What Line of Duty can teach us about accountability

Hesitant to deal with sin in your own life or call out wrongdoing in your church circles? It’s ‘definately’ time to be more Ted!

If you watched the most recent season of Line of Duty, you’ll have heard the words ‘truth’ and ‘accountability’ crop up numerous times, not least from the lips of the ever-popular Superintendent Ted Hastings. For those who haven’t seen it, the show focuses on a taskforce within the police that is responsible for policing its fellow officers. While the season finale may have disappointed some, its focus on holding people to account was an important one (there are spoilers below in case you haven’t yet seen it!). So what can we pick out from it?

  1. Corruption can strike at all levels. While Detective Superintendent Ian Buckells was anticlimactically found to be the ‘fourth man’ as a result of his poor spelling, we learn that it was corruption at all levels, above and below him, that enabled him to thrive.
  2. Corruption may look like incompetence. As Ted points out, Buckells has somehow failed his way up through the ranks. Either people knowingly promoted him or they overlooked his iniquities, assuming he was simply incompetent when he was actually a very dangerous man.
  3. Friends are important. While the friendship between Steve Arnott and Kate Fleming is annoyingly ‘matey’ at times, the pair clearly have each other’s backs. More importantly, they call each other out when wrongdoing becomes apparent.
  4. We need to deal with our own wrongdoing. While Kate and Steve would probably never have reported Ted for his misdeeds, their disappointed faces prompt him to speak out. He realises that holding others to account means being accountable himself, even if this leads to him losing his job or facing prosecution.
  5. We have to hold others to account. The much-hated Detective Chief Superintendent Carmichael is at a loss when Ted finally owns up. It seems the desire to sweep uncomfortable secrets under the carpet is endemic for this on-screen police force, with ignorance widely preferred over scandal. But failure to deal with corruption is precisely what allows Buckells types to get away with it.

So what can we learn from this as Christians?

We often put church leaders on a pedestal, but we have seen major ‘falls from grace’ countless times over the years. Leaders are not immune from wrongdoing, and perhaps, like Buckells, some have got to the top using their charm – or maybe even their incompetence – to cover up major sin. Those around them may have blindly gone along with anything and everything, never prepared to hold them accountable for their questionable actions, and so many people have been hurt as a result.

It’s important that every one of us is accountable to someone, as well as to God. Who are you accountable to, and who is accountable to you? It’s good to have lots of friends, but it’s vital to have a Kate or a Steve close by who will call out wrongdoing and help us get back on track when we need to. And it’s equally vital that we make ourselves available to others so they can keep walking the right path. Failure to deal with our own sin and the sin we see in others can destroy lives, relationships and churches. So be more Ted! Go all out for truth and accountability, and refuse to sweep wrongdoing under the carpet.

Galatians 6:1: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”