Failures and frailty: initial responses and questions over Hogan-Howe comments

Following on from Bernard Hogan-Howe’s statement and comments, as we published earlier today, the solicitor for this case has made a response comment, and we want to raise some questions over what Hogan-Howe has said.

First of all, below is an extract of what we think we can hear in the video (note that this is not an official transcript).

Jenny Jones AM: The Mayor has said several times that sexual relationships should not occur in an undercover project.

Hogan-Howe: I also said at the same time, which has been misrepresented by a certain journalist, which was that when I acknowledged that human behaviour means you cannot prevent this, this is human behaviour and that I was saying this is what the boys do. I was not saying that at all. I was just saying that any policy cannot prevent human beings sometimes failing. What we need to know is if that should happen, an individual does have some sexual activity, that their manager knows and we react to that.

That is all I have ever said. Our policy is we should never send out people with this as part of our strategy. Does human behaviour sometimes allow this sort of thing to happen? Possible, but what we need is transparency when it happens. The individual involved lets us know and we deal with it as a problem, but do not condemn.

Response comment from Harriet Wistrich:

Solicitor Harriet Wistrich, who is representing the eight women in this legal action, said:

“To say rules cannot prevent ‘human beings failing’ is ridiculous. The best way of enforcing rules about not permitting officers to have sex is to make it an immediate offence of gross misconduct – that would send a clear message to any officers that if they experience such failures of human frailty, they will face the consequences, which might in turn strengthen their resolve to comply with the policy.”

Questions we are asking:

Here are just a few questions which we are asking, relating to one key comment from Hogan-Howe, relating to what he says should happen:

The individual involved lets us know and we deal with it as a problem, but do not condemn.

What does this mean? Is he saying they do not condemn the men for having feelings? What then do they do about the behaviour? Do those whom an officer should ‘let know’ have any understanding of the nature of the abuse they are hearing about? How do they deal with it? What are they doing to prevent members of the public from being ‘condemned’ to having their lives and bodies abused?

And a key question that we are asking, as we study these comments from such a senior law enforcement officer: Does he not know how you enforce rules for human frailty when it causes serious harm to others?

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