Thursday, 9 October 2008

Statements

Given my last couple of posts have been short cathartic rants, this post is a long one, but hopefully I'll explain why.

Following recommendations by the Metropolitan Police Authority after Stockwell, the IPCC recently called for the practice of Police officers being able to confer whilst making statements to stop. This was in direct response to criticisms of Police by the family of Mark Saunders who was fatally wounded by armed officers after he went off his nut and started shooting into other peoples houses and didn't stop when asked. This is the third time the IPCC has called for the practice of conferring to stop after the tragic deaths of Jean Charles de Menezes and Harry Stanley, both of whom were shot by Police officers and were later confirmed to not be armed.

Nick Hardwick of the IPCC said: "The IPCC welcomes the recommendation in the MPA’s scrutiny report that the practice of officers conferring to make their notes following an incident should be discontinued and procedures put in place to demonstrate that the accounts individual officers give are their best and genuinely independent recollections.”

Mr Hardwick added: “We are confident that the investigations we have conducted into fatal police shootings, are rigorous and capable of withstanding public and judicial scrutiny. But we recognise the concern and suspicion this practice sometimes generates amongst bereaved families and many members of the wider public. That suspicion cannot be in the interests of families or the officers concerned.

“The IPCC has a legal duty to secure and maintain public confidence in the police complaints system. As the public body charged with oversight of the Metropolitan Police Service, the MPA’s support for our recommendation confirms the IPCC’s own view that the public do not have confidence in the current procedure in which police witnesses and civilian witnesses to the same incident are treated very differently

“Both the MPA and ourselves recognise the uniquely difficult and dangerous job performed by firearms officers. The IPCC is clear that its investigators do not treat officers as suspects unless there is evidence that an offence has been committed. We recognise that the firearms officers are lawfully carrying weapons and we do not treat them as suspects in a crime unless there is evidence to do so. However, when the state takes a life, we believe that there must be a rigorous investigation and the families and public are entitled to the fullest possible explanation of what occurred and why. This is the approach we have taken in all 14 fatal shootings we have investigated since 2004.

“The current post-incident procedure limits our ability to obtain the best possible evidence from police officers involved in an incident. Each case is different and the importance of the officers' notes will depend on the other evidence we have available.

"The IPCC also recognises that changing the procedures following fatal shootings has far wider implications and may affect the way the police service gathers evidence for criminal investigations. Current guidance reflects the convention that police officer witnesses to an event are permitted to confer before writing their statements. This is a principle in daily police practice. It is not within the IPCC’s power unilaterally to alter policing practices and we recognise that the Police Federation has strong views on the subject.

"While the courts may, in time, come to a definitive ruling on the question of officers’ notes we think ACPO, the Police Federation and the other police organisations need to quickly recognise the current situation is unacceptable. We think it would be possible to develop post incident procedures that provide reassurance to families and the public that best evidence has been obtained and reassurance to officers that they will be protected from unfair treatment for just doing their difficult and dangerous jobs. We seek to work with ACPO and the Police Federation to do that.”

It is a well known fact that Police officers witness statements and other witness statements are obtained in very different ways, as acknowledged by the IPCC. There are a number of extremely obvious reasons for that and a couple of not so obvious reasons, all of which must be taken into consideration before calling for the practice to end.

Firstly, a number of people have said that Police witnesses should be treated no differently from any other witness. As Police officers, we are trained to take statements from witnesses and write our own, and obviously how much practice you get can affect the level of quality of a statement. When an incident occurs we don't get all the witnesses then sit them in a room on their own and ask them to write their own statements, if we did, the vast majority would be completely un-useable in a court and would be missing massive chunks of information as well as having irrelevant information, hearsay and time lines would be all over the place. When we take statements we have to cover rules established under the caselaw of R v Turnbull and follow the ADVOKATE acronym -

Amount of time the suspect was under observation
Distance between the suspect and the witness
Visibility
Obstructions to view
Known or seen before
Any reason for remembering
Time elapsed between observation and identification
Error or material discrepancy in description

In addition to getting a full account of what happened, we interview the witness and ask probing and open questions to get specific details which can then in turn be expanded upon. A key area to completely breakdown in the recall is the sense of time and the order in which events occur. This can obviously damage the credibility of a witness if everything is later shown to be wrong and ripped to shreds in a court. It's not impossible to imagine a defence solicitor challenging a witness "Quite clearly this event happened before that one........ if you can't even get that bit right....... how reliable is the rest of your evidence?"

