Cover-ups and resistance inside the police force

Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale

In Britain today, it is obvious that there are continuing serious efforts to undo the cover-ups of past abuse of children by rich and powerful men. People who were abused in care have organised, and with the help of three MPs, and many others, have been pushing for a proper inquiry. What is perhaps less obvious is that the conflict in the wider society is also producing complex struggles inside the police and criminal justice system.

The most impressive coverage of the story of historic child abuse by the rich and powerful in Britain has come from, an investigative journalism site that has been working with the Mirror. All of their coverage is worth a look. But one of the most fascinating things they have posted are three articles by Alex Varley-Winter on discussions among the police. He had access to an internet chat room used by a considerable number of serving and former police officers to discuss what they knew, and what they felt, about past and present cover-ups of abuse.

His articles can be found at



Varley-Winter quotes at length from the discussions in the chat room. Here, for instance, is ‘Ray’, a long-serving sergeant in the Met, the London police force. (All the names have been changed in the quotes):

A long long time ago when I was on the crime squad we had a DI [detective inspector] who used to stay very late in his office drinking whiskey. He was a nice guy. Good cop. He used to tell you about an op he was on which uncovered paedos at the highest parts of the gov and society. Then he told how sb [special branch] shut it all down one day. Took all the files and evidence. I never really knew if it was ‘lamp swinging’ [wildly exaggerated story] back then. I do now. Poor bastard. That broke him. I want these people nailed to a wall for what they did to those kids and the good cops who tried to stop them.

There are many more quotes from the chat room, as people share stories of cover-ups. They are careful what they say, it is still risky to talk about these things. Some blame the special branch, but at least one former special branch officer intervenes to defend his colleagues. Others allude obliquely to royalty and the intelligence services. Together, they build for each other quite a broad picture of cover-ups of abuse, and they are also worried about two cases of murder of children. They are quite sure MPs and other powerful figures are involved.

Finally, they decide to do something. The exchange is worth quoting at length:

Jonathan: What do you think would happen if retired officers and others pooled their knowledge and presented the findings (copies only) to whoever is going to be the next chairperson [of the overarching enquiry into child sex abuse]. Did you notice how PC I was.

Stevie: Alistair … If I had any faith in it being actioned, of course I would.

Alistair: Understood, Stevie. This matter is gaining momentum. I feel you would be there to give evidence, as would many other current and ex serving officers, were the numerous victims to have their day in court. There must be a mass of material witnesses, jumbled like a jigsaw. It needs putting together to nail these swines.

Stevie: I personally don’t have time to organise, but I would certainly provide a statement as part of a larger dossier to be submitted.

Rob: Is it me, or can anyone else hear the music from ‘Jaws’. The noose doth tighten.

Jim: Email completed statements to [identified email address]. Appreciate it is not secure, but I figure the people we are up against can read everything anyway.

Mike (retired firearms instructor in the Met); Great idea, Jim. Don’t forget to keep a copy though! As it will probably go (missing) when you hand it all over.

In our longer article on this blog about Sexual Violence and Class Inequality, we suggested that there is a class struggle over sexual violence, and that at times we can glimpse this process happening between people inside institutions. Here is an example from the police force.


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