West Midlands Police are set to cost taxpayers £100,000 in a payout to Channel 4 after accusing them of misleading the public and ‘heavily editing’ their documentary, Dispatches: Undercover Mosque.
The story is reported in various national newspapers as well as on the front page of Today’s Birmingham Post.
Police say the original investigation was launched to ascertain whether three individuals shown in the programme could be prosecuted for inciting terrorism or racial hatred, but police soon reported the programme makers themselves to regulator Ofcom, releasing a press statement criticising them for misrepresenting the views of Muslim clerics with misleading editing. Ofcom did not agree and Channel 4 took the decision to launch libel action.
Last year the TaxPayers’ Alliance discovered that our police force had spent £14,000 on investigations after the programme’s broadcast, despite not having received a single complaint. As it turns out, this waste of money was really just the tip of the iceberg, and WMP’s complete lack of judgement is set to cost the taxpayer dear.
Why are our police using public money to launch investigations based on what they may have watched on the TV the previous night? Surely it’s patently obvious that they have more pressing issues to address in the West Midlands? Since when are they the arbiter of television editorial decisions anyway? There’s little doubt that they completely overshot their mandate here, and consequently we’ve all lost out.
West Midlands Police acted like a dog with a bone, and now money that should have been directed into real and legitimate policing in this area has been wasted, not to mention the staff hours that should have been spent making this area safer. And when the vast expenditure of the West Midlands Police Authority is coupled with such costly misdemeanours on behalf of the police themselves, no-one could blame local taxpayers for expressing concern over just how recklessly their money has been managed.