Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bloody hell, there is just so much wrong with this!

This story, via Bystander, had me swearing over my morning cup of tea, fortunately TGWo was out of earshot. This is the gist of the story:

Gardener arrested and taken to court for carrying work scythe in van

A judge has ordered the Crown Prosecution Service to make a public apology to a gardener who was arrested and taken to court for carrying a scythe which he said he needed for his work.

Peter Drew, 49, a self employed ground clearance contractor, had the scythe and other bladed tools in his work van when he was stopped by police on his way to a job in Penzance, Cornwall.

He told police he used the equipment in the course of his work but he was charged with possessing a bladed instrument in a public place and the case proceeded to the courts.


Judge Paul Darlow freed Mr Drew and said: "I want to find out why we have got to the start of the trial and the CPS is suddenly saying 'Oops'.

"I do not think the CPS can escape criticism or blame if they leave it to the last minute to make up their minds. We despair of trying to run these courts in any sort of efficient way.

Firstly, well done the Judge, its a pity he didn't charge the CPS and Police for wasting public funds though. Perhaps docking individual's pay might concetrate their minds.

So what about the apology?
The prosecuting counsel, Philip Lee, responded: "On behalf of the CPS I apologise that it has taken this long.
Leaving aside, for now, that it even got to the CPS isn't there someone, anyone, in the CPS with an ounce of gumption? FFS, the first person to see this file should have taken one look and thrown it in the bin and sent a terse email to the police to stop wasting their time. If there isn't a lawyer with the balls to do that then let the cleaner or tea lady have a go, they can't be any worse and they will at least bring some reality to the proceedings.

But what were the police up to in the first place? OK, we don't know why he was stopped and I am sure that, given he once ran he second hand shop, that there is a good chance he was "known to the police", so maybe they were right to check his story. A few quick phone calls should have sorted that out:
Mr Drew, of Heamoor, near Penzance, said he obtained written references from clients, whose gardens he had cleared, confirming they had seen him use the scythe and other bladed tools to cut down undergrowth and brambles.
Great, now he's having to prove his innocence and even then he still has to wait 8 months for this to end with the CPS offering no case. What are the police managers up to? Don't answer that yet, there's worse to come from Inspector Gadget. Perhaps the police also need a cleaner to manage them as well.

As Bystander says:
I don't suppose he will ever get his prints and DNA off the database, either.
No, he probably won't. Only another 56m to go before we're all on the register

And to think senior police officers and politicians wonder why the public have little faith in them. perhaps it because nobody in the police service* seems capable thinking for themselves.

But we shouldn't really be surprised its come to this after years of governments trying to fiddle the figures on crime and detection. As this post from Inspector Gadget, again courtesy Bystander, shows:

I imagine that he [a Detective Chief Inspector] is fairly humiliated to find himself as a glorified accountant. Known as the Divisional Crime Performance Manager, he is now reduced to sending out regular motivational emails about the sanctioned detected rates. ‘only 40 more detected crimes in the next two weeks to reach our target – that’s 4 per day – keep up the pressure folks – you know we can do it’. The only interest I have in this email is the admission that CID regard a week as consisting of five days. And what’s all this ‘we’ business?

As we get closer to the end of the month, these emails are faintly embarrassing. Watching a previously highly regarded professional become increasingly desperate is never nice. Especially when you are at the management meetings that precede the emails. Especially when you hear how the Divisional Crime Management Unit ‘validate’ crime reports. Especially when you can taste the contempt these people feel for themselves for playing this game.

Has it really come to this? A DCI whose main reason for being in the building is to ‘manage’ the government’s latest crackpot way of measuring police performance?

If that doesn't make you want to grab the nearest politician by the throat and try to shake some sense in to them, nothing will.

I'm off to calm down now before I start doing some DIY with sharp instruments, which is not a good idea when the rage has descended.

*I cringe every time I see or use that phrase, reverting to a police force might be a good first step in repairing their battered "brand".

No comments: