George Floyd and the need for UK police reform

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Guy Smallman/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Guy Smallman/Getty Images

While the guilty verdict in the George Floyd case is to be welcomed, we are very far from the culture change required if policing with consent is to become a reality (Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder of George Floyd, 21 April). In numerous incidents in the US and the UK, overzealous actions of the police have been captured for all to see, but have you ever seen or heard a fellow officer intervening or condemning them? In the George Floyd incident, two other officers did not regard the restraint as unlawful and made little attempt to prevent or advise their fellow officer.

Families often have to wait many years for incidents of death in custody to be heard by the UK coroner’s court, and how many times has the verdict included the message that evidence presented by the police is simply not believed?

A culture change will only truly occur with a reformed system of complaints, where investigation teams are not dominated by former police officers. If it is right that the actions of members of a criminal gang can be prosecuted under “joint enterprise” legislation, why not the police? It may end the culture of passively standing by while another member of the public suffers, especially if they are being filmed and their misplaced loyalty is likely to examined in a court of law at a later date rather than the comfort of the inspector’s office.
Stephen Black
Kettering, Northamptonshire

• Your report on the conviction of Derek Chauvin gives due credit to Dr Martin Tobin, the pulmonologist who gave his graphic testimony for the prosecution without charging a fee.

However, what was remarkable was the fact that his testimony was only made possible by the evidence of a 17-year-old girl who had the presence of mind not just to stare in horror and protest but to video the crucial nine minutes and 29 seconds of the murder on her phone.

It was this that enabled Dr Tobin to painstakingly dissect the video evidence and explain to the jury, step by step, the asphyxiation of Floyd, to the extent that the CNN commentators declared that Dr Tobin’s evidence should in future be used as a teaching aid to all students of asphyxia.
Ruth Baker
Matfield, Kent

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