Tuesday, August 2, 2011

True Crime Scotland Yard Style

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Here at Jungle Red we all write crime fiction, so we are accustomed to imagining and inventing all sorts of corruption and nefarious doings. And because I in particular write contemporary British police procedurals, I've long been aware that things within the Met can be less than peachy.

I've read the autobiographies of a number of recent Scotland Yard commissioners and senior officers, the most interesting among them Brian Paddick's Line of Fire. Paddick, the most senior openly gay officer in the Metropolitan Police, was at the time of his retirement
in May 2007 Deputy Assistant Commissioner. Paddick had already had several run-ins with Murdoch's media machine, but when in 2005 his accounting of the Stockwell shooting of Jean Charles de Menzies differed from the official one, it effectively ended his career.

In light of the recent disclosures involving the intertwining of Sir Rupert Murdoch's media empire with the higher levels of the Metropolitan Police, one might be given to some interesting speculation here.

That, of course, is what we writers do. Speculate. I've certainly speculated about corruption in the upper levels of the Met, and I've considered such things as useful plot devices. But I'm just as disillusioned as anyone to find that life has so blatantly imitated art, and to see the reputation of the Met so tarnished.

Sir Paul Stephenson, the commissioner of the Met, has stepped down, leaving the post open.

But it could be that some good things will come of the airing of the Met's dirty laundry. It's possible that the Met might have its first female commissioner. Sara Thornton, chief constable of Thames Valley Police, is the 2-1 favorite for the job.

Yes, trust the Brits. The bookies are laying odds on the appointment.

And Chief Constable Thornton, at least in this photo, looks the tiniest bit like Helen Mirren. That would be one for the books.

So, Jungle Reds and dear readers--anyone want to make a wager?


  1. High time, I say. One thing this scandal has shown (yet again) is that the Old Boys network and cozy professional ties lead to corruption - even among those we most trust to guard our liberties.

    Bring in some people who don't weekend together and put them in charge.

  2. OH, she DOES look like Helen Mirren.

    The head of the Massachusetts State Police is a woman...hmm.

  3. Sara Thornton, the Helen Mirren of Scotland Yard--nice ring to it. And isn't Sara Thornton a great name for a character?

    Tell me a woman couldn't handle an investigation better than most men. It's all in the details.

    BTW, my captcha is "himbies." Is that the male equivalent of bimbos?

  4. I agree with Julia. They need someone outside the old boy network, which most likely means female, black, or gay. Thornton has worked within the Met well enough to know the territory, but has been at Thames Valley long enough to distance herself from the mess. And she certainly seems smart and capable.

    She could be a star for Gemma and Melody to hang their hats on. (Am I mixing my metaphors this morning. Yawn.)

  5. I wouldn't envy her job if she gets it! We saw what Helen Mirren went through as an inspector, battling the old boy network.

  6. Well said, Julia. Insider cliques breed corruption.

    Himbies = male bimbos. Ha! Good one Sheila!


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  8. Himbies is the male equivalent of herpes.

  9. Interesting... what made Helen Mirren's character in Prime Suspect was that she had her vulnerabilities and was just as corruptible as the guys, just in different ways.