‘Religious cleansing’ in the UK police
MBPA chairman Alfred John said he was ‘appalled’ at the action taken against Mr Dizaei, who is simply the ‘victim of what we believe to be the culmination of a sustained witch-hunt’.
Cranmer is a little intrigued that Mr Dizaei had not received a single complaint about his character or any questions about his policing abilities during his four years of service and yet, within the last three weeks, three complaints have surfaced. This is indeed a curious coincidence, and Mr John may have a point when he refers to ‘the significance of the timing of these allegations’.
But the ‘timing’ he objects to is not that of the suspension. Mr John is persuaded that ‘this insult has come during the holy month of Ramadan to cause maximum distress to his family, his profession and his role as the President of the National Black Police Association’.
Are Muslim police officers to be exempt from the usual disciplinary procedures during Ramadan? Will the Christians be permitted the same latitude during Holy Week or Christmas? And Jews during Yom Kippur, or Sikhs and Hindus during Diwali? (Cranmer is unsure of the Jedi holy day/week/month, but feels sure they should have rights to exemption also).
If this is the future of policing in the UK, then a degree of ‘religious cleansing’ may be wholly justified. We are just a breath away from religious adherents who work in crucial public services demanding ‘special treatment’ (as opposed to employer discretion) during religious festivals. What happens when all Muslim doctors, nurses, firemen or teachers demand Eid off? Will Sikh and Hindu schools be permitted to close during Diwali?
The MBPA has declared that it ‘no longer had any confidence in the leadership of the police force or the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), which oversees it’. They have disengaged from all meetings with the MPA and MPS ‘except those that will involve discussions around the reinstatement of Mr Dizaei’.
They would have been on much stronger ground if they had limited their complaints to those surrounding the credibility of Commissioner Sir Ian Blair after being ‘drawn into an ugly investigation’ about contracts for friends. Or that of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick being promoted during the investigation into the mistaken killing of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005: an operation she led.
All of which is a very strong argument for making police commissioners accountable to those they are supposed to serve. Increasing centralisation of top-down policing is neither reducing crime nor inspiring confidence. If police forces were made accountable for their performance to the communities they serve, then the MBPA could simply propose Ali Dizaei or Tarique Ghaffur to be the next commissioner. And then one could test very easily how much credibility such characters have with the local population.