I have seen statements from PCSO'S that have been 10-15 lines long which I have then had to retake, expanding them to over 3-4 pages. It wasn't a failing on their part, just a lack of proper statement training, a lack of understanding of the chain of evidence or of identification requirements and a lack of training in criminal law such as offence wordings and points to prove. Considering that PCSO'S are at least regularly involved in Police incidents and occasionally have to give statements, if we had members of the public write their own following incidents they hardly ever deal with, they would for the most part, be worthless.

The complexity of the involvement or the type incident does change how much you can actually recall. Just walking down the street and seeing a shunt and a heated argument can last just as long as someone coming up to you, screaming in your face and demanding your wallet but your recall would be expected to be wildly different between the two. The more traumatic the incident the harder it is to get certain information, as soon as you get a raised heart rate and stress response kicks in the less your brain actually holds onto, especially if you haven't experienced it before. This is called perceptual distortion and is subject to an extensive body of research by psychologists and physiologists, I'll be putting a separate post up about it later on because it's too significant to be just a two or three liner but I've written a bit about it here.

When we write our own statements we very often write them together and get a brew or some food to eat at the same time as it's a good opportunity to get refs breaks. Because our statements are expected to not only present the incident as we saw it, but are basically the backbone of the file, they should contain all of the relevant data for the incident. This would include exact times, descriptions, relevant history, street names, callsigns, authorities, incident numbers etc, most of which we would not have to hand before or during the incident.

As I said earlier, one of the main things to go in memory immediately and soon after a traumatic event is the sense of time and order of events. Whereas we can interview a witness and expand on specific details to make sure the statement is accurate, it's extremely difficult to do this to yourself. Considering how many police officers we usually have on duty, it would be an incredibly enormous and wholly unjustifiable drain on resources to have to have another Police officer who wasn't involved in the incident to obtain our statements for us. There simply aren't enough Police officers to do that.

A decent statement takes an hour or so (at least) if it is a complex incident and you know nothing about it. For a shift of ten police officers each arresting one person every couple of days, most serious incidents happen around the same time (thanks kindly to Murphy's Law) and involve more than one officer, we'd need to increase the number of police officers by at least 3-5 just to take statements from other officers to allow the investigations to be completed expediently. In order to stop the extra officers from being deployed and tucked up with jobs they would have to be specifically for statement taking - so they might as well not be Police officers - but in today's bureaucratic world they would not be employed just to take statements. Heaven forbid they had a couple of days or even a few hours where they didn't actually do anything and just milled about, the fact that they would have to have other requirements in order to even justify their position means that they would run the risk of not being able to take statements immediately.

By sitting down and debriefing the incident and then writing our statements together we can get all of the other bits of information together that we need for the statement, tie up time lines and generally piece together the incident. I've no idea how many times I've been dealing with something and someone has suddenly popped up and then disappeared just as quickly. Gaps in memory and uncertainty about decisions made at incidents are proven triggers for post traumatic stress disorder and eliminating the causes as soon as possible helps to prevent this extremely damaging psychological injury. I wrote about this a bit more here.

The fact that we deal with arrests and violent incidents all the time reduces the influence of perceptual distortion thanks to stress familiarity but it doesn't extinguish it. A bog standard gobby drunk getting floored and cuffed after a short struggle is far from being on a par with someone trying to put a knife in your neck, or having to use extreme or even lethal force. Only by being able to properly debrief every incident are we able to deal with them, the severe pressures on our time such as dealing with calls and prisoners and subsequent admin mean that the only time we can do this practically is when we put our statements together.

Metcountymounty.

47 comments:

Blue Eyes said...

How many hours (roughly) do you spend on statement taking in initial training?

Metcountymounty said...

blue eyes - At training school we had 3-4 days in total of training about taking statements, and then over the 4 months had to do a statement after each incident scenario which was then critiqued. Probably two weeks worth in total?

I took out of the post about further courses that Police officers can do for ABE (achieving best evidence, usually CID officers) and SOIT (sexual offences interview training) which are a couple of weeks at least. I've seen a soit statement in excess of 40 pages and it was amazing the detail that they got out of the victim.

Peter said...

A very long and rambling rationalisation to justify collaboration when police officers murder someone.

Is this your tactic generally when making statements - to drone on and on and on and on and on , in order to wear down reasoned opposition?

Anonymous said...

I see your point about the proposal being problematic on a day-to-day basis. But it does surprise me that there isn't already an exception made when a person has been killed by police officers, or dies in police custody, and I think that such a change should be bought in.

In the ususal run of things, officers are making statements about incidents which involve third parties. Where the officers' actions or behaviour are the issue in question (such as shooting dead members of the public, armed or otherwise), surely it makes sense to have another officer, not involved in the case, take the statements?

