This is the official blog of Sgt Ellie Bloggs, a real live police sergeant on the front line of England. It's not the official opinion of my police force, but 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 pay my salary.


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Friday, July 20, 2012

PC Simon Harwood - Not Guilty

PC Harwood has been found not guilty of manslaughter.  The solicitor for the family of Ian Tomlinson has promised they will pursue a civil remedy following the verdict.

There does seem to be a strange dichotomy between the inquest verdict and the court verdict.  If Tomlinson was unlawfully killed, and PC Harwood was the one to use force on him, then how can this verdict be right?

However, this isn't the full story.  Jean-Charles de Menezes is a good example.  He was unlawfully killed, because he was not a suicide bomber, and was shot dead due to mistaken identity. However, the individual officers who shot him were acting in good faith, and believed they were saving lives by their actions.  The Met was found guilty of breaching Health and Safety, which is the only justice his family will ever see.

Likewise an inquest can conclude that Ian Tomlinson was not participating in the riot, and did not deserve police force to be used on him.  But through the eyes of an officer policing that riot, who believes he used proportionate force in accordance with his powers, this may still not amount to an assault.  If there's no assault, there can be no manslaughter in these circumstances.

Much has been made of PC Harwood being the subject of - shock horror - TEN disciplinary proceedings in twelve years.  However only one of these is actually disclosed as relating to violence, and that is the only one where there is a suggestion he would have been found guilty of misconduct at the time.  Delving deeper into that case, he was not accused of assault but of unlawful arrest and "discreditable conduct".  Maybe he flashed his warrant card when off-duty, or something.  Hardly comparable to batoning someone to death. The way the disciplinary proceedings in 2001 were side-stepped needs looking at, but it doesn't make him a murderer.

As for the other nine "disciplinary complaints" - whatever that means - I'm sorry to disclose to readers than I can beat PC Harwood's record.  As a front-line response officer I receive a couple of complaints a year, about a range of matters such as arresting people illegally, being uncivil, handcuffing people incorrectly, losing/stealing people's property, knocking on doors at inappropriate hours, the list goes on.  Not one of these matters has seen me placed before a misconduct panel.  Either I'm sleeping with the head of Professional Standards, or I haven't done a lot wrong.

The fact is, if you are policing robustly, you will get complaints.  The occasional one will be substantiated - hopefully more along the lines of swearing at someone in annoyance than using lethal force unlawfully. The police blogging community has rallied around PC Simon Harwood because regardless of the facts of this particular case, any one of us could find ourselves in a similar position.

In any event, I don't think the Ian Tomlinson case has quite run its course.  Watch this space for the result of the appeal of the appeal of the appeal.

 


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50 Comments:

Blogger Ron Broxted said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

20 July, 2012 11:18

 
Blogger Hogdayafternoon said...

"If Tomlinson was unlawfully killed, and PC Harwood was the one to use force on him, then how can this verdict be right?"

One must presume that the `twelve good persons and true` were thoroughly briefed on `malice aforethought, mens rea, intention to kill` and actually understood it.

However, no `manslaughter` verdict is, I agree, rather more sketchy. Time to dust off my old law books, perhaps.

20 July, 2012 11:26

 
Blogger Hogdayafternoon said...

however, "because regardless of the facts of this particular case, any one of us could find ourselves in a similar position".
You're right and I have been in such positions. I have struck people, bloody hard, in order to defend myself and others around me, I have struck people to bring them down because they were running away from me to avoid arrest, but I have never, ever struck anyone walking away from me and 10+ of my colleagues, as appeared in that video. It is that action and the tragic, disproportionate result, that will ultimately be the judge and jury in the awful death of Mr Tomlinson.

20 July, 2012 11:38

 
Anonymous Marc said...

I do wonder how people can call this country a police state!! North Korea is a plice state, Syria is a police state, Britain is not.

20 July, 2012 14:08

 
Anonymous Rufus said...

The Firearms Officers who shot De Menezes had duff information, which strikes me (as a not biased and not insane observer) more as a tragic mistake than an act of malice.
But you do need to bear in mind that going on the information that they had they were the ones who were running into a train carriage that they thought had a suicide bomber in it.
In their shoes which way would you be running?

20 July, 2012 16:52

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

awhen I have supervised critical operations with men under stress we were always on look out for one not acting safely. If so then they were completely withdrawn from operation and /or rested. This was both to protect ourselves and men.

Was there not a sergeant and / or an Inspector in charge!

If not why not and if so why did they not do their jobs?

Disgusted Grange over Sands

20 July, 2012 17:12

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

20 July, 2012 17:13

 
Anonymous anonymous said...

"You police by consent. For my part, consider the consent withdrawn."

