Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Justice for Ian Tomlinson : A trial is good, but not enough

 Just over two years ago, Ian Tomlinson was killed. Today it was announced that PC Simon Harwood will face trial for his manslaughter.

According to the Guardian:
The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, had announced in July last year that he did not believe there was sufficient evidence for a prosecution due to complications relating to medical evidence.

However, he said in a statement today that new information had emerged during the inquest and, while difficulties remained, he now believed there was sufficient evidence to bring criminal proceedings.
This is positive, and raises the prospect of Ian Tomlinson's family finally getting justice. There are, however, wider issues that need addressing.

For as long as deaths at the hands of the police are seen as a simply the work of 'bad apples', adequately responded to by the prosecution of individual officers, the wider picture will remain ignored. The truth is that there is a systematic and structural tendency for the police to adopt an attitude of hostility, easily spilling over into physical violence, towards certain sections of the public. Demonstrators are a case in point. And the normalised aggression towards the G20 protestors in April 2009 no doubt contributed to the circumstances of Ian Tomlinson's death, even though he was not himself protesting. Members of minority ethnic communities are another group over-represented amongst the victims of police violence, years after the MacPherson report.

Unless this issue is tackled, there will be many more Ian Tomlinsons.

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