Blue Eyes said...

Interesting, thanks. That explains something I had been wondering about from my corner.

Anonymous said...

and nobody lies and all details are real - isn't that nice.

XTP said...

Very well said.

BTW - you weren't in the Cock Tavern this morning were you?

Anonymous said...

Okay up until your third line:
" ...the practice of Police officers being able to confer whilst making statements to stop."

What's that?

For heaven's sake, I've also read metcountymounty's post - what the flip is soit?

We want you; we need you. Please don't lose sight of us in a quagmire of initiatives, blueprints, quangos et al.

We really do want you and we desperately need you. The Police Force is part of the backbone of this country and we need you now just as much as the country needed Peel in his time.

Louise said...

Having had a few statements taken recently I understand what you mean about memory and timeline. I like to think I have a very good memory, but on giving a statement recently I had to be prompted and guided in my timing and some details of a fatal incident.

Once the adrenaline is going on scene any sense of time goes completely out the window.

Metcountymounty said...

peter - It was an explanation as to why police witnesses and other witnesses are treated differently in EVERY incident, not just firearms incidents. How many Police officers have ever been charged and convicted of murder? That'll be none because murder requires intention to kill without lawful reason, which has NEVER been proven in the UK, despite numerous inexperienced observers alledging to the contrary.

anon 2311 - it's not just problematic on a day to day basis, it is impossible with the current number of police officers on frontline duty. The thing with firearms officers and using lethal force is they ARE writing about the involvement of a third party, the suspect, same with a death in custody, it's suspects who die. The justification for using force comes from the officer interpreting the information they have and the likely threat that the suspect presents based on their actions and the information available at the time. To separate the distinction moves officers from witnesses who have used force to to suspects who should be under caution, which they are not. Unless credible evidence that an offence has been committed then they should remain as police witnesses and the statement is their justification on the use of force, just as we have to provide for any use of force.

blue eyes - no probs

anon 2338 - if you have proof then present it, otherwise all I say is I really,REALLY don't care enough about ANYONE to risk destroying my own life and future by lying and trying to fit someone up. Most will come again and get what they deserve but if you think this is the sweeney and we all sit around just making shit up then you're on another planet. If anyone is stupid enough to falsify evidence and lie then they deserve what they get.

xtp - nope, I was kicking out some serious zeds on the train on the way in!!

anon 1946 - sorry its been a long day and I don't get your point about the IPCC calling for conferring to stop? a SOIT is a Sexual Offences Interview Trained officer, who deals with rape and serious sexual assault victims to obtain their statements.

louise - as you said, once adrenaline and the stress response kicks in all the normal rules go out the window, trying to explain that to people who haven't experienced it is the hard thing. As you know a couple of seconds can feel like minutes and you'll remember every tiny detail, but then when you get the parasympathetic crash afterwards you can't remember a thing. Most people have heard of time slowing down in a car crash or a fight, but obviously time doesn't slow down, your brain just accelerates recall just as adrenaline makes muscles stronger for short bursts, but people don't consider others who experience that to be lying. And yet they will about other perceptual distortions that they haven't heard of or experienced themselves like loss of hearing, tunnel vision, inability to count etc.

Metcountymounty said...

rather conveniently, here's a BBC reporters take on the subject -

Mr Justice Underhill, speaking at the High Court, has ruled the Independent Police Complaints Commission's inquiry into the shooting of lawyer Mark Saunders was lawful.

But the case does raise questions about how police evidence at such hearings is prepared.

Some years ago, I was a juror at the trial of a man accused of the attempted theft of a handbag.

A number of male and female police officers were called to give evidence; they had been observing what the defendant had been doing before and after the alleged theft.

The defence barrister had a field day.

When the police officers' accounts differed, he lambasted them for being sloppy and unreliable.

When the officers gave strikingly similar versions of events, he complained that they'd made up their story together - collusion, in other words.

The case illustrates the dilemma at the heart of the issue which Mr Justice Underhill has been hearing.

Controversial

Should officers give their own individual accounts of an incident - and risk providing an incomplete picture?

Or should they confer to give the best picture possible, to assist investigators and prosecutors?

The latter course is the one they have chosen - and it has become established police practice.

In many cases, it is not a problem.

It does become controversial, however, when someone dies in police custody, in a car crash with police, or after being shot by police marksmen.

Then, the idea that police officers, who may end up as key witnesses to murder or manslaughter, or even defendants themselves, should be allowed to pool their notes is seen by some as unfair, raising the suspicion of cover-up, or collusion.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Underhill makes clear that he's uncomfortable with this practice - it's "highly vulnerable", he says, to challenge under human rights laws, that require an effective investigation in such cases.

