Dear Surrey Police,
There are eight senior, Deputy and Chief Constables in England currently under investigation. Count them - EIGHT - for a variety of allegations: using undue influence, corruption, misuse of public funds, gross misconduct, even lying to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Well okay, I grant you, one is appealing being sacked for gross misconduct, the first since 1977.
True, that has attracted press coverage. But only because of its rarity value. We're much more used to senior officers being allowed to quietly retire on full pension to avoid disciplinary action - like this one, or these.
Sometimes though, you get things right. You did interview Jimmy Savile about alleged sexual offences. And when you decided there was enough evidence, you were prepared to follow that up with a referral to Crown Prosecution Service. Sadly, the CPS decided insufficient evidence so no charge could be brought. There were others though who didn't voice their suspicions and have attracted criticism for their inaction - such as this tweet:
No, sorry, Janet. Sorry Esther. I don't buy it. If you knew and you did nothing, you're part of the problem you condemn.So credit where it's due - you did investigate.
— Louis Barfe (@LFBarfe) October 4, 2012
Because who doesn't loathe such hateful crimes against children, doubly victimised by crass abuse of power and smothered by walls of silence? Who would not feel like weeping for their powerlessness? Unless it were Milly Dowler and you knew about that phone hacking.
And you knew. It's not even in dispute. The News of the World "admitted to Surrey Police in April 2002... (it) had unlawfully accessed Milly Dowler's voicemail messages." News International has conceded that to victims taking civil action. It is the main foundation of the criminal prosecutions too, of course - conspiracy unlawfully to intercept communications. Those charged in relation to Milly Dowler are Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner, Greg Miskiw, Glenn Mulcaire and Neville Thurlbeck. Are you seriously hoping no-one will notice? Do you really think no-one will wonder who in Surrey Police was told? Can you honestly believe nobody will ask why nothing was done to prevent phone hacking continuing? The next victims after Milly herself were her family - and maybe you could have prevented it.
Granted, you did invite the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate.
And that's the last we heard of that. Doubtless the IPCC will kick the can further down the road, and we'll be told it can't report till the News of the World prosecutions conclude - when might that be? 2014? 2015? But why? By that time, we will have guessed that no charges will be made. And we will definitely have clocked if anyone were to be allowed to quietly retire with a full pension and avoid disciplinary action.
No, sorry, Surrey. Sorry IPCC. I don't buy it. If you knew and you did nothing, you're part of the problem you condemn.
There are Questions Still Unanswered, and continuing Discrepancies and Delays.
The Leveson Inquiry has acted like a searchlight. Regardless of its outcomes, it's served the public well, giving the opportunity to watch the process. Whatever its Report recommends, the open scrutiny is necessary if the battered and bruised public confidence in policing is ever to start healing. Two Prime Ministers spelled out the 'Dowler Test'. David Cameron said, "... bear in mind who we're doing this for, why we're here in the first place, and that's the real test. If the families like the Dowlers feel this has really changed the way they would have been treated, we would have done our job properly."
Gordon Brown said
...the question (is) that the Dowlers put to us: how can we defend the privacy of a family who at their moment of greatest grief and at a time when they're at their most vulnerable have their privacy invaded by the press in a way that splits the family apart and makes everybody in that family suspicious of each other, and particularly so since it's been done by unlawful means, which include telephone tapping.... I think Lord Justice Leveson put it: 'who will guard the guardians?' was a question which he wanted to address. I will say: who will defend the defenceless?Who guards the guardians? We do. All of us. The private citizens, public servants, our MPs, the bloggers, investigative journalists, the armchair Leveson viewers, Hacked Off and the pissed off - asking our questions and putting your integrity under our spotlight.
And we are watching what you do next.
Mr Reg Contributor
c/o Brown Moses
Hackgate - The John Boyall Files
One Rogue Email And The Indestructible Archive
John Yates And Neil Wallis - A Mutual Understanding
Alex Marunchak - Presumed Innocent
News Corp - Diplomatic Immunity?
The Cook-Hames Surveillance : A Watched Kettle...
Alastair Morgan On The Latest Hackgate Revelations
You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org