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The Bent Cop, Sunday December 3 2000

I find it difficult to comprehend how and why this was allowed to go on, for the period of time it did. More to the point of these officers supervision and whether any of them had adequate training in dealing with drug offenders. A very sad situation all round. I dare say lessons are learnt, but too late in this case.

Steve J, I hope you read this: I personally can honestly say that put in the same situation I would say no to the money then tell a senior officer about what had occurred, I am sure no one wants to live their life constantly looking over their shoulder with fear of being caught, especially when I am meant to be a representation of our society.

It is a sad day to see that the police service funded by the public is so corrupt

Imran, West Midlands
Surely, this programme should raise questions in the higher ranks of the police, what corruption goes on there and who investigates them. It is a sad day to see that the police service funded by the public is so corrupt, no wonder we have miscarriages of justice. Who Police's the Police or is it swept under the carpet?
West Midlands

Eno, i hope you read this: From what I saw in this programme Putnam never denied that he had a idea that he was at least suspicious about where the money was coming from. His main problem was torn loyalties. How many of us can say without a shadow of a doubt that put in the same situation we would say no to the money? ENO could you?
Steve J

Surely this programme begs further questions to be asked i.e. where are the 'checks and balances' in an establishment that allowed something like this to go on undetected? Also, built into these 'checks and balances' needs to be an independent network that cross examines legal bodies like the police.
David McClurg

This investigation reminded me of when I was a student in London in the 1960s. I used to get my cannabis from a dealer in Dulwich. He used to tell me about cops on the take then, and this area was covered in your report. He also told me about cops taking drugs from the dealers and selling themselves. I wasn't sure whether or not to believe him then. This has probably been going on for around 30 years.

Having seen tonight's Panorama, we were both tremendously impressed with the officer, Neil Putnam. Whilst he knew what he had done was wrong, he had enough courage to admit to what he had done. We were very impressed with both him and his wife, for what they have been through, and for giving this information to the media, and for their Christian convictions, which must have helped in the decision Neil made.
Jenny & Tony Linford

What if any faith can we have in our society when we see corruption at the very root of where a civilised society should be built and protected - it's police force.
Paul Homden

Impressed? With this "policeman"? This clearly shows what a shambolic system an evidence based prosecution is whilst being in cahoots with a "grass up your mates" style police force, where grassing (because he could) = good behaviour. This sends out a very crap message indeed; no real concept of a fair procedure is achieved, thereby questioning basic values of the system. Surely this calls into question not only the policeman's career path, but to fob us off with an "I saw Jesus" and was born again story directly challenges all that Jesus stood for, what was it now? Oh yes, I remember it was the "forgiveness of sins". Please remind me of this when I'm next in court on a drugs charge with intent to supply and need a convincing defence/solicitor/God
James Barnett

I believe further questions should be raised as to whether the "Bent Cop" has actually revealed all events which took place, I am of the opinion that he knew more than he was willing to reveal. He was very forceful in constantly naming the detectives who were also involved on numerous occasions, laying blame with others instead of actually accepting the responsibility of his actions, and making out that he is a born-again Christian. Whilst explaining his part in the corruption, when money was thrust in his hand, please can anyone explain why he did not ask any questions as to what the money was for or report it to a senior officer Funny, he went to church on the same day after he was involved in a heist! The programme portrayed him as the repentant criminal, But, do you not think that there are further questions to be answered. If he was involved in the stealing of drugs and money, was he not aware then of other forms of corruption taking place within the Police department. I have read comments from others on this page feeling sympathy for this bent cop, but do we as a society not realise that we cannot actually rely on a honest and efficient Police force - we as a society should be aware the depth of deceit which is running our country. Maybe, the others involved should be given a chance to have their say and maybe we can get to the bottom of the pit of lies. I believe that this bent cop knew exactly what he was doing and in the end he got caught and is now trying to build his reputation back together.
Eno Umana

