|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event|
|Time Period||Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, April|
|Important Characters||Draco Malfoy, Crabbe, Pansy Parkinson, Millicent Bulstrode, Montague, Warrington|
The Inquisitorial Squad is a group of students given power to dock House points, supposedly to assist Professor Umbridge to perform her duties as Hogwarts High Inquisitor.
Shortly after declaring herself Headmaster of Hogwarts, Professor Umbridge institutes something she calls the Inquisitorial Squad, apparently intended to assist her in her duties as Hogwarts High Inquisitor. The members of this squad, "a few trustworthy students," are empowered to take House points, giving them power greater even than Prefects, who we have been told are not granted this ability.
The Inquisitorial Squad is introduced to us by Draco Malfoy, who shows us the powers he has been granted by penalizing Gryffindor House fifty points for ridiculous reasons. Draco is also shown in at least one example, penalizing Hufflepuff House 10 points because Ernie Macmillan "contradicted" Malfoy's authority to dock house points. We learn very soon after this that Montague is also a member of that squad, but had been pushed into an old, broken Vanishing Cabinet by Fred and George when he had tried to penalize them House points. He reappears shortly, inside a toilet, and is unable to explain how he got there; we see him at a few later points in the story, in the hospital wing, where he remains nearly incoherent.
It is mentioned in passing that several other members of the Inquisitorial Squad are attacked. We are told specifically that Warrington is sent to the Hospital Wing with a skin ailment that makes him appear as if he had been coated in corn flakes, and Pansy Parkinson loses a full day of classes because she has grown antlers.
When Umbridge learns of the existence of Dumbledore's Army, she summons the Inquisitorial Squad to assist her in capturing the DA members. It is perhaps a comment on the overall ability of the Squad that, of twenty-eight DA members then present, only one is caught: Harry, last out of the Room of Requirement, is caught by Draco Malfoy. The scroll listing members of Dumbledore's Army is retrieved by Pansy Parkinson; no other member of the Inquisitorial Squad has any apparent effect.
When Harry breaks into Umbridge's office to try to communicate with Sirius, to determine whether he has in fact gone to the Ministry, Umbridge is alerted by a spell she has set on her office. Umbridge sets the Inquisitorial Squad to round up the conspirators. Whether this is the entire Squad or not, we do not know, but the Squad members we see here are Draco Malfoy, Warrington, Crabbe, Milicent Bulstrode, and "several large Slytherins" who are not named. Again, the effectiveness of the Squad is questionable, because despite having confiscated all wands from their captives, the entire squad is disabled, in an effort led off with a Bat-Bogey hex somehow cast by Ginny Weasley.
With Umbridge's removal as headmistress and High Inquisitor, the Squad is disbanded.
By means of wide-ranging abuse of their powers, the Inquisitorial Squad manages to largely ensure that Slytherin House will have the largest number of House Points at the end of the year, and thus will win the House Cup. Professor McGonagall, by according Harry and the five students who accompanied him fifty points each for alerting the Wizarding world to the return of Voldemort, returns Gryffindor's total to something respectable, but apparently not sufficient to win them the House cup.
As mentioned, Montague, attempting to penalize Fred and George, is pushed into a broken Vanishing Cabinet, almost certainly the one that Peeves had dropped three years before. Montague, despite being left somewhat less than fully competent by the experience, learns where the other member of that pair of cabinets is, and is able to pass that information on to Draco Malfoy. This sets up a large part of the plot of the sixth book. If Montague had not been in the Inquisitorial Squad, it is unlikely he would have done anything that would have so aggravated the Twins.
The creation of the Inquisitorial Squad, rather than increasing Umbridge's control over the students, seems instead to increase the rebellion, with Squad members being targeted for direct retaliation. As the Squad is created at the same time as Dumbledore is removed as Headmaster, however, it is never certain whether it is the Squad's action or Umbridge being Headmistress that is the cause of the increase in rebellion.
It is apparent that Umbridge has selected students only from Slytherin house. It is uncertain whether she actually considers them more "trustworthy", as she says to Fudge, or whether she rather believes that they can be bought and will stay loyal to the paymaster. One does gather that the characteristic of those Sorted into Slytherin, "those cunning folk use any means, to achieve their ends," as the Sorting Hat says, is a clear view of the main chance and a willingness to do anything for personal gain.
Of course, Umbridge is not paying them in Galleons, but rather in power and influence, a coin that the Slytherin psyche seems designed to appreciate. The Squad, being placed even above the Prefects, Head Boy, and Head Girl, clearly has the most power of any students in the school.
It is perhaps instructive to note how ineffectual the Squad, despite its additional powers, is in keeping order in the school. In fact, the constitution of the Squad seems designed to foster rebellion, as so many of Umbridge's measures seem to be. The Squad, having power and no apparent accountability, is seen to be abusing its power immediately it is formed, and there is no recourse; any appeal would have to be to Umbridge, who has already displayed a level of partiality to Slytherin greater even than that shown by Snape. The retaliation against the Squad, and the rebellion against them and the rules they are supposedly enforcing, shows that Umbridge has only amplified the ham-fistedness of her attempts at governance.
Like so much else in the series, the depiction of the Inquisitorial Squad, and the reaction to it, are extremely true to life. We can see that Dolores Umbridge is intent on power, and ultimately is not particularly effective in retaining that power once she has it. Her attempts to enforce her authority are heavy-handed, and immediately lose her the support of those whose support she needs, the teachers; the student rebellion is ignored, and sometimes actively fostered, by the teachers who should, in theory, be preventing it. Having lost the support of the teachers, Umbridge attempts to create a support organization out of thin air by recruiting students who, being from Slytherin house as we presume Umbridge herself was, can supposedly be trusted to stay on her side if rewarded with power over other students. Saying someone has authority does not necessarily give them authority, and in this case, we find that creating this group has largely made them into targets. We also find that the Squad are abusing their powers, something which will increase rebellion rather than control it; this is only to be expected when this sort of authority is given without any responsibility to use it wisely, particularly when the authority is given to those still too immature to completely understand responsibility.
Umbridge's entire career at Hogwarts, from her first appearance at Hogwarts until her capture by the Centaurs, can be seen as an illustration of the consequences of an imbalance between authority and responsibility. Backed by the Ministry, Umbridge claims more and more authority over the course of the year, without ever being placed in a position where she has to take responsibility for her actions in securing that authority. There is no recourse, no way of appealing her judgements, and the only apparent recourse against her patently obvious partiality is rebellion. In this atmosphere, creating an additional police force is bound to be counter-productive. In this case, with three quarters of the school in rebellion, including the group (teachers) who are most likely to be able to control the school, appointing a police force, with authority but no responsibility, will only worsen the situation.
It should be noted that Umbridge, throughout the story, seems to believe that the Hogwarts students are uniformly immature, and is trying to set herself up as a parental figure of some sort. She seems to have never learned the lesson that one does not demand respect, one must earn it. Throughout her history in the series, we see her attempting to enforce respect by means of power, and failing. The Inquisitorial Squad is part of this same pattern; we see that she is hand-picking those who will carry out her policies in return for the power she grants them, with the intent of gaining respect through widening her power base. We suspect that even those in the Inquisitorial Squad do not respect Umbridge, as much as they might like their own increased authority.