Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Prisoners, Property and Water

Just when you thought the dust was settling, the Met have managed another media headline spectacular. Waterboarding suspects? Handily, the Times point out, in case you were confused with the other Metropolitan Police in the UK, this is London's Metropolitan Police.

There are two branches of this story, one of which I sadly don't find surprising, the other I find incredulous.

Apparently, this all started with an Enfield drugs bust, and it sounded like a good one, with three in the bin for drug importation. Probably even got a mention in the local rag or the Mets inhouse propoganda journal, the cannily titled "The job". However, thats as good as the story gets.

Clearly, something has gone wrong from then on. The DPS, an alternative acronym for PSD, whichever combination of Standards, Professional and Directorate you care for- the Police police, have got whiff of something rotten.

I think I have a degree of understanding for the officers who felt it not fair that an apparent thoroughly illegal lifestyle of drug importation should result in expensive electro gadget refinery and thought of better places for them. After all, the Proceeds of Crime Act does takes a lot of time and hassle through the courts and this was more effective and satisfying.

However, summary justice like that is only ever going to bring you trouble. There's an old mantra that has been ignored- the three Ps that can get you fired- Prisoners, Prostitutes and Property. As unfair as it seems that the criminal element wallow in bling, theft is theft however Robin Hood esque your motives, especially when you're supposed to be the impartial sheriff.

That side of the story I don't find unbelievable, and reading in one article or the other if the DPS were at the covert surveillance stage then this was not the first time this particular band of 7 pound note cops had had a crafty property bonus and frankly had it coming.

But this waterboarding thing is so far out of left field that I honestly don't think I can accept it as true for the sake of my own professional pride of wearing a uniform saying "Police", however remote and distant Enfield is. The cynic in me reads articles about how difficult it is to prove it took place and equates it to being equally difficult to disprove. The state of the Met as it is today post G20 some commentators will never be shook in their opinion that it took place regardless what any investigation, inquiry or jury may say.

For such an event to have taken place the amount of collaboration going on between so many officers is disturbingly huge. It can only have taken place at the place of arrest as there is simply no way on earth anyone would do such a thing at any custody suite, every angle covered as it is in audio and visual cameras, with any random officer coming in or out to ask the exasperated custody sergeant some banal question.

I just hope this allegation turns out to be somehow irrevocably disproved. If the opposite, then frankly I hang my head in associated shame.

Note - 11th July- I read today in the Metro that the suspects are now claiming compensation- why am I not surprised in the least. Furthermore, apparently the torture allegations involve the schoolyard bullying tactic of flushing head down toilet bowls. Bullying, unpleasant, and utterly unprofessional yes, but waterboarding? No. Yet the media still went with the waterboarding headlines. Why?