The Goddard Inquiry and the death of the police

When a police officer is killed in the line of duty, other officers take it personally. An attack on an officer is an attack on a symbol of the community’s legitimate authority. When such symbols are attacked, the whole community is under threat. For this reason, the community and its government take a particular interest in investigating these murders and bringing the culprit to justice. The police work extra hard to bring the murderer to justice. We can see this in the case of Keith Blakelock.[1]

Who killed the police as an institution?

In the UK, the police as an institution have been murdered. The paedophile scandal that engulfs the country killed it. The Goddard Inquiry has begun and more stories are told of powerful people who were not investigated despite numerous and persistent allegations against them. The police failures span decades.

The failures are not limited to a single police force. The failures can be seen across all forces. The scale of the problem goes from national level to the regional level and the local level. There is no part of UK society that is immune to these failures. At a national level, the public have focused on Jimmy Savile and the police failures across the country to deal with him. However, the same problem can be seen at a regional level. Consider the case of Peter Jaconelli who is not as well known nationally. In his case, the North Yorkshire Police failed to investigate him despite many claims over the years.[2] The excuse that it was an “organisational failure” is what killed UK policing as institution.[3]

Lessons learned and connecting the dots.

Many in the police and their defenders will say “That was in the past. We learned the lessons and we have moved on.” In a certain sense, that will be true. The police have learned lessons and the police have changed since then, but is it enough? The deeper problem remains. The murderer has not been caught. They have only dealt with some of the crime scenes. What is becoming clearer with each day is that the crime scene is all over the country. The police as an institution have been murdered.

What is to be done?

The police, if they are to resurrect the police as institution, have to investigate their own murder. They have to investigate as thoroughly as if one of their own had been killed in the line of duty. If they do less, what is the point? What is the point of having the police? What is the point of having a justice system? If the police do not investigate this crime to make up for the failures over decades, then they truly will be bullies with badges who work for the privileged and powerful to protect them from the weak and the vulnerable. Is that what police officers signed up to become?

Only by bringing the powerful and privileged to justice will the police be able to resurrect the police as an institution.






About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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3 Responses to The Goddard Inquiry and the death of the police

  1. You are making a big mistake by suggesting they investigate themselves. The time has come for there to be a Royal Commission. Let’s let others look at the modernisation of the Police and Criminal Justice system, out of which we will gain a Sevice fit for the 21st Century

    • Thanks for the email. We have to believe that there are honourable and decent people within the police who will do the right thing. Otherwise, as I suggest in the post, what is the point of the police. If they cannot bring the powerful (including those in the police) to justice, why do they exist? If they are simply the servants of the powerful, why have the pretense of justice or even law enforcement?

      • Well we complain about the MP’s awarding themselves pay increases, and about the press and self regulation why should the Police be any different. There comes a time when you have to look at things afresh, news eyes, new thoughts and constructing a criminal justice process that is fit for the 21st Century. Those in post have too many personal agendas. Many do not like change, many are incapable of change and may do not see the need for it for as far a they are concerned they can do no wrong. If they serve society then Society must be the masters and they the servants, with a recognition of their lawful duty. A Royal Commission is badly needed. The last in the 1980’s, which was a Royal Commission on Criminal procedure dragged the Police into the 20th Century. We cannot wait another 70 years for another one.

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