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Phone hacking and the police

19 July 2011

Professor Martin Innes

The turmoil surrounding the Metropolitan Police could be the shape of things to come for Britain’s senior police officers, the director of the Universities Police Sciences Institute has warned.

Professor Martin Innes, the Cardiff-based Director of the Institute, has written for The Guardian on the controversy engulfing News International, Parliament and the police, which has seen two senior Metropolitan police officers resign.

As a leading authority on UK policing, Professor Innes has been called on to comment extensively as the phone hacking scandal opens up wider issues about links between the police and the press.

In his Guardian article, Professor Innes points out that such links are nothing new. Police officers and journalists have always worked together in the past, often to public benefit.

However, Professor Innes suggests that the police are struggling to adapt to a new era of constant communication through social media, and to greater demand for transparent public services. While he believes the police should become more publicly accountable, Professor Innes questions whether current Government proposals for directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners would have this effect. Instead, police officers might become more vulnerable to the kind of political storm which has caused the last two Met Commissioners to retire.

Professor Innes concludes: "In a moment defined by declining police budgets, where crime rates are starting to nudge up, policing will be ill-served if the quest for increased political accountability induces further scandal, turbulence and instability."

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