Guidelines

But the decision as to whether the practice is lawful or not is likely to be left to the Court of Appeal. The judge said it was of such "general importance", it merited their attention.

So, the practice will continue, at least until the appeal judges have ruled on it.

In the meantime, the Association of Chief Police Officers is finalising new guidelines on note-taking, which it hopes will meet the requirements of everyone involved.

That will be an incredibly delicate task.

It may mean some tightening of the rules around joint note-taking - in particular in cases where officers are likely to end up in the dock.

But satisfying all the parties concerned - investigators, families of victims, prosecutors and police - will take some doing.

By Danny Shaw
Home affairs correspondent, BBC News

Metcountymounty said...

A bit more -

An independent inquiry into the killing of a barrister shot dead by police during a five-hour armed siege was lawful, the High Court has ruled.

A judge dismissed a claim by the family of Mark Saunders, 32, that the probe into his death was unlawful.

But the judge did raise questions about the police practice of allowing the officers involved to confer.

The judge granted the Saunders family leave to appeal, possibly in order to address the issue in a higher court.

Mr Saunders died in a stand-off at his flat in Chelsea, west London in May.

BBC crime reporter Ben Ando said Mr Justice Underhill acknowledged that permitting officers to collaborate before they gave their statements meant "the opportunity for collusion is, so to speak, institutionalised".

The judge said the practice was "highly vulnerable" to challenge under the Human Rights Act, but also said that in this case "...prohibiting collaboration would have been likely to hinder rather than promote an effective investigation."

Charlotte Saunders said the balance of power seemed wrong
Mr Saunders' family had said the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC) inquiry was unlawful as the officers were allowed to confer.

The IPCC said it welcomed the High Court's judgement.

"The IPCC agrees with Mr Saunders' family that the way officers currently confer after a fatal shooting does not provide best evidence or secure public confidence and should change," said an IPCC spokesman.

"We differed only on how that change should be achieved."

During the siege Mr Saunders fired at police officers, neighbours and buildings with a legally-owned shotgun from his £2.2m home in Markham Square.

A post-mortem examination revealed that he died from multiple injuries.

His family believes he posed no risk to the public when he was shot, as the area had been evacuated.

Mr Saunders' sister Charlotte said: "I brought these proceedings because I was concerned that the police officers who shot Mark were allowed to confer before giving their accounts to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)."

The police denied the family's central claim that conferring mounted to collusion.

"Conferring is not colluding," said Paul Davis, of the Police Federation.

"To suggest otherwise is as insulting as it is inaccurate and does nothing to reassure members of the public that the police are there to defend and protect them. There is a huge difference between colluding and conferring."

Peter said...

Metcounty@2200

Do you rememebr Stephen Waldorf?

Do you HOMESTLY think that John Jardine and Peter Finch should not have done time for murder?

angrymet said...

I tried to read all of the reasoned arguments but decided it all comes down to one little thing...

We are HONEST, we write our notes together (even if we didn't the bastards (barristers) would still think we were lying) it is only our evidence that is subject to such scrutiny. Will the 'consultation' privacy never be lifted? By which I mean the quiet hour or so that the crim gets with his 'brief' to come up with a convenient story which just so happens to cover all of the defences in law for whaetever he has been locked up for. I doubt it, but then there will never be anyone to challenge it. Our evidence is true, it never used to be doubted, so much for the prestige of an officer in their tunic giving evidence to the bench. They wont even allow us to dress so smartly anymore... I could go on

Metcountymounty said...

Peter, no I was 7 at the time, however a quick google search and I've just had a read up on it.

Should they have done time for murder? No because he wasn't killed...

Then there is the other bit -

"Police officers John Jardine and Peter Finch stood trial for attempted murder and attempted wounding of Waldorf, but were cleared of all charges in October 1983"

A case of mistaken identity from what I can make out, did they intend to kill David Martin? I don't know. quite probably.

Did they intend to kill Stephen Waldorf? No, given they got the ID wrong and didn't know it was the wrong guy because he was sitting in a car with the suspects girlfriend and that he looked very similar (haircut, build, age), that was the grounds of the jury finding them not guilty.

Hindsight is wonderful when you don't have to deal with the incident in the first place. As I said, no police officer has ever been convicted of murder following police use of firearms.

