Thursday, 9 April 2009

Policing the policers

The police are still getting a good kicking over the death of Ian Tomlinson - and rightly so. Their attempts at news management have backfired.

The Guardian deconstructs the spin operation from the Met and the City of London force.
When Mr Tomlinson died during the police operation, the Met chose to delay announcing it for more than three hours. Its statement pointed a finger at protesters. "The officers gave him an initial check and cleared his airway before moving him back behind the cordon line to a clear area outside the Royal Exchange Building where they gave him CPR," it said. "The officers took the decision to move him as during this time a number of missiles - believed to be bottles - were being thrown at them.

The force refused yesterday to reveal why it took so long to announce someone had died within the demonstration area, or to address the question of where the information about missiles being thrown at police officers had come from. Witnesses who aided Mr Tomlinson have always contested that police had been attacked by a hail of missiles.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission also comes out of the affair very badly:
"They have caught a real cold on this," said a senior source. "They were very slow, they clearly didn't think anything was wrong and they didn't look for it. Sometimes they just don't seem to be very independent."

A former IPCC insider went further, blaming a "cosy" relationship with the police for the commission's failure to act quickly. "The problem with the IPCC is that it is too late to start inquiries and they go on for too long," said John Crawley, a commissioner for four years. "They should have picked this up as an independent investigation straight away. There was strong public interest given the concern about the 'kettling' tactics being used to police the protests and the need to gain the confidence of those demonstrators with information to come forward to someone who wasn't the police."

It's left to another Independent to put the boot in some more on the police, albeit a very balanced boot. "Unaccountable, secretive and out of control", the paper says. It too has sussed out the police spin:

Almost as disturbing as the assault itself was the misleading response of the police when they were first probed on the incident. They made no mention of contact between Mr Tomlinson and their officers before he collapsed and briefed that other protesters had impeded police medics in their efforts to help him. It was only when this new footage emerged that the police admitted they might have a case to answer.

As for their attempts to present their involvement as merely shielding Mr Tomlinson from an angry mob, this was reminiscent of the false information circulated in the wake of the mistaken shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in London in 2005. The public were told on that occasion that Mr Menezes' behaviour and clothing had given them cause for suspicion. These lies were exposed by CCTV footage from Stockwell Underground station, just as the police's account this week has crumbled in the light of these latest images.

1 comment:

Neil Jackson said...

I was there - pics on the above.