Protect police from lawsuits, says Met chief
Guardian: Rights groups attack Sir Paul Stephenson’s plan to curb court action against officers
Chief Plod, quite possibly taking advantage of the climate of fear of cuts, appears to think that police officers should enjoy greater protection from being sued than ordinary people. I could understand the idea if this was simply a matter of very minor infringements like hassle when stopped for speeding, or being given a bit of *verbal* while the copper was on the beat (assuming they do that these days) – but this is a request from Chief Plod to The Home Secretary to make it more difficult to sue police for allegations of brutality or wrongful arrest.
The Guardian notes “Critics say the plans amount to an attempt by the police to put themselves beyond the rule of law and undermine constitutional safeguards against abuses of power. The Met’s chief says money is being wasted on speculative claims, with lawyers gaining large fees that would be better spent fighting crime.”
Solicitor Louise Christian denounced the suggestion: “It’s clearly an attempt by the police to escape the rule of law. When access to justice is denied, the principle of the rule of law is damaged. The rich and powerful can always go to court, it’s people without means who can’t.”
James Welch, legal director of the civil rights group Liberty, said: “The ability to challenge police misconduct in court is a vital constitutional safeguard against abuse of power. Under current rules, if you lose a case in the civil courts you can expect to be ordered to pay your successful opponent’s legal costs.
“A service bound to uphold the rule of law should not attempt to carve out an exception for itself.”
I agree – bizarre. But *good* to see that modern policing still continues with the belief that the police service is a separate entity from the public they serve and is therefore entitled to ‘special treatment’. God forbid that any government should agree with such a sentiment. It works both ways. The Police service is entitled to fair treatment from the public it serves.