This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Truth, a 'twisty path' and three actions for the Met to take

It is difficult not to despair over the headline in the Independent (and other papers) this morning:

Ellison Report findings: After years of secrecy and misdirection, the true story of how corruption tainted the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

To cite just one paragraph:
Faced with a choice between offering up its intelligence on Davidson, whose conduct had already been the subject of hostile questioning at the inquiry, and potentially even more incendiary information that it had placed an officer inside the Lawrence family camp, the Yard made its decision - silence
We are, it seems still travelling down the "long and disturbingly twisty path towards the truth". I cannot even begin to imagine the impact of this new information on Stephen Lawrence's family. I remain in awe of their steadfast and indomitable pursuit of the whole account of what happened to Stephen and the ensuing investigations.

Some people, perhaps even a few police officers, will be thinking (and perhaps saying out loud): this all happened years ago, times have moved on and there will always be a very small number of 'rotten apples' etc. And yes of course, the Met then and now are two very different organisations, separated by an epoch of action on institutional racism, all forms of discrimination and corruption.

And yet amateur and professional commentators are now making links between this chapter in the present history of the MPS and Mark Duggan and Plebgate and undercover officers engaging in personal relationships and, and, and... It would seem that the Met has an almost epic capability to damage its own reputation to degrees that anarchists and the Daily Mail can only dream about. And the fact that this reputational damage then appears to spill out across all police services must be intensely frustrating for many (that might be an understatement).

The Met, of course, is a vast, complex and very busy organisation which successfully manages to do a fine job 99.9% of time (or so). The big question is: what else must the organisation do (or stop doing) so that the 0.1% is not thought of as being 100%, 10% or even 1%? 

This, I would imagine, is a question taxing people at the highest echelons of the police service & government. Although I hesitate to answer (who am I after all...), these are three actions I would be taking if I were in charge:
  • I would follow through with a full, adequately resourced and utterly transparent investigation into all of the lines of inquiry opened up by the Ellison review
  • I would scour the universe for strategies that will work to make the Met look, act and feel more like those that the organisation serves
  • I would take an in depth look at ethical practice in the Met and install whatever organisational development and public engagement is required to ensure that the people of London and beyond have increasingly greater confidence in their police service.
What would you do?

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