From George Orwell to Priti Patel: How Britain brought its colonial policing home

Police 60s & 70s

source: BYLINE TIMES
published: 29 June 2021

As the Metropolitan Police is judged to be institutionally corrupt, Hardeep Matharu and Peter Jukes explore how some of the biggest problems still plaguing British policing are embedded in the soil of British colonialism.

The day after the recent independent panel report into the murder of Daniel Morgan concluded that “institutional corruption” – a tendency towards cover-up – in the Metropolitan Police over 34 years has prevented his brother’s murderers from being brought to justice, Alastair Morgan told Byline TV that he believes “the police’s actions in this case are of an imperialist type”.

“I remember hearing a black QC talking about this at a meeting I went to and he was saying that, because Britain doesn’t have any colonies anymore, we are now the subjects of an imperial mindset – ‘oh, we can’t let the natives know that, that would be bad’,” he explained. “Any kind of misdeeds by the imperial state, or crimes, ‘it wouldn’t be good for them to know about this’. I think that mentality is still there.”

But how does Britain’s imperial past connect to the axe murder of a private detective in a pub car park in south-east London in 1987?

According to Alastair’s partner, Kirsteen Knight, who has spent the past 25 years joining his campaign for justice, the sense of British – or English – exceptionalism is key to the cover-up, and the failures of the authorities to dig deeper into the allegations of police corruption around the murder. Obsessed with a grandiose, but fragile, sense of national greatness, the British state is very bad at reflecting accurately on itself.

“There is this sense among the police and Government that somehow the country would collapse if we admitted that not all of our institutions were perfect and that mistakes were made,” she told Byline TV. “A lot of this is about the state not being able to look at its own image honestly. This sense of British police, the greatest police in the world – I’m not saying [the Met is] a bad police force, but there’s this illusion that it’s the greatest and an inability to question when things go wrong.”

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