Anonymous said...

metcountymounty:
"The thing with firearms officers and using lethal force is they ARE writing about the involvement of a third party, the suspect, same with a death in custody, it's suspects who die"

When a police officer writes a statement about one individual (who isn't a police officer) assaulting/robbing/raping another individual (who isn't a police officer), it is VERY different than when they are writing a statement about an incident in which they, as a police officer, took another persons' life.

In the first scenario, police officers have nothing to lose or gain by stating what happened. In the second instance, their jobs and livelihoods may be in the balance.

You can't really be saying that there is no difference?

Blue Eyes said...

I was a witness of quite a nasty assault a couple of years back and I was very impressed with the interviewing officer's ability to jog my memory and glean details which I thought I had forgotten. He got me to recount what happened second by second. Shame it never went to court...

Peter said...

Firstly, I find it quite utterlyincredible that serving officers in the Met with years in, who make a special point of being so familiar with the history of the police and law and order, say that they have never heard of the case but let it ride.....

What is far more incredible and highly disturbing to a MOP is your defensive attitude towards attempted murder.

You admit that it was by far and away an iron clad certainty that they intended to kill David Martin .... but not Waldorf because of the mistaken identity.

Waldorf had been shot 14 times and was lying defenceless and motionless on the floor in a pool of his own blood and a, for lack of better words, "police officer" came up to him said:” goodnight cock sucker" and put a gun barrel to his head and pulled the trigger.

All the bullets had been expended.

So he then pistol whipped him until he became unconscious.

Do you still maintain that after 14 bullets, an attempt to shoot him directly in the head from zero range and then a clubbing....... DO YOU STILL maintain that their actions are defensible?

Just because they are police.


If you DO feel that you are capabable of an answer - I'm sure it is not just me who would be fascinated in hearing your reply

Metcountymounty said...

anon 2323 - The allegations of collusion that have been levelled at police officers have extended across the board and all at levels of force and investigations from shoplifters through to Police use of firearms. Just like the comment from anon at a 2338, people think we are lying all the time just to try and fit people up, regardless of the complete lack of evidence.

It's pathetic. It's actually like walking into a hospital and accusing every nurse and doctor of being a murdering lying psychopath just because of Harold Shipman or the very numerous number of doctors and nurses who have been convicted of lying and murder and have been dismissed or sent to prison over the years. It doesn't mean they are all at it by a long shot, and neither are we.

A police officer has to justify ANY use of force from using verbal language or threats to dominate a situation, to laying hands on to detain right through to use of firearms. If we use unjustifiable force at ANY level it can affect our job and livelihood which is why we have to write our own statements to justify it.

Unless there is evidence that the actions may be criminal - and the fact that a death occurs is not sufficient evidence in itself no matter what anyone says - then the statement remains a justification in the use force and should be treated the same as at all other levels.

Peter - I didn't do my initial training with the Met, and given my first two weeks of training school covered diversity and rules and regs and absolutely nothing to do with history then forgive me for not knowing everything about every job ever undertaken by every police officer in the UK.

Anyway... firstly, don't try and twist words to justify an argument, that's just irritating.

"You admit that it was by far and away an iron clad certainty that they intended to kill David Martin .... but not Waldorf because of the mistaken identity."

er, no, I said "A case of mistaken identity from what I can make out, did they intend to kill David Martin? I don't know. quite probably."

secondly, he wasn't shot 14 times. 14 rounds were fired at him, five of which hit him in the head and body.

thirdly, have I maintained that the actions were defensible? no I said "Did they intend to kill Stephen Waldorf? No, given they got the ID wrong and didn't know it was the wrong guy because he was sitting in a car with the suspects girlfriend and that he looked very similar (haircut, build, age), that was the grounds of the jury finding them not guilty"

They were after a man who was wanted for attempting to murder a police officer and they tried to kill the man who they thought was the suspect. The man they shot was the wrong guy and the jury decided that they were not guilty of attempting to murder HIM. They decided that, not me, I was commenting on the facts of the case and the trial result.

This incident happened 25 years ago and triggered significant changes to the police use of firearms and training. Anyone even still in the job now would have been practically brand new when this incident happened and to try and suggest that it still goes on or that it is a likely event to occur is just insulting.

Lots of things happened in the past and lots of mistakes were made, a great many would have been criminal and a lot would have been by corrupt officers but beating the Police now with mistakes made by people who have long since left both the job and this world is ridiculous.

Every incident is unique and every incident MUST be treated on it's own merits and to criticise just because a mistake (possibly a criminal one, even though not convicted) was made 25 years ago doesn't justify treating officers as suspects now when extreme or lethal force is used unless there is evidence to back that suspicion up.

James said...

