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
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

 

Political satire is funny, but it also causes cynicism and apathy

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links