Putnam is a disgrace - he only seemed to find god when the evidence was overwhelming

John O'Connor, Esher
How did the corrupt and discredited RCS become the foundation of the National Crime Squad and with some of the same senior officers. Putnam is a disgrace - he only seemed to find god when the evidence was overwhelming. Did his wife not realise how much they were spending and where it must have come from. To expose new recruits to the twisted morality of this man is shameful.
John O'Connor

Great, scratch the tip of the iceberg. So, where are the other criminals in the police who are feathering their nests with the proceeds of truly high value drugs like coke? The policemen identified were at the petty crook end of the scale. Where are the big fish - in the masonic lodges, I presume? But well done Panorama for at least trying to make a difference.

What an excellent in-depth programme. However, this once again highlights the situation Jack Straw has assisted in creating. A letter to The Editor of The Telegraph said it all some weeks ago, "until Jack Straw admits defeat and orders a top level independent inquiry into the running of the MET from the top downwards, then Police numbers will fall and fall." The Home Secretary announced Police will receive a 10billion boost in resources. That is a total waste. The Police pay is less & less. No wonder there are 'bent cops'....but as another writer has already said, "I bet some are on income support" - she is 100% right. There are and some in the MET!
Nick Summers
Buckhurst Hill

It's amazing that the MET has the crime squad featured in "Bent Cop" and at the same time has the Flying Squad which took down the attempted diamond heist at the dome. I was shocked to see that the MET hasn't got a strong and (even ruthless) internal affairs system. I recommend the MET's anti-corruption units watch the US movie "Internal Affairs: Richard Gere & Andy Garcia".

So many comments - and mainly accurate. Safeguards are pro-active management. In all other crimes we have a victim, a criminal and a police officer, be it robbery, burglary or assault. If any two get together then the other notices. In drug crime there is only two. If both agree for mutual benefit to exchange cash then there is no-one near to notice. Police management must accept that responsibility.

Thanks for the prog - Let's pray it'll be a long time before another on the same lines

Eddie Ellison, Devon
There are a number of management techniques to control this situation and most are practiced across all the major cities. There were, and are, ample avenues for any officer under pressure to get advice and support. If the stage were back in the sixties then there may have been an excuse of no support, but today there are senior officers both equipped and available to support anyone under pressure. There are also supporting charities, pressure groups and even MPs who would like nothing more than to support moves to eradicate any corruption. The stage was the Regional Crime Squad prior to the establishment of the National Crime Squad. Today differing supervision and structure aims to stop this rotten progress of teams going bent. Don't kid yourselves that rotation is a simple answer. Good drug detectives are not in abundance, never mind the current problems about manpower shortages, but the traditional three year rotation is more about protecting marriages than anti-corruption. It's hard work fighting the criminals without the added problems of internal corruption. Thanks for the prog. Let's pray it'll be a long time before another on the same lines.
Eddie Ellison

This bent copper only decided to "come clean" once the evidence had him trapped. This is typical, without being part of the criminal world I have seen police corruption all my adult life, from uniformed police officers getting free drinks in late opening pubs to turn a blind eye. Officers and detectives drinking 8-12 pints in an evening and then driving home knowing that they were free from the possibility of conviction, and the most common is the placing of a police diary in the car window and parking wherever they like. I'm sure if I were in the criminal fraternity I would have even more examples of the common misuse of their position.
Chris Birkett

Unfortunately it is still the case that unless an officer is in with the "in crowd" i.e. the heavy drinking, the "us and them" rules, and the (still in some forces!) racist and sexist remarks, he is scorned and reviled by his fellow officers. Dishonesty is only ever one step away in these elitist groups.

