The tragic murder of 2 unarmed police officers today in Greater Manchester brings to the public attention the other side of the role of the police from that in my recent post.
The South Yorkshire Police Force, the West Midlands Police Force and others were revealed to have been involved in the most extensive and sick cover up of their own criminal activities surrounding the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster. The Hillsborough Investigation Panel report revealed how the South Yorkshire Police force’s senior management conspired with officers, other emergency services and the Police Federation to lie and falsely blame innocent football fans for the total failings of the police force.
The country was shocked to learn the extent of the police activities to hide the truth whether by using the might of its spin machine, public briefings by tame newspapers, MPs in the police pockets etc. or by the deliberate falsifying of statements presented to inquiries or inquests. There is a growing clamour for the Crown Prosecution Service to bring charges now against the guilty.
We also have Sir Norman Bettinson, now the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police and at the time of Hillsborough issuing statements that day after the Hillsborough Investigation Panel reported that the fans were not to blame. Bettinson is still blaming the fans for making the police job on the 15th April 1989 harder. Clearly by turning up to a game they had tickets for they were making the police job more difficult. I mean why doesn’t everyone just stay at home everyday as this would make the police job much easier. Hopefully the referral of this issue to the Independent Police Complaints Commission by the West Yorkshire Police Authority means a pratt like Bettinson will be facing his just deserts in due course. Its hardly inspiring to the public at large when they see the Chief Constable of a police force showing so little respect for the truth, the families of the deceased and the country as a whole.
The other side of the coin is that individual police officers put their lives at risk everyday patrolling the streets to uphold the Queen’s Peace and keep us all safe. The most danger most of us come to face at work is an irate boss. That is hardly ever a risk to life and limb.
It appears today that these two women were responding to a call of a burglary in progress. They arrived at the scene and it is sad that there was a gunman waiting there for them and shot them repeatedly before using a hand grenade. Several hours later a man handed himself into Hyde Police Station.
These two young females, aged 23 and 32 are sadly not the only police officers to die this year.
Died 18th September 2012, aged 23
She was working with PC Fiona Bone when they were sent to reports of a burglary. Upon arrival a male emerged from an address and ambushed them. Using a firearm and grenades the male attacked both of the officers; fatally injuring them.
Nichola had completed three years service with Greater Manchester Police.
Died 18th September 2012, aged 32
She was working with PC Nicola Hughes when they were sent to reports of a burglary. Upon arrival a male emerged from an address and ambushed them. Using a firearm and grenades the male attacked both of the officers; fatally injuring them.
Fiona had completed five years service with Greater Manchester Police.
Died 9th July 2012, aged 41
Whilst off duty in Clacton-on-Sea he had cause to intervene in an incident close to his home. Protecting the public from an armed male he sustained fatal gunshot wounds.
Died 28th April 2012, aged 53
Having finished duty after a night shift he travelled home on his motorcycle from Westminster Borough. Just before 7.30am he was involved in a collision with a car at a junction in Mitcham. He sustained fatal injuries when he came off of his motorcycle.
He is survived by his wife and their two children.
David John Rathband
Died 29th February 2012, aged 44
On Sunday 4th July 2010 David was sat stationary in a patrol car, single crewed, on the outskirts of Newcastle. A lone gunman approached and using a shotgun shot David twice through the vehicle windows, leaving him for dead the gunman fled. David underwent extensive medical treatment, his eyesight couldn’t be saved but he recovered and remained a police officer with Northumbria Police.
David was previously a Special Constable, joining Northumbria Police as a Police Constable in 2000. In 2006 he became a traffic officer.
He is survived by his wife and their two children.
Died 6th January 2012, aged 43
Karen was fatally injured in a car crash as she travelled in to work to report for duty.
She was stationed at Thorpe Wood police station in Peterborough. Karen also worked out of Bridge Street police station as a schools liaison officer. She joined Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 1997 after transferring from Surrey Police which she joined in 1987.
She is survived by her husband and two sons. This year there have been seven names added to the Police Roll of Honour in the UK.
Andrew James Stokes
Died 3rd January 2012, aged 46
Andrew was on duty when he collapsed and died of heart failure.
He originally joined Merseyside Police, working St Helens Divsion at Prescott before transferring to Greater Manchester Police.
He is survived by
his wife and two children.
This compares to 84 in the United States of America so far this year. (Figures courtesy of the ODMP) This is perhaps why these two deaths have caused so much shock in the UK.
So, why do the UK have such a low fatality ate amongst our police compared to the USA? This is even after allowing for the difference in size of population between the 2 countries. Well one reason is said to be because our police are not routinely armed. It is said that arming the police will lead to more criminals arming themselves – in effect an arms race.
Policing in the UK is said to be policing by consent – ie with the agreement and co operation of the public. Arming the police would alienate the police from public making them seem less approachable. This is recognised by the rank and file police officers. In 2006, the Police Federation polled its members about whether they wanted to carry arms routinely. The motion was voted against by a huge percentage of the police (> 80% opposed it).
Whilst its easy to criticise the police, and we all do it at different times, remember the risk and dangers they face to protect society. We should never forget the risks and dangers they face, doing what is often a job that is wouldn’t do