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From: The Socialist issue 1041, 8 May 2019: Strikes can get results

Search site for keywords: TV - Police - Organised crime - Crime - State

TV: Line of Duty

Twists and turns as organised crime meets police corruption

Line of Duty, photo by BBC

Line of Duty, photo by BBC   (Click to enlarge)

Derek McMillan

The TV series 'Line of Duty' is a work of fiction. Consequently, undercover police officers are not targeting trade unions and environmental campaigns.

Instead, they are involved in the rather more hazardous activity of infiltrating 'OCGs'. That is one of many acronyms in the series, and stands for 'organised crime gangs'.

The series is full of unexpected twists and turns which keep viewers on the edge of our seats. This review does not contain spoilers.

The show addresses the issue of how far an undercover officer has to act like a criminal in order to infiltrate a gang.

They would be spotted and probably killed if they failed to join in with robberies. But what about killing other police officers to gain credibility?

Adrian Dunbar plays police boss Ted Hastings, and leaves the viewer wondering what is going on behind his bluff exterior.

Martin Compston plays subordinate Steve Arnott, whose apparent abduction is one of many shockers in the series.

Vicky McLure plays fellow detective Kate Fleming, whose struggle to succeed in a sexist environment is a theme.

Stephen Graham plays undercover-cop-gone-native John Corbett, alongside Rochenda Sandall as crime boss Lisa McQueen.

The organised criminals are portrayed as a business venture - gangster capitalism, in fact.

Interesting as the series is, it should be a matter of concern that the only unit pursuing police corruption is a fictitious one.

Corrupt senior police officers routinely retire on fat pensions. People die in custody with no questions asked.

Perhaps the truest line in the series is spoken by police lawyer Gill Biggeloe (Polly Walker): "Sometimes we have a non-exclusive relationship with the truth."

Parliament's home affairs committee commented on the former Independent Police Complaints Commission that it was "woefully underequipped and hamstrung in achieving its original objectives.

"It has neither the powers nor the resources that it needs to get to the truth when the integrity of the police is in doubt."

It's a far cry from 'Dixon of Dock Green', and I hope no one is fooled into thinking the police have the issue of corruption in hand. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Instead of letting the state mark its own homework, the Socialist Party calls for democratic working-class control of police policy and staffing, and independent, trade union-led inquiries into police misconduct.

And only through workers' struggle for socialism, where wealth and the state are controlled democratically by the working class, can we eradicate organised crime, and police repression in defence of profit.

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