Wednesday, 23 October 2013


The police have been going through a bad spell again.

The Andrew Mitchell case grinds on. For those who haven't been following this saga - Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell was forced to resign after allegedly calling police officers “plebs”. Whilst this sounds daft enough, even to me as I type it, the affair has become the stuff of a Hollywood drama. Mitchell has always denied the 'official' version of events and subsequently, it transpired that the three police officers involved lied about Mitchell, but also that their bosses decided not to instigate misconduct proceedings against them. The Home Affairs Select Committee are now investigating. There have already been two internal enquiries and it has just been admitted that police actions so far, mostly improperly defending the police against Mitchell, have cost more than £230,000. Apart from the MPs enquiry, there is still the possibility of criminal charges being brought. No estimates yet of what all that will cost. As I say, if this wasn't real, it would probably be an amusing, if expensive, incident in a fictional story.

In a separate incident, a policewoman was arrested in April after whistle-blowing to the press that the Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner had used a chauffeur-driven car on journeys costing £700, despite having an official car. Although there is nothing illegal (provided certain steps are followed and I confess I have no idea whether they were) about whistle-blowing, the woman was detained by the police. The police commissioner has now apologised for his "mistakes", although it seems no action will be taken against him. The woman has now also been released and will face no criminal action (for what offence it's anyway difficult to imagine). I've no idea what the cost was of pursuing this women whilst the person actually doing wrong was the police commissioner, but at least it was eventually acknowledged that she did nothing criminal. (The commissioner is apparently now hiring a PR consultant . . .).

Another current activity is the policing of anti-fracking protesters in Sussex. I have mixed feelings about this. Clearly such protests can become violent or criminal in some way. But, actually, there is nothing illegal in the protesters sitting on the roadside with their posters and banners. However the police have admitted that the estimated costs so far of police presence has reached a stunning £4m.

Of course policing costs money, but here we have police operations against an MP, on charges which appear to have been fabricated, but no action taken against the offending police; the arrest of a woman who revealed profligate spending by a police commissioner, where similarly the object of the police action turned out to have been not guilty, and again no action against the police representative who did wrong; and the policing of persons exercising their civil rights. In these police operations alone, several million pounds have been spent. But where is the wrongdoing?

The latest case involves a woman in Lincolnshire who was injured in an unprovoked attack by a person who was later arrested and who admitted their guilt to the police. The victim now claims that the police have offered her £150 to drop charges against the attacker because the time and cost involved in pursuing the case could not be justified. I admit that something sounds very odd about this, so I guess there may be more to it, but, as the woman did not accept the 'compensation', the attacker has now been released anyway without charge. That seems odder.

So, yes, policing costs money. But there are questions about whether the police are spending their time on the right priorities or their budget on pursuing the right criminals.


  1. I left you a message on my Oct 18 reply to your message.

  2. is starting to sound like a third world country where bribery is accepted as the norm and power is all that matters. I still naively believe in the Christian-Judeo legal system as a way to justice and fairness and equality and integrity in human interactions. Aren't I the dullard in the crowd.