Letter:Change unfair police procedures

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The Independent Online
Sir: You report that no police officers will be prosecuted over the death of Wayne Douglas (Significant Shorts, 6 August). We have a largely white police force whose record on fair policing of the black community is very questionable and where statistics on, for instance, stop and search demonstrate that a black person's chance of being stopped are much greater than a white person's.

Furthermore, when such a death occurs the investigation is carried out by police officers themselves. While the Police Complaints Authority has a role in supervision it is police officers that carry out the real work. An indication of the success of this system is shown by the percentage of complaints that lead to charges being preferred against police officers - only one per cent. There are no figures on the relative "success" of complaints from black people.

While many police officers are scrupulous in their investigations their role inevitably taints the investigation. The relatives of the person who has died and the black community more generally are not likely to be reassured by such an investigation that everything was done to uncover the truth.

Finally, when the case is dealt with by the coroner's court there is again an unfair system at work. For instance, the police officers themselves will be represented by lawyers as will the Metropolitan Police and both these groups will have access to all the evidence and documents. The relatives of the person concerned will rarely, if ever, have legal aid or access to the documents and evidence.

Whilst people are dying when being dealt with by the police it is time to change the procedure and time to set up a truly independent system to investigate these cases.

JOHN WADHAM

Director, National Council

for Civil Liberties

London SE1

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