Simon Harwood: On average, one person per week has died while in police custody since 1969
The news broke yesterday that PC Simon Harwood, the officer who pushed Ian Tomlinson to the ground at the G20 in 2009-and who later died as a result from his injuries- had been cleared of charges of manslaughter at Southwalk crown court in London.
By 6pm many people had gathered outside Scotland Yard’s headquarters, having heard the news that yet again there was no conviction after a police related death.
However one wishes to break down the demographics of the debate, regarding the accountability of the police to the public, the reality is this; during the last decade, on average, one person per week has died while in police custody and since 1969, more than 3000 people have died while in the custody of the police, in psychiatric asylums, or in other suspicious circumstances within the system.
Yesterday’s verdict was sadly predictable.
The news has led to widespread anger and indignation, and with good reason. We can only begin to imagine what this outcome must feel like for the family of Ian Tomlinson, a father of five. To lose a loved under any circumstances would be heartbreaking enough, but to go through such a long ordeal in the pursuit for justice, must be unbearable. They deserve nothing but our support and respect.
The Tomlinson family will continue their pursuit justice, but until there are fundamental changes within the police, its hard to imagine anything different.
As well as the public witnessing the privatisation of an already flawed institution, what message does this verdict, and the countless others like it send out to the police themselves? Is it likely to make rotten apples think twice before acting like mindless barbarians? Or is it conveying the message that there would be no real deterrent or consequence for such behaviour?
Anyone familiar with the cases in recent years which have brought the behaviour of the police into sharp focus, will be aware of the regular scrutiny that the police and the IPCC have been subject to in recent years.
Yesterday, in the wake of the outcome of Harwood’s trial, the IPCC released a statement along the lines of ‘Its unfortunate what happened, but the verdict does stand- but rest assued we will be asking some jolly tough questions of ourselves’
The problem is, is that people are sick of these liberal sound bites. They don’t want to ask tough questions of the police. They are demading justice, and demanding the police do their job. No justice, no peace.Tagged in: ian tomlinson, ipcc, police, police custody, Scotland Yard, Simon Harwood
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