The Met must be held accountable for its actions…
So, it looks like London is set to burn for a second night. The last two nights represent the pinnacle of the failure of the Metropolitan Police Authority in both its duty to maintain law and order and do so in a way that can obviously command the trust and support of the people of London. It is not hard to see why and how this trust has been lost, as the smoke has cleared, reports have begun to come in that suggest the spark for the Tottenham riots may well have been an unacceptable act of police brutality and aggression towards a 16 year old girl:
“They beat her with a baton, and then the crowd started shouting ‘run, run’, and there was a hail of missiles,” said Anthony Johnson, 39. “She had been saying: ‘We want answers, come and speak to us.'”
Is it now a crime to ask questions of the police in this country? Is it an act that should be met with this response? Of course, this is not the case, if we still hold it true that we live in anything approaching a democracy. This is especially true when the questions seem to be valid ones about a fatal shooting of somebody, who it was initially claimed shot at police but now, those claims are looking dubious, to say the least.
The truth of the claim that a 16 yo was attacked needs to be established and any officer found to have taken part in this should be dismissed and charged like the common criminal they are. If there is truth in this, then these people are no better than those they are desperately trying too, and failing to control. It should go without saying that those that enforce the law must never be seen to be above it, if they are then, well, we have seen the results on London’s streets. The law ceases to function.
Of course, that is unlikely to happen; too much has been whitewashed; too much swept under the carpet and the Met, to put not too fine a point on it, has been living a life far too free of the fear of the consequences of its action for far too long. It’s impunity, its seeming impregnability stems from its role in national policing. It is responsible for co-ordinating and leading counter-terrorism efforts, the protection of the Royal Family and of senior government ministers. This gives it a close relationship to the state, a too close relationship for it to be considered trustworthy and capable of properly being the neutral enforcer of the law it is meant to be. All these functions should be stripped from it immediately – they should be made the responsibility of either a newly created force or incorporated into the remit of other bodies.
Furthermore, it needs to feel the heat of accountability but accountability to the people. As a transitional measure to its eventual oversight but a directly elected and independent body, it should be placed under the temporary direct supervision of the London Assembly. The Mayor should have no further say in how the Met is run and he certainly should not cherry-pick the members of the MPA which should be disbanded in its current form and re-formed on the basis of being directly elected and being an independent body from the Assembly. Finally, a full public inquiry into the riots and, by extension, the Met, must be held.
The rioters are out of control but so is the Met. It’s time it was brought to book and made responsible for its actions. If it isn’t then it will continue to act with impunity and fail in its duties and London will continue to burn.
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