Yet more offences to be taken into consideration

The death of Azelle Rodney exposes the flaws in the police system once again

Share

Of the ever-lengthening list of charges against the police, a judge-led inquiry’s verdict of unlawful killing in the shooting of Azelle Rodney may not be the most egregious.

After all, the allegations that the Met conducted a smear campaign against the family of the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence take some beating.

But yesterday’s ruling on the death of Mr Rodney – coming as it does not only eight years after the event, but also after exculpatory reviews by both the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Crown Prosecution Service – nonetheless shines an unavoidably bright light on the endemic lack of accountability in British law enforcement.

The case of Mr Rodney is still far from closed. The officer who shot the 24-year-old known gangster six times in quick succession says he thought the suspect had picked up a gun; Sir Christopher Holland yesterday judged “he could not rationally have believed that”. Lawyers for the marksman hit back at the findings, branding them “irrational” in return. With the incident referred – once again – to the IPCC, and straight on to the CPS, the rights and wrongs may yet be decided in court.

They should be. But the fact that it has taken nearly a decade is unacceptable, not only out of consideration for the dead man’s family, but also for the officer who now faces trial for a split-second decision taken many years ago.

It ought not need to be said that if police are found to have been overzealous in discharging their duties, they should face the law just as any other citizen would. Time and again, however, the conclusions of the supposedly independent watchdog are found to be lacking.

Indeed, yesterday’s report from Sir Christopher merely emphasises the litany of incompetence, cover-up and corruption in the face of which the IPCC has been repeatedly proved at best toothless, at worst complicit in a “protecting our own” culture that is fundamentally undermining public trust in Britain’s police.

Put simply, decades of scandals – from the Birmingham Six to phone hacking, from the Hillsborough stadium disaster, to the death of Ian Tomlinson, to the still-unresolved shenanigans over “plebgate” – have left a stain on the reputation of Britain’s police that cannot be convincingly explained away. Nor are the statistics any more encouraging. Nearly 1,000 people have died in custody since 1990, without a single police officer receiving a jail term as a result. Similarly, out of 8,500 allegations of wrongdoing in the past three years, only 13 have led to a conviction.

In too many cases, it is only through dogged campaigning, and the resulting full-disclosure public inquiries, that the real stories emerge. And the recent slew of allegations over the bungled the Stephen Lawrence case – including the accusation that the Met targeted the Lawrence family and, as revealed by this newspaper, the claims that several other forces attempted to undermine the credibility of evidence to the subsequent Macpherson inquiry into police racism – suggest that, so far, we may only have scratched the surface.

Taken together, then, such revelations add up to a police culture where officers too often act with impunity. Although the vast majority of individuals do a difficult job with great courage and commitment, those that do not are shielded by a system that is closed, obfuscatory and a law unto itself.

After so many failures, the IPCC’s ability to hold the police to account must be in question. Yesterday’s report on the Rodney case only makes it more so. Until the handling of complaints is radically overhauled, public trust in the integrity of Britain’s police cannot begin to be restored.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai  

China has exposed the fatal flaws in our liberal economic order

Ann Pettifor
Jeremy Corbyn addresses over a thousand supporters at Middlesbrough Town Hall on August 18, 2015  

Thank God we have the right-wing press to tell us what a disaster Jeremy Corbyn as PM would be

Mark Steel
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future