Collars and Cuffs

Tragic news from Croydon where a Police Custody Sergeant has been shot dead in a secure custody suite. Nothing can detract from the awful reality that a man has lost his life.

Most telling, though, is the gamut of reactions on social media.

Pro-police commentators have trumpeted that the Sergeant was ‘murdered’. Others are beyond gleeful, citing the perceived, egregious track record of the Metropolitan Police.

Both viewpoints are grievously prejudicial.

Only a jury can determine murder, not a cabal of entitled, pipsqueak Blue Lives Matter keyboard warriors, who moreover could not know the facts of that fateful rendezvous at the copshop.

On the same ticket, those who loathe every last rozzer because of unfavourable prior interactions are disastrously looking down the wrong end of the telescope.

Both cases reflect unmitigated confirmation bias. When some folk want something to be true, they end up believing it to be so because they favour information that corroborates their existing beliefs.

The import of this particular flavour of cognitive bias lies in the detrimental social impact it brings by distorting evidence-based decision-making. That’s been a ruinous plague in the last decade or so that shows no sign of letting up – and it’s way more noxious than COVID.

The blue faction holds that the man who had been collared must be guilty of murder even through police officers are professional evidence collectors who take an oath of impartiality and ought to respect the absolute sovereignty of the courts.

The street posse maintains that the officer who bought it must have deserved all he got because ‘all coppers are bastards’.

You can take both standpoints as a succinct commentary on the present state of police-public relations in some quarters and the legitimacy of policing by consent.

It is seriously screwed, and it’s why the UK hosts sporadic pockets of wild-west mayhem and reactionary coppering that when fused specialise only in a perpetual, unhealthy flow of self-fulfilling prophecies.

It culminates in a moshpit of mutually targeted blind hatred, bile, and resentment, underpinned by predisposition and defective logic. Everybody concludes what suits their agenda to perpetuate endless cyclical conflict, with fact-based analysis barely making it to the starting gate.

This post-fact flapdoodle had long since preceded coronacrud as the new normal.

But the most flabbergasting snippets of the day are those that the detainee who purportedly fired the shots had been collared following a stop-and-search, delivered via meat wagon express, and was handcuffed at the time in a secure area – with his hands behind his back.

That’s going to be a trickier escape than Viper tactical handcuffs for the woodentop who loses the final game of musical chairs at this year’s Professional Standards Christmas party.

Notwithstanding that a search turned up a bit of blow, but not a loaded pistol, just take a moment to visualise how this whole shooting-match could have unfolded. More specifically, how could the detainee have managed to pull out the pistol, release the safety catch, and position himself to let off a fatal shot? And then turn the weapon on himself with a shot to the neck?

Who is this bloke, Houdini? Perhaps we’ll later discover that he had spontaneously levitated and, while hovering over the custody desk before the spellbound busies, had turned himself inside-out before firing the fatal shot with his toes through the middle of an Ace of Spades.

Most people so pinioned wouldn’t even be able to scratch their arse.

And nobody seems to even be questioning that this version of events of the handcuffed shooting might not actually have happened?

After all, this caper would all seem a lot more straightforward, had the shooter been a third party?

The problem with confirmation bias is that it leads people to stop gathering information that leads away from their preferred, pre-conceived outlook.

Time will tell, but as with the from-the-hip social commentaries on this tragedy, the collars and cuffs do not appear to match.

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