Two stories of police bastardry have come to light in the last few days. First, a police officer who wilfully failed to investigate rape cases properly (who I previously wrote about here) is in court for misconduct for this behaviour. His behaviour went on for three years, and only came to light long after the fact. Secondly–and this is a huge one–the Hillsborough report has revealed the true extent of how badly the police fucked up.
41 of the 96 people who died in the disaster could have lived were it not for the behaviour of the police and emergency services. The police then went on to cover this up, defaming the dead and smearing Liverpool fans as violent drunks who were to blame for the tragedy. It wasn’t true. It was never true, but the police colluded with the media and the coroner and the original inquest to make a concerted effort for people to believe it. It took 23 years for the truth to finally come out.
This pattern–the act, the cover-up, the truth only emerging long after the damage has been done–is seen repeatedly in police behaviour. Jean Charles de Menezes. Ian Tomlinson. Stephen Lawrence. They fuck up. Sometimes they kill. Sometimes they are negligent. Either way, they work as hard as possible to ensure that the truth never sees the light of day. Sometimes it can take decades to find out what really happened.
In a lot of cases, we’ll probably never know. These are the collusions and cover-ups we know about.
It serves a powerful function. It stops us from seeing the true, vicious face of the police, makes us forget that we cannot trust them. Even if the truth eventually emerges, it is long after the fact, and many handwave this away by saying “they’re not like that any more”.
They are still like that, but it will take years to see this, and then people will assume that surely, by now, they must have moved on. But they probably will not. There is too much trust in the police, which is repeatedly betrayed then hidden by spin and lies.
Don’t trust the police. While some of them may be decent human beings, many are not. And even the good ones are complicit in this culture of secrecy.