Back in March I covered the story of David Emmanuel's suicide whilst the Metropolitan Police were execting a search warrant at his house in Surrey. I made comment that there were undoubtedly flaws in the planning and execution of the warrant and the IPCC would no doubt highlight those to try and show the family their investigation was thorough and independent.
The IPCC have now completed their initial investigation but the full report will not be released until after the inquest, which will take place in front of a jury. You have to feel some sympathy with the IPCC. The family and some sections of the community will never be happy unless a police officer is convicted of stabbing him, no matter what the evidence might dictate.
The family have, of course, reacted angrily to the news that the IPCC have found no evidence to prosecute any officer for any crime, nor is there sufficient evidence to prosecute any officer under the Police (Conduct) Regulations. Merlin Emmanuel said "We firmly believe that Smiley was murdered and that the IPCC have let us down and treated us miserably." If only there were a shred of evidence to support that statement.
The family have stated they will now take out a private prosecution. I just hope that doesn't waste any more taxpayers money on legal fees. The family will have their day in Court when the officers involved will have to answer questions at the inquest.
We will have to wait for more detail to be made available after the inquest. This cannot take place until after the two drugs trials to which David Emanuel was connected. That should be interesting.
I never forget about 25 years ago executing a drugs warrant at a Local Authority house occupied by two drug addicts who dealt drugs, got drunk, committed numerous public order offences and stole anything that wasn't bolted down.
Any police officer will know the couple. Let's call them Wayne and Waynetta. They don't like the police because the police regularly deprive them of their liberty. But Wayne and Waynetta had a baby. The baby was a dispensation from any effective punishment by the Courts. The magistrates were always told that Wayne was about to get a job having realised his responsibilities, and he would soon be a fine upstanding member of the community supporting his family. Waynetta was a devoted mother who was doing her best to tackle her drug habit.
When we executed the warrant their child was two and just starting to talk. The child was living in squalor with two drug addicts who could barely look after themselves never mind a child. While we were there, Wayne thought it was a great wheeze to point at one of us and tell the child to repeat his phrase 'fucking pig.' Oh how he laughed on hearing the young child repeat what he said.
At the time I was a naive young PC and I thought it was outrageous that anyone like this should be allowed to have responsibility for a child. I wrote a long report detailing the living conditions and the behaviour of the parents during this search. The report was sent to Social Services. I didn't hear any more. Several weeks later I telephoned Social Services to ask what was happening about the family. I received a phone call later from their Social Worker assuring me that she was working hard with the family but there were no grounds to remove the child from the parents. Sixteen years later the child was sentenced to five years imprisonment for supplying drugs and GBH.
I have lost count now of the number of young people being arrested and brought into custody who are the offspring of the parents I was arresting a generation ago. Our social and justice systems are not effective in dealing with this never ending cycle.
Here is another woman who is unfit to be a parent. The poor toddler sat on her lap might be a future member of the National Front and what are the chances of him escaping a Court appearance at some time in the future?
Junior Henry, the 17 year old youth, who stabbed a 20 year old man in the stomach at the Notting Hill Carnival in August was sentenced to four and a half years custody by Judge Peter Beaumont on the 24th November.
The public may at first be conned into believing that this is a half decent sentence for the crime but most of us now know, of course, that he will only serve half the sentence anyway. His estimated release date is shown on the court papers as 26/2/2014. Furthermore, because of pressures on the prison population, he will almost certainly be released after two years and be home for Christmas in 2013.
When you look further into the circumstances of Junior Henry's offending and refer to the sentencing guidelines it is difficult to see how such a lenient sentence was ever passed. In September 2007 aged just 12, Junior Henry was part of a gang known as MDP (Murder Dem Pussies.) About 15 youths from this gang went out looking for members of another gang. They came across two innocent young men and attacked them. One was stabbed to death and the other seriously injured. Henry was charged with Murder, Conspiracy to cause GBH and Violent Disorder. The jury acquitted him of Murder but he was convicted of Conspiracy to cause GBH and Violent Disorder. Some of the gang were imprisoned but, because of his young age, Henry was sentenced, by Judge Peter Beaumont, to a Supervision Order!
Since that Supervision Order was imposed, Henry has been back in front of Judge Peter Beaumont three times for breaching it. On March 7th 2011 he appeared before the Judge and was told this was his last chance and if he breached the Order again he was going to feel his wrath. On 16th March, just nine days after this warning, Henry was arrested for an assault and charged. He was convicted on the 26th July and bailed back to the Crown Court to see Judge Beaumont and feel his wrath.
On the 29th August, Henry was at the Notting Hill Carnival when a fight broke out. A man tried to break up the fight and Henry pulled out a knife and plunged it into his abdomen/ribs. It is quite simply luck that the man did not die. A few inches in another direction and this could have been the result. The whole incident was caught on CCTV and there were good photographs of Henry running away clutching the bloody knife. He was arrested and charged with Causing Grievous Bodily Harm With Intent, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. He pleaded guilty in the face of overwhelming evidence and was sentenced to four and a half years.
