It all started on the 12th September 2012, with the Police in North Yorkshire assisting the inquiries of their colleagues in Devon & Cornwall Police, who had called for my arrest without any evidence. The arrest of me was done in the presence of my line manager at my place of employment, a private college. I was arrested on the ‘suspicion that I held and was distributing indecent images of children’. From the start, all doctrine to ‘innocence until proven guilty’ was abandoned. The only comfort to me was that the two arresting officers suggested they would not handcuff me. I was taken into custody and paraded in the view of students, then route marched through the extensive gated grounds to an awaiting Police car.
The proven actions of North Yorkshire Police, attested through a complaint lodged against them in 2013, found in my favour and they agreed that they had deprived me of food and drink during my 14 hours of custody. It was a ‘punishment’ by officers who actioned their baleful determination that I was nothing less than guilty. The tone throughout my prolonged detainment lead me to a pronouncement to the custody officer, as I was taken back to the cell: “You have decided that I am guilty”. This comment was challenged, the following day, on a journey with officers of North Yorkshire Police returning me to my car after I had been Police bailed with a condition not to associate with anyone under 16 years of age. The silence of the journey was broken and without any prompting one said defensively: “Mr.*********, we have not decided that you are guilty” (much trying to backtrack on their actions and approach; maybe they felt angry toward their Devon and Cornwall police colleagues who had dropped them squarely in the 'Doo Doo'). This was the only comment throughout the journey and they had been tipped off about my angst and in my opinion, from their tone, they displayed doubt to their actions. They tried to give some amelioration to my position; but their comment stirred the mirky waters, holding little value, and did not settle me.
From the outset, my interaction with the lead officers exuded a facetiousness from them, there were clear signs of them ‘going through the motions’ for another party and not concerning themselves with the gravitas of my position. Not seeming to recognise at any point how much heart stabbing damage they were involved with and they creating serious trauma. The recorded interview of me, in the presence of a solicitor, was extensive and used questions supplied by Devon & Cornwall Police, from a document that was marked with their logo. Later, and after being released from the investigation, Devon & Cornwall started the denial process of their decision making, involvement and a statement from them insisted they ‘had only alerted’ their colleagues in North Yorkshire and had not called for my arrest. This was contrary to the North Yorkshire Police position, that they were only acting in an assisting role to Devon & Cornwall’s investigation, confirmed in a letter from the Head of Safeguarding - North Yorkshire Police to my GP in late 2015 .
There was a full insult on release, having been given all the paperwork, as I was handed a photocopied leaflet produced by the ‘Lucy Faithful Foundation’ (a charity who support offenders) . The leaflet was expressly for those who had been prosecuted for Sexual Offences. I was so mortified and angry that I tore up the leaflet.
Optimistically, within my thoughts, I assumed that the whole scenario would be concluded very early, and the nightmare would fall away for a clearer picture to emerge. To that end I made an assumptive comment to a former colleague that “it will sort itself out”, but it never has.
There is no comeback from this type of arrest. Throughout the custody, the bailed release period of over 3 months and beyond, neither Devon & Cornwall Police or North Yorkshire Police expressed in even the most minuscule way any ‘duty of care’ or gave any apology. My early comment to my appointed solicitor during custody was accurate, for I said: “They’ve just fucked up my life and career, big time”.
The hard fight to clear my name will never be completed, sadly, as my tormenters are protected from any reparations, refuse to release information; and are not predisposed to giving any apology.
Persuading the police about my innocence was a simple case, defaulting to 'no evidence found', with me being emotionally frozen for over three months. Convincing the 66,000,000 population of the UK has been more difficult. Today, 8 years on, data about me has now been removed from the Police National Computer Database. This is only ever exercised in absolutely 'exceptional cases' by a chief constable. Exceptional cases will, by definition, be rare and include cases where it can be proved that the arrest was unlawful, or where it is established beyond doubt that no offence existed.
The railing of my life and putting it back on track has been completely undermined by all the obstreperous police actions. There have been tactical delay after delay in their response and lack of writing to support my exoneration, this has re-enforced the doubters of my innocence: The public assumption that the longer it takes to 'clear my name', the more the pendulum swings towards guilt. This has ensured that I could never gain any discernable employment using my skills (in any field). Each week of delay to secure 'good character' employer references from my last employers and the long gap in my employment history, highlights an event which I would like to forget.
The loss of control of my finances and any possibility of future employment has been severely damaged; the isolation and social anxiety directly attributable to police actions have lead to the trust and confidence in myself and others being destroyed, heavily burdened with dispossession from society; accepting my lost honour and faith that any justice will be had, leaves me to conclude that my death will serve a greater purpose than my current life.
I believe much of my concern about Police actions, I raise here, is replicated throughout the UK with others; who have been put through similar events. The subject matter, by its very nature, leaves others fearful of identifying themselves and stay living in fear, isolation, trauma and always mindful of a lack of empathy and people's reduced trust in them because of spurious allegations.
Douglas Bader (the War Ace Fighter Pilot) wrote about the selectivity and convenience of observing rules: "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men." Very pertinent is this 'selective' convenience of Police actions through an individual interpretation of regulations, procedures and rules.
How long can society accept these without substance 'Fishing' investigations and the current 'Witch Hunting', through arrest on suspicion, by the Police resulting in lives being ruined and considerable 'Collateral Damage' both to the individual and the wider society?
Sometimes constructing in language one's feelings can result in a shadow of words; especially when someone else has already written, with great eloquence, what you want to say. Christopher Jefferies (who was falsely accused of the murder of Jo Yeates in 2010), put into words about his feelings (when he was arrested). These feeling reflected much of what I felt at the time of my arrest:
"The moments between sleeping and waking hover between dream and consciousness, the mind uncertain as to what is fantasy and what is reality. It was in that state that the knocks on the door announcing my arrest brutally inverted fact and fiction, truth and falsehood, nightmare and the world of familiar reassurance.
I was taken to the police station, unable to think beyond the moment, aware only of what was being done to me by forces I was powerless to influence. It seemed I was the only one who saw the person instinct told me still existed. Everyone else saw not Chris Jefferies, but the murderer of Jo Yeates.
An individual living out the complex narrative of his own existence was suddenly transformed into a villain. ....... and then during the three months that followed, everything that seemed stable suddenly became precarious."
I was arrested by North Yorkshire Police (on the specific request of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary).
Without any evidence and only having a 'suspicion', was enough for me to be arrested and detained, after allegedly being in possession and distributing indecent images of children, the only suspicion was my ownership of a property occupied, principally, by another person - as a 'house sitter' (lodger), who was arrested the day before on a similar allegation. My house occupied by him, had for me become a holiday home with me spending barely 4 weeks a year there. My job committed me to living away, in a flat in Yorkshire, nearly full-time. Because of this 'owner' status, it seems to have become the pivotal reason for the suspicion that I might have had some involvement in a serious crime, by 'association', also because I met a differential vague profiling criteria of persons engaged in a specific type of criminal activity.
'Evoking the Powers of Arrest as a Constable based on there being significant and satisfactory evidence or reasonable grounds for suspecting a crime had been committed' was the immediate thoughts behind my arrest (grounds which have fundamentally been bought into doubt ever since). This power is vague and massively open to interpretation by the individual officer. It was a power given to the 'Office of Constable', under Section 24 of PACE (the Police And Criminal Evidence Act 1984) originally established to protect parliament from attack. Elements were then replaced by the 'Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005', allowing all classes of offence to be "arrestable", where formerly it was limited to a few offences. Today arrests should only happen if the "necessary criteria" apply. "The use of powers of arrest on suspicion must be fully justified and officers exercising the power should consider, if the necessary objectives can be met by other less intrusive means. The exercise of arrest powers is subject to a test of necessity-based around the nature and circumstances of the offence and the interests of the criminal justice system." (This is contained within Police Officers basic training).
Devon and Cornwall Constabulary have yet to reveal the "significant and satisfactory evidence or reasonable grounds' for their suspicions of any criminality by me, even though a complaint inquiry and appeal have been conducted, by the police themselves, they have failed to disclose the grounds for my arrest. They have now stonewalled me saying they 'will no longer answer any communication about this matter'. The arrest was a gratuitous act of humiliation imposed by police officers who did (at best) exercise extremely poor judgment. The police allowed themselves to go with the manufactured hysteria about any related crime (falsely alleged or otherwise) to do with children. The police are, in my opinion, embarrassed to make any reparations in terms of assistance; either through the bail period or once it was determined that I should no longer be investigated.
The 'SOCP Act 2005' makes it very clear that an 'Arrest must never be used; simply because it can be used.' "As absence of justification for exercising the powers of arrest will lead to challenges, especially when a case proceeds to court. When the power of arrest is exercised it is clear that it is exercised in a non-discriminatory and proportionate manner."
After my arrest, I became subject to a rigorous, intensive and close inspection of my life; and all my possessions. Consequently after a full investigation, NO EVIDENCE has ever been produced to support the allegation by the Police, NO EVIDENCE has ever been produced to support the calling for my arrest by the Police and NO EVIDENCE has ever been produced to support my detainment by the Police. I have NEVER BEEN CHARGED with an offence and three months after my arrest all investigations were abruptly closed; leaving my life in tatters, imprisoned in a world of rage and fear.
Detained in a cell.
I spent 14 hours in custody and left to fester in a soiled incontinence pad, with Medical Conditions not being attended to, in a video cell accused of a very serious crime. My fluids were restricted and no food was offered during the whole custody. Two officers were disciplined (a 'management' exercise; which to you and I is a 'slap on the wrist'), in September 2013, after a Police 'Local Resolution' investigation into their actions during my custody. Article 5 of the UN Convention on Human Rights prohibits torture, and "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" of a detainee. - 1953 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights'. Great Britain was a signature to protecting the individual and preventing abuse, something we normally only associate with tyranical wayward states.
Bailed and released (nearly!)
For over three months, I was placed on Police bail to re-appear at the Police station in North Yorkshire, subject to forensic investigation of my computer equipment to 'fish out' any evidence. Immediately after the bail formalities, my 'release' was ordered; I was then escorted by the Police to a Yorkshire hospital for a 'Mental Health' assessment, as my reaction to this arrest was considered not normal. I was paralysed in trauma. (How does one react to a life-impacting false accusation by the Police?) My bail terms forbid me going back to the college accommodation in North Yorkshire. I was released in the early hours of the morning, I was not able to return to the house in Devon, 300 miles away, as Police had secured my car. Nor was able to get to any where else.
I spent a 'night' contemplating my position in the cold damp air on a park bench - not given much choice!
On release from hospital, having had a 'Mental Health Assessment and Suicide risk' done, in the early hours of the morning, I had no other option but to spend the remainder of the night in a small Yorkshire town, on a park bench, enduring a cold damp and rain drizzly night, partially protected by a light summer suit jacket and trousers (the clothes I was arrested in). I had no mobile phone with me (as the Police has confiscated it) and I could not contact anyone!
Returned to my tormentors (7 hours later).
I returned to the Police station to collect my car and drive home. Unshaven, unwashed, exhausted and still in shock! The Police gave me advice that maybe I might consider taking care in my driving and have a break half-way in my 300 mile journey! (The one and only time the Police displayed, in a very minor form, any concern or 'duty of care'!)
I was traumatised, abandoned and not sure who to tell or where to get advice.
During the three months, on Police bail, the Forensics people checked my 2 laptops (one was bought day before my arrest to replace my ageing one and was still in its store 'security sealed' box), they also checked out my mobile phone, digital camera and USB pen drives. During the investigation, someone from the investigation department had my 3 month old - non contract - latest version HTC Evo 3d mobile phone, seized under the Police Property Act 1897, sent for destruction 'inadvertently'. No doubt their own peculiar interpretation of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, although I was not even charged, let alone prosecuted. My property was destroyed anyway. With ZERO evidence supporting the allegation, the investigation was abruptly closed on the 19th December 2012.
