Tag Archives: Dyfed-Powys Police

Police move on campaigners for “criminal acts against DWP”

Having Mr Bean in the Cabinet – or at least his alter-ego, Rowan Atkinson – might not be as ridiculous as this image suggests. He talked more sense in a 10-minute presentation about free speech than the Department for Work and Pensions has in the last two and a half years.

Some of you may be aware that police invaded the home of a campaigner for Disabled People Against Cuts, living in Cardiff, just before midnight yesterday (October 26).

Apparently she had been accused of “Criminal acts against the Department for Work and Pensions” – being that she has been highlighting the deaths of sick and disabled people following reassessment by Atos and the DWP for Employment and Support Allowance.

No charges were brought against the lady concerned and it is generally considered that this was an act of intimidation.

Since then, I have been informed of three other incidents in which police either visited campaigners at home or stopped them in the street to, in colloquial terms, “put the frighteners on them”. Two were vulnerable women with mental illness, one of whom lives alone.

The forces allegedly involved were South Wales, Dyfed Powys and North Yorkshire Police.

I don’t know what legislation these constables were quoting as the legal grounds for these intrusions. It seems likely it may have been the Public Order Act, section five, which states, “(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he: (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.”

But this applies only if a person has been the victim – not an organisation like the DWP.

If it is the Public Order Act, then this provides an opportunity to quote Rowan Atkinson’s speech at the ‘Reform Section 5’ Parliamentary reception earlier this month.

Mention of Mr Atkinson may have already invoked, in your mind, the ‘Constable Savage’ sketch from Not The 9 O’Clock News, in which a police officer is berated for arresting the same man on charges of “Walking on the cracks in the pavement”, “Walking around with an offensive wife”, and “Looking at me in a funny way”, amongst others.

If it didn’t, go and watch the speech because he makes free reference to that sketch in it.

“I suspect [I am] highly unlikely to be arrested for whatever laws exist to contain free expression because of the undoubtedly privileged position that is afforded to those of a high public profile,” said Mr Atkinson.

“My concerns are… more for those who are more vulnerable because of their lower profile – like the man arrested in Oxford for calling a police horse ‘gay’.”

He said: “Even for actions that were withdrawn, people were arrested, questioned, taken to court… and then released. That isn’t a law working properly. That is censoriousness of the most intimidating kind, guaranteed to have… a ‘chilling effect’ on free expression and free protest.”

He said: “The reasonable and well-intentioned ambition to contain obnoxious elements in society has created a society of an extraordinarily authoritarian and controlling nature. It is what you might call ‘the new intolerance’ – a new but intense desire to gag uncomfortable voices of dissent.

“Underlying prejudices, injustices or resentments are not addressed by arresting people; they are addressed by the issues being aired, argued and dealt with, preferably outside the legal process.”

Hear, hear.

Of course, this all makes the police look even worse than they’ve been made to seem in recent weeks. First the Hillsborough cover-up came out into the open, then the (many) Jimmy Savile cover-ups, and now – yet again – it seems the government is using police services across the country as a tool for political repression.

The ability to rely on an impartial system of law and order underpins the whole of British society. Use of the police in this way erodes confidence in law and order and, therefore, in society itself.

Police intimidation of those who speak out against the injustices of the DWP and its Atos employees is not only an attack on free speech; it is an attack on the entire philosophy on which our society is based.

Bettison’s resignation shows yet again the double standards of our justice system

Why is it permissible to investigate possible misconduct by Sir Norman Bettison after he has retired, but not permissible to investigate misconduct by other retired police officers? Is it because the allegations against him are related to the high-profile Hillsborough tragedy, and nobody will care about YOUR case?

Sir Norman Bettison’s resignation as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police has infuriated me.

You might be surprised at this. You probably think it’s exactly what he should have done after he was accused, in Parliament, of boasting about fabricating stories to blame Liverpool supporters for the Hillsborough disaster, while he was serving with South Yorkshire Police in 1989.

I’m not angry about that. I’m angry because the Independent Police Complaints Commission released a statement after Bettison’s announcement, saying that it will continue to investigate his alleged part in the Hillsborough cover-up. The statement said: “We can, and in this case will, investigate criminal offences and misconduct matters after an officer has retired or resigned.”

This is not what you would get, if you tried to allege misconduct against a retired police officer. Believe me – I know!

