Friday, 7 September 2012

IPCC Try Another Tack

I do promise that the last post will be coming soon. In the meantime this story caught my attention.

In August 2010 two Kent police officers were called to detain 52 year old Colin Holt, who had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Holt was allegedly restrained by the officers and allegedly died of positional asphyxia.

Two years later, on the 7th September 2012, Rene Barclay of the Crown Prosecution Service announced that the two Kent police officers are to be prosecuted. He said " It is alleged that on 30 August 2010, whilst acting as a police officer, namely as a police constable, PC Leigh and PC Bowdery misconducted themselves in that, without lawful justification or excuse, they wilfully neglected to take reasonable and proper care of Colin Holt, a person in police detention."

This matter will now be going to trial and it is important that nothing more is said about the details of this case which might prejudice any trial.

The case does raise some important issues. Once again these officers, and Holt's family, have had to wait two years before the outcome of the investigation and a prosecution decision. The pace of Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigations is outrageously slow.

The most concerning aspect of this case is the charge. In the case of Tomlinson/Harper the charge was one of manslaughter. In that case a jury acquitted PC Harper. He will face a disciplinary hearing for breaches of force policy and procedure and may lose his job.

If it is believed that officer's are responsible for a death then why isn't the charge manslaughter? Have the IPCC and CPS decided that the public, who make up juries, are too reluctant to convict police officers of manslaughter when carrying out a job in difficult circumstances? Have they now decided to charge this offence for breaches of policy and procedure, that would normally, and in any other role, be dealt with by internal discipline procedures.

The IPCC are anxious to show, a small but vociferous minority,  that they are independent. To do that they are desperate to build a list of convictions of police officers. If you look at the CPS guidance on the prosecution of the offence of Misconduct in Public Office (contrary to common law) it clearly states that the charge should not be preferred if there is evidence of a statutory offence. So the preferring of the charge suggests there is no evidence of manslaughter or any other substantive offence.

The charge of Misconduct in Public office is a serious one and is indictable only and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The charge is being used more and more frequently to deal with misconduct issues by police officers. The offence  is committed when:
  • a public officer acting as such
  • wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself
  • to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder
  • without reasonable excuse or justification
It will be interesting to see if the IPCC and CPS new tactic succeeds in increasing their prosecution tally.

In the meantime, Tom Winsor will be taking over as Chief HMIC and he and the Home Secretary will be going ahead with their program of cutting pay and pensions and implementing their perception that the role of a police officer is no different to any other job.  Except, of course, they won't give us the right to take industrial action like any other job. They still expect us turn out for work any time to sort out the latest riot or public event. If there is a whiff of you doing something wrong or making a mistake you can expect the IPCC to pour all over it for two years and prosecute you for Misconduct in Public Office if they think there is half a chance of taking a police officers scalp.

Police officers are now treating the role as just another job. Why shouldn't they? Why would anyone want to go the extra mile or take any risks when there is no support and utter contempt from your masters. When this attitude becomes endemic you will see the difference. I shall be glad to be out of it.


  1. A 'positional asphyxia' is a term which has been be used by police as a euphemism for murder or manslaughter.

    How strangely inconsistent with contemporary policing methods, that the two officers were not arrested immediately, placed on the DNA database and held in custody until CPS had reached a decision with respect to criminal proceedings.

  2. Is Broxted at an internet cafe breaching his bail conditions?
    Other than the odd suspected terrorist, I am not aware that suspects in this country are held in custody for two years while a painfully slow investigation is carried out by the IPCC and while the CPS spend three months deciding whether to charge or not.

  3. Good morning and tut, tut, lex.

    Slightly O/T but praiseworthy news of courage and forensic awareness on the part of yet another murderous colleague.

    PC Matthew Cherry may have abandoned interest in a gynaecological career but all is not lost. Fresh compatriots are preparing to stimulate his studies with a surprise introduction to proctoscopy.

  4. Not gloating are we Melvin?
    BTW he didn't commit murder,read the story again.
    Please feel free to miss the point and correct my spelling.

  5. Learned Council/Tnago08 September, 2012 09:54

    King Melvin Schadenfreude - no need to gloat Melv. All decent police officers are as pleased as you to see someone like this get their just desserts.
    We won't hear much about this case from the police cover up brigade.
    You obviously know more about proctoscopy than I do. But that doesn't surprise me either.