I have referred to the sentencing guidelines for that offence and the recommended sentences are between 3 and 16 years. There are three categories of offence:
Category 1 - Serious Injury and Higher Culpability, starting point 12 years, 9 to 16 years depending upon aggravating and mitigating factors.
Category 2 - Serious Injury and Lower Culpability, or Less Serious Injury and Higher Culpability, starting point 6 years, 5 to 9 years depending upon aggravating and mitigating factors.
Category 3 - Less Serious Injury and less Culpability, starting point 4 years, 3 to five years depending upon aggravating and mitigating factors.
Higher culpability will include things such as use of a weapon.
Aggravating factors can include, previous convictions, on bail for other offences, location, ongoing effect on victim, failure to comply with current court orders.
Mitigating factors can include things like single blow, age/lack of maturity.
I cannot for the life of me see why this offence was not dealt with as Category 1, resulting in a sentence starting at 12 years and ranging between 9 and 16 years taking account of the aggravating and mitigating factors. The aggravating and mitigating factors above should have resulted in a sentence of at least 12 years, with a third off for a guilty plea, should have been at least 8 years.
Judge Beaumont has obviously placed this as a Category 2 offence under the guidelines. I cannot see where on earth he can show that either the injury or the culpability is not serious. He has then determined that following consideration of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances a sentence of 6 years and nine months is appropriate. He has then reduced this by a third to 4.5 years. The judiciary often defend their poor sentencing by claiming that their hands have been tied by the sentencing guidelines. I often point out that sentencing guidelines do not prevent sentencing outside of those guidelines in exceptional circumstances, such as where defendants have dozens of previous convictions. In this case the guidelines do not appear to have been followed, to the detriment of justice.
Some people felt the sentencing following the riots in August was harsh. Most people felt that, for once, the justice system was performing it's function and providing sentencing with a deterrent effect. Readers of this blog will know I am not someone who just wants people thrown in jail, but there must be deterrent sentencing combined with effective rehabilitation in our justice system. The sentence of Junior Henry, a knife wielding gang member involved in the murder of one young man and directly responsible for stabbing another, is an ineffective disgrace.
We heard this week that two of the three members of the community reference group who are giving advice to the IPCC regarding the police shooting of Mark Duggan, have resigned. One of them, Stafford Scott, has stated that he no longer wishes to be associated with the investigation, which he describes as shoddy and flawed. It is true that he raised some concerns but also that he refused to attend a meeting with the IPCC where they wished to try and allay those concerns.
I have been involved in many incidents where the police have pulled together 'community consultants' to give advice and to try and ensure some transparency. On many occasions I have wondered who these representatives speak for and what their motives are. Stafford Scott works as a community and race relations consultant. He clearly has some passion regarding Tottenham but are his views really representative of the community? His idol is Bernie Grant, so I doubt it. And doesn't membership of these consultative groups give some credibility for the paid day job? Is there not a a conflict of interest here?
The other member of the group who resigned is John Noblemunn. He also declined to attend the meeting where the IPCC hoped to allay any concerns they had. Noblemunn is, among other things, Chair of Haringay Black Independent Advisory Group and Deputy Chair of Trident Independent Advisory Group.
Perhaps there are flaws in the IPCC investigation, they are by no means perfect. I really suspect that Mr Scott and Mr Noblemunn have seen the writing on the wall. They would like to be seen as the architects of an investigation that results in the conviction of police officers for the cold blooded murder of Mark Duggan. Perhaps the investigation just shows that the police lawfully shot an armed gangster. Time to bail out and distance yourself.
Other bloggers have covered this story but I am going to repeat it here as it is yet another symptom of where our society is going wrong. A yob is searched in the street. He uses foul language to the police officers searching him in front of a group of young people. He was charged and convicted by Thames Magistrates of disorderly conduct and fined £50.
The defendant Denzil Cassius Harvey appealed the decision to the High Court where His Honour Justice Bean decided that the police are used to foul language and therefore not offended by it and he was sure the youths nearby thought it all very amusing. He quashed the conviction. The message delivered to yobs of all descriptions on the street is appalling. Once again our justice system holds no consequences for poor behaviour. Ignorant morons who lack the education and upbringing to express themselves properly will simply be encouraged by this cretinous decision to treat the police with complete contempt. Thank you for your support Mr Bean.
Denzil Cassius Harvey - It's all about respect, innit
Our justice system is not alone in making these crass decisions. A similar decision was made in the Courts in a case in Australia. And this is the level of support you can expect from some of our Magistracy and pompous arses that write and read that blog.
