The resignation of Damian Green reveals a disturbing trend in London’s policing and how it is losing the capital’s trust
The Metropolitan Police has been struck with a series of devastating blows to its standing and trust – and we are all likely to suffer.
While the “gotcha” nailing of Secretary of State Damian Green may be dressed up as a moral victory, the ripples from this disturbing case will be felt in every encounter between police and the public.
The nature of Damian Green’s guilt is irrelevant to the broader consequences of the action. For now we know.
Now we know that, institutionally and ultimately, the police cannot be trusted. Now we know that information we might divulge for a greater good, or information uncovered in confidence, can be used against us at a later date for a reason that is as whimsical as it is poisonous.
Legacy of Damian Green
Think how much the police thrive on co-operation. On information received. On goodwill.
Think how much privileged power they have at their disposal to enter your house, remove your goods, remove your liberty, spy on your life.
Now we know these are not one-off events, acts with accountability and reason that, by default, will be treated with discretion.
What officers see out of the corner of their eyes stays alive in the long game of weird personal retribution.
Now we know that innocent until proven guilty can swiftly become innocent till we find the right moment.
Rape trial failings
The collapse of the rape trial of Liam Allan reveals the same worrying trend. All the Met’s sexual offences investigations will be reviewed to ensure compliance with disclosure legislation. That is after officers took it upon themselves to keep evidence that clearly pointed to Allan’s innocence.
And it is necessary, again, to highlight how police apparently managed away possible prosecutions in the corrupt elections in Tower Hamlets in 2015 where the integrity of local democracy was at stake.
Not all officers, of course, see their role as that of judge and jury – although that low threshold is no reason for satisfaction.
The point is that consensus policing, with the community and the police working together to create a safer society, has been exposed as a fragile artifice, at the mercy of the inept, the corrupt or the arrogant.
No encounter with the police can now be assumed to be benign. No confidence can now be assumed to be confidential.
After Damian Green, it just became a lot harder for the police to do their job today. And society became less safe as a consequence.