I am pleased today to see the amount of coverage which the case of my client Yvonne Farrell has received, following her BBC Newsnight interview, which you can watch below:
I really do count what happened to Yvonne as one of the most heinous institutional abuses of power in modern-day Policing. As I told the BBC, those who have been unlawfully arrested – often having no prior experience of Police custody – tend to be understandably upset, and many of them then dispute the need to provide their personal details, as a form of protest against what has been done to them. In response to this, the Police too often use a strip-search as a ‘punishment’ designed to enforce the person’s compliance through a very physical act of degradation and humiliation. In my opinion, it is a low-level form of torture, deliberately implemented not to safeguard a detainee’s welfare, but to break their spirit.
And all of this in a week in which further revelations have come to light about the prevalence of toxic attitudes of misogyny, racism and authoritarianism amongst our nation’s largest Police force – Wayne Couzens being shown to be an outlier on the same continuum of sinister behaviour which at its lower levels encompasses too many male Police officers.
Courageous victims of Police wrongdoing, such as Yvonne, coming forwards and telling their stories are the building blocks we need for a reformed Police service, one in which the public can place proper trust and faith, and one in which the Police themselves are the first to clamp down on misconduct in their ranks, rather than waiting for it to be exposed from outside. In current Policing culture, with its ingrained authoritarian attitudes and ‘tribal’ mindset, letters of apology such as Yvonne received are rarely forthcoming until a member of the public sticks their neck out and sues the Chief Constable; it simply shouldn’t have to be that way.
By speaking up, and raising awareness of these matters, we can all strive for change and a healthier tomorrow.