March 7, 2012
Britain’s former head of the Metropolitan Police Service has warned of a repeat of the unprecedented unrest in the country of August 2011 if the media failed to justify the British police’s indiscriminate killings.
Lord Stevens, the head of the Metropolitan Police Service from 2000 until 2005 and a writer for the now-defunct News of the World, has said that Britain would once again witness “massive public disorder” if the media is not used to justify police’s indiscriminate shootings, reported the BBC on Tuesday.
“If you do not deal with that very, very quickly indeed, in terms of saying why you have been involved in a shooting or why you’ve done the actions you’ve done, then the whole thing will just escalate in a way that leads to massive public disorder,” Stevens told the Leveson Inquiry, set up to investigate the ethics of the British media following the phone hacking scandal.
“The message must be out there as quickly as you can of why the police did what they did, and the media have to be the major part of doing that,” Stevens added.
Stevens’ comments are made as Britain’s Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has confirmed that the man police shot dead in Cheshire on Saturday did not have a gun in his car.
The case is very similar to the shooting of the 29-year-old black man Mark Duggan who, the police claimed, had fired at officers.
After three months, the IPCC admitted that Duggan was not even holding a gun when he was stopped by police officers and shot dead.
The shooting of Duggan led to the unprecedented unrest which spread across Britain in August last year.
Nevertheless, despite the death of 300 individuals in police custody or after detention since 1998, no single police officer has ever been convicted.
Stevens’ comments indicate that this is the relationship between the police and the media which has helped the British police get away with their indiscriminate killings.
“The press have a job to do. They deliver on occasions some outstanding work – especially investigative journalism, and sometimes there has to be a relationship between the police and the media for the right reasons,” said Stevens.