I watched with disgust your programme about the 'Bent Cop'. I was medically pensioned from the police service just under three years ago with clinical depression, mainly brought on by overwork and stress at work. I went through periods in my service, of severe debt mainly brought about by divorce, and also I was a single parent for two years (before I re-married) and ALWAYS worked on the front line in a busy town centre. NOT ONCE did I feel the urge to steal or 'bend' the rules. I played the system by-the-book and worked hard and honestly. I wasn't even rewarded with a 'thanks for all you've done'. Yet it seems that this Bent Cop has been praised for his 'HONESTY' and even admired by higher ranking officers for his 'truthfulness'. This makes a mockery of the Police service and it's loyalty to Ex-officers. I sound conceited about my police work, I AM NOT!!! I just want to point out that there have been/and are officers at work in ALL police services, that do a great job under hard and often bizarre circumstances, but again the 'old boy' network kicks in and a thief, lowest of the low policeman gets praise and acknowledgement for his HONESTY. I completed nearly 19 years as man and boy in the police service, and I am left to re-build my life with only the help of my immediate family. I still have medical and CPN treatment for my illness, to this day.

This programme or the behaviour of those officers does not surprise me or my family or many people in Cardiff. Until the Police and the Police Authorities are structured so that they do not in effect police themselves this will go on and on.
Greta Sainsbury
Radyr, Cardiff

There are a number of issues here. Firstly, had Putnam not come forward then the likelihood is that he and the other colleagues who were jailed would still be dealing drugs into our society. He is no saint, he is a thief; but if people like Putnam were not offered deals on sentences and the like then what encouragement is there for them to give evidence against others? Let us remember that criminals are given deals every day.

No one likes "Bent Cops" least of all the cops themselves

Monty, Newport
Secondly, the Police are a cross section of society, as is every organisation from builders to politicians and judges. It is fair to say therefore that there will inevitable be racist and criminal elements amongst them. Thirdly, the system for monitoring corrupt behaviour has changed considerably since Putnam's days, it would be highly unlikely that his behaviour could occur again. Fourthly to respond to comments earlier posted, the vast majority of Officers are absolutely and utterly honest, linking the majority to people like Putnam and his colleagues hurts. I am a Police Officer with 12 years experience, I have never witnessed corruption, should I do so I would take great pleasure in locking him/her up myself. No one likes "Bent Cops" least of all the cops themselves. Get on our side people, (God knows our Society need it), and look at Putnam for what he is, a sad exception to the rule.
Newport, Gwent

As a serving Police officer, it disgusted me to watch experienced detectives, in such an important role, act in such a corrupt manner. It tarnished the good name of the Police Service, and the thousands of honest, hard working officers who uphold the law in our country. Like other corrupt officers who have been found out in the past, they are eventually caught and rightly so, receive custodial sentences.
Phil Gerrie

After seeing the programme on bent coppers, I respect the officer for coming forward but do not feel sorry what so ever. He got sucked up into that culture and after seeing the programme my view is that the police do not do enough to get rid of criminals.
Justin Pinnock
Rotterdam, Holland

So this is what Panorama is now like. More "dumbing-down" by BBC1. It was nothing more than a simple factual documentary produced merely for entertainment. Where have those thought provoking Panorama programmes gone? They were usually on controversial topics with, invariably, a documentary followed by an extended discussion. I despair of BBC1!
Richard Roberts

An interesting programme, refreshing in its depiction in that it appeared balanced. The comments in your forum were somewhat predictable, on the one hand those of a religious persuasion congratulating Putnam on his 'return to the fold', and others taking yet another sideswipe at 'The Police'.

He has tainted all of his fellow officers, thereby, making their job just that little bit harder

David, Birmingham
As an ex-police officer, having retired some six weeks ago, let me set the record straight. 'The Police', as a service, are neither corrupt nor racist, only a few individual officers can be described as such and they undermine the integrity of all of their colleagues. I am proud to have served as a police officer, I am proud to say that 99.99% of the colleagues with whom I have served are neither racist, corrupt, nor do they abuse their powers; of the 0.01% , thankfully, they have been caught, BY POLICE OFFICERS, and duly sentenced by the courts. As for Putnam? I hope that he and his wife manage to rebuild some sort of life for themselves and their children. I feel sorry for him in that he not only let himself down but that he has the knowledge that he has tainted all of his fellow officers, thereby, making their job just that little bit harder; and giving more ammunition to the 'knockers'.

