LIKE the Miners’ Strike of 1984-85 which so polarised the country, the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s decision not to sanction a full inquiry into the so-called ‘Battle of Orgreave’ – and the violent exchanges between police and striking miners – has proved to be similarly divisive.
There are those who contend that nothing will be achieved by such an examination, not least because more than three decades have passed since the confrontation in question. Conversely, there is a strong argument that senior officers concerned should be held to account for any miscarriage of justice that may have taken place in the aftermath.
Both viewpoints will now have to be considered by the Home Secretary – the onus is now on Theresa May to decide whether the IPCC’s decision should effectively be the last word on one of the defining events of a year-long struggle for supremacy between Margaret Thatcher’s government and the trade unions.
Yet, as Mrs May weighs up these contradictory positions, she might be advised to consider the perspective of those officers who were at Orgreave and who risked their own lives in order to uphold the rule of law and safeguard Britain’s energy supplies at a time national strife.
They actually want an independent inquiry because they believe that their conduct was text book – even in the most provocative of circumstances – and they want to expose those senior officers whose alleged fabrication of witness statements has brought their profession into disrepute. Mrs May would be advised to heed such calls. For, until South Yorkshire Police can draw a line under a succession of those past controversies, Orgreave included, which continue to haunt its reputation, the constabulary will struggle to move forward into a new era of policing with confidence – and full public support.
Twitter twits: why trolls need to be silenced
Even the fiercest critic of Twitter, Facebook and their like would have to concede that they do have some redeeming qualities. Not only have they made the world smaller but they have arguably helped to make it more democratic – take, for example, those protesters in totalitarian regimes such as Iran responding to the bullets fired by government thugs by firing tweets about their plight to billions around the world. They now have a voice.
Yet the freedom of speech that these innovations have done so much to champion can also be their undoing. Too often there is a sense that social media affords protection to those who hide behind their anonymity to say things they would never say to their target’s face. The resignation of Twitter’s chief executive is an opportunity for the company to at last take seriously its responsibilities in policing those “trolls” who spread bile and upset on the net. If social media is to prove the positive tool it has the potential to be, then this flaw must be addressed.