Institutionalised arrogance

Curious Hamster has already done a first rate job of picking apart Sir Ian Blair’s failed efforts, in a letter to Sir John Gieve[pdf], to scotch any prospect of an independent investigation by the IPCC into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, however in reading the letter itself there a point I noticed which gives me considerable concern, as Blair writes:

“The officers have the protection of Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act. I do not seek to exempt them from investigation (and, ultimately therefore prosecution if evidence of deliberate malfeasance was available)”

Whoa, there. Deliberate malfeasance? Is that, in Blair’s opinion, the sole and exclusive test as to whether or not an officer acted correctly under the Kratos rules and in circumstances which end with a shooting? Does the possibility of incompetence and, more importantly – and relevantly in the Menezes shooting, negligence not factor into Blair’s thinking?

Blair is, here, sending out a coded message that, in his opinion, a prosecution should be brought if, and only if, it can be shown that officers were engaged in wilful and deliberate misconduct in the course of such a shooting – it’s murder or nothing; just an unfortunate error.

That’s Blair’s message to the Menezes family:

“Sorry. Shit happens.”

It seems to me that Blair has, however inadvertantly, provided us with a further insight into how an tragic incident like the Menezes shooting can occur all too easily; far too easily, in fact, for the public to feel comfortable with the approach of the Police towards it’s ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Blair’s comment evidences the existence of an institutionalised arrogance within the Police, a belief that while they may not be entirely above the law, the law does not apply to them to anything like the full extent it would apply to a civillian for whom anything other than a clear case of self-defence would be no defence at all.