January 22nd, 2010

A Fishy Tale

Posted in The Job - General by 200

I check out the police-related stories in the news most days to seek inspiration for my blog – when you make a post every single day for more than two years, you sometimes need a lot of inspiration!

Today I could have gone with a story on some Met Officers accused for fraud, or the news that forces up & down the country ar lauding the good news that recorded crime is down, or experts being drafted in to help a failing force or a similar story that last Christmas’s drink driving figures are down.

But the story that really caught me eye was the one where a prosecution of a woman accused of killing 3 goldfish has failed in Norich. Nineteen-year-old Chantelle Amies was accused of pouring bleach into the fishtank killing a 4-year-olds pet fish after a ‘bitter dispute’ after her fingerprints were found on the bleach bottle & fishtank in a neighbour’s house.

Three witnesses told police they could smell bleach in the tank & water samples were taken. However the sample was not sent off for froensic examination by police who quoted the high costs involved. The defendant denied the charge but was sent to local magistrates who dismissed the case on hearing the water had not been tested.

The Mail isn’t really sure whether to blame the police for not sending the sample off or the CPS for allowing the case to proceed without sufficient evidence.

Important issues are raised by the case. The fish are classed as property & the value of the damage caused to them was £7; their replacement cost – no cruelty charges were brought, the charge was criminal damage. How far do we go to enforce the law. A 4 year old child had his fish killed, should the facdt that the cost of prosecution runs into several thousand pounds mean we don’t prosecute anyone.

Do we say that unless there is a financial loss under a certain amount of money then no prosecution should ensue because of the costs? If so, what message does that send?

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