“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”
― George R.R. Martin,
There has been numerous scandals recently of public organisations conspiring to pretend that everything was for the best, in the best of all possible public service systems — and anyone trying to tell the truth was dismissed as loons, threatened with the sack, gagged when they left or otherwise bullied by amoral apparatchiks.
In the UK public services, cover-up is a “win-win” for those in charge: top management continues unaffected while the cover-up is taking place and then retires on full pension, payment of contract and honours if the cover-up is exposed. The longer the cover-up continues, the greater each of those “wins”.
The material posted on this website is a statement of fact, so it would not amount to defamation as you cannot defame if what you disseminate is true. Notwithstanding it is held in House of Lords’ decision in Derbyshire County Council v Times Newspapers  AC 534 that a local authority had no right at common law to sue for libel to protect its governing or administrative reputation, because allowing it such a right would stifle pubic opinion and be contrary to the public interest.
Merseyside police obviously never got this memo as we at IODPA are hearing from people unconnected to us that their freedom of information requests are being refused by Merseyside because of the posts we have written. Our researchers trawl WhatDoTheyKnow.com for relevant requests so we apologise in advance for those people whose requests have been refused because Merseyside is closing down the topic of injury awards, labelling all and sundry as ‘vexatious’.
Merseyside Police in it’s eagerness to covering-up their wrongdoing hasn’t considered the ‘The Streisand effect’. This is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicising the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.
In 2003, Barbara Streisand sued photographer Kenneth Adelman for distributing aerial pictures of her mansion in Malibu. But Adelman was no paparazzo—he operated the California Coastal Records Project, a resource providing more than 12,000 pictures of the California coast for scientists and researchers to use to study coastal erosion. At the time Streisand sued Adelman for $50 million, the picture in question had been accessed ka whopping total of six times—twice by Streisand’s lawyers. Nonetheless, her lawsuit stated that the photos explicitly showed people how to gain access to her private residence.
Of course, news outlets around the world reported on Streisand’s outrage, and before long, the photo on Adelman’s website (below) had received well over a million views. The photo was also picked up by the Associated Press and was reprinted countless times.
As if single-handedly causing the exact thing she didn’t want to happen wasn’t bad enough, Streisand also lost the lawsuit; the judge ordered her to cover the $155,567.04 Adelman incurred in legal fees.
According to wikipedia there are 49 ways to cover up public service malpractice.
We at IODPA have put a green tick next to the behaviour that we have already experienced from police forces and this is just the initial reaction – there are 40 other indicators!
Initial response to allegation:
|1. Flat denial|
|2. Convince the media to bury the story|
|3. Preemptively distribute false information|
|4. Claim that the “problem” is minimal|
|5. Claim faulty memory|
|6. Claim the accusations are half-truths|
|7. Claim the critic has no proof|
|8. Attack the critic’s motive|
|9. Attack the critic’s character|
The orange exclamation marks are next to points that by their definition relate to acknowledgement, some contrition and acceptance that a problem may perhaps exist – such a seed of honesty is sadly lacking in our experience. There has been no evidence of contrition or acceptance and Police forces have fully yanked their dial all the way up to DEFCON-1. The 101 text book of how to deny there’s a problem and withhold incriminatory evidence is seemingly being followed diligently.
The 2015 HM Inspector of Constabulary report into corruption barely mentions cover-up at all but the closest it comes is interesting:
“When corruption is uncovered there is a tendency within organisations, including the police service, to suggest or imply that the problem is one that is confined to a few rogue members or what are sometimes referred as ‘bad apples’. However, the history of policing has too many examples of institutionalised corruption for this view to carry much credence. Morever [sic], the notion of ‘bad apples’ narrows the scope of attention, often directing concern away from others and implies that, barring the individual ‘bad apples’, everything in the organisation is ethically sound. The literature suggests that this is rarely the case and that maintaining such a view is damaging to the health of the police service.”
This eagerness to be seen as ethically sound, despite evidence to the contrary, is inflated by self-serving bias. A good weather indicator of corruption is when a public body, instead of facing the truth, goes on the defensive and overtly attempts to perceive itself in an overly favourable manner.
The Police Service Of Northern Ireland realised that they had a broken IOD system on their hands and commissioned David Scoffield QC to conduct a report. There is little probability of the same happening on the main land as the 43 police services here refuse to admit that anything untoward is happening – even though the Regulations concerning PSNI and the rest of England & Wales are identical. Even though any given police service denies any wrongdoing there will always be a general public interest in transparency.
If there is a plausible suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of the public authority, this may create a public interest in disclosure. And even where this is not the case, there is a public interest in releasing information to provide a full picture.
Our message is resonating. In just 16 months our pages have been viewed over 60,000 times in 69 countries.
But trying to get the full picture is only a small amount of what IODPA does. Behind the scenes we are a support network.
We value the individuals, and care about what has happened to each former police officer that feels the need to get in touch and walk through our door.
We have limited time and resources, but try and help as many IODs as we can. These are disabled former officers with no one else to turn to. Those medically retired with an injury award often feel alone and that nobody really understands the challenges they face each day living and can lead to isolation.
When ‘reviewed’, often unlawfully and always callously, this challenge is raised exponentially.
Who else can be people turn to for advice? Unfortunately, NARPO (National Association of Retired Police Officers) is ill-equipped to deal with these former officers. Advice is wrong, damaging and often out-of-date. With a few notable exceptions the localised NARPO ‘wisdom’ often consists of ‘just accept that the force can do what it wants…’
At the moment policing bodies see IODPA as an agitator. We are rocking their boat and they don’t like it. Public humiliation, even when it’s justified, is a bitter pill to swallow for them. That is why they put up the wall and become defensive.
Their denial is avoiding responsibility for their harmful actions to others and saying “Nuh-uh. Not me! I didn’t do it.” One department within the force learns to lie even to other departments. Human Resources tell legal services everything they are doing is legit; legal services tells the freedom of information team not to disclose anything that contradicts the ‘lie’.
They need to keep up the pretence of being a good guy and across time they come to believe their own lie. Denial is being irresponsible at an unconscious level because the person is embarrassed to know the truth about their misbehaviour.
What we are really doing is helping those most in need. Until they realise that we are a symptom of the problem that they caused then the atmosphere between ‘them and us’ will always be strained. IODPA hopes one day that policing bodies can put their antagonism behind them and work with us to improve the lives of the officers they medically retire and have up until now abused.
Publicising wrongdoing is such a small part of what IODPA is about. It’s an important part as it is a beacon that is utilising the power of the Internet to show those affected that it hasn’t just happened to them – it has happened to hundreds of people like them. IODPA has saved lives – prevented suicides that would otherwise be blood stains on the hands of those that unlawfully reviewed the individual.
This is the world we inhabit and those who dismiss us as ‘self-styled’ are ignorant to the reality.
What those in power, those corrupting the administration of injury awards, don’t see is that we pick up the pieces of the destruction that they cause by their wrongdoing.
If people join together, they are more powerful than if they work by themselves. We will continue to do this long after it dawns on the police service that they are implicit in yet another cover-up.