The assumption seems to be the police are liars and are not to be trusted with anything, it appears we are just itching to kill someone whenever we get the chance. After doing so of course we do love to risk our livelihood and liberty by lying about it all in a statement, sometimes it's just for the thrill, other times it's because we're always cocking things up, especially after lengthy careful planning under the watchful eye of the nations media, hell we just can't stop lying it's in our nature. All these convicted criminals - innocent, we fitted them up, there's no crime really, no nasty violent people we just made it all up to cover our backs because we are the real cause. The Saunders family are right, there was no risk to anybody he was probably only having a laugh, harmless fun, then we turn up and kill him in cold blood, then lie about it. Just imagine the magical utopia Britain would be without the evil, conspiring police. I think we should give the public what they deserve! I say we, the police go ex-directory, let's see who cries first.

TheBinarySurfer said...

It comes down to this MCM. The more red tape they can introduce around police procedure the greater the chance of something going wrong (especially with the overwhelming majority of response officers being junior/probbys) which means a walk-out at trial (or earlier).

Having been in a few very nasty situations in the past (I happened to be the first person to find a (fatal) stabbing victim back in my student days. Nasty and extremely messy) you are completely correct about the adrenaline-stress response.

It prevents psychological trauma in the short term and allows you to continue functioning. Again as you quite correctly surmise it comes back to bite you in the arse unless you talk it through and straighten it out post-incident though. Personally took me 4-5 days to have a decent recall of what actually happened.

Peter said...

MCM you said in your post@22:00 that:

"..murder requires intention to kill.."

Then you went on to admit in your post 23:01 that these guys did "probably" intend to kill the man in the car.

You said that. On Record. And in black and white.

They did not kill him because of their police-trained ineptitude in having hitting fewer than 50% of bullets hit their target.

They DID intend to kill him. No matter what.

They got off on a technicality.

And yet, you STILL try to defend it.


Aren't you really a hypocrite?


Answer please.f you can.

If you dare.

Anonymous said...

James@07:16 - the police are already ex-directory. Try phoning the local cop-shop to report a serious, life-threatening incident, and all you get is a call centre 50 miles away.

And to be blunt, the public perception of the police is that they are a bunch of arse-covering liars.

For the most part, the public are probably correct.

Don't you think?

Metcountymounty said...

Peter - I'm not defending them? yes they probably were trying to kill DAVID MARTIN who was the guy they were after but they didn't, they shot someone else who they didn't mean to kill. I wasn't there and didn't know about it until a couple of nights ago when I read up on it after you asked me about it.

From the information available on the news sites and stories written about it I think it's pretty obvious that they were trying to kill the guy the thought was David Martin but the fact that it wasn't David Martin meant that they didn't intend to kill the wrong person. The jury decided the outcome of the trial, not me.

If they had shot the right person and killed him would they have made up their evidence to justify the kill? possibly yes, possibly no. I don't know the full facts or either of the people involved.

We all know that corruption existed and there are still Police officers occasionally getting nicked for it, but it's not all of us by a long shot. The fact that it has happened in the past DOES NOT mean that every Police shoot or arrest is liable to be by corrupt officers who will sit down and make up their evidence, quite the opposite.

It is not outside the realms of possibility that Police officers have deliberately shot people in the past intending to kill them and then falsifying evidence, but that certainly does not mean that it happens now and like I said earlier you have to treat every incident separately.

anon 2338 - you said "And to be blunt, the public perception of the police is that they are a bunch of arse-covering liars.

For the most part, the public are probably correct"

Why would we lie? we don't control who goes to court anymore, the CPS do.
We don't have any influence on the outcome of a trial, the jury do.
We don't have any influence on the sentence, the judge does.
We don't have any influence on the actual time served, the government issued sentencing guidelines does.

In order to get anyone 'removed' for any substantial length of time to justify the risk involved in lying you would have to falsify enormous amounts of evidence including digital and forensic which is virtually impossible.

It would be considerably simpler to find some local shitbag, drag them into a dark alley and put a brick round their head than it would be to falsify evidence in an attempt to get them convicted of something they haven't done.

Some people are still stupid enough to try and use Police resources to extort money from people, or to pass on info for cash, that is the extent of Police corruption that occasionally occurs nowadays and there are teams of detectives who actively hunt down those stupid enough to consider it.

We don't lie in our statements. There is no point. It won't change the outcome of a trial, its practically bloody impossible to get a conviction now anyway even with irrefutable evidence. If we did lie the other evidence that we have to have in order to even get a charge past the CPS would highlight it at which point we'd get found out, suspended and then most likely charged and convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

We'd be quite frankly, fucked. I don't know anyone stupid enough, or who cares that much about getting a criminal locked up to risk their own and their families lives and wellbeing to try and falsify evidence against them and anyone who did wouldn't stand a chance.

