The recent killing of two police officers in Manchester was met by the almost inevitable calls for retribution, with Norman Tebbit, among others, calling the death sentence for cop killers.
Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes were police constables shot dead while answering a hoax call. But Dale Creggan, the accused, has also been charged with two other killings. David Short was found dead at his home in August, three months after his son Mark was shot. All four deaths are equal in their cruelty and the pain felt by their families is unimaginable. Although Tebbit and sections of the mainstream media are rather less scathing about the deaths of David and Mark Short.
This is nothing new. Politicians and the media only dish out sympathy where they see fit. The killing of five women in Ipswich a few years back is a perfect case. There was no calls for serial killer Steve Wright to be hung, that’s because his victims worked as prostitutes. Not a profession rated very highly by Lord Tebbit no doubt.
It must be open to debate whether the killing of police officers is more serious a crime than the killing of us ‘civilians’. Since 1990 1,433 people have died either in custody or while coming into contact with the police. During that time there has been no successful criminal prosecutions. This has included many high profile cases such as those of Sean Rigg, Jean Charles de Menezes, Ian Tomlinson and Mark Duggan. This is of course the extreme end of police violence. There have been many instances where the behaviour of the police is at the very least questionable. The Battle of Orgreave, the Battle of the Beanfield, The Guildford Four and Hillsborough to name a few.
So why does the murder of police officers warrant such vitriol? Well, it would appear that respect for the police, as well as magistrates, judges and the rest of the criminal justice system, are a cornerstone of our society. With that respect comes fear, fear of challenging the status quo, fear of stepping out of line. By holding the police service up as pillars of the community politicians and media are ensuring the continued control of the vast majority of the population.
There may well be some decent well meaning people in the police. But when they put that uniform on they are giving up any common sense, morals or independent thoughts they may have. “I’m just following orders” is often used as an excuse for appalling behaviour.
If the Police are to be seen as anything other than tools of the state then they need to start protecting the people from the state and not the other way round.