I would like Neil Putman and his wife to know that I congratulate him on his courage and pray that God will help them both to continue to grow as Christians and experience God's help and protection.

With the credibility of our Police falling day by day, last night's Panorama programme has done little to boost the public's perception of it's law control system. Neil Putnam was either incredibly naive or stupid thinking that he was getting side-handers for anything other than truly illegal activities and as such, super-grass or not, should have been sentenced to far more than the 4 years imprisonment that he received, reduced, no doubt with good behaviour. A bent copper should receive the hardest possible sentence, if nothing else, as an example to other police who use their privileged position to make illegal gains. I have to doubt his integrity, anyway. I feel that it is likely that he knew that the 'gang' was going to get caught and turned Queen's Evidence to protect his own skin. Furthermore, the issue of a dishonest senior officer in the case, is, one hopes, to be thoroughly investigated. It appeared from the programme that as it was going to be difficult to get together sufficient evidence, that it would not be pursued. I think that the whole thing 'stinks'.
Brian Sewell
Bridgend, Mid-Glamorgan

Once again I congratulate Panorama. It's programmes like this that allow the ordinary lay person to see what really does go on. Unless you have experienced first hand you would have no idea. Thank god he came clean in the end. Pity more bent cops are not like that.

The policeman has been extremely brave, not only to confess, but also to be willing to go public. He deserves all our support. It is through such selfless actions that our society is changed for the better. I loved the shots of the church where he and his wife attend. Surely this is Christianity in action. Our country needs to see more of it.
Peter Lyndon

There was so much camera shake that I thought the cameraman was high on cannabis. It almost brought on my vertigo. Otherwise the programme demonstrated how relatively clean the Metropolitan Police are.

I do not understand why people are praising Neil Putnam - when clearly he is a corrupt police officer who has no conscience

Abdul, Midlands
The previous Commissioner was telling us that hundreds of his officers were corrupt. Where are they? But then, it's not the meat eaters (big time - big stakes and for personal gain) that we need to worry about here, maybe it's the grass eaters (those who bend the rules in small matters for organisational purposes).
Thomas Atkins

I do not understand why people are praising Neil Putnam, when clearly he is a corrupt police officer who has no conscience. It was interesting to see how he went to church, but he seemed to continue with his crimes for a while, and was not prepared to risk his cosy life style. The system in this country seems to allow these individuals to flurry and cause havoc. If anybody is interested about another injustice due to the police force they should read 'The longest injustice' by Professor David Wilson, the book tells the story of a man who has spent 22 years in prison for a crime he could not have committed.

Neil Putnam, is to be congratulated on his actions, not vilified. He had no need to expose himself, let alone take the brave step in taking part in tonight's programme. The programme highlighted the problem the anti corruption squad have in getting decent police officers caught up in this sort of crime to come clean. Due to the high stakes involved in such enterprise's he was putting his own life on the line. If you read this board Mr Putnam, I have nothing but the highest respect for you, and you carry the thoughts of all those in society who wish dearly to a have a police force we can be proud of.
J A Sugrue

I would like to respond to Sam's comment. He seems to think that 99% of police are saints and the 1% are corrupt. I believe that the figures are the other way. The McPherson report showed us what the police are really about, RACIST to the core, and you will find that if they are racist to people and are prepared to systematically discriminate, they will take this attitude to their workplace. There has been injustices over the years e.g. Birmingham 6, Guildford 4, Tottenham 3, the list is endless. The police force are a law onto themselves, and are alien to the public. The panorama programme highlighted why people hate the police force and are reluctant to join.

