This is the official blog of ex-Sgt Ellie Bloggs. I was a real live police constable then sergeant for twelve years, on the real live front line of England. I'm now a real live non-police person. All the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't (or didn't) pay my salary.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Dial Embassy For Murder

Amid the terrible breaking news story of Derrick Bird apparently going on a crazed shooting spree in Cumbria, the BBC chose to give several minutes' coverage to the tale of Edmond Arapi, wanted for murder in Italy.

Poor old Edmond was convicted in his absence in 2006 and now states the murderer "couldn't have been him" because he signed a receipt in a cafe in Staffordshire on the day. Which is evidence the Italian courts could probably have done with in 2004, and isn't a great deal of use to them now (continuity might be a small issue). His defence also argue that Mr Arapi couldn't leave England at that time "due to his immigration status". He now appears conveniently married to a British woman. Finally, there was no "forensic evidence", therefore clearly Mr Arapi COULDN'T have been the offender.

As with the cases of Andrew Symeou or Gary McKinnon, the British media are always on hand to defend those due to stand trial abroad, regardless of the likelihood of a pretty fair trial in the country concerned, or the weight of evidence against them. Of course, when foreigners are accused of killing Brits in the self-same countries, our stance is quite different.

I am sure that miscarriages of justice occur in other European countries and the US as frequently as they do here. But if we expect those countries to send criminals back to us to stand trial for crimes on British soil, the least we can do is return the favour.

I did wonder today, reading this story and the one of the shootings in Cumbria, just where the line should be drawn on press coverage. The Daily Mail seems to have put together an entire time-line and reconstruction of Derrick Bird's rampage, less than an hour after his body was found. And within minutes, eyewitnesses were spilling their stories to live television.

This is all natural, spontaneous reportage, but it does involve broadcasting the free recollections of witnesses who have not been
interviewed cognitively in line with procedures for major crimes. It therefore leaves the door wide open for the defendants in such cases - should they be brought to trial and not found dead - to question the accuracy when witness statements are finally taken.

It also makes for somewhat melodramatic news
coverage, such as when the in-studio reporter throws to "a live eyewitness" who adds the vital information: "I was nowhere near the scene, heard and saw nothing, but I was terrified!"

According to the Beeb, a police officer raced towards the gunman. When he fired again and made off in a Citroen Picasso, the bobby flagged down a nearby car, dived into it and ordered the driver to give chase.

But far more importantly, WHY aren't those officers all wearing their hats?

'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course in true Police style you fail to mention that Arapi was put on trial without his knowledge, not just in his absence. The same was true of an apeal in this case. All without his knowledge, not that he absconded to avoid justice. Still, don't let the facts (as reported by BBC R4 Today Programme) get in the way of a good blog post eh?

02 June, 2010 17:04

Anonymous Anonymous said...

and they look so aggressive in the new black shirts......... yada yada yada

02 June, 2010 17:22

Blogger John R said...

Surely it's well past time for the citizenry to be armed?

All the gun laws have done is ensure the bad guys and crazies have all the weapons. The public are just like so many ducks in a fairground shooting gallery.

02 June, 2010 17:55

Blogger Conor said...

Since when can a policeman commandeer a car and order the driver to put his life at risk by chasing a gunman?
In this day and age, how can anyone have that much fire-power?

02 June, 2010 18:04

Anonymous Mr T said...

Come on Bloggsy. He can't have a fair trial, the verdict has already been pronounced and he was convicted SOLELY on a piece of hearsay where a distant family member told the court that they overheard him confess to the killing.

Is that enought to bang someone up for 16 years? Wouldn't even get to court in this country.

I'm usually a big fan of your blog and agree with most of what you write but not this time.

02 June, 2010 19:11

Blogger TonyF said...

Ah, but papers only exist to sell papers. They don't give a stuff about evidence, or fairness, or any of that malarky. Just make money at anyone's expense.

02 June, 2010 19:25

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

He SAYS he had no idea he was on trial. I don't believe that.
If he knew, he should have gone and defended himself.

Either way, the media is awfully quick to rise to the defence of someone on their say-so.

And Conor, no one can force someone to drive after a gunman and risk his life, but how do you know he wasn't happy to?

02 June, 2010 21:02

Blogger Conor said...

i don't, and I haven't found that BBC report.But "he bobby flagged down a nearby car, dived into it and ordered the driver to give chase" doesn't suggest the driver had the chance to give informed consent. Was he told he was following an armed man? Perhaps he was, but the word "ordered" grated on me.
You can add Gary Mann to your list. "Gary" or the initials "GM" do seem to expose you to the risk of extradition for some reason.

02 June, 2010 22:08

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with other comments regarding Arapi and the trail. Even the Italians said he was not informed as they did not know his location. I have no problem with someone facing extradition for there trail. But to hold not 1 but 2 trails without them present.

And I am sure you love to arest certain people and watch them go to prison because of a phone call between 2 people.

03 June, 2010 13:32

Blogger Hogday said...

I'd bet they'd wear ballistic helmets if they were handed out.

03 June, 2010 16:06

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goodness me, with comments like that you are either feeling grumpy today or are a Chief Constable. But then you might consider me grumpy, or worse, when I say that I do not see Chief Constables being on the side of the law abiding citizen.

The politicians should start representing the people of this country. The Judiciary MUST have powers to examine the facts all extraditon requests and arrive at a decision founded on our concept of justice. Simple really!

03 June, 2010 17:26

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Italians admit they got the wrong man.

As an ex-officer, currently very disillusioned with the police, seeing the comments of yourself and IG (two bloggers I normally respect) above, I think that it would do you both credit to perhaps gracefully withdraw them. The arrogance of some offices who think that they can never be wrong is one of the problems that the service has. I would hope that it does not tarnish you two.

15 June, 2010 17:33


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