The death of a young father is tragic for all those who knew him, but the magnitude of a tragedy has no bearing on its cause.
When Rashan Charles died after being tackled by the police, people were quick to interpret his death in terms of established motifs.
One was that of ‘a drug dealer who got what was coming to him’, when it initially appeared that Rashan may have swallowed drugs on being apprehended by a police officer.
Another motif was that of ‘racially motivated police brutality’, supported by new figures revealing that the Met Police deployed force disproportionately against black people in the three months to June this year.
Another recurrent theme is that of the ‘corrupt IPCC’ (Independent Police Complaints Commission) in which any finding on the Charles case short of murder will be condemned as a whitewash.
There will always be a hard core of conspiracy theorists who will reject any evidence generated by an IPPC inquiry, in the same way as there are those who reject the case for climate change, or the science behind the ill effects of tobacco.
Suspicion of ‘experts’ may have risen in recent years, but it has always had a prominent place in our society, and forensic evidence will never succeed in convincing everyone, no matter how compelling it is.
Yet the majority do not fall in that camp. Most of us accept a legal process that has prevented numerous terrorist attacks, sought to prevent FGM and honour killings, pursued perpetrators of acid attacks and acted against those guilty of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hate crime.
Were we to give up completely on the evidence-based legal process, it is not obvious what alternatives we would be left with./ 4 August, 2017