With apologies to the song of a similar name.
There can’t be a single person in the land that has not heard the monumental news that the Met will be investigated over (I think) 14 allegations relating to the alleged covering up of Child Abuse enquiries in the 70s. In particular, much has been made of allegations relating to Cyril Smith.
As an officer in London in the 70s I welcome such an investigation, but I’m far from confident about what the outcome will be.
On a personal level my conscience is clear. I don’t remember having any involvement with any Child Abuse allegations whatsoever, not even as the initial Reporting Officer. My corporate conscience is far less clear though.
Am I aware of any such enquiries being binned? Most definitely NO.
Could such enquiries get binned?
I have read allegations that officers were threatened with the Official Secrets Act and at least one allegation that an Investigating Officer was threatened by a Special Branch officer with a firearm. Allegations like those fill me with dread and shame. I have never heard the like of that before, but as for the general principle of binning certain enquiries, that DID happen.
It didn’t take very long before the edict was watered down but the end result was the same. Instead of being told to desist and stop all operations and enquiries the instruction quickly morphed into “if you want to conduct an operation against ‘cottagers’ etc you must display notices at the venues and inform the local press”. Guess what happened? Nobody was caught and other areas experienced an increase in complaints from the public as the problem was merely displaced. I am in no doubt whatsoever as to the reason for this ban – solely to do with WHO WE MIGHT CATCH, nothing else at all.
If any of you are members of a certain group on Facebook you can see examples of this happening all over the Met, and for basically the same reasons.
I have already seen one well-established tweeter comment this morning that if he were told to halt an enquiry he most definitely would not follow that instruction. I can’t argue with that because it’s absolutely the right approach, but London in the 70s was a much different place. The Police Force of the 70s was vastly different to the Police Service of 2015. As a Constable with maybe 5 years service, to be told by a faceless boss from Scotland Yard to discontinue an operation, that’s exactly what happened. None of us liked it, it’s just how it was, and I suppose you never really understand unless you lived through it. Much like the corruption of the 60s, I’ve only ever heard the anecdotes of that, and they make me shiver.
So, for all those reasons I welcome this investigation, but I fear, like many others, it is destined never to achieve its full potential. Many times the officers on the Front Line never knew the names of those at NSY issuing their edicts, just informed by local management that Scotland Yard has blocked it.
40 something years later I doubt there’s any paper records left. If they didn’t disappear without trace in the 70s, they may well have been disposed of by now under the Met’s own Retention Policy. Back-Record Conversion onto computer would be highly unlikely.
If there is anything left, I suspect that grinding sort of noise that I can hear may well be the hopper-fed cross-cut shredders being fired up, and ready for action.