Planet Boy said...

So all the bad stuff about the met boys is a thing of the past is it?

Today's news:

"...A Metropolitan police officer today admitted altering a key document about the events leading to the shooting dead of Jean Charles de Menezes..."

Any comment?

I suppose you wil try to defend this too?

Metcountymounty said...

yep I'll give you the same comment that came out when I read that on the train yesterday -

"jesus, that's not good"

Deleting evidence?? er I think not.

Planet boy said...

... I can almost write in advance what you are going to say.

And no constable, it does NOT prove that the system today works.

Consider: this one was only exposed because the full glare of global media scruitiny was bought to bear upon it.

And they still nearly got away with it

What chance of exposing the petty graft when these - other - met boys fit up low-ranking non media-grabbing cases?


Stephen Lawrence exposed the racism in the Met. Does it still go on?

Get my drift?

Planet boy said...

"jesus that's not good "

Surely, you are not surprised?

Otherwise, the only other logical inference that an objective person can draw from your comment, is that you thought that it was : "not good" because they didn't get away with it, eh?

20-1 said...

Should we instead ensure that private witnesses are made aware of their entitlement to legal advice prior to taking statements and also to delay the taking of said statement?

xtp said...

Bloody hell, buddy - you're getting trolled a lot recently!

Peter and planet boy - Waldorf was a shit and was waiting for Martin when he got shot. No great loss, I'm sure

Metcountymounty said...

planet boy - it was discovered because of the inquest investigation, not because of global media interest. From what I understand he deleted the line because he was not confident that what he had put was accurate in attributing the comment to Commander Dick, that isn't the same as making something up but then I thought that deleting it was a very bad move anyway. Either way it's going to be investigated now by the IPCC.

As for the Macpherson report, have you actually read it? There is no evidence in it, just conjecture and hearsay. There is more evidence that investigation was steered by a corrupt officer, not a racist organisation.

blueknight said...

This is what I read, if it is true that he told the Met Police Solicitor, it sounds less like a cover up.
Owen, a surveillance officer, told the inquest the deleted line claimed Ms Dick had initially said the electrician could "run onto Tube as not carrying anything".
But on Monday he said: "On reflection, I looked at that and thought I cannot actually say that."
Owen said he had spoken about the amendments he made to his notes to a Metropolitan Police solicitor the day after he submitted his evidence, on 8 October this year.

ALETHEIA said...

whilst I can see both sides of the argument, the problem I see is when you see two or three statements, signed on different days which contain cut & paste sections, including spelling mistakes. The worst was a four page statement where only the names had been changed, made weeks apart... obviously that is in the interests of justice, efficiency and all that.

Max said...

MCM,
Mate, I fear you are flogging a dead horse here. Certain posters are reading into this what they want to. Arm chair experts who wouldn't know real life if it came up and bit them. People who have been in life and death scenarios in an official capacity will recognise all of what you are saying. Let them live in their cosy bubbles. Nothing we will say will change their opinion though.They will be straight on the 9's if they need us though.

Blue Lamp said...

I recall Robert Marks's biography - In the Office of Constable - in which he relates the tale of the the solicitor whose alibi for his client was that he was in a Bingo Hall at the time of the crime and produced the vistors book as 'evidence'. He had signed at the bottom of the page. When the police questioned those who had signed the book on either side of him they confirmed that they were all together as a group and no, this chap wasn't with them. The guy who signed at the top of the page clearly recalled turning it over and starting a fresh page after his friend had signed at the bottom of the previous page. So lets not get too excited at the notion that the Police are the only ones that could possibly 'cook' the books.

I have some concern if pages of stuff is being cut and paste (errors and all) from one statement to another. That suggests there isn't much value in any of it at all. But that's more about sloppy supervison by the skipper than it is about collusion.

Black Jaques Le Favre said...

Metcounty, Max, Bluelamp et al ... does the phrase :"double standards" hold any significance for you?

Metcountymounty said...

I suppose that depends on which 'double standard' you're referring to.

We have lots of them in Police work, the main ones being the impossible standard we're held to by people who would never hope or expect to achieve the same themselves, and also the public expectation that we should put everything including our job, welfare and lives on the line to protect people who couldn't give a flying fuck about us normally and who vilify us for making human errors but scream blue murder if we don't get there fast enough when they're in trouble.

I'm very familiar with the phrase thanks, and no, the blue murder irony isn't lost on me either given the context of the post.

