January 10th, 2007

Oh Dear

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

PC John Waterman of Norfolk Police got himself in the shit this week after one of the cases he was dealing with appeared in the papers and on the TV.

Two ‘jobless foreign nationals’ were caught vandalising parked cars in Norwich. They were arrested and confessed to several similar offences. The naughty people received a police caution, thus making sure that all 10 victims received their due recompense and were happy with the judicial process, not.

In a letter to one victim the officer described the reason not to prosecute as based on the fact that they were foreign nationals with no income and that prosecuting wouldn’t be in the public interest. Everyone else in Norfolk Police (senior management & public relations people) recoilled in horror at this grave misreading of the circumstances and queued up on the TV and in the press to berate the officer saying that these factors should never be considered when deciding who to prosecute and pointing out that the force had detected 10 crimes even though only two were initially reported. They appeared to forget to mention anything about how the victims felt over the decision to caution.

The answer to all the problems this case raised? Exactly, to send the officer on a ‘diversity’ course, which they have promised to do.

I’ve posted previously on the value if such courses. I can’t help thinking that Norfolk Police would be better served by sending the officer not on a diversity course, but on a course all the other senior officers must attend – the one where they learn not to tell the truth to the public.


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  1. citizen on the edge says:

    so if their ethnicity et al ahem, wasn’t a factor in their being cautioned, does anybody have a clue *why* they got away with such wanton damage?

    incidentally, I found this blog totally by chance while browsing elsewhere, on the day I started my own blog, with this exact same story. odd

    January 10th, 2007 at 15:27

  2. Yank Mountain Mountie says:

    At the risk of sounding like an ignorant American…if series vandalism to other people’s cars doesn’t get CPS’ interest, then who, exactly, do they prosecute? I was under the impression that, when a cop grabbed up a suspect and had evidence, CPS was supposed to convince a judge to lock the guy up.

    January 12th, 2007 at 07:08

  3. grumpy traffic man says:

    To our friend across the pond…

    To get an offender before the Court we have a number of hoops to jump through.
    It depends on whether the offender is in custody facing a charge, usually for more serious offences, or whether the offender has been reported for summons, usually for lesser offences, motoring offences etc.
    Firstly, the Custody Sergeant decides whether or not there is sufficient evidence to proceed. If he or she says that there is, then the investigating officer presents a summary of evidence to what is known as a “gatekeeper” who reviews the evidence and decides that there is sufficient to proceed to CPS.

    If there is enough quality evidence, the matter is then referred to CPS.

    The Crown Prosecution Service makes the ultimate decision as to whether or not a suspect is charged or summoned to court. After reviewing the available evidence, witness statements, CCTV, photographs, interviews etc, the CPS will advise whether or not charges will be brought, or which charges will be preferred. The CPS do not always take heed of the recommendations of the Police Officer presenting the case. They may decide that further evidence is required or that the available evidence is not good enough.

    The problem is that CPS are target driven and obviously have to meet certain targets and percentages of successful prosecutions. Do not quote me on this, but I believe that CPS will not refer a case to court unless there is a 70 to 80 per cent chance of a successful outcome and conviction.

    Unfortunately the say so of a cop these days is not enough to get a case before the court!

    January 12th, 2007 at 22:18

  4. Yank Mountain Mountie says:

    There’s the critical difference, then: our prosecutors are elected (or at least the boss is). Conviction rates aren’t usually a big thing in elections, and they’re distorted by the practice of plea bargaining anyway. And my chief isn’t elected, but he’s accountable to a mayor and city council who are. Voters here don’t care to hear “They were caught in the act and they confessed, and we decided to warn them not to slash any more tires” any more than crime victims in your area.

    Here, it’s different. We have limitations too, but there’s usually actually an underlying purpose rather than someone had a bad idea and wanted credit for it.

    I’ve started reading a number of blogs by UK cops, and they’re driving me nuts. I mean, it’s good stuff but everything there is just similar enough that I start thinking I understand it, and then come the references to the Home Office and custody sergeants cautions and sheriff and firearms squads and other things we don’t have here or that mean something completely different.

    January 13th, 2007 at 23:33

  5. cogidubnus says:

    Hi Yank Mountain Mountie… there’s a great deal about the justice system in the UK that puzzles us Brits too…at times it really seems to us that the perps have more “rights” than the victims…especially since joining the European Union we have to respect criminals “human rights” … I’m with the Texas State Police on this one (if in doubt, shoot the bastards)…

    January 14th, 2007 at 00:34

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