"Sorry" should not be the end of it

September 29, 2009 3:09 PM

Following the publication of the inquest verdict and the appalling details of the torment that Fiona Pilkington and her family went through without help from the Police, the Temporary Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police said he was "extremely sorry" for the abject failure of his force.


And "sorry", it seems, is all that anyone is going to get as a result of this horrendous case. But what does that really do to help?


Of course, saying it is better than not saying it. But for other people in Leicestershire - not to mention the people with the misfortune to live in the stamping ground of the thugs who hounded Mrs Pilkington so mercilessly - it is scant reassurance.


When it comes down to it, the membership of the Police Authority and the senior officers of Leicestershire Police are under no threat whatsoever. They may be expressing regret and even an intent to "improve" and continue their "drive for excellence" but since they cannot be held to account by the public, there is no mechanism at all to ensure that they actually do that.


Fundamentally, they should be in fear of their jobs if they make such severe and repeated errors. The Home Office could fire them, but it is no closer to the people than the officials and Authority members, so that is little aid to anyone in fear of crime.


We need democratic control of Police Authorities, and we need it as soon as possible. Can you imagine a police authority elected by the people thinking it is ok to ignore a gang who assault and terrorise innocent families? If such a thing did happen, can you imagine the people on that police authority being able to keep their jobs just by saying "sorry"?

Following the publication of the inquest verdict and the appalling details of the torment that Fiona Pilkington and her family went through without help from the Police, the Temporary Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police said he was "extremely sorry" for the abject failure of his force.


And "sorry", it seems, is all that anyone is going to get as a result of this horrendous case. But what does that really do to help?


Of course, saying it is better than not saying it. But for other people in Leicestershire - not to mention the people with the misfortune to live in the stamping ground of the thugs who hounded Mrs Pilkington so mercilessly - it is scant reassurance.


When it comes down to it, the membership of the Police Authority and the senior officers of Leicestershire Police are under no threat whatsoever. They may be expressing regret and even an intent to "improve" and continue their "drive for excellence" but since they cannot be held to account by the public, there is no mechanism at all to ensure that they actually do that.


Fundamentally, they should be in fear of their jobs if they make such severe and repeated errors. The Home Office could fire them, but it is no closer to the people than the officials and Authority members, so that is little aid to anyone in fear of crime.


We need democratic control of Police Authorities, and we need it as soon as possible. Can you imagine a police authority elected by the people thinking it is ok to ignore a gang who assault and terrorise innocent families? If such a thing did happen, can you imagine the people on that police authority being able to keep their jobs just by saying "sorry"?

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