I have written this post following the court result in the Ian Tomlinson case.
If you do not know what case I am talking about it is a trial that ended this week after a police officer named Simon Harwood was filmed hitting a man with a baton and pushing him to the floor. A short while later that man who was called Ian Tomlinson died.
This case has obviously attracted massive media interest. I have mixed views of the media but experience has proven that the media will write anything to sell a paper or make a story even if that means bending the truth, adding or taking away vital facts or even telling the occasional lie. This claim is made from personal experience. I ask you to bear this in mind whilst reading this post.
Any loss of life is tragic and I do feel for the family of Ian Tomlinson. At the same time I do feel that the media have successfully done their bit to stir the pot in what seems a constant lets make the police look bad again attitude.
Tomlinson died during the G20 protests. The first Post Mortem concluded he had died of natural causes through a heart attack. This post mortem being carried out two days after the death.
Four days after the death the attached video was released by The Guardian newspaper.
This short clip shows Pc Harwood shove Tomlinson as he appeared to be walking off with his hands in his pockets. This video prompted an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Further post mortems concluded that Tomlinson had died as a result of internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma to the abdomen in association with Cirrhosis of the liver. Tomlinson is reported to have been an alcoholic which would lead to Cirrhosis of the liver.
The CPS refused to bring criminal charges against Pc Harwood due to the conflicting post mortems. One of the post mortems must be incorrect but which one? This decision was reversed when an Inquest made a verdict of unlawful killing and this is how Pc Harwood ended up in the dock.
The criminal case concluded this week with Pc Harwood being found not guilty. Since this verdict there has been lots of media coverage but from what I hear this would appear to be very one sided and targeted at Pc Harwood and the police.
Police use of force has always been a sensitive issue. I hear people everyday complaining about it. They do it having been arrested or after seeing a snap shot of a incident in the street where they have not see what happened in the period leading up to that force. That said I do disagree with the actions of Pc Harwood in that short video. Tomlinson was walking off and had his hands in his pockets. At that precise point Tomlinson was no threat and in my opinion that incident of force was unlawful. However had Tomlinson at that exact point been trying to push past the line that Harwood was in then yes a shove may have been justified.
However I do not believe the complete picture was shown in that video. The honest media must not have been given footage of the build up to that shove which may show the public why It happened in the first place! Why would the media show this build up? It wont sell papers or attract viewers will it? Â BUT showing the police at fault will.
There is lots of coverage of this case in the papers and again I believe this is completely one sided. For example I have been told that during the trial Tomlinson was said to have been drunk and abusive to police. He is said to have been trying to break through police lines and in this instance a shove MAY have been justified. However I have not seen ONE media source reporting that information! I can only conclude that every journalist was on a tea break at that point in the trial!
If you are going to report on a story cover it all or do not bother! Do not pick the “juicy bits” and paint an inaccurate picture. Its not fair. Now before you say this does not happen IT DOES! I have attended incidents where a official press release as been released and when you read what the press have published you will find yourself wondering if they are writing about the same thing.
The media have however done a good thing in highlighting the complaints that have been made against Pc Harwood. Every police officer gets complaints but some of those made against Pc Harwood (if true) make him not suitable to hold the Office Of Constable.
Pc Harwood is said to have been involved in an off duty road rage incident in which he assaulted someone and then arrested them for assaulting him. Before any investigation could take place into his actions he resigned from the Met returning a few days later as a civilian member of staff.
After a year Pc Harwood joined Surrey as a Police Officer. Here a COLLEAGUE complained about his use of force. The complaint did not result in any action. Harwood then returned to the Met and he joined the TSG which is their public order unit.
Other complaints had been made against Harwood during his career. I have had complaints made against me. Its part of the job. IF the accuracy of what has been reported about Harwoods history of complaints is true then the Met seriously failed and lessons need to be learned.
The nature of complaints made against Harwood should have set off alarm bells. He should never have been allowed to rejoin the Met having dodged one investigation.
The point that I am making in this post is this. Harwood may have been in the wrong but in my opinion the media have a duty to report the truth. They should not cherry pick the bits they want. Tomlinson had his faults and yes it is tragic that he died. I feel for the family. I was not there when this tragic event happened. The media in my opinion have a constant campaign to make the police look bad. Yes we get things wrong from time to time but so do the media. I wont start on Rupert Murdoch! We as citizens have a duty to help make society a better place so please media can we start having some HONEST reporting and who knows maybe some coverage of the success stories and good work that police do. Look at the riots in 1981. A massive factor in that was hatred towards the police (yes and in some cases they deserved it) but constantly having a pop at us DAMAGES society and does not help it.
Thank you for reading and as always I value your feedback.