Police are still appreciated

WEST Ham MP Lyn Brown, discusses policing in her exclusive Recorder column this week. She writes: Over past weeks the national media has rightly carried a number of stories about the policing of the G20 protests in the City of London and the ongoing inv

WEST Ham MP Lyn Brown, discusses policing in her exclusive Recorder column this week.

She writes:

Over past weeks the national media has rightly carried a number of stories about the policing of the G20 protests in the City of London and the ongoing investigation into the tragic death of Ian Tomlinson.

I have written to the Home Secretary expressing my concern about the reports and stating that I want to see a full investigation into the circumstances of his death and the nature of the policing.


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In a democratic country it is crucial that we are allowed to make peaceful protests should we choose, and police tactics in the City are clearly something that needs further investigation and debate.

Both the Met and a Committee of MPs will be conducting investigations, alongside the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigations into specific officers.

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We need to ensure that there is a consensus in this country on the way we are policed.

Over the Easter weekend a young police officer was mortally injured in Newham in the execution of his duties. He died on April 17. Readers of this paper will have read about it.

Though details of the events are still sketchy, it appears that he was involved in a six-mile car chase of suspects in an aggravated burglary. It has been reported that he was critically hurt after stepping out of his car to stop their vehicle from escaping a dead-end road in Stratford. Scotland Yard are now investigating his death.

Pc Toms died after going into a potentially life-threatening situation to protect the public from harm - he risked his life, as police officers routinely do.

Tributes have been paid by his wife and family, his colleagues, and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Readers of this paper have shown their appreciation on the Recorder website, and public figures including Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, have offered their sympathy. My thoughts are also with his family, friends and colleagues.

But though many of us locally are aware of this tragedy, it barely broke into the national news media.

It was once the case that the death of a police officer in the line of duty would be front page news. Many of you will remember the fatal stabbing in 1997 of Pc Nina Mackay here in Newham and the shooting of Pc Yvonne Fletcher, who was killed 25 years to the day that Gary Toms passed away,

How have we got to the situation where the fact that a member of our police force is killed doing their duty barely registers in the national press?

Perhaps, sadly, because of controversy surrounding the policing of the G20 demonstrations, editors of other newspapers believe the public are out of sympathy with the police. I think those editors are wrong.

Most people respect the police, the sacrifices they make for us and the safety they deliver.

It's because of the regard we traditionally hold for policing and police in this country that we expect the highest standards. Yes we must scrutinise the actions of our police but we must also recognise that most people respect the police, the sacrifices they make for us and the safety they deliver. We also recognise that most of us experience a good and valuable service from our officers.

How sad it is that the bad story of G20 policing may have consciously or subconsciously overshadowed the tragic death of Pc Toms. It may not be fashionable to say so, but we as a nation do appreciate the people who put their lives on the line, day after day, to protect us from harm.

If you have any comments on this column, please do get in touch. You can write to me at Lyn Brown MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA, ring my office on (020) 7219 6999 or e-mail brownl@parliament.uk

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