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Confessions of a police officer

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t was no coincidence that Egypt's uprising began on Police Day last year; protesters' original demands included the resignation of the hated former interior minister, Habib al-Adly, and an end to the abuses committed by his security forces.

One of the most influential Facebook groups calling for people to take to the streets was "We are all Khaled Said", set up in memory of a young man alleged to have been killed by police officers in Alexandria in 2010.

Yet to date, there have been relatively few reforms and the crisis in Egyptian policing has only deepened.

The police are less feared than before the revolution and at the same time less respected than ever. As a result, morale in the force is low. And now, Egyptians are dealing with a security vacuum.
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Police officers would bully people, torture them, 'sex-up' cases and deliberately send innocent people to jail.”

Mahmoud Qutri Former Police Brigadier

Recently there has been a spate of serious crimes of a kind not seen in the past, including armed bank robberies and kidnappings for ransom. Petty theft has risen dramatically.

People found it easy to believe that the security forces were either negligent or directly implicated in February's football violence in Port Said that left more than 70 people dead.

In an unusually candid interview with a former senior police officer, I heard first-hand why the forces meant to protect Egyptians have become better known for corruption and brutality.

"Egyptian police ruled the country from behind an iron curtain. They controlled all aspects of life," says Mahmoud Qutri who retired as a police brigadier in 2001.

"If you wanted to be promoted in a government job then you needed approval from state security, even if you were a low-level employee."

He explains how police abused their sweeping powers in many ways.
Protesters hold up a sign "Made in Egypt by Mubarak and Police" alongside shots of Khaled Said before and after his brutal death Prior to the 2011 revolution there were protests in Egypt over the death of Khaled Said

"Much of what I saw was shocking," he says. "Police officers would bully people, torture them, 'sex-up' cases and deliberately send innocent people to jail."

Mr Qutri gives the example of a father who went to report his daughter missing only to be tortured and imprisoned himself before she returned home of her own accord.

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BBC News - Egypt's police still in crisis after revolution
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