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PADDICK: SOME POLICE OFFICERS ARE THUGS
By Brian Paddick, Daily Mirror 14th May 2002
HIS "softly, softly" approach to cannabis and admission that he found "anarchy" attractive sparked controversy.
And now outspoken police chief Brian Paddick is in hot water again for comments he made on a website. Commander Paddick, 43, who is openly gay, believes his sexuality has led to a witch-hunt by right-wing papers such as the Daily Mail.
In the latest row, he was accused of saying some police officers are "criminal thugs" - leading to claims that he has betrayed his fellow officers. Here, the Metropolitan Police officer responds to the new attack on him and explains his views.
SO I am under attack again.
This time I have been accused of betraying rank-and-file police officers by saying some of them are "criminal thugs who usually get away with it".
Of course, I never said that. Comments which I posted on a website in defence of police officers involved in the riots following the Millwall v Birmingham game on May 2 have been taken out of context. When is this going to stop?
Once again, my views have been deliberately distorted.
So let me explain. I have been condemned for suggesting that there might be a tiny minority of police officers who behave inappropriately and disgrace the uniforms they wear. It might be argued that, as a police commander, I should simply stick up for my officers. But I have seen examples of police officers behaving inappropriately with my own eyes.
I can't simply dismiss something as not existing. I'm not stupid, I'm not blind and I don't live in some fantasy world where 100 per cent of police officers behave 100 per cent of the time. BrutalityAnd I felt duty-bound to respond to accusations on a website that certain police officers behaved violently during the riots at Millwall.
Everybody makes mistakes - even police officers, even senior police officers. But if the allegations made on the website are true - that while a young lad was helpless on the floor, a police officer came up and struck him with his baton - that's not a mistake, that's brutality.
Anyone doing that kind of thing while wearing a police uniform is not really a police officer. That is a criminal thug wearing a police uniform.
In my 25 years in the police, I spent around 10 years on the beat with other rank-and file-officers. No police officer who has served for the length of time I have will be able to say that they have never come across an officer who uses excessive force.
These people do exist. What police officers need to do is have the courage to stand upand give evidence against this tiny minority of violent officers and they will be supported.
This minority gives the overwhelming decent majority a bad reputation. And I, the vast majority of police officers and the London Police Federation would condemn anybody who behaves in that way.
I totally support the police officers who do their jobs to thebest of their ability in difficult circumstances.
I used to police Millwall when I was based at Lewisham for three and a half years. I know exactly what the police have to cope with. And I have been involved in the sort of riot situation that happened 12 days ago.
I was also a sergeant during the 1981 Brixton riots. My group had concrete and petrol bombs thrown at us, burning buildings collapsing around our ears. I know exactly what it is like to be in that situation. I should add that the whole thread of the Urban75.com debate was a personal challenge to me.
It said: "Brian Paddick has talked on more than one occasion about these 'brave' men and women with only a very few bad apples among them. "I understand and sympathise with his position as a police commander who has to carry his troops with him, but we'll get nowhere without a healthy dose of realism."
I felt obliged to reply on behalf of the vast majority of decent officers. I have emphasised all the way through that these allegations are just that: allegations.
I also wrote: "Were you there last night? No? Neither was I. "Do you know that what the people who were there say is untrue? Neither do I. If what is being said IS true, the matter needs to be investigated." When we talk about law and order, do we want to apply that only to criminals, or are police officers above the law? We need to get away from all this political correctness.
I don't know whether these allegations about police brutality have any substance, and I have made that very clear. But if there is any shred of evidence that supports this allegation, it should be investigated.
The Urban75.com website I have posted emails on has been labelled an "anarchist site", but in fact it is a Brixton-based community website with many discussion forums. One of the main reasons I continue to write on the website is to stand up for my officers and to maintain the integrity of the police service against what are often unjustified attacks.
Ironically, the reason I first took part in discussions was to defend my officers after a demonstration in Brixton in December. There were allegations of brutality, but I was there and knew that no such brutality had taken place. I wanted to say so. Last week, I condemned violence against police.
I wrote: "The majority of police officers will be saddened and sickened that their colleagues were attacked by criminal thugs masquerading as football supporters. "The mindless violence against the police last night was disgraceful. It was clearly pre- planned, with lumps of concrete and flares stockpiled for the occasion. "This was deliberate, premeditated violence.
No police officer should have to face this sort of onslaught." Sadly, my critics have conveniently failed to pick up on these comments. And to be portrayed as somebody who is against rank-and-file police officers is sickening.
So who is interested in the truth here?
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