Too candid on camera

Former Policing Minister and until recently Secretary of State Damian Green has at last stepped down from his post as the Government’s second-in-command, after misleading a Cabinet Office inquiry about pornography on his computer. His colleague Jeremy Hunt has rushed to judge the conduct of ex-Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick and Detective Constable Neil Lewis. Perhaps he thinks there is an opening at the Ministry of Justice when Mrs May next assassinates (sorry, reshuffles) the Cabinet.

Jan 4, 2018

Former Policing Minister and until recently Secretary of State Damian Green has at last stepped down from his post as the Government’s second-in-command, after misleading a Cabinet Office inquiry about pornography on his computer. His colleague Jeremy Hunt has rushed to judge the conduct of ex-Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick and Detective Constable Neil Lewis. Perhaps he thinks there is an opening at the Ministry of Justice when Mrs May next assassinates (sorry, reshuffles) the Cabinet. Mr Hunt is of the view that some of the former officers’ actions “do not sit comfortably in a democracy” (although, on his planet, lying, defaming and viewing pornography on a House of Commons computer seem OK). He is pleased that the MPS has launched an investigation and says that there are “various other things that I think we do need to get to the bottom of”. This is, given the pornography issues, an unfortunate turn of phrase. Messrs Quick and Lewis, who have clearly been traumatised by the shock of of Mr Green’s viewing choices, now find themselves being investigated for possible breaches of the Data Protection Act for the “apparent disclosure to the media of confidential material gathered during a police investigation in 2008”. In what appears to be another rush to judgment, the MPS is “clear that confidential information gathered during any police inquiry should remain confidential. That is an enduring confidentiality regardless of whether an officer leaves the service”. This is, understandably enough, in line with Commissioner Cressida Dick’s statement that “police officers have a duty of confidentiality”, and the actions of the former officers were “wrong… we have a duty to protect that information and keep it confidential… In my view that duty endures, it endures after you leave the service…” Meanwhile, The Times has reported that forces around the UK are currently investigating some 156 cases of alleged sexual misconduct by officers, and that members of the public have made more than 400 complaints over the past five years. The ‘real’ figures would have been higher, but ten forces rejected or ignored their Freedom of Information Act requests. The newspaper claims that some forces have only imposed minor penalties following serious allegations, with officers allowed to continue in their jobs. Detective Superintendent Ray Marley of the College of Policing claims that the total is low when the number of UK police officers is considered. It is reasonable to assume that MPs have generated a far higher number of complaints per person for several years, there are fewer of them, and they appear more dedicated. In her halcyon days as Home Secretary, Theresa May scolded a Police Federation annual conference, telling them that the phenomenon of officers developing “inappropriate” relationships with victims of domestic abuse was to be looked into, that “the right skills, training and commitment to protect the vulnerable are still not held by every single police officer”, and there were instances of “shameful attitudes”. This will save her having to commission a new speech when she eventually gets around to dealing with sexual conduct on the part of MPs. A series of surveys has indicated that when police officers wear cameras complaints are drastically reduced, probably because they moderate their behaviour and frivolous complaints are reduced. Maybe Mrs May will consider issuing MPs with body cameras? It will make for good viewing while they adjust their behaviours… and clothing. Yours, Stitch

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