The crime correspondent is a servant of the State. It can be no other way. The crime correspondent will never ask: should this be a crime? Instead, the crime correspondent exists to relate what the State is doing about crime. To do this, he -let’s say it is a he- relies on the offices of the State to transmit information. He is therefore a conduit for the ruling powers. Let me stress: it can be no other way. The crime correspondent is a symbol of the established order of things, a spokesman for the way things are done around here. He reinforces the legitimacy of the State and its power to determine what is criminal and what is not, its power to discipline and punish. If the State scapegoats a certain group, the crime correspondent will replicate the scapegoating.
Perhaps the least appropriate person in the world to report on the misdeeds of the police is the crime correspondent. Even less appropriate, I suggest, than a spokesperson formally appointed by the police. If the public is confronted with the police spokesperson, the suspicion will sink in, at some stage, that the police are lying. For the crime correspondent, the prospect of the police telling lies is similar to Lord Denning’s appalling vista: if the police are telling lies, how many lies has the crime correspondent told? Such a prospect is inadmissible.
Let me stress, this is not a matter of personal integrity: it is part of the job definition. Therefore the public will never be confronted with the prospect, before the fact, that the police might be lying. The fact that it is in the nature of police forces to have officers who lie, conspire, undermine, control and condition, will never be taken into account in the crime correspondent’s reporting. If the police were lying, that would mean the crime correspondent was lying too. And you can’t be having that.