I'm not sure busy officers have the time to check, Anonymous.

I for one support the court's verdict. It was never manslaughter, just a tragic accident. Perhaps this is a symptom of our "compensation culture" (blame the lawyers)?

And as Bloggsy correctly points out, most decent coppers collect ALLEGATIONS (my capitals) of misconduct and violence like a car windscreen collects dead flies. It doesn't make any of them true.

20 July, 2012 20:30

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'decent coppers' - what rubbish.

No such thing.

There is little to separate the average met officer from the average criminal. Except the latter is likely to be more honest.

It is funny that the police suddenly get all uppity about the fact that they were only 'allegations'. Wonder if they give the same benefit of doubt to suspects.

Scum. Pure Scum. The lot of you.

20 July, 2012 20:39

 
Anonymous DB said...

As my niece says: "Myeh - whatever." You withdraw your consent, post your tripe on blogs, keep up the good work, whatever.
Raise your hands to me and you'll still hit the deck. I'll still call you 'Sir' and still not mean it. I'll still be polite, because I'm still (just about) paid enough to put up with your bad breath.
I'll still turn up to your house when I have to - or when you need me.
Your taxes pay my wages, Ron. Thanks for that.

20 July, 2012 21:03

 
Anonymous painauchocolat said...

"Anonymous" claims there is no such thing as "decent coppers". I'm sure the family of PC Ian Dibell would disagree : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-18831263

20 July, 2012 21:23

 
Blogger jerym said...

My god bloggsie you do attract the fruit and nuts.Leave them there we need a laugh in these difficult times

20 July, 2012 23:41

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fruit and Nuts some of them may be, however it was a NEW MOON on Thursday, not a full one!

21 July, 2012 00:45

 
Blogger Kimpatsu said...

"However, the individual officers who shot him were acting in good faith, and believed they were saving lives by their actions."
Then they were incompetent, and should not be police officers. If you are going to allow a good faith defence, you are going to have to acquit the 100s who are convicted of petty motoring offences up to assault each week, in a country that does not recognise a robust right to self-defence.
"The police blogging community has rallied around PC Simon Harwood because regardless of the facts of this particular case, any one of us could find ourselves in a similar position."
And there it is: the omerta of the thin blue line. Sod justice, so long as we back each other up no matter what any of us were doing that was morally wrong. No wonder trust in the police has evaporated.

21 July, 2012 02:07

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly Kimpatsu.

One comment even said that he'd 'done the same' as Harwood in that he'd hit someone in order to defend himself and people around him. LOOK AT THE VIDEO! There was no self-defence going on. Tomlinson was no risk - a police colleague even testified to this effect.

The fact is the police come in three sorts. Corrupt, aggressive and those who cover and defend the corrupt and agressive ones (i.e. the cowards).

The one thing we can safely say now is that it is no longer a 'respectable' profession (if it ever was). It is a profession for pondlife. And one thing that will come out of this (as well as the current racism cases) is that more and more people will start to record to the police in action (camera phones with recording devices are very useful). The police (particularly the met) are simply not to be trusted.

The one comfort for the Tomlinson family is that they know what happened. And they know the police and IPCC lied in the initial days after they deaths (the IPCC making up a preposterous scenario that it was possible the antagonist was a protestor in police uniform).

21 July, 2012 07:02

 
Anonymous MTG said...

Let us rein in our total condemnations. It cannot be disputed that molecules of pure water leach into a poisoned well. In the same way, the principal assertion of most police bloggers that not all police can be completely cowardly, corrupt and toxic; is just as true.

21 July, 2012 07:29

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Translate please Melvin.

21 July, 2012 09:12

 
Anonymous PJW1 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

21 July, 2012 09:43

 
Anonymous PJW1 said...

DB 21:03, 20 July. Nice one. You've just summed up whats wrong with the type of people we have in the police in this country. Thuggery, gratuitous violence, apathy and behaving like little girls.

21 July, 2012 09:57

 
Blogger Ron Broxted said...

Be honest, you are just there for the rich. Stop using the Dibell/Rathband line it is tired and cliched. Latest spin on plod blogs is that Tomlinson was "walking away in an aggresive manner and taking the piss". Now just get MOPs to swallow that horsehit.

21 July, 2012 10:23

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

"Thuggery, gratuitous violence, apathy and behaving like little girls."

That did make me laugh. Obviously your experience of some quite terrifying little girls has scarred you.

As for the comment about "good faith" not being acceptable, the comparison with motorists is not really a good one. Everyone who speeds does so deliberately knowing it's wrong - myself included. If we're caught, we don't have a lot to say. The point about assault is that good faith IS considered a defence, because if that were taken away then we would be a country where you were not allowed to use force to defend yourselves or others.