13 days into the bail period and my suspension from work, my employment was terminated.
The allegation against me was not supported by a witness or evidenced, it was purely a supposition (guesswork, theory and inference) by Devon and Cornwall Police. The stigma associated with some offences is so great (even if it is just an allegation), that most people do not want to be associated with you at all! I found that my employer was very eager to distance themselves.
I became 'collateral damage', joining others whose lives have been ruined because of a false allegation!
I cannot settle with it being ‘acceptable’, that the agents of the state (Police Officers whose existence is measured in terms of consent by the public) were able to arrest me on pure guesswork making false allegations, without any evidence or warrant to detain me and through their actions cause me to be suspended from my job and then dismissed, during the bail period. Through the process and aftermath to see my savings evaporate, have my dignity compromised, my privacy invaded, my 'castles' (my house and other accommodation) searched from roof to floor boards, my car seized, my property confiscated, blocked my ability to earn and from their actions had all doubt placed on my trustworthyness, honesty and integrity.
The most naïve and jaw dropping comment was passed by a Child Protection Police officer from Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, about my unemployment. He said "We don't undersand why your employers suspended and dismissed you!" Sheer shock at this crass comment left me stunned for words and unable to answer him. He, one of the enforcers of the Children Act 2004 suddenly showed selective understanding of 'Safe Guarding', the law and the expectation of employment procedures for those working with vulnerable people and the continued employment of those given 'professional trusted persons' status. Given the circumstances presented in the moment of time, as a former manager, I would have expected the same outcome, certainly on suspension, complying with the Childrens Act 2004 on procedures and employment practices. Maybe just going about the final demise from employment processes in a slightly different and humane manner, to that of my former employers.
An interesting anomaly was revealed in May 2013, when my former house-sitter/lodger was formally charged. His bail term conditions did not include any restriction from the day he was arrested to the day he was prosecuted. Mine restricted me from associating with minors (not allowing me to do my job). His work place allowed him to continue in post and it was only after his name appeared in a regional newspaper, having attended a magistrates court, that his employers suspended him and then pushed for his 'letting go' after some 'gardening leave'.
I am of the belief that Devon and Cornwall Police have beaten the path to distance themselves from events. It was they who pushed the 'end dominoe to cause me to topple'. They have certainly not made any approach to apologise for their mistake and false allegation. They have not even been prepared to 'man up' and face me personally. Metaphorically 'they handed a loaded gun to North Yorkshire Police to do the firing on an innocent person' and therefore are complicit in all events and the outcomes. I believe that they consider me somewhat vexatious in my actions of corresponding with them. A simple early statement, as I requested, letting my former employers know that I am no longer under suspicion would have resolved much of my angst and would have not created the massive gap in my employment history.
Since my release from investigation, I have been expected to carry on with my life as though nothing had happened . . . . .
There are of course options for those of us accused wrongly (in my position) if we are not 'got at' by the 'hot heads . . . .
or or !
Actions which would appease the doubters, but would have considerable impact on the lives on our bereaved families.
I am drawn in complex thought to a 'Monty Python and The Holy Grail' film sketch, in which the knight considers his armless and legless state as "Just a Flesh wound" , after he has battled with King Arthur. The comparison I make is towards the attitude of others. Having hacked me to bits, they think of my wounds in terms of 'Just a Flesh Wound!'
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." - Edmund Burke (1729 - 97).
Maybe one day the tide of justice, in its ebb and flow, will become balanced towards 'plain fairness' (one of those British Values which is only in the minds of the deluded), turning a UK justice system to giving protection, rights and support to the falsely accused without them turning to expensive civil legal proceedings. Maybe, also, we will see easy redress against agencies; such as the Police, when they clearly get it wrong and their actions have a massive impact on an individuals life (and for too many, recently, actions which lead to the individuals early death).
Winston Churchill wrote in 1908: "What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone? How else can we put ourselves in harmonious relation with the great verities and consolations of the infinite and the eternal? And I avow my faith that we are marching towards better days. Humanity will not be cast down. We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun.”
So, I keep going.