The issue of police violence is back on the agenda in the UK following the brutal and senseless killing of Sarah Everard, a murder that is suspected of having been committed by a serving police officer. On the face of things, this crime bears little similarity to the deaths of George Floyd or Breonna Taylor in the United States, with the killing believed to have been carried out while the officer was off-duty, luring Sarah into his car and kidnapping her.
However, this is not strictly the case. Studies show that police officers are in the top ten professions for individuals showing “psychopathic traits,” those including having a grandiose sense of self, tendency toward manipulation, ruthlessness, lack of empathy and superficial charm.
Indeed, the list of noted criminals who had careers in the police force is long, with the serial killers’ John Christie, Dennis Nilsen and the Golden State Killer being just three. Similarly, California’s Hillside Strangler Kenneth Bianchi was in the process of applying to the LAPD when he was arrested for the murder of 12 women. These are just four serial killers that link the police to serious crimes, but there are many more. There was Christopher Dorner, also of the LAPD; David Stephen Middleton of the Miami PD; Norbert Poehlke in West Germany; Mikhail Popkov in Russia, dozens more.
These names live in infamy, while those of the men and women they butchered are sadly all too often forgotten. Like the crimes suspected of Sarah Everard’s killer, their monstrous acts guarantee infamy in column inches, documentaries, and books. But what about names such as PC Derek Seekings, PC Darren Mckie or PC David Waller? These names are the ones that slip under the radar, despite being found guilty of multiple rapes, murder and the sexual assault of children.
There is a tendency to believe that the police are, as a unit, a force for good. There is a comfort in this, a belief that the trusty British bobby will come to our aid when needed. We have a somewhat cultural imperialist view that while foreign police forces, particularly in the United States, may deal out violence with willful abandon, this is not the British way. However, this denies the reality for women, activists and people of colour across Britain, who regularly feel the brunt of police intimidation and criminality, not least just last night during disgraceful scenes at Clapham Common in London when police launched an unprovoked attack on those attending a vigil for Sarah Everard.
In many respects, the only “thin blue line” is the one between those meant to uphold the law and those who break it, the only difference being a badge and a uniform. Indeed, the shocking scale of the criminality displayed by police officers across the country is there for all to see.
Blogger Huyton Freeman has for some years been making a list of all criminal offences by police, prison and court personnel, compiling reports from the media into a shocking and horrific butcher’s bill of criminality since 2009. The document, which is fully sourced, lists every conceivable offence from growing cannabis to a double murder. Many of the crimes are of a sexual nature. While many know the police have a serious issue with their officers’ behaviour, it is only when laid out across page after page of crimes that the true scale of the problem becomes clear.
The first page of the document already brings us our first allegation of murder, with PC Time Brehmer accused of killing his lover. Despite admitting he strangled her, he was found not guilty of murder. It is one of 12 counts of homicide since 2009, with the killing of Sarah Everard not included. 10 of these murders are of women, 2 are of black men. 9 victims were the police officer’s wife or girlfriend, and one was his daughter.
Two studies in the United States have shown that 40% of families containing a police officer have experienced domestic violence, in comparison to 10% of families within the general population.
The second page is no less shocking, featuring crimes over a three month period between January 6, 2020, and March 10, 2020. Keith Farquharson of Aberdeen police received a 15-year sentence for murdering his wife. PC Alex Clarke was caught masturbating on duty. PC Amjad Ditta was accused of sexually touching a child, Sgt Stephen Shaw was sacked after admitting two child grooming charges.
The last three months of 2019 were no better, with PC Benjamin Monk accused of murdering ex-Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson. The trial is due to begin this month. The page also features animal pornography, sex with a 13-year-old, and sexual assault.
Indeed, PC Daniel Aimson, who grew and sold cannabis and was jailed for six years, seems hard done by considering some of the crimes of his colleagues. For example, Karl Ring of the Metropolitan police was found guilty of trafficking Hungarian women to a Chelsea brothel and received four years. PC Lee Bowditch of Nottinghamshire police contacted a 14-year-old girl via a dating site and sent her an indecent image and sexual messages; he received an eight-month suspended sentence.
And on and on, 34 pages of the most serious illegal activity that would see any other organised body declared a criminal organisation. Shockingly, these are only the crimes that have been uncovered, and the list is not complete, with the case of Benjamin Hannam, charged with five offences linked to his membership of the neo-Nazi National Action, being just one that appears to have flown under the radar.
The past year has shown a growing awareness of the position of the police in society, with efforts to reform, defund and even abolish organised policing growing.
While “abolish the police” is a frightening phrase for many, this is not to be taken literally. Rather, it means replacing the police in situations where their response is not needed, such as attending to those suffering from a mental health crisis. Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd was killed, faced calls to replace their police force with something new and better, finally being open to new suggestions and a better way of doing things in the future. While sadly mayor Jacob Frey has decided to instead turn the city into a fortress, perhaps its time for Great Britain to now begin this conversation and, as the birthplace of “the Peelers”, now take the lead in truly moving forward into the 21st century.