I wasn’t able to watch the Home Affairs committee live or in full but what I did see was disappointing but not shocking. I sat for a number of years on the Metropolitan Police Authority’s Professional Standards Cases Sub-Committee, it sounds like a bit of a dull backwater but our role was to deal with Police officers who had broken the rules, lied or stolen. We had to expel a number from the force and sometimes clawed back a proportion of their pensions as well.
I felt then, as I do now, that taking tough action was important to maintain confidence in the vast majority of police officers who do a difficult, professional and often thankless job. Police officers who are seen to “get away with it” undermine their colleagues.
I had little doubt that the three officers from the Police Federationwho met with Andrew Mitchell did so with the predetermined intention to talk to the press and call for his resignation irrespective of what was said in the meeting. I felt their actions were heavily driven by anger at the changes to policing proposed by the government and they wanted a political scalp, watching their performance at the committee has reinforced my view. The comment made to the officers by Keith Vaz, the Chairman of the committee, was quietly damning “we have found your evidence unsatisfactory”.
The natural instinct of police officers to rally around their colleagues has to be resisted in this instance and these officers need to be disciplined, not to do so will undermine all the other police officers in the country.