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Friday, April 09, 2010

Public Interest, Victim Disinterest

Oops, this post didn't post when I thought it did. Never mind, here it is anyway.

2nd April:

PS Delroy Smellie has been cleared of assault by a District Judge. Reading the DJ's comments, she clearly accepts that small snippets of CCTV do not always give an accurate picture, and finds the sergeant's evidence compelling.

I was also interested to see that Nicola Fisher, the victim, did not show up at the trial either to watch or give evidence. Apparently she was depressed. In the past couple of years, I've been called to court 15-20 times and in a good 50% of cases, the victim has not shown up. In 100% of those cases where the victim has not appeared, the case has been discontinued - not by the court but by the prosecution. That includes cases where the victim has been in hospital, in prison, just had a baby, and high risk domestic cases where she/he is just too scared to come. And one case where no one had told the victim the court date until the day before and she was abroad. The prosecution lawyer argues, well if we try to prosecute too many cases without a victim, the courts won't take us seriously when we really mean it.

Fair enough. However, in cases where the victim doesn't appear by their own choice, they are usually relieved when the case is dropped or defendant acquitted. They are not normally "very disappointed" and blame it all on police corruption (indirectly: "He is a police officer, she is a protestor..."). Ms Fisher had unrealistic expectations if she really thought the police officer would be convicted without her crucial victim evidence. Then again, reports I've read state she did not show up because she was worried her background - whatever it is - would be brought up on the stand.

Her background did not stop her selling her story to the tabloids for £26,000. Which in most trials would prompt the swift binning of the whole prosecution on the argument that nobody could possibly try it fairly.

As usual, a raft of Guardian commentators have denounced the acquittal as a sure sign of police corruption. When in actual fact, as with most cases reported in the media, unless you sit through the trial and have access to the same evidence as the judge/jury, you can never really make an informed decision.


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15 Comments:

Anonymous Lance Manley said...

I have sent Smellie a copy of Stab Proof Scarecrows.

Anyone with half a brain could see that what he did was proportionate.

As you've said, in most cases this would have been dropped a long time ago.

However, for all you conspiracy theorists out there...

I spoke to a Superintendent in London recently who said that he believed that the case was being taken to such lengths in order to prove to both the public and to cops that they force Sgt Smellie used was fair and justified and the only way they could prove this was to get him acquitted in a a court.

I live in Italy. Try what Fischer did on the Carabinieri and you will get more than a bang on the leg and a Clearance Strike.

10 April, 2010 09:07

 
Blogger Big Fella in Blue said...

Typical,but I suppose she had already won her case. She had money from the rags and tv exposure showing off her unjust injury from a brutal over the top officer of the MET. The case was always a joke, you could clearly see she wasnt backing off when asked and then told. Shes lucky this happened in the UK. A european, no actually any other cop force in the world would not have given her so many chances to back away - she would have been hit with a rather larger stick causing a lot more injury, water cannon, tear gas etc etc
Im just glad its over for him, wonder what his PSD did next????

10 April, 2010 11:56

 
Blogger Bystander said...

I accept the DJ's findings, based as they are on the law of self-defence and the Crown's duty to disprove it beyond reasonable doubt. The DJ concerned is the Deputy Chief Magistrate and knows what she is doing.

Just one thing though - why did Sgt Smellie cover up his shoulder numbers in clear breach of the Met's regulations?

10 April, 2010 22:42

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, Bloggsy.

Fisher should be prosecuted for - if not wasting POLICE time - then wasting the PUBLIC's time (and money).

11 April, 2010 16:09

 
Blogger Bystander said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12 April, 2010 08:44

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Half the PCs in Blandmore might well be accused of covering up their shoulder numbers. They might be wearing their shirt epaulettes, so have removed their stabbie ones as uncomfortable to have two sets, but the stabbie then covers up the shirt ones. Or they might have had their stabbie on and taken it off but forgotten to put their shirt ones back on. Or they have only one set of hi-vis ones and left them on their heavyweight jacket whilst going out in their light one. Or they are wearing a baton/cuff-holder that goes on like a jacket which tends to cover up the epaulettes. So I've no idea why Sgt Smellie had his covered, but it might not have been intentional. Then again, maybe it was.

12 April, 2010 10:14

 
Blogger Bystander said...

If you look at the numerous photos and vids of the day you can see that Smellie and many others had covered their numbers with grey fabric. That's bad enough for a PC, but inexcusable for a Sergeant.

12 April, 2010 10:21

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

I can't say I've studied the photos, so will take your word for it. It is bizarre if so many did it - suggests an organised act especially if they all had the same grey fabric! Assuming it's something sinister is another matter, however.

12 April, 2010 13:20

 
Anonymous NottsSarge said...

