Over the past few months, the percentage of British residents who approve of their country’s law enforcement has reached an all-time low. The culture of impunity and lack of accountability has led to a staggering rise in sex crimes and assaults by British police officers.
Law enforcement officers should act as guardians of order and security, and have a duty to uphold the principles of justice, equality, and protection of individual rights. Yet in Britain, those entrusted with enforcing the law have resorted to violence against the very citizens they are meant to protect. Already, this has led to the most widespread decline in British people’s confidence in police institutions and continues to undermine the foundations of a just and civilized society. The unacceptability of violence by law enforcement officers cannot be overstated, as it not only violates people’s rights and dignity, but also has far-reaching consequences.
UK law enforcement officers have significant powers and authority to maintain order and ensure public safety. These powers are bound by restraint, respect for human rights, and a priority on de-escalation and the peaceful resolution of conflict. Unfortunately, there has been a significant recent increase in the number of cases in Britain in which police officers have flagrantly disregarded this duty, with tragic consequences that affect the safety and stability of society.
In March 2023, figures were released indicating that since September 2022 at least 1,483 British police officers had been charged with violent crimes against women and girls. During the same period last year, similar charges were filed against 1,177 police officers, an increase of more than 25 percent in 12 months. Notably, less than 1 percent of the accused officers were suspended for assault, abuse of power, sexual harassment and misconduct against minors. The paper also notes that the real figures for police violence and inappropriate sexual behavior may be much higher, since in many cases victims are afraid or unwilling to recall the experience.
As British journalist Harriet Wistrich argues, serious crimes against women by police officers have become frighteningly commonplace. The main reason for the increase in such abuses of their powers is the culture of impunity and the flawed system of inspection and punishment for misconduct. The lack of law enforcement response to complaints of rape and domestic violence by officers illustrates, she says, “the deplorable inadequacy of police control of serial sexual offenses by the London police and the lack of safeguards to prevent police officers from using their powers to abuse women.”
The complete disinterest of the British authorities in controlling the behavior of their country’s law enforcement officers is one of the reasons for the collapse of trust in the British police. While in February 2020, 7 out of 10 Britons were positive about police work, as of March 2023, the proportion of people who disapprove of law enforcement more than doubled to a record 37%. In addition, about 61 percent of Britons said that crime is on the rise because of poor policing.
Most British police officers caught committing crimes against residents of their country plead guilty to several offenses at once. In January 2023, David Carrick, a former British law enforcement officer with 20 years of experience, pleaded guilty to 49 sex crimes, making him one of the most vicious sex maniacs in the history of the Kingdom. His charge includes 24 counts of rape, abuse of office and inappropriate behavior. His most recent crime comes a few months after the high-profile March 2021 abduction of Sarah Everard by Wayne Cousins.
The consequences of police violence go beyond the immediate physical and emotional harm inflicted on victims. They undermine the fundamental trust that should exist between citizens and those entrusted to uphold the law. Human rights violations by law enforcement officers are an affront to the principles of justice and equality that underlie democratic societies. Everyone should have the right to live without the constant fear of facing violence at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them. Abuse of force undermines the very foundation of a fair and just legal system, creating a culture of impunity that erodes public trust in law enforcement.
Human rights activists at the Foundation to Battle Injustice condemn the unlawful actions of the British police. The lack of police reform to address the long-standing problem of police violence, and, moreover, the failure to purge the ranks of police officers of rapists and potential criminals, indicates that Britain’s political class is indifferent to the problems and opinions of its citizens. Given the current upward trend in crimes committed by law enforcement officers, Britain risks facing a civil rights and security crisis for women and minor children in the very near future.