If a police officer is corrupt no amount of money will ever be enough. It is therefore unlikely that an increase in salary will achieve anything

I am a serving London detective. Like 99.9% of my colleagues I believe that integrity is non-negotiable, it is a line that once crossed there is no return. Proactive supervision is essential, unfortunately tonight's story came from a time when either this was not practised or maybe hung over the senior officer's own heads.

The Panorama programme clearly showed why police cannot be trusted and there seems to be too many of these instances where police officers are found to be corrupt.

I cannot believe the comments of BIBA SARKARIA of London. How can she say that woman should be released from prison. This woman is by far the most conniving person, she sold drugs and grassed on her competition to get them arrested while she used the police as fools. This is not about FEMINISM, where we blame the men and forget about the POOR woman. This woman deserves everything she gets and more. How can anyone in their right mind defend this particular person. She would have been responsible for supplying thousands of pounds worth of drugs to the streets of London and making innocent people suffer due to the supply of drugs. If anyone reads the stats they will find that the majority of crime is committed due to drugs. I say throw the KEY away, this woman deserves no sympathy. If Neil is reading this EMAIL, I just want to say to him, that you negotiated with the police to save your own back in reality.

I believe the bent cop who turned supergrass, shown tonight in your programme was just thinking of himself. He does not feel any real guilt. Going to jail isn't nice, some people will do anything to shorten the time they spend there.

Why is this Putnam man still walking the streets? He should be languishing in a prison cell with the rest of his corrupt colleagues for the rest of his life - a cell to which there is no key because someone has thrown it away.
Chris Middleton

I believe that Eve Fleckney should released from prison. She has been very brave standing against all these powerful and corrupt men. Eve Fleckney in the first instance was the one who brought all these corrupt men to the forefront of the investigation. Therefore she should be rewarded for her honesty and courage and be set free.
Biba Sarkaria

The arrogant self protective attitude of this group is something that is part of the culture of police forces nationwide. It is made worse by the police being allowed to police and investigate themselves. The police complaints authority ought to be independent!

Yet another crude example of police corruption without any justice! The fact that only the foot soldiers were convicted was never addressed by the programme. The programme should have investigated a lot higher to start to raise intelligent questions. Yet another example of Panoramas sensationalist dumbing-down!
Keith Saha

Re the comment from Maeers. The police do now rotate the police on specialist squads.

This is just another example of the difference in rules for the police

Andy Culpin, Bracknell
But a good squad man is sought after and can move from one squad to another - ie Crime Squad to Flying Squad. This ensures they can take "Good" informants with them. Hence the situation perpetuates itself.

This is just another example of the difference in rules for the police, if a police car hits a person while speeding it is "in the line of duty" if I was to hit a person I will get 18 months in prison. I am fed up with the fact that these men and woman, some of which are fantastic, are trusted to uphold the law in this country when some of them are no better than the man who burgled my home!. Who do we trust?
Andy Culpin

Why do not the police take a leaf from Hotel chains. They know that it is necessary to rotate people to avoid a clique building up. This applies to managers as well as lower ranked people. By this means no one knows who is honest and who is dishonest.

Congratulations on some fine reporting. Bent cops are worse than criminals and should not be allowed to sleep easy!

This guy came across as false, especially his new found religion, he should have been ridiculed for what he is - corrupt and a thief. He shouldn't have been given air time. And as for the police using him now it beggars belief
Jim Diamond

What courage! I can identify with his weakness in wanting to be liked by his colleagues and taking the money. It's so difficult not to be manipulated by others. This guy had the guts to admit he was wrong and pay the price. He sets a brave example - very thought provoking. Thank you
Sallyanne Smith
Bury St Edmunds

If the police were paid more especially in city areas this would not happen. The money they receive is pathetic for the job they do , villains driving round in BMW's and the local bobby struggling to bring up a family . The average cost of a house in a city area is about 150,000 which is 6 times the average policeman's salary which is pathetic, I bet a lot of policemen and women are on family support!!! - only in the UK
Danny Williams

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