To Catch A Copper: The Shocking Reality of Britians Modern Bobbies

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To Catch a Copper
To Catch a Copper review – a shocking, disgusting real-life Line of Duty

To Catch a Copper: Unmasking the Rot Within Britain’s Police Force

The disturbing new Channel 4 documentary series To Catch a Copper offers a sobering glimpse into the decay infecting parts of Britain’s police forces. Following in the footsteps of Line of Duty-style internal investigators, this jaw-dropping chronicle exposes the corruption and abuse festering within Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

The program’s first shocking episode depicts police responding to a mentally distressed woman on Clifton Suspension Bridge. Rather than compassion, the attending officers treat her with sneering aggression, subjecting the vulnerable soul to pepper spray and excessive force before joking about getting a curry. Their contemptuous misconduct, captured on bodycams, elicits only shame and disgust from fellow officers.

The footage only came to light because police were examining bodyworn footage to see if the woman assaulted to the two arresting officers. “We urgently need to take these officers off frontline duties,” a Sergeant says, upon viewing the footage.

Mark Loker. the Chair of Avon & Somerset Police Federation, when watching the footage, puts his heads. He said: “I don’t know what to say. It’s the worst misconduct I think I have ever seen. How can anyone with a reasonable mind say that any part of this is acceptable? She is clearly in crisis. She deserves to be treated fairly. It shows a level of malevolence and they dehumanise her, that is the hardest part for me. They don’t treat her as a human being.”

“Told you I was going to PAVA someone tonight,” one of the officers is heard saying. “I’m embarrassed and I’m said,” Mr Loker says.

The pair – who have not been named – were immediately taken off frontline duties while the incident was referred to the independent police watchdog for possible criminal charges. The officers have since resigned, although the incident has been sent back to Avon and Somerset so an investigation into gross misconduct can be completed, with the hearing scheduled for June 2024. The IOPC did not consisder the incident serious enough to pursue criminal charges.

In another alarming scene, investigators examine allegations that an on-duty policeman had nonconsensual sex with an inebriated woman he was supposedly driving home. The officer later victim blamed claiming PTSD rendered him unable to resist her advances. While not convicted of criminal wrongdoing, his excuse of powerlessness rang hollow.

Sgt Lee Cocking, who volunteered to drive a heavily inebriated member of the public home in Weston-super-Mare on Christmas Eve 2017. Having been charged with the imprisonable criminal offence of misconduct in public office, Sgt Cocking convinced the jury that post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by a previous bad experience at work had left him psychologically unable to stop the woman making him pull into a pitch-dark layby, climbing on to him in the driver’s seat and having sex with him.

His police misconduct hearing agreed with the court verdict. On the programme, a police officer describes Cocking’s defence as “farcical”, but the case is potentially an outlier, its usefulness here complicated both by Cocking’s medical condition and by a jury having concurred with the police’s internal disciplinary process.

Betrayal of Purpose

Met Police officer investigated over multiple rape allegations 1
Met Police officer investigated over multiple rape allegations Link

What wretched specimens these episodes reveal our once-proud police force to have become. Where dutiful Bobbies once strove to protect the vulnerable and uphold civility, we now see only brutish thugs lording over the public they ostensibly serve.

The grim parade of misconduct on display, from physical abuse of troubled souls to rank exploitation of power for sexual gain, epitomizes the depths to which law enforcement has sunk in this brutish age. Gone are the days when the constable’s uniform commanded automatic respect, when citizens saw him as guardian rather than threatening obstacle.

Each tawdry incident related peels back the veneer of order concealing cesspits of corruption. The programs’ most valuable service is exposing the supine response of police leadership to such outrages. Wrist-slaps and mild rebukes take the place of strict sanction, sending the message that anything goes for those with a badge.

Such disturbing cases of preying upon the vulnerable show how severely modern policing has strayed from its noble foundations. The high ideals of service and protection once embodied by those who proudly wore the badge have been eroded.

Public servants sworn to guard the innocent have mutated into unaccountable oppressors in too many instances. The honourable minority still standing for justice find their calling tarnished by those who disgrace the uniform.

Redeeming the Thin Blue Line: The Imperative for Policing Reform

traditional bobbie
Traditional Bobbie

Though not representative, the rotten apples captured in this documentary represent a profound betrayal of purpose that cannot be ignored. The courageous officers striving to maintain integrity despite the crisis deserve better.

In no way does this documentary diminish the challenges inherent to police work. Interacting with distressed or criminal elements of society tests composure and ethics. But professionalism and high standards must prevail, whatever the circumstances. The badge demands restraint and level-headedness, not an indulgence of personal prejudice.

However trying the realities of the job, officers must represent the best of public service, not the worst of human failings. The public deserves protectors who meet adversity with courage and principle, not those who descend to the level of those they police. If the thin blue line is to stand, it must demonstrate discipline and selfless regard for those it serves.

Perhaps the only bright spot illuminating these benighted proceedings are the investigative officers themselves, who retain a glimmer of the force’s lost integrity. Their commitment to policing their own ranks is a lone ray piercing the fog of institutional rot.

Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Sarah Crew said she hoped the documentary would shine a light on efforts to expunge rogue officers from the force.

Chief Constable Crew stated: “When we first invited Story Films to follow the dedicated officers and staff who work in our Professional Standards Department, we could never have foreseen the intense publicity and scrutiny this area of policing would experience over the following years.

Produced with rare police cooperation, To Catch a Copper lays bare the need to restore honour and professionalism to this tarnished calling. If the rule of law is to prevail, law enforcement cannot stand above it.

The stakes could not be higher, as the nation learned through the appalling acts of Wayne Couzens and David Carrick. By courageously confronting the darkness in its ranks, perhaps Avon and Somerset have taken the first steps on the road to redemption.

For too long, successive governments have excused police excesses through toothless oversight and silence. The public’s trust can only be restored through root and branch reform. If any force beyond the law is the enemy of ordered liberty, how much worse when that outlaw force wears the King’s silver badge? This harrowing chronicle makes clear the need for drastic cultural change in policing. Honour and virtue must displace brutality and vice.

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