This is the 'story ' of two Police Forces and me. Communication: I must say it does seem that I would have greater success in trying to extract water from an old concrete path than I ever get in response from the Police. What evidence was there to call for my arrest?
Be in no doubt, the arrest of any person is a very serious matter.
Arresting people is part of a Police Officers role, responsibilities and duty. It is also the most impacting and reflective part of the justice process and gives rise to fairly negative judgement about a person, from the outset, and will tarnish their character (through that which is often referred to as the 'Court of Public Opinion'). The humiliation of the arrested person and their guilt status on arrest, is always judged harshly and it is almost immediate, as it is assumed the Police Officers would not take this action without there being some evidence and 'fire to generate the smoke'.
'Defacto' upon arrest, the individual is criminalised by Public Judgement. Therefore, for any arrests which are considered 'Serious Crimes', these should be automatically (in my opinion) be warranted by a magistrate and not left to the Police to determine an arrest. The majority of persons currently being arrested are not being prosecuted, as there is no evidence or insufficient evidence to support claims of wrongdoing. These individuals are never allowed to clear their name and are left with life long uncertainty about the integrity and probity of their character.
The 'Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005' substitutes the powers of arrest found in section 24 and 25 of PACE 1984 and makes all classes of offence 'arrestable', if the 'necessary criteria' applies. This became effective from the 1st January 2006, allowing in many cases arrest on suspicion, without a magistrates warrant and without evidence.
“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” - Fredrick Joseph Martin Niemöller (1892 – 1984), a preacher and social activist in Hitler’s Germany. Spent 7 years in concentration camps and survived.
Of course, prevention is better than cure (and less costly). Certain offences are life-threatening and immediate, making it sensible for an officer to be empowered with the right to arrest. Equally, this makes sense for the minor offences of public disorder or attack. Away from this, I feel that any alleged serious offences should be overseen always by a court magistrate or judge in the first instance, especially if they are not life-threatening and where there is no significant supporting evidence. This may generate another layer of administration, but would pay dividends to Police budgets against defending civil actions against them in court, would reduce the risk of suicide within those of wrecked lives and would retard the ever growing lack of respect towards the Police.
The only experience most people have of arrest is their avid TV viewing of Police based drama shows. Most fail to reflect the true raw emotion surrounding an arrest and its implications on a person and their life. It would not make a good drama, if all we saw was the arrest of an individual on the opening scene (without the fact-finding 50+ minutes build-up of investigation (Miss Marple style) to create a dramatic effect. Not forgetting the non-representative 'fireside' chats between the Police and accused before they arrest them; this (in the 'real world') does not take place. What does happen are scenes of a confused person sitting in a white-walled cell; detained for many hours and enduring lengthy interviewing by Police. In drama's, you will not see the aftermath of the individual and their release without charge and 'no further action to be taken'. Without a doubt, the whole TV show would certainly not conclude with post-show 'credits' saying " There was no evidence found and after the arrest, the individual was released. Having received no support after the arrest, embattled with the court of public opinion they could not shake off the stigma of being arrested, so took their own life".
The 2014 TV docudrama (based on fact) - 'The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies' - revealed much of the stunning emotion surrounding Christopher Jefferies arrest and for the first time, many members of the public have had their views challenged about a false accusation, arrest, detainment and its aftermath. This highlighted a shocking situation when a young woman is murdered, and the media hounded and vilify a retired schoolteacher, whose only crimes are his odd appearance and overbearing manners. Populist newspapers vilified Christopher Jefferies and subsequently, a decision was taken by Avon and Somerset Police to arrest him for murder without their being any evidence.
Most people are not expected to know what happens after a person is released from police detention. Certainly what happens post-arrest, where no charges are preferred and an investigation is dropped. Except those with direct experience, the public is not aware of damage to relationships and the anger felt by the individual about being accused, as they fade into the 'misty fog of time', abandoned and are expected just to move on with their life as though nothing had happened. Maybe we need to 'get real' and recognise the full implications an arrest event has on the persons life.
No greater is the confusion of the arrested person than when there is no supporting evidence and the person has been arrested using the vagary of a 'constables suspicion that an offence has been committed' as afforded by the Powers of Arrest (PACE and Police Reform Act). Later for it to be found the suspicion was wrong making the allegation false and all investigations are dropped. The real aftermath is abandonment, a shattered life for many years, if not the remainder of their life!
"Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." - 'George Orwell' (Eric Blair 1903 - 50)
Draconian measures normally come in to force within a society, when there is a threat to the community. The UK has always had a serious level of threat since 1920. The IRA kept our attention for some years and the latest terrorist threats are not to be ignored as they have proved very real. We are all mindful of the threat to the country of the radicalisation of some misguided people and those who have been abandoned into a mental health disorder, who lose their place and are magnetised to extremism. The balance between power, integration of individuals and the much 'ignored and abandoned' is a true balance to the health of society, yet we seem to accept the additional growing group of dispossessed. Those who feel completely abandoned and hurt by political processes and justice. This is much challenged by responsive and aggressive actions, rather than preventative actions by the police.
I have always deduced that 'good' Politicians would make very good insurance salesmen! Their speeches and spiels, always play to fear. The next time you watch a speech by the Home Secretary, on protecting our borders from terrorist groups, watch for the automatic inclusion of paedophiles in the speech. Never mentioning the less emotive, but possibly more criminally damaging offender elements. Such is the emotive issue of 'Child Exploitation' that politicians abuse the trust of the public, regularly pulling out the 'fear card' and emphasise the risk of those with paedophile intent crossing, to the UK, at an alarming rate. I must point out at this stage, having dealt with and protected children from abuse through my professional life, I wish to see draconian measures inflicted on the individuals perpetrating acts. Erroneously using hyperbole fodder, to getting a public agreement, the sheer existence of this group is a justification of other draconian measures in other legislation. Of the 160,000 (NSO - 2014) former Eastern block workers, who have been arrested by the Police engaging in criminal activities, only a handful have been arrested for 'Child Exploitation'. Yet, rarely do we hear about the hundreds, who we should prevent coming into the UK with previous convictions, with murderous intent, engaging in adult human slavery trafficking, adult rape and organised crime, for which there have been numerous prosecutions in the UK since 2010. Politicians always get on the 'bandwagon' and are quick to cause misery by in-acting laws which empower the Police and fail to protect the public from other serious crimes.
The 'non-political quiet non-engaging' UK public has allowed the introduction of measures which other countries do not have and would not tolerate. The right for a Police Officer to arrest on suspicion of any crime and without clear evidence is a recently given right. The Police are not expected to justify their calling for arrest, so it seems and any wrongdoing can only be challenged in a litigation hearing in court at the accused own personal expense (a rarity because of the sheer cost of court time for the individual).
Treatment in detention
The treatment of suspects held in detention is governed by Code H to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 in the case of suspects.
It is generally the responsibility of a designated Custody Officer to ensure that the provisions of the relevant Code and of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 are not breached. In particular, a person detained has the following rights; and must be informed of these rights at the earliest opportunity: to have one friend or relative or other people who is known to him/her or who is likely to take an interest in his/her welfare told that he/she has been arrested and where he/she is being detained;
- to consult a solicitor;
- have three meals a day;
- provided with drinks "on-demand";
- have eight hours of sleep/rest a night in a clean cell.
- Some of these rights may be suspended in exceptional circumstances, but there must be 'absolute' just cause for not meeting any of their rights.
"If you're going through hell, keep going. " Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)
I do not know what hell is like! There are many who would describe my experience since my arrest as a 'living hell'. Living through this continues.
I do know what it is like to be arrested suddenly and agressively, on a false allegation concocted by the Police and be suspended from my job and subsequently dismissed. Rapidly see my savings evaporate (without discernible income), have my dignity compromised, my privacy invaded, my 'castles' (my house and other accommodation) searched from the roof to floorboards, my car seized, my property confiscated and all doubt placed on my honesty and integrity.
I have experienced being left to fester in a Police custody cell deprived of food and water - and kept imprisoned for 14 hours without good reason and non-compliance to PACE regulations and guidelines.
Then to be told three months later, having been put on repeated police bail, it was all a mistake as there was no evidence to support any prosecution.
I know what it's like to be traumatised to the depths of despair contemplating suicide as an unsupported and dispossessed person. I know what it is like to perceive there to be no future in my life and every day becomes a financial and emotional struggle to keep life together.
I know what it is like to convert from being a 'rule lead' very law-abiding person to being someone who has no trust or respect for the Police, possessing a scathing cynical view on the Justice System and any sense of fairness in the UK.
Continuous (vexatious) correspondence with the Police, has not provided any definitive answer to the basic question of 'Why was I arrested and what evidence was there to support the arrest?' I have been continuously stone-walled with the same inconclusive answer. My arrest resulted (seemingly) from some 'intelligence' received by Devon and Cornwall Constabulary. But, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary will not disclose the 'intelligence' even if it was provided with source names redacted or filtered through an honest broker. Intelligence and the Police in the same sentence cannot correlate, for me, and have become an oxymoron. One of few major opinions I will express about this entire matter is that 'I do not believe they had any intelligence and the Police were clearly on a ''fishing expedition' using a probability scoring system of profiling. I invite them to prove me wrong.
I have never been prepared to leave it at that and have battled since.