OVER an area that covers 45 territories, the British Transport Police, and the Ministry of Defence police, employ approximately 142,350 people from all walks of life, from all ethnic backgrounds and from all religions.
With the freedom of information act’s help, the numbers of serving officers who have criminal convictions for burglary, theft, assault, and animal cruelty, was discovered by Sky News, and in a report they say how the numbers of officers who have convictions, and continue to work with the authority vested in them by the police force, is unacceptable, there are numerous quotes from the ‘outraged public,’ saying as usual how ridiculous it is that these people should still be employed whilst having a criminal conviction.
The completely unbiased and balanced BBC, have the numbers at 309, (which they describe as well in excess of 300), but include community support officers in their findings.
What the revelations have revealed is that there are 211 full time officers employed at the moment within the force, who do have convictions.
What the report does not say in depth is what those convictions are for, for example, how many are for assault? and who brought those charges, was it someone who was resisting arrest, and had to be restrained? Perhaps the officer went a bit too far, was the officer breaking up a fight that was already in progress and had to use force deemed excessive?, was the officer breaking up a protest, and hung out to dry by a PC judge?
A total of 0.14 per cent of the total number of police officers in the 45 territories, Wales, N Ireland, and England, have a conviction, that’s one in 714.
The freedom of information act has allowed the basic numbers to be released, however not the full details of each crime.
Now without doubt there is a definite need for an officer who has committed a serious crime to be punished accordingly, and I am sure they are, (the number of convicted and jailed officers has not as yet been released, nor have their names for their protection in the prison system).
Unlike the ‘Big Media’ of Sky and the BBC, I would prefer to look at the numbers as a good indication that the police are actually massively good at their jobs, with less than 0.15 per cent of those employed with a conviction deemed not serious enough to have a custodial sentence, or dismissal from the force being warranted.
But Steven Smith, who was assaulted in Bristol by an officer who was allowed to keep his job, said he believes anyone with a conviction for violence should be banned from working for the police.
He told Sky News: “Obviously everyone makes mistakes but when it’s a violent assault, I don’t believe they should (be able to work for the police).
“You’d expect police men and women to have no convictions.”
Mr Smith, 45, said he was “gutted and upset” to learn that the officer who was convicted of assaulting him in 2014 continued working for Avon and Somerset Police.
“You should be able to go to the police and their judgement should be above board and impeccable at all times,” he added.
My reservation with the above statement from a Sky News report, is that there is no information about what actually happened in the run up to the assault on Mr Smith, how are we to judge if the incident warranted dismissal, without the full story.
Just another example of selective inclusion, (or exclusion), to beef up a story.
Take a look at the workforce that are around you, how many of the 290,000 doctors in the UK have convictions? I have no idea, how about civil servants? How many of the 332,800 civil service employees have criminal convictions?
Should those who deal with our health, our social security, our housing, should they all be squeaky clean with no convictions to keep their jobs?
Now to be fair, only 16 of the 45 territories have so far released data to the media, so the number will rise, of that there is no doubt.
But my point is this, if the crime was deemed not bad enough by a judge to place the officer in prison, or even be removed from the force, then who are we to say otherwise?
There has to be a system of justice that we adhere to, and more and more it’s becoming the media who are deciding just what’s right or wrong.
Just as an example take a fictional officer, who gets caught up in breaking up a fight, the protagonists are big and strong, and the officer has to use his baton, and ends up in court for excessive violence. That officer was doing his job, he was faced with a situation that he could not control without the use of his weapon.
The judge sees this and although he has to give the officer some kind of punishment the officer does not lose his job.
Now the media get the story and they hound the officer, portraying him as a violent offender to the public, by not telling the whole story.
How is that officer to continue? How is that officer’s family going to feel or be treated?, and how are his fellow officers going to react next time they are facing down thousands of protestors who get violent?
Are those officers going to think twice before putting their lives on the line for the public?
The media has a job to inform the public of what’s going on, but there is a point where they have to look very carefully at the possible consequences of their reporting.