The Guardian
Accusations of criminal torture and planted evidence are highly damaging. They must be thoroughly investigated Jenny Jones The latest depressing news of alleged crimes by Met police officers is much worse than previous accusations of brutality at demos and theft through the misuse of credit cards. If true, the claims that six officers planted evidence and tortured prisoners indicates that sections of the police are out of control. That officers might think they could get away with criminal behaviour and human rights abuses is profoundly shocking and sends out a signal to other officers that it might be possible to commit all sorts of crime and not get caught. As a Green party politician on the Police Authority, who has consistently raised the issues of the Met’s scant regard for Londoners’ civil liberties and human rights, my heart sinks to new depths at the thought that we might be slipping back into the bad old days of the 1980s and earlier, with police fabrication of evidence and the meting out of summary justice. If these accusations are substantiated then serious disciplinary action must be taken against those involved, and a thorough investigation carried out into how it could have happened. It is also disturbing that an alleged assault, which happened in November, only came to light as part of an investigation into alleged corruption. There are other cases where accusations against police officers have been dropped with very little examination. The scale of this emerged recently when Babar Ahmad took the police to court and won £60,000 compensation. Documents submitted to the court showed that four of the officers had 60 allegations of assault against them, 37 of which were made by black or Asian men. One of the officers had been accused of 26 separate assaults, 17 of them against black or Asian men. But when Ahmad’s lawyers asked for details of these allegations, police said they had “lost” several large mail sacks detailing at least 30 of the complaints. Scotland Yard said that all but one of the 77 allegations against the six officers had been found to be unsubstantiated. And what has this done to community relations with ethnic minorities, as well as the rest of London? The police must be a public protector, ensuring community safety, not an organisation that uses criminal torture tactics. The best way for the Met police to preserve its reputation is to take all allegations of misbehaviour seriously, investigate them properly and deal with any guilty officers firmly. The Met has to be a modern highly professional force, not some appalling Ashes to Ashes remake. I really don’t envy Paul Stephenson, the commissioner, who has to deal with the fallout from this, whether or not the claims of corruption and torture are substantiated. I’m positive he will be absolutely furious at this further contamination of the Met’s reputation. I hope to see some real leadership from him in the weeks to come, making it clear that all crime and corruption by Met officers will be dealt with urgently and severely.

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