself and believe others will too, please contact me and I shall rectify it.