I have noticed that my bosses are suddenly very hot on numbers being displayed at all times, particularly at public order jobs. Unfortunately, they have arrived rather late at the conclusion that the way to do this is to have embroidered epaulettes rather than metal numbers which attach (sometimes) with pins. Having taken the drastic step of authorising embroidery, they are now putting the officers' names on them as well. I thought I was only required to supply my number as a means of identification, especially in these days of international terrorism. Displaying numbers is fine and I totally agree with it, names are another matter.

I suspect you are right, Lance - the Police get to show they aren't afraid to be held accountable, CPS get to show they are prepared to take cops to court, then the whole thing collapses because it was a nonsense from the start. All at public expense, too. Guess what, people, the Police CAN tell you what to do, and they CAN use force to back it up. It's just cost thousands to make the point...

12 April, 2010 18:11

 
Blogger Metcountymounty said...

Bystander, the grey/silver/White flashes worn over the epaulettes are rank denotions for a PSU, they indicate at quick glance that he is a serial Sgt. The flashes slide over the epaulettes, every rank above Sgt has them (albeit different colours) and because his unit ID is on his lid it's irrelevent really. Inspectors, Chief Inspectors and Superintendents all work operationally in public order and have rank flashes but no shoulder numbers.

12 April, 2010 19:33

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NottsSarge said...Guess what, people, the police CAN tell you what to do, and they CAN use force to back it up. It's just cost thousands to make the point...

I'm pretty sure that the public knew already that the police CAN and DO use force to "control" people, including their own officers on occasions, depending upon the pecking order and the agenda. No conspiracy theories, just experience, fact and reality.

All the fuss in the media and from a great many of the public was because they held the opinion that the Met police were out of control.
The outcry was caused by the images of the backhanded swipe across Ms Fisher's face, which looked rather brutal, even though she had been told to back off.

Had the officer been charged with the swipe across her face, which would have provoked a lot of anger in Ms Fisher and the crowd, I wonder what the outcome would have been. It was no surprise to me that she didn't turn up at court for the hearing, to face an onslaught of abuse via character assassination by the defence. Her "lifestyle" had very little to do with what happened at the protest.

The officer was charged with the baton strike to her leg, which left a visable bruise, but was a lawful action as a part of the officer's job. No surprise then that it would be a "Not Guilty" verdict.

It was a PR exercise by the Met, to "prove a point"....that they do play by the rules, and that they are not biased in any way....which isn't actually the truth, when it comes to cerain people, top brass and hidden agendas.

Sgt Smellie was offered up for media and public satisfaction, in a perverse and twisted manner, to ALSO "prove" to the public that the "bosses" were right and justified in their treatment of Ali Dizaei. Very cunning.

The motive for all this is actually quite dark and sinister. It involves political interference in police matters and a huge cover up of very serious matters, and of vital Intel held by MI5 and the Met. But people will believe what they find it convenient to believe, always did, always will.

13 April, 2010 02:12

 
Anonymous Mac said...

Our force issues the coloured epaulettes together with shoulder number (we went embroidered a long time ago). More recently we started putting inch high shoulder numbers across the front of our helmets.

As someone who has to deal with a lot of complaints it always bugs me when officers refuse to give shoulder numbers. I've lost count of the number of frivolous complaints I have investigated and decided were unsubstantiated, but had to concede the refusal to provide number.

On a separate note, what was it about Fishers lifestyle that she didn't want disclosed in court, that she hadn't already sold for £26,000 Could there be some relevant undisclosed previous convictions??

13 April, 2010 15:57

 
Anonymous Serpico said...

NottsSarge, your description about Identification numbers is spot on. The Peelian Principals state that every police officer should be issued a badge number, to assure accountability for his actions.
I for one will not wear epaulettes with my name attached to it. I always wear my number and I feel that it is wrong for any police officer regardless of rank to disguise or fail to display theirs.

13 April, 2010 18:57

 
Blogger Bill Sticker said...

What did she expect? Courts need credible evidence for conviction. Fripperies like credible witnesses and corroborating observations. Just running to the Grauniad and claiming a 'fit up' when you couldn't be bothered to turn up for your day in court has to be a rather big own goal.

14 April, 2010 03:42

 
Blogger phatboy said...

I'm surprised to hear you say that whereever you are the CPS drop 100% of cases where the complainant fails to attend.

The CPS nationwide have a policy of prosecuting certain offences, especially domestic violence, almost regardless of the views/wishes of the victim. They should also continue to prosecute any offence where there is a reasonable prospect of success without the victim's evidence.

Where I work, it is quite unusual for the CPS to drop a case because the victim fails to attend. In fact, one trial (a NON-domestic assault) I did the victim refused to show up so the CPS had him witness summonsed and then a warrant issued for him (twice - at the first trial and re-trial!). He did give evidence in both trials in the end.

15 April, 2010 15:15

 

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