The fight for jus­tice for the Lawrences

The Church of England - - LEADER & COMMENT -

In their search for jus­tice the Lawrence fam­ily would be bet­ter served by pros­e­cu­tions of those re­spon­si­ble for al­legedly cor­rupt po­lice be­hav­iour, rather than end­less pub­lic in­quiries.

Such pub­lic in­quiries are much more con­strained by their terms of ref­er­ence than proper crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions at get­ting to the truth. And while it is true that the po­lice of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gate the fail­ings of fel­low of­fi­cers with lit­tle enthusiasm, the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem is the only way we have of prop­erly deal­ing with cor­rup­tion and im­moral­ity amongst those who are sup­posed to serve the pub­lic.

The rea­son politi­cians con­stantly re­sort to pub­lic in­quiries to deal with cases of pub­lic cor­rup­tion is that they have to be seen to do some­thing. The trou­ble is that pub­lic in­quiries into the Bloody Sun­day shoot­ings, Hills­bor­ough, the Stephen Lawrence killing and press mal­prac­tice have all spec­tac­u­larly failed to a greater or lesser ex­tent in get­ting to the truth.

The prob­lem is that people who pro­pose pub­lic in­quiries ap­par­ently seem to be­lieve that cor­rup­tion and in­jus­tice can be done away with at a stroke. If only we had per­fect reg­u­la­tion then the po­lice, the press, the po­lit­i­cal classes would mag­i­cally be­have per­fectly. While it is true that our rules and sys­tems of ac­count­abil­ity can make it more dif­fi­cult and un­re­ward­ing to en­gage in cor­rupt prac­tices, it is sim­ply not pos­si­ble to do away with cor­rup­tion and crim­i­nal­ity en­tirely. The ad­vo­cate of the pub­lic in­quiry says that this must never be al­lowed to hap­pen again. A more real­is­tic and hon­est view sim­ply states that those guilty of wrong­do­ing must be brought to jus­tice.

The task of mak­ing sure that our laws are en­forced with no fear and favour is what true pub­lic ser­vice is all about.

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