So how corrupt is the Metropolitan Police Service and why should it matter to the Celtic League?
Well for a start the United Kingdom government are always holding their institutions up as an example to the world and the MPS are used as a benchmark for standards in other British police services.
In addition corruption comes in various guises and over the years a wide range of innocent citizens from the Celtic countries have suffered at the hands of the Met.
In the 1970s when falsification of evidence was prevalent many innocent Irish people were falsely convinced and served lengthy prison sentences. Also over the years there have been a number of suspicious deaths involving this force, some of which we have highlighted.
There have been several key areas of concern relating to police corruption and malpractice in the United Kingdom in the past forty years (not all confined to the MPS).
The first (which we touched on above) was the excessive use of force during arrest and also the extraction of false confessions.
The second area of concern was interference with evidence as a form of corruption that came to the fore during the late 1970s and early 1980s and led directly to the implementation of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984). This received added safeguards following the report of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice in 1992.
However, the development of new technology opened up new opportunities for corrupt police officers to abuse their authority via the leaking of classified information, the illegal use of computers, the provision of sensitive material to unscrupulous journalists and those (such as private investigators) working for the media.
Corruption within the police appears to be cyclical.
A corruption campaign in the 1970s saw over 500 officers expelled from the police. In the 1990s the MPS launched Operation OTHONA, which ran for four years until 1997 and revealed a number of corrupt practices i.e.
. Stealing drugs and cash during searches
. Sharing informant rewards
. Fabricating informant reward applications
. Destroying or fabricating evidence in return for payment
. Selling operational intelligence
. Trafficking in drugs
. Arranging with informants for crimes to be committed and the proceeds shared.
Operation OTHONA revealed a number of police officers were engaged in serious corruption and that corruption was now far more covert and sophisticated than had been the case during earlier campaigns
OTHONA led to the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Command in the late 1990s which involved over 150 detectives directed to tackle corruption head-on.
By December 2000, 38 people had been convicted and imprisoned for serious corruption offences, of which 11 were police officers, 7 were former policemen, and 20 were either officials in other parts of the criminal justice system or criminals who had corrupted MPS staff.
Following the lessons it had learned in 1998 the MPS launched its Corruption and Dishonesty Prevention Strategy, which at that time had six key strands:
. Prevention and detection
. Focus and accountability
. Supervision and leadership
. Security, screening, and vetting
. Corruption and dishonesty proofing
Following its experience of tackling corruption over forty years the MPS thought it had developed sound mechanisms to tackle corruption. Events over the past few weeks will show whether this belief was both misguided and complacent.
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information