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‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Or who guards the guards?

Or (to translate the Roman poet Juvenal) Who Guards the Guards?

The report by Sir Richard Henriques into the Metropolitan Police Service’s performance over the Carl Beech affair has revealed that, to put it politely, the police have behaved abysmally.

Pages of mainstream news media have been devoted to this topic but all have missed one rather vital point; what was done to the innocent over the unfounded allegations of Carl Beech is repeated the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.

As our columnist Kevan James wrote last week - - there are now thousands of wholly innocent people languishing in the limbo of ‘investigations’ for anything up to a year or longer while the police around the country lumber their monolithic way through things and drag their heels over each case. There are thousands more with criminal convictions that they should not have. They should not have them because they are innocent.

The British police, without any thought or care, routinely mount fishing expeditions into the lives of the innocent, destroying those lives in the process. Home Secretary Priti Patel’s thunderous words about striking fear into the lives of the criminally-minded may well be welcomed by some, but beware of unintended consequences. The police already display many of the traits of being out of control and to provide them with even more leeway to behave as the Met have done is a very dangerous way forward. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and the UK already has one foot through that door.

By all means let us have robust policing and yes, give them the tools and the numbers needed to work effectively. But that also means providing equally robust safeguards against the police misusing or abusing their powers. The most important foundation of justice, the presumption of innocence demands that the police must be made to deal with cases far, far more quickly and when they are in the wrong, there must be a means of speedy redress. The police are not and must never be, above the law. Neither must they be above the people they are meant to serve.