Bad Faith opens with Carver and Dashwood on the hunt for a suspect called Warren Michaels (Anthony Lennon). Michaels lives on a typical inner-city estate – complete with burnt out cars, barking dogs and a general air of oppression. Dashwood spots his prey and both he and Carver give chase down numerous flights of stairs.
Michaels trips and gashes his head, which obviously creates a bad impression once other people start to take notice of the melee. The sight of an injured young black man being roughly handled by two white police officers generates a brief moment of tension. This is clear when Carver tells the gathering crowd that they’re the police, only to realise a second later that this statement might not necessarily diffuse the situation. And the onlookers aren’t troublemakers, they’re a small crowd of solid citizens (both black and white) faced with a scene which will probably reinforce their low opinions of the police force.
There’s a disorientating sense to the early part of this episode, reinforced when Michaels is brought to the station, as Frank Smith’s direction favours unusual low shots. Dashwood tells Michaels that he’s a suspect in a murder case, although that doesn’t prove to be the case – it’s simply a ruse designed to unsettle him.
When Burnside joins the fun then the tension ramps up another few notches. Michaels is nervous and twitchy, but Burnside ruthlessly overrides his request for a solicitor. The interview, conducted in something of an ad hoc manner, also doesn’t seem to be recorded. Dashwood later explains to Carver that “boys like this want us to give them a good hiding, gives them status, martyrdom.” Cryer, overhearing the conversation, mutters that Dashwood is beginning to sound more and more like Burnside.
Dashwood and Cryer are plainly placed in opposition here. Dashwood is keen to nail Michaels for a series of burglaries but admits that without clear evidence they’re dependent on an incriminating statement from him – so he sees nothing wrong in pushing as far as he possibly can. And with a rising crime rate (allied to pressure for convictions) it’s a point of view that’s no doubt shared by many of his colleagues.
Cryer operates in a different field. If the plain clothes branch deal with detection, then the uniform police are more concerned with prevention and maintaining law and order in general. Cryer’s comment that Dashwood was a good PC indicates that he’s changed after switching “sides” although this could be taken as an inevitable consequence.
Carver, younger and more idealistic, attempts to see both sides. Unlike Dashwood he views most of the residents on the estate as ordinary people trying to do the best they can. If they demonize them or make the estate a no-go area then it’s only going to inflame the situation. Will Jim manage to retain his optimism or will the system crush him? Only time will tell.
After someone nicks the tyres from Dashwood’s car (and then drops a fridge on it for good measure!) the episode ends in confusion. We never find out whether Michaels was guilty or innocent, although the inference seems to be that Dashwood’s been wasting his time and energy in the wrong place. What’s certain is that police/community relations have suffered something of a knock.