The public and judiciary need to wake up to the fact that the ONLY part of the justice system that is currently preventing more of the riots that occurred in August is the police. Deterrent sentences and effective rehabilitation are almost completely absent in out justice system.
The Government are currently shafting us from behind regarding pay and pensions and now the judiciary are shafting us and consigning us to a job where you are being constantly abused with impunity all day. The risk is that one day the police will stop giving a damn too and watch the anarchy that then follows. Sign the petition here.
I went to Dale Farm weeks ago now and was sent home as a learned judge decided that he wanted more time to consider the case of the travellers before he confirmed the eviction could go ahead. When the eviction eventually took place I was away on holiday. I saw on the news that the usual suspects or 'swampeys' as they are sometimes known, had taken over the protest on behalf of the travellers.
The police took it all slowly and steadily and dismantled the barriers and lock-ons etc. Some officers had buckets of urine and excrement thrown over them. There were some fires and a few scuffles. The media had some good pictures to show but overall the eviction went without any major problems or criticism of the police.
I was slightly surprised to be packed off to London last Wednesday for the student protest march. The Met have rarely asked for assistance and support from County Forces but the August riots seem to have changed this. In the short term at least, it appears the Met don't want to be criticised again for under-resourcing incidents such as this.
Fewer protesters than expected turned up at the event and the police were robust regarding setting up tents at Trafalgar Square and ensuring that the march followed it's prescribed route. Inevitably a few agitators tried to cause problems and there were around 20 arrests. In general, the protest march took place peacefully.
As no rioting took place, no premises were smashed up or invaded, no looting, coverage within the media was not significant. The march organisers criticised police for what they perceived as over policing of the event. They also suggested that protesters had stayed away because of the threat of the use of baton rounds. This is a shame because in reality this was democratic protest almost at its best. No 'kettling' took place. Students exercised their right to protest. The protest was largely peaceful and nearly everyone went home afterwards unhurt.
I don't believe that the policing of the event was overpowering or that the threat of baton rounds influenced attendance at the event. I believe the reasons for the reduced numbers and lack of violence at this protest are fourfold.
1. Some of the agitators who attend these events were unavailable having been imprisoned or placed on bail conditions following the riots in August and the Dale Farm eviction.
2. Robust sentencing has provided the much needed deterrent that has been missing in our justice system. On the day of the protest four thugs who took part in the previous student protest (riot) received sentences totalling six years.
3. The protest was midweek and many genuine students were not prepared to travel to London and miss their studies.
4. The police had sufficient numbers and their actions made it clear that the agreed terms of the march would be adhered to and those protesters who wished to commit criminal acts would be dealt with robustly.
"I knew nothing about it. Honestly. Well, I did authorise a trial but this was outside of its parameters."
She hasn't resigned yet, but we have had this one for 18 months now, it must be time for a change.
I posted recently about the complete ineptitude of the UK Border Agency and how people are coming to this country every day clearly intending to stay or work. The recent furore about immigration abandoning proper checks and just allowing people through is not surprising. On one occasion just three members of staff were on duty at Heathrow and could not cope with the thousands of passengers trying to come into the country. The floodgates were basically thrown open.
Some senior managers have been suspended and I have no doubt one or two will have to take their pensions early so that the Government can try and wash its hands of responsibility. Middle managers sent out an arse covering e-mail asking staff to use their discretion when conducting checks. Those of us experienced in the ways of management would ignore such an e-mail and continue carrying out proper checks. This is because what the e-mail is really saying is we haven't got enough staff to do the job properly so cut corners, but if you get caught or mess up we will wash our hands of you. Less experienced, or less cynical, staff will assume they can take shortcuts and that they will have the support of their management if something goes wrong. Poor naive people!
Cuts are being made to public services and the effects are starting to be felt. There will be more and more pressure from managers to make things work with less resources. If staff take shortcuts to try and make things work and it goes wrong you can be assured that the management, who implement the policies, and the Government, who are imposing the cuts, will try and wash their hands of all responsibility.
With regard to policing and the 20% cuts being imposed to budgets, the Government needs to accept that we cannot continue to do everything that we currently do. The Government and senior management need to decide what we are no longer going to do and give some clear directions to officers regarding this. Until then all officers should continue ticking all the boxes and not taking shortcuts and chances, no matter what pressure there is to do so. When it goes wrong, the officer on the ground just trying to do their best with what they have got will be hung out to dry.
The opinions and views expressed here are mine, and mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect the policies and views of the Utopian Police Force nor the City of Utopia.
The stories I tell here are all true but my purpose is not technical accuracy. My purpose is to illustrate the nature of policing in an educational and entertaining way.
I have tried to respect the privacy of the citizens of the city and to relate specific facts without identifying individuals. I believe I succeed in this but if you do recognize yourself and believe others will too, please contact me and I shall rectify it.