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Police chief's complaints about officers being filmed labelled ‘supreme irony’ by campaigners

THERE is a supreme irony in the British police complaining about being filmed, campaigners charged today.

Writing on corporate social media platform LinkedIn today, London’s Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley bemoaned that officers have to work “in the glare of hundreds of people ready to film their every moment.

“There aren’t many professions where from the minute you arrive at an incident to the minute you leave, you are filmed and then critiqued by an army of armchair commentators,” he said.

He said that such a prospect could put off potential recruits.

But a spokesperson for police-monitoring network Netpol said that the absence of genuine accountability for police misconduct makes public scrutiny essential.

They said that there is a “supreme irony” in the Met complaining about filming officers, “when its justification for surveillance on communities and political dissent is to argue that ‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’.”

Open Rights Group’s pre-crime programme manager Sara Chitseko pointed out that last year the Casey report found the Met to be institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic. 

She said: “The systemic failures that led to this pose a bigger threat to police recruitment and the Met’s reputation than the public filming of officers.”

Jamie Klinger, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, established in response to the murder of Sarah Everard by police officer Wayne Couzens, also hit back.

She highlighted that there are “not many occupations that hire, train and arm rapists either,” nor many “where you can illegally use your warrant card to abduct rape and murder a woman who was just walking home.”

In a statement to the Morning Star, she said: “To make this callous a statement so close to the anniversary of Sarah’s death and the revelations from the Angiolini inquiry is at best misjudged and at worst as negligent as the hiring and HR practices that allowed Couzens, Carrick, Mitchell and many other predators to flourish on his force.” 

According to Home Office figures, in the year to April 2023, 115 officers were found guilty of crimes including sexual offences and violence. More than 589 allegations against police officers resulted in a finding of gross misconduct over the year and 680 resulted in a finding of misconduct. 

Out of these, only 500 allegations resulted in an officer being dismissed. 

Habib Kadiri, Executive Director of Stopwatch said: “It is disappointing to see the Met chief spend his time complaining about his force being subject to basic standards of accountability.

“When members of the public record the police, it is often because of the repeated misconduct cases of officers, which has seen confidence in the force plummet to historic lows.

“Sir Rowley should not be surprised that civilians are resorting to filming encounters to protect themselves from frequent abuses of police power.”

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