‘Criminality in ranks’: UK calls for crackdown on plummeting police standards
An investigation by the home affairs select committee revealed
inconsistencies in policing standards across England and Wales.
The probe came in response to a series of scandals involving
senior officers across England and Wales which cost the
government over $35 million according to the study. The scandals
involved reports of officers using the names of dead children in
undercover operations, corruption, abuse of power and
falsification of statistics.
"Broken systems of accountability and a patchwork of police standards and training, have allowed a minority of officers to get away with corruption and incompetence,” said Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee that carried out the study. He added that a new code of ethics and integrity should be brought in to stamp out corruption and abuse of authority.
He said there had been examples of “misconduct and criminality within their ranks” and there was an “undercurrent of discontent” throughout the service as austerity measures are having an adverse effect on “the sense of worth of ordinary officers."
The study demanded greater transparency and that the system of
accountability be reformed, preventing officers from retiring to
escape corruption allegations and misconduct hearings.
One of the main issues touched upon by the study was the huge disparity in salaries in the force, with senior officers being paid up to ten times more than their lower-ranking counterparts.
The starting salary for a police officer is $28,000 compared to police and crime commissioners, who can earn up to $153,000.
The committee says there have been a number of cases in which officers have dodged allegations of corruption and abuse of authority by handing in their resignations. It cited the case of Sir Norman Bettison, an ex-constable in West Yorkshire who avoided charges of gross misconduct in connection with the 1989 Hillsborough disaster by resigning.
The Hillsborough incident is thought to be one of the worst football accidents in history, in which 96 people died in a massive crowd stampede during a football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs on 15 April, 1989.
The investigation also uncovered evidence that some elements in the police force had been manipulating statistics to make officers appear more successful.
The UK police force has dominated headlines recently amid
allegations that undercover officers working for the London
Metropolitan Police service used the identities of dead children
as “common practice.”
Mick Creedon, who is leading an investigation into undercover policing dubbed Operation Herne, told British lawmakers in a letter that none of the families of the children whose identities were utilized were “ever contacted and informed.”
The practice has been decried as “ghoulish and disrespectful” by politicians and potentially dangerous to the families of the bereaved children.