  6. Good morning, LC.

    "All decent police officers are as pleased as you to see someone like this get their just desserts."

    It will delight the quintet. And your German shows definite signs of improvement, nicht wahr?

    @ Jaded
    Crikey! I blame extended dinner times for your failure to appreciate the adjective 'murderous' defines a capacity for murder.

    I may throw dietary caution to the 'wind' and treat myself to a donought in York this weekend. That being so, I will spare a thought for you.

  7. It ain't over til the fat lady sings.

  8. Dear Melv,
    praiseworthy news of courage and forensic awareness

    I am glad that you are so keen to praise the police in the Matthew Cherry case.
    The victim and crucial witnesses were police officers and the complex investigation was brought to a successful conclusion by the police.
    A forensically aware and clever offender was brought to justice.

    I assume that was what you meant ;-)
    Thanks very much.


  9. Dear Tang0
    The preference for 'I assume' indicates far less confidence in a supposition than 'I presume'. You should serve a double detention for napping during Ron's many lectures on this subject.

    Nodding off halfway through '...praiseworthy news of courage and forensic awareness on the part of yet another murderous colleague' is indicative of narcolepsy.

    Try retiring early....with a warm mug of Horlicks and if at all practical, which it probably isn't, a clear conscience.

  10. I fondly imagine Lex in front of Tango and Jade doing a reprise of "Untergang" - "My final blog. The Reich that will last a thousand years". Outside Russian tanks amass and Vasilievsky saves us along side Zhukov and Koniev.

  11. Melv,
    I tend to ignore Broxted's attempts to lecture as the basis of his beliefs is nearly always some bizarre notion he has plucked out of thin air.
    "I assume/I presume" is one of those fictions.

    As for "I assume" suggesting far less confidence in a supposition - then I am afraid you are placing far too much weight on a subtle distinction between words that are colloquially interchangeable.

    As usual it's good to see you go for the manner of delivery rather than the content. Always a sign that your argument (if you ever have one) is weak.


  12. Dear Lex,
    I am sure that Melv and Broxted will miss you when you go. Where else will they be able to engage with those they profess to despise?

    Real life perhaps? :-)


  13. Melvin is that a spelling mistake I see? Let's go on and on pompously and miss the point of the blog.

    Broxted-are you on bail? I shouldn't be rubbing shoulders with you then.

  14. @ jaded

    Preposterous efforts to portray yourself as male and even less convincing projections of yourself as a real police officer, are tragi-comic. Carelessness and vexatious naiveté created all the manifold and compelling doubts.

    Police officers cannot avoid improving their communication skills. This includes the ability to quickly comprehend the nature of new situations. What evidence may exist of your police talents is obscured by an infantile and Mitty-like mentality. Responses to WPC Jaded, jaded and Jaded 48, from both Bloggers and tabloid commenters, have been cruel, often crude but always entertaining. I paraphrase one sentient riposte which encapsulates them all: '24 carat pig**** between the ears is inconclusive evidence that you are plod'.

    The comment below (which I accept as one made by a genuine police officer and which recently appeared on Gadget) will strike a chord with decent police and most civilians:

    "The outpouring of vile comments against me shows exactly what is wrong with a lot of our officers these days.. cowardly bullyboys hiding behind pseudonyms." Indeed that is true but we must consider the very real possibility that many such 'police' are of the Jaded variety.

    Well, I cannot waste this glorious sunshine...cheerio to all.

  15. Melvin,I seem to have struck a nerve.Imagine how bothered I am by your opinion of me...not at all.

    It's amazing that you quote anonymous bloggers as true without any evidence but deny my identity.Let's hope you don't work for the CPS when you prosecute with only the flimsiest evidence.I wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if you comment then re-post under another name agreeing with yourself.I have no evidence that is what you do but that doesn't seem to be needed in your world.I have never blogged under WPC Jaded as that would be wrong.My sex-change was a little joke instigated by you and it has run and run.I have to say that calling someone the opposite sex as an insult is very childish,especially for a pompous arse like you.

    As for the sunshine,I agree,but it must be ever so hot in that straight-jacket.

  16. WPC Jade one doubts that anybody would wish to rub shoulders with you.