John Halewood-Dodd column

Stephen Lawrence.
Stephen Lawrence.

I would like to begin this week by stating what I genuinely believe to be the case, and that is that the vast majority of police officers are conscientious, honest and hardworking public servants.

However, we are yet again in the midst of another storm of criticism regarding the alleged corrupt practices of police officers following revelations regarding their activities during the Stephen Lawrence murder case.

It may surprise some to discover that I have a great deal of sympathy with the police as I recognise that there are likely to be more miscarriages of justice, and further headline grabbing cases where corruption is alleged against the police, if we continue with the current system where the police are expected to meet unrealistic targets.

Nationally, police budgets are being slashed, which I feel leaves many forces under resourced, yet there remains an expectation that crimes are detected, and this is especially so with high profile cases, such as the Stephen Lawrence murder.

Those of us campaigning against legal aid cuts often pose the question ‘What price Justice?’

It seems to me that the answer as far as the establishment are concerned is that justice is immaterial as long as targets are met.

How can we realistically expect the police to investigate matters properly, and impartially, if the finances aren’t in place to enable them to do so?

This inevitably leads to shortcuts being taken and ultimately we all suffer.

Even in these difficult times of austerity I firmly believe that a civilised society must maintain the rule of law.

This means that the police, Crown Prosecution Service, courts, probation, and defence need to have adequate resources to fulfil their respective roles.