Tragedies polarise public perception

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The recent media coverage of the Hillsborough disaster and that of the shooting of PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone is, to borrow from Dickens, A Tale of Two Tragedies.

These two incidents have polarised the public perception of the police like no other in recent years.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel concluded in September 2012 that the disaster, the worst stadium-related disaster in British history, was a result of a series of monumental failures by many organisations, including the police. If these findings, appalling as they are, had been made public at the time, those that lost loved ones could have mourned their loss and those who allowed this to happen would have been dealt with by the courts there and then.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and instead a whole damning series of insinuations and downright untruths were made by the police and the media denigrating the fans, ‘twisting the knife’ even further into the bereaved, creating even more anger directed at the police.

What has made the whole incident far worse is that it has taken 23 years for the facts to finally be made public.

However upset we all feel, we must not let this tragic incident cloud our judgment of the police today. The tragic deaths of the two police officers, Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, shot whilst investigating a routine call, have had the sympathy of a whole nation, with thousands of ordinary wellwishers applauding the actions of two young officers who have paid the ultimate price for us all. This incident showed that we owe a debt of thanks to the men and women who daily risk their lives on our streets in our name.

For the millions of law- abiding citizens we should be thankful that the police are there for us, as it would be incomprehensible to imagine the nightmare scenario if we did not have them to uphold our system of law.

Colin Levesley, Rotherham