Just come back from filming in Sweden (I've got three "homes" one in Hayes, one in Frankfurt and a small flat in Rome) to a few weeks in Germany. Reading "Spiegel.de" my source of German news, the current stories are...
An unpopular collegue was thrown out of a speeding police van and killed. The four occupants of the van have all kept quiet and there have been no prosecutions. Despite the efforts of the victim's father, all the officers are still serving.
A local police chief's wife fell in love with a local carpenter and informed her husband that she wanted a divorce. Before she could leave to move in with her lover, she was murdered. The lover was arrested and convicted of her murder despite protesting his innocence. Denied an appeal in Germany, the European Court of human rights finally freed him after 15 years in prison, with a damning criticism of the way the police framed an innocent man. The police have refused to re-open the case. Her policeman husband is still a senior officer in the local police.
A genuine asylum seeker with no previous convictions or arrests was arrested by police. They claim that they stopped him to "control" his papers (There are no restrictions on "stop and search" in Germany) and that he stared shouting at two women nearby for no apparent reason. Despite immense publicity these women have never been found and a passer-by claims that they did not exist. The African man was arrested and handcuffed, beaten, his legs bound with his belt and left in a police cell. A prisoner in the cell next door claimed that the officers in the station were flicking lighted matches at the prone prisoner and laughing about burning a "negro". During the night his bedding caught on fire, the smoke alarm had been switched off. He died screaming according to other prisoners in the nearby cells. No-one has been prosecuted and the "official" result is that he set fire to himself with matches he smuggled into the cell.
If this sounds plausible I suggest you try lighting matches with your hands cuffed behind your back.
In Cologne a policeman shot an unarmed man who refused to get out of a parked car. It transpires that the two are "old enemies" from way back. No prosecution has yet been made due to a lack of "independant" witnesses. it would appear that the other two ocupants of the car are not considered "independant" enough.
There is no independant complaints system in Germany. If you want to complain, you have to make a report at the station where the incident occured, it's investigated by the local officers themselves and there is no chance of appeal when they find the complaint unsubstantiated. In Berlin there were nearly seven hundred complaints last year (which is actually nothing), only four went to any form of internal investigation and none resulted in any disciplinary action. The public has long ago stopped complaining about the police.
There are plenty of you-tube clips of German Police brutality available, although not in Germany, as it's illegal to post film of the police here and the police union jumps hard on those who film their members doing anything naughty.
.... and then I see that an officer in the UK is going to trial for manslaughter after he pushed a protester who subsequently had a heart attack.
Compared to the bad-old-days of the SPG and eighties Britain, the current old-bill are models of decorum and I wonder if some people just need something to complain about.
I got "stopped" with my soundie in Liverpool St station recently whilst filming for the BBC and the officer gave me a copy of the "stop-slip" showing who stopped and searched me and the reason. They were quick, painless and polite and in a couple of minutes we were filming again. Part of the risk of filming in public.
Next week I'm off to Roma where the Italian police are simply corrupt. End of story.