DAME Cressida Dick – still clinging on by her fingernails to the top police job in the country – has announced an “independent inquiry” into the “wider culture” at the Met following the brutal murder of Sarah Everard by one of its officers.
How, one wonders, will the conclusions differ from the 2012 report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) titled “The abuse of police powers to perpetrate sexual violence”.
Citing the case of former Northumbria police constable Stephen Mitchell, who was jailed for life in 2011 for “a number of serious sex attacks against women he met through his job”, it concluded that, among a list of other recommendations, “robust standards of vetting” were needed, “effective supervision to identify worrying trends”, “proper boundaries” and “respond to reported concerns”.
Sound familiar? Or how about the 2016 report, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which revealed that hundreds of officers were accused of sexually abusing victims and suspects in what it called “the most serious corruption issue facing the service”.
It concluded that forces in England and Wales didn’t have a coherent approach to tackling the issue and had to be more proactive in rooting out officers and staff abusing power for sexual gain.
One suggestion was the profiling of officers to single out those who might be likely to commit such abuse. It also pointed out that the recommendations laid out in the 2012 report appeared to have not been acted on.
And now, here we are again, spending yet more taxpayers’ money to no doubt reach the same conclusions that have been reached twice before.
This time, though, public anger at the horrendous breach of trust that saw serving officer Wayne Couzens use his warrant card to abduct, rape and murder a law-abiding, innocent young woman must surely fuel real change at the heart of all police forces across the UK.
Former Met Commissioner Lord Blair said this week that “no organisation can be restructured to prevent manipulative homicidal maniacs such as [Harold] Shipman or Wayne Couzens carrying out individual crimes”.
That’s true. But, in the case of Couzens, the clear signs were there that he was a misogynistic oddball who had not only been accused twice of indecent exposure, but was nicknamed “the rapist” by fellow officers, openly used prostitutes and even brought one along to a police colleague’s party.
So if he’d been suspended pending further investigation into his highly questionable behaviour, he wouldn’t have had a warrant card and Sarah would still be alive.
Just to be clear, it is not the job of women — as ludicrously suggested by policing minister Kit Malthouse — to check an officer’s credentials (which Couzens had anyway).
And as for the Met website suggestion that, if concerned whether a police officer is genuine or not, we should run in to the street and flag down a passing bus . . . well, it’s so borderline moronic that it beggars belief.
No, it’s the job of the police to restore our trust in them.
Tighter vetting is a start but, to my mind, it also means recruiting more women (ideally, all street patrols would be a male and female) and perhaps setting up an anonymous phone line where fellow officers can report a concern about a colleague without fear of reprisal.
It remains that the majority of police officers are wholly decent people fearlessly doing a dangerous job that the majority of us wouldn’t take on, and it should never become a witch-hunt over minor human failings.
But equally, the findings of this latest report must be acted on.
As activist Ash Sarkar points out, we shouldn’t be framing this as “how to prevent another Sarah Everard”. We should be focusing on how we prevent another Wayne Couzens.
Alma’s Not Normal a new fav
IF you liked Fleabag then you’ll love BBC2’s Alma’s Not Normal.
Written by Bolton-born comedian Sophie Willan, who plays the leading role, it’s laugh-out-loud funny with poignant, makes-you-think moments too.
Better still, it has a scene-stealing performance by Siobhan Finneran (Downton Abbey, Happy Valley) who plays a recovering junkie described as “the Iggy Pop of the psych ward”.
You’ll find the boxset in iPlayer. You’re welcome.
Jet pack paramedics
PARAMEDICS with “pioneering” jet packs could soon be rescuing stranded hill walkers and mountaineers.
Trouble is, the word “pioneering” can sometimes mean that any weakness may not have yet been ironed out.
In which case, the more traditional rescuers may find themselves searching for the original victim and the person initially sent to help them.
Gross lack of care
DOREEN OSBORNE, 95, was taken to hospital in “a severely hypothermic state” after the owner of her care home failed to replace two boilers. She died later the same day.
Paramedics found five other residents suffering from hypothermia at the Pine Heath care home in Norfolk, which had been without proper heating for three weeks as the winter of 2016 set in, a court heard last week.
One of the 1960s boilers had stopped working five months earlier.
The company owner, millionaire Kaldish Singh, 56, has been fined £81,000 and the home is now permanently closed.
But how can this travesty of supposed “care” be allowed to happen in the modern age?
When a resident freezes to death because the owner is too tight to fix a boiler, it’s surely a gross dereliction of watchdog Care Quality Commission’s boast to “make sure care services are safe, caring, effective, responsive and well led”.
Running record is icing on the cake for Anna
CONGRATULATIONS to all those who ran the London Marathon at the weekend – you’re braver and fitter than me.
Of particular note was 42-year-old Anna Bassil from St Albans, Herts.
She dressed as a cup cake (as you do) and broke the Guinness World Record for the very specific title of “the fastest marathon by a woman dressed as a sweet food”.
It reminds me of the time Chris Tarrant went to cheer on then-wife Ingrid and spoke of his pride at seeing her run past . . . until he punctured the moment by adding that she was “then overtaken by someone dressed as a Strawberry Mivvi”.
HGV driver shortage
THE shortage of HGV drivers has been attributed to a combination of Covid, Brexit and the IR35 tax reform that, according to the Road Haulage Association, “has resulted in agency labour withdrawing their services”.
And according to one driver, there’s another factor too.
Mark Lacey, of Dartford, Kent, says he’s been out of work from June this year “because of civil servants taking so long to renew my licence”.
As Malcolm Tucker might say, it’s a “f***ing omnishambles”.
A bad idea in theory
TV presenter Jem Stansfield has been awarded a £1.6million compensation payout from the BBC.
The 50-year-old aeronautics engineer sustained whiplash, brain damage, psychological scars and dizziness after volunteering to be a “crash test dummy” in a stunt for BBC1 science show Bang Goes The Theory.
Begging the question: Whoever thought this was a good idea?
I only have a D in “general science” at O level but common sense would tell me that the reason the car industry uses dummies in the first place is that catapulting an actual human forward at speed would likely result in some sort of injury.
And now licence-fee payers are funding the fallout.
Kylie crisis on point
FUEL crisis, major roads blocked by a handful of protesters the police seem powerless to prevent, too many GPs still not allowing face-to-face appointments, a mental health crisis looming, children with dis- abilities having vital services stopped because of the pandemic, wokeism stifling robust debate in universities, the HGV driver shortage and potentially no turkeys for Christmas.
I could go on.
But suffice to say, the UK feels so chaotic and rudderless right now that even national treasure Kylie Minogue is reported to be leaving these shores to return to her native Australia.
When such a hitherto devoted anglophile might be stuffing her gold hot pants in her tucker bag and waltzing back Down Under, then Johnson, we’ve got a problem.
HUMANS are well on their way to living until 130.
With the world in its current state, who would want to?
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