Letter: When police step out of line

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The Independent Online
YOUR editorial "Thuggery in uniform" (31 March) was over the top when it compared the brutal callous murder by three servicemen in Cyprus and the civil action against the Metropolitan Police.

The three servicemen were investigated under the criminal law of Cyprus and found guilty in a criminal court. The police officers were also investigated and all the procedures laid down by Parliament, including the criminal law, were complied with throughout.

The allegations against the police officers were criminal allegations of assault and would have been scrutinised by the Crown Prosecution Service and supervised by the Police Complaints Authority. The burden of proof required in such investigations is beyond reasonable doubt and was found to be unsustainable. Surely you are not advocating that criminal allegations against police officers should be a lower burden of proof than the criminals that we deal with in our professional lives.

The damages awarded were "obscene" compared to the tariff for criminal injuries and that was the reason for my comment.

Two issues have, however, been identified: the lack of confidence in the police complaints procedure whereby police investigate police and the lack of confidence in the Police Complaints Authority.

We favour a totally independent complaints procedure despite the pitfalls that will be created because we want to see public confidence in the complaints procedure. We also favour a Royal Commission into policing when all these and other important issues can be put under the microscope, but we suspect that a hidden agenda will prevent such public scrutiny.

Bearing all this in mind you were very hasty in your ver- dict and your deliberations deplorable.

Mike Bennett

Chairman

Metropolitan Police Federation

Croyden, Surrey

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