Jaques le Favre said...

The double standard such as basic hypocrisy.


Waldorf had it coming and it is OK to get off attempted murder on a arcane legal technicality .... if you are a police officer.

The basic double standard here that you do not say anything about the Menzes unless poked with a stick - and then you are apologising and making excuses .

I was actually in a hotel in on the south coast of Kent last December and there was another conference of Firearms officers there at the same time.

I was.... Underwhelmed

A bunch of inadequate posturing, weedy little Officer Tackleberry twerps. The sort who were probably bullied at school. They swaggered and bragged to compensate for their inadequacies as they (mostly failed) in chatting up the "mature" ladies from third conference there of Saga Holiday reps.

They were jokes, psychologically flawed the lot of them. Not exactly geniuses either.

And these are the wretches with the guns on our streets. The ones you are so keen to defend

Metcountymounty said...

"Waldorf had it coming and it is OK to get off attempted murder on a arcane legal technicality .... if you are a police officer"

do you think that this was the one and only time in the history of the British legal system that someone has got off the charge because of a technicality? Police officer or not, being acquitted on a charge because of a legal technicality it has happened thousands if not tens of thousands of times before and will continue to do so. Doe this make it right? I've already made my position clear on the post about the difference between innocent and not guilty.

Again, de Menezes inquest, I said I thought it wrong deleting the line in the officers evidence but he consulted a solicitor and the incident is going to be investigated.

And then your last bit, everyone slags off the hard men because they think they are so beneath them... until they need them.

Grow up.

loveinvienna said...

Heck, I arrive to leave you my first comment and I appeared to have walked into the middle of the "Internet Troll Convention 2008".

Get a life you lot, let the coppers do what they do best - keep YOU arrogant, self-centred whingers safe. The majority of you seem to think coppers are useless idiots in fancy hats who carry CS gas and Asps around because 'it's fun'. Let's put you in the utility belt and stab vest and put you out at 3am on a Saturday night in the freezing cold when the clubs are emptying... see if your arm-chair policing on here actually has any effect whatsoever on the drunken lout or loutess (sic) whose general response to you will be 'Get away from me, you fucking fiwth' and 'Leev' it Gary, it ain't wurf it!'

MCM - been seeing you posting on a lot of other blogs, thought I'd shimmy on down here and see what it's all about. Might not agree with your opinions on certain things all the time, but don't worry... i'm big enough and 'ard enough to deal with that. Unlike some people.

Liv xxx

Blue Lamp said...

To Jaques le Favre at 09:51

Nope

TheBinarySurfer said...

MCM - do yourself a favour just delete trolling comments. Never argue with an idiot - they just drag you down to their level and win via experience.

TWINING said...

I am afraid both you and I are getting a good kick in on my blog

loveinvienna said...

Twining - got to remember there are some decent people out there who support the work you do (just have to look for them!)

Idiots, all of them, and they always will be. Strangely, they seem to be proud of that fact.

Liv xxx

Marjorie said...

Thank you - I found this interesting and it did make me think the issue was less black and white that it has sometimes been presented. I note that you are talking about the normal situation, not only wheer there has been a death, and what you say makes a lot of sence in that context.

However, I do still feel that in cases where the police officers are making statements about a death which has been (actually or potentially) caused by their own actions, there is a strong argunament to say that statemetns hould be formally taken. This is not because 'all coppers are lyin bastards' - I'm sure the overwhelming majority are not ;-) but (a) in order to give the officers some protection from people who asume that discussiob = collusion & cover up (b) To protect the honest majorty of officers from the minority who may seek to encourange/pressurise others to "correct" their statements to protect an officer who may have been negligent (c) to give the public, and the families of the person who has died, confidence that there has been no cover up.

I agree that the extra time etc mens that this is unliekly to be practical on a day to day basis, but I do think that the sistuation is different where the issue incident includes a death and that death has been or may have been caused by a police officer.

Metcountymounty said...

Marjorie, I'm just about to finish a post specifically about firearms incidents which I hope you find interesting, I certainly did when I read about the study.

The main problem we will always face, even if the scientific research shows that being able to confer is the best method of getting accurate evidence, is people still saying we're making it up or covering our arses, especially if they haven't got a clue.

Anonymous said...

Having seen so many responses,sorry if this has already been said. YES, stop firearms officers from conferring whilst making notes.The outcome should be,The first AFO to be convicted whilst trying to do his job to the best of his ability. No more AFO's because no body will want to carry a firearm.Then the IPCC and the rest of the vocal minority can start to focus on unarmed officers,then once we have got rid of them, Hmmm d'oh