Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

Thin Blue Line's Big Fat Lies Shielded By Red Tape

Jack Straw censors damning European report on police malpractice and accountabililty in the UK.

7th February 2000 / Squall Download 3, March/April 2000, pg. 9.

A Council of Europe investigative report into torture and death in police custody has finally been published in the UK after heavy Home Office censorship.

The Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visited the UK back in September 1997 and submitted its subsequent report to the UK government in March 1998. However, the heavily censored report referring to "serious questions about the independence and impartiality of the procedures presently used to process complaints about police misconduct" was sat on by the British government and only finally published on Jan 13 this year.

Every nation state under investigation by the CPT has the power of veto and censorship on subsequent reports but it is the first time in the Committee's history that a host government has elected to exercise that right. Even with large sections swiped out, the report makes damning reading. Describing the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) as "ill-equipped to carry out the watch dog role in which it has been cast", the report notes that "there is little public confidence in the PCA's independence" because "in the vast majority of cases the investigating officer will be a police officer from the force about which the compalint is being made."

The CPT noted that of the 10,243 complaints lodged against police in England and Wales during 1996/97 only 0.4 per cent even resulted in disciplinary proceedings. In the same period only a single Metropolitan police officer was convicted of an offence against a yearly background of around 6,000 complaints. As prominent defence barrister, Raju Bhatt, told SQUALL: "The Police Complaint's authority is discredited and is a discredit."

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