Lord McAlpine did not rape Steven Messham. However, Messham believed that McAlpine was his rapist because the police had showed him a picture of his actual rapist and misidentified him as Lord McAlpine.
What. The. Actual. Fuck.
Am I the only person who cares more about what the fuck is up with the police than about the shit going down at the BBC? I mean, yes, generally you should show people pictures of the person they’re alleging abused them before you say that that person abused them (even in as vague terms as the BBC did). But it’s an understandable oversight, particularly when Messham appears certain.
But to fucking misidentify someone in a picture? That is a failure of basic policing right there.
Who knows how many people were misidentified by the police and weren’t wealthy and politically powerful enough to be able to correct the record? This issue will disproportionately affect poor people, people of color, and the mentally ill, who are disproportionately likely to end up in prison and less able to clear their records when they are– and men, who are much more likely to be accused of crimes than women. In addition to being an incredible miscarriage of justice, unfairly punishing the innocent, and allowing the guilty to go free, poor policing further marginalizes the already marginalized.
The police should be fully investigated, the reasons for the mistake discovered, possible other cases of the same mistake found and investigated, and procedures put in place to make sure it never happens again. While it was twenty years ago and therefore perhaps the people responsible are not still employed the police, the fact that it happened once is truly horrifying.
Or is it just less popular to criticize police than the BBC?
Photo– juliejordanscott/Flickr. Signs at an anti-rape and anti-violence protest.