Ali Dizaei, the disgraced Metropolitan Police commander recently found guilty of perverting the course of justice, was dogged throughout his career by allegations of corruption and misconduct and was finally prosecuted for perverting the course of justice for framing a business associate for assaulting him.
Dizaei also became prominent for publicly accusing the Met of racial discrimination against him (he is British-Iranian), giving the right-wing press an easy angle on the whole case — they claim that he “played the race card” and exploited “political correctness gone mad” to avoid being brought to justice.
Who knows how many corrupt and self-interested operators prepared to go to any lengths to defend and extend their own power and influence there are in the upper echelons of police forces in Britain? And while Dizaei’s own claims of racial discrimination may have had ulterior motives, we also know, from numerous recent exposés, that racism and bigotry are still rife throughout the police.
No police officer found guilty of corruption is ever “just one rotten apple”; the entire institution is rotten.
The police are not a neutral body, existing to protect the interests and welfare of “the public”. Rather, they are a partially-armed force in the service of the state, and the class that rules that state. It is their interests they exist to defend.
Anyone who has ever come into contact with the police on a demonstration or picket line will understand the truth of that. The existence throughout the police force of corruption and bigotry of all kinds is no accident.
Clearly, to demand that the police is “abolished” overnight makes no sense (who should abolish it?) but neither is it sufficient to simply demand the “democratisation” of the existing police force.
Greater formal accountability over the existing force would certainly be a step forward, but a workers' government — a government based on and accountable to working-class organisations and through which those organisations could democratically manage and plan society — would go further; it would seek to break up the machinery of the capitalist state. Such a government would seek to replace the police with directly accountable local units controlled by elected workers’ councils.
In the immediate term, socialists can positively fight for demands such as the abolition of the political police (Special Branch) as well as MI5 and MI6 and for all the rights and freedoms which the police and capitalists seek to undermine.
We also need to maintain a clear understanding about what the police represent and whose interests they serve; your local bobby helping grannies across the road could be the same person riding you down on a two-tonne horse to use your head for truncheon practice during a strike or demonstration.