In a Western democracy the Police Force should be a bastion of a safe, civilised society. But the events of the past week have shown there is a growing gulf between the police and the people they are meant to protect.
The police should be there to protect our property, lives and well-being, yet there seems to be a culture of conflict emerging where the police have become separated from society. As Philip Johnston said this week, the videos of police in full riot gear beating the seemingly inoffensive Ian Tomlinson to the ground conjure up images of a paramilitary force under a faraway dictatorship, rather than civilians in uniform serving the public.
Regardless of whether the police directly caused the death of Ian Tomlinson, the video evidence we have all seen is clear. He had his hands in his pockets with his back turned away from the police and was not a threat to them or the situation as a whole. This was not the only damaging story for the police force this week. Clearly the news that a major terrorism operation was compromised because the head of counter-terrorism personally flashed highly sensitive documents to waiting photographers is worrying. At least he has had the decency to resign.
There seems to be a severe lack of leadership within the police force. They resemble a gang who operate as they want and feel free to yield huge amounts of power and ‘flash their badges’ as they see fit with little control from above or suitable repercussions when they make mistakes.
Personally, if I was in need or felt threatened in public, the police would not be the first people I would turn to. Essentially, the police are the front-line agents of the state.