The Metropolitan Police force is always in the news
The Metropolitan Police has has a lot of bad publicity this year and previous years have not often been much better. Naturally, some people will always complain about everything, but independent investigations have discovered that too many complaints were justified.
What are the main complaints?
The same things keep recurring:
- excessive use of force
- inadequate investigation, sloppy work, jumping to conclusions
Often several of the above elements interact and aggravate situations
How has the Metropolitan Police responded to criticism?
They make three kinds of response:
- denials, lies and excuses
- blaming individual bad officers
- apologies and promises to improve
Unsurprisingly, many people are tired of these responses and sceptical of the force’s desire or ability to reform, whilst many officers find the constant criticism demoralising.
How do my novels reflect this situation?
So far, I have not set any of my novels in London. However, many people are concerned that the issues exist in many other police forces in the UK. In my novels, the police are always wrong, thus giving my amateur detective heroes an opportunity to put things right. In the series, Accounting for Murder, I portray the police as honest but mistaken, but in DOWN racism and incompetence contribute to a wrong conviction.
How does the public react to the Metropolitan Police?
Many people, especially women and minorities, do not trust the police and respond defensively and uncooperatively when officers approach them, thus making the problem worse. Handing such encounters requires a more subtle approach than that of many officers as effective policing requires cooperation between the police and the public.
What can anyone do?
Some people are so sceptical about reform that they want a total change, as happened in Northern Ireland. However, it would take many years to recruit and train a completely new force the size of the Metropolitan Police. If that is not feasible, what is the alternative? I have written before about problems in the police and how they might be addressed and I repeat that the following things are needed:
- better training
- better recruitment
- more manpower, enabling cases to be dealt with more thoroughly and faster response-times.
- less toleration of bad behaviour.
Some of the above may require changes in procedures. All will require more expenditure. Do we want better policing?