If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Blame Game

It didn't take long. No sooner has Moat topped himself and the Police refer themselves to the IPCC* and start the inevitable soul-searching investigation, than the criticisms start.

Chris Brown's family (the boyfriend of Sam Stobbart) have led the charge. Staff at Durham prison told Northumbria Police that Moat's ex-girlfriend was at risk, but it seems that no action was taken. Not surprisingly, Brown's family are upset:

Beckie Njie, aged 33 years, who lives with their mother, Sally, in Montem Lane, Slough, Berkshire, said: "We've got a lot of unanswered questions. We are really angry and we want answers.

"Something went wrong and it has cost Chris his life. They should have warned them. How did they allow that to happen when they knew he (Moat) was a danger? That's what I want to know.

"It makes me really angry, they knew about Moat and they should have done something."

Perhaps they should. No doubt, in retrospect, there are a lot of things the Police might wish to have done differently. There would appear to be a lack of professionalism in their failure to take action on a specific threat against a member of the public. My gut feeling, however, is that if they 'took action' on every case of a minor hard man saying he was going to 'get' someone after he got out, they wouldn't be doing much else. Perhaps they had heard it all before. That doesn't excuse their inaction in this case, but it might explain it.

But let's be perfectly clear about who is to blame here. It was Moat (allegedly) who killed Chris Brown, not the Police. He had a shotgun and he chose to pull the trigger, and he ended a man's life. His decision. Whatever the Police did, or did not do, it was he who decided to inflict a mortal injury.

It's the same with social workers. Baby Peter was killed by his mother, her boyfriend and the lodger. No-one else. Social workers did not kill him. Nursing staff did not kill him. The doctors who examined him did not kill him. He was killed by the people closest to him, and no-one else.

People who have jobs which revolve around protecting other people, or helping them, or healing them, have an awesome responsibility. Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes they get it wrong. There can be clinical misjudgements, there can be operational mistakes, there can be dereliction of duty. All of these things need to be addressed, and appropriate sanctions taken.

But sometimes, reading the tabloid press (and television reporting is going the same way), you would think that the doctors in the Baby P case strangled him with their bare hands. Or that the Police in Northumbria carelessly arranged the death of an innocent man by allowing a deranged killer to go on the rampage.

Let the blame for any violent death rest with the person who caused it. We can all choose how we behave. If we choose to kill another human being, we should not expect to be partly exonerated by being allowed to blame 'the professionals' or 'the system'.

Moat (allegedly) was a killer. The Police were, at the worst, incompetent. There is a difference.

*No, not the Climate Change fraudsters, the police watchdog. Funny how they share an acronym. I seem to remember the World Wildlife Fund and the World Wrestling Federation went to court over the same issue.


  1. It may be true that he said something about 'no dad' shortly before he died. True or not, it reminded me of this from 'The Sopranos - Series Three - episode: 'Second Opinion' - the encounter between the arch-hypocrite Carmela Soprano and the elderly psychiatrist who said,

    'Many patients want to be excused for their current predicament because of events that occurred in their childhood. That’s what psychiatry has become in America. Visit any shopping mall or ethnic pride parade to witness the results.'

  2. Curiously, this is the one thing that gives me some sympathy for the chap. Underneath all the steroid abuse, bullying, violence and hard-man posturing, there was a lonely and frightened child wondering about his Dad.

    My Dad was a complicated man, and our relationship was never an easy one. I never got to know him as well as I would have liked to have done. Nevertheless, he was a huge influence on how I have turned out, and his existence is a huge part of my identity. I can't comprehend what life would be like if I had never know him at all.

    On the other hand, the choices we make as adults are our own, and we shouldn't blame our past. It's too easy to do, and there are plenty of people willing to make excuses for us if we do.


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