That’s why I say this story demonstrates the difference between what happens in a high-publicity case, when a large number of people create a fuss, supported by people who are in the public eye, and what happens when an ordinary person goes to the police with an allegation of misconduct against a retired officer.

If you have read this column before, you will be aware that I have had dealings with the police over allegations by my disabled girlfriend (and her disabled mother) against a man who abused them mentally, physically and sexually. Their complaints to the police, made separately, went uninvestigated and the mother was actually sent back into an abusive environment by officers at her local police station.

When they made a joint complaint a couple of years ago, they wanted misconduct investigations launched into the behaviour of the police officers who had been involved in these incidents (which took place over a 28-year period, starting in the 1970s).

The response was that these investigations could not possibly take place – because many of the officers involved had since retired. In a face-to-face interview with an investigating officer on May 12, 2010, he told us: “Those who have retired don’t come under police conduct rules.”

In other words, any police officer – who may have committed crimes or acts of misconduct, but has since retired – will always get away scot free.

That’s the justice we got.

That’s why the IPCC’s unctuous and hypocritical attempt to ingratiate itself with the public by leaping to the attack on this high-publicity issue fills me with fury. Faced with such flagrant double-standards, the only rational response is disgust.

One law for us, another law for them – my experiences with police corruption

I can’t say I was surprised when I read ‘Dyfed-Powys tops corruption allegation list’ in the County Times at the end of May. Why should I be surprised? I’m one of the people who made the allegations!

“Dyfed-Powys Police has topped the list of police forces with most corruption allegations for its size in England and Wales,” wrote CT reporter Emma Mackintosh.

“In the Dyfed-Powys force area, there were 146 allegations against officers. With 2,100 police officers, that gave the force a ratio of 69 complaints per 1,000 officers, the highest in Wales and England and more than twice the average.”

Only 69 complaints per 1,000? You might think those are good odds. But then, you might never have got on the wrong side of one of the officers to which these complaints relate!

A buddy of mine did, a few years ago. As a result, he was arrested and prosecuted for a particularly nasty crime – but I’m not referring to that. My complaint was about a crime related to the allegations against him, but committed by someone else, in an attempt to swing public opinion against him.*

That’s when I made my complaint. I know a thing or three about the law and I knew that an offence had been committed (contempt of court, as it happens – someone had publicised information that they shouldn’t have). I gave full details of what had happened and how, and not only did I refer to the relevant section and paragraph of the legislation – I quoted it verbatim.

The response was a flat refusal to investigate and a claim that the law had not been broken, with a reference to an irrelevant section of the same law.

You see, prosecuting this individual would have been inconvenient as it would have weakened the case against my friend. Easier to let them flout the law and get away with it, apparently. One law for us… another law for them.

“In the Dyfed-Powys force, of the 146 complaints made, only 16 found their way to the IPCC,” writes Emma. Mine would have been one of them. I made a full, detailed complaint, quoting the relevant legislation, pointing out where the officer involved had gone wrong, and explaining why I believed the error was intentional.

All I got for my efforts was another flat refusal to acknowledge the facts. The investigator spoke with the officer and decided that his interpretation of the law was correct – despite having it quoted to them, in black and white, by me!

For me, the only way forward from that point would have been to hire a lawyer and get a judicial review, but that costs money and I simply don’t have enough. Again, it’s one law for us… another law for them.

So the crime went unpunished, the perpetrator went scott free and my friend was imprisoned. He was later released by the Court of Appeal, after a hearing in which the presiding judge actually demanded to know whether the prosecutor had any concrete evidence at all! That wasn’t enough to save him at the retrial and once again he was sent down. You see, the alleged crime was one of which people tend to be found guilty merely because they have been accused.

“The IPCC has said it wants clearer information on what constitutes police corruption, with 631 complaints made in Wales between 2008 and 2011,” Emma continues. I don’t know why. My experience indicates this Independent organisation (that’s what the ‘I’ stands for) will just toe the police service‘s line, no matter what.

“Responding to the findings, a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: ‘Dyfed-Powys Police notes and welcomes the report’s findings which will inform future practice locally. “’The force acts proactively to prevent corruption and where it is alleged investigates such cases thoroughly and professionally. “’We are reviewing our policies and procedures in line with national recommendations following various reviews into this subject area.’”

On past experience, I very much doubt that.

*I apologise for the necessary vaguenesses in this story. It is about criminal acts which were committed by people who have not been brought to account, and if I made my story any clearer, I might be the next person in front of a judge!