Police officers in Britain are refusing to cooperate with inquiries into their conduct according to the head of the Independent Police Complaints Commission Anne Owers.
“Sometimes it feels like we are putting a message in a bottle and sending it down the river,” she said.
“They don’t want to answer questions at all and take too long.”
The criticism comes two years after police shot dead Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London. The killing sparked riots in towns and cities across England (see below).
Mark’s aunt Carole Duggan spoke to Socialist Worker about the help the family received in the aftermath of his death.
“Without things like legal aid, I think they’d have swept it under the carpet,” she said.
Carole said the Tories’ attacks on legal aid would leave people more vulnerable to police attack.
“The police wouldn’t be accountable for what they do,” she said. “We wouldn’t have a leg to stand on and the police would be getting away with murder.
“It’s absolutely frightening.”
Mark’s family found out about his death from a neighbour. Senior officers refused to talk to Mark’s family. After news spread of his death, an angry protest assembled.
It marched from the Broadwater Farm estate where Mark grew up to Tottenham Police Station to demand answers.
Riots erupted in Tottenham and spread to other parts of London and other English cities.
Journalists were encouraged to believe that Mark had shot at officers in the aftermath of his death.
The Guardian newspaper reported the day after Mark’s death, “A father of three died instantly after an apparent exchange of fire when police attempted to arrest him in north London”.
The IPCC later admitted that, “It seems possible that we may have verbally led journalists to believe that shots were exchanged”.
Police claimed that Mark was on his way to carry out an attack and was carrying a gun.
But a gun they said he was carrying was found metres away from the car he was travelling in. It had no traces of Mark’s DNA on it.
And the IPCC confirmed that tests showed “no evidence” that the gun found at the scene had been fired.
The bullet lodged in a police radio was “consistent with being fired from a police gun”.
The IPCC has still not completed a final report into Mark’s death. An inquest into his death is due to begin on 16 September.
But while new rules give the IPCC power to compel officers to attend interviews, they don’t have to answer questions.
In May, eight officers in Derbyshire refused to answer questions in an IPCC investigation into the death of a man who had been detained by police.
Police say there is evidence that cops spied on Janet Alder during an inquest into her brother Christopher’s death.
Christopher died in police custody in Hull in 1998.
After an inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killing, five police officers stood trial for manslaughter and misconduct. The case collapsed and the officers walked free.