Reference the other allegations of assault by PC Harwood - I have taken them down as if untrue I'm accountable for the content of the blog. If someone can point me towards where this is substantiated I'll put them back up.

21 July, 2012 11:42

 
Anonymous PJW1 said...

HA HA. Now Bloggs herself has turned to trolling. Not to mention removing valid posts that she finds it difficult to argue for BS reasons.

21 July, 2012 12:20

 
Anonymous NottsSarge said...

It may be news to some that complaints against Police Officers which make it to the investigation stage (as opposed to 'the officer hasn't called me back/returned my property/ate a Mars Bar in public view' type) always remain on file, regardless of the outcome. While some officers may feel aggreived at this, it helps to identify patterns of behaviour. IF PC Harwood has a history of incivility, aggressive or oppresive behaviour and use of excessive force, it will all be there as part of the disciplinary investigation which can now take place.

I don't have a great deal of sympathy for PC Harwood in this case, but that doesn't mean he was directly responsible for the death of Ian Tomlinson, and that verdict has been reached independantly. It's not a case of closing ranks, I fully expect him to get fizzed and sacked when he is investigated (by the Police) for disciplinary matters, judged by the Civil burden of proof.

21 July, 2012 12:24

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want substantiation? Or is PC Harwood's record just a little to inconvenient for you?

Here you go:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2175957/G20-death-trial-PC-Simon-Harwood-guilty-manslaughter-Ian-Tomlinson.html

Move down to 'Diary of a Rogue Officer'.

That you can explain away these incidents as something you all do is disgusting.

Shame on you.


The allegation of racial abuse and threat of arson

21 July, 2012 14:55

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes quote the Daily Mail,they are reliable and fair-minded towards the police aren't they?
I'm sure MTG doubles up as their editor!
Jaded

21 July, 2012 15:27

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All you have to do is look at every newspaper which reprints the allegations.

Are you saying the Daily Mail is libelling the police? As for being 'fair' to police officers, it is usually obsequious in its adoration for the police. It is certainly not The Guardian!

Fact is, one of the alleged offences committed by Harwood involved a 14 year old girl. And we have police officers here saying they've done 'the same things'.

I'm unsurprised of course. I never believed the 'one bad apple' argument. You are all vile.

21 July, 2012 16:24

 
Blogger Joker said...

Clearly, Tomlinson was aggressively walking away from the police. Good kill, as the Yanks say.

What were the medical grounds on which Harwood retired from the Met? Did he make a miraculous recovery, once a prosecution for what he'd been reported over ceased to loom over him?

21 July, 2012 17:35

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obsequious to the police! With that one phrase you have lost the argument i'm afraid.It's more anti than any of the lefty scum papers.
PS YOU are all vile.Not sure who you are but you are vile.I like making sweeping generalisations.
Jaded.

21 July, 2012 21:12

 
Anonymous DB said...

Frankly I'm not going to get myself steamed up about Ron or anyone else. It's so much white noise and won't alter the way I police for two seconds. Nor will PC Harwood's trial. And acquittal.
So long as my actions go to PLAN no-one can tell me different.
In the last fortnight I've arrested (amongst others) a racist thug, 2x fraudsters, a violent female who assaulted a child, drug dealers and takers and seized vehicles from drivers with no insurance.
Better, really, that I do my job - you're not going to, are you?

21 July, 2012 21:53

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DB - sounds to me like you've arrested half of Scotland Yard.

21 July, 2012 22:20

 
Anonymous DB said...

Arf!

21 July, 2012 22:50

 
Anonymous PJW1 said...

Anon 16:24. You're right. I used to respect and trust the police, but over over the past few years I've seen so much bad behaviour/racism/corruption from so many of them in the media/internet/this blogg. It has reached the point now where I firmly believe that there is not one copper in this country who gets out of bed and goes to work because they want to protect their community, the innocent and lock up dangerous poeple. Its more about sticking with their own gang, right or wrong and obeying the omerta of the thin blue line.

If one of the "unwashed" raises a concern, the cynicsm, sarcasm and insults start flying without one moment of empathy and calm explanation. As we have witnessed on this site for several years now.

What I find most frustrating is the protection that thug officers are afforded by the system. They do not hesitate to lie for one another. Even commit perjury in court, as we have witnessed.

The IPCC is just a smokescreen. 95% of complaints made to them are directed on to the Professional Standards Dept of the relevant force. Which means that we are back to one copper investigating their own force
and possibly former colleagues. How many times does it have to be prooven that the police cannot police themselves.

Hopefully in time things will change. Vetting procedure's will become more stringent. It will become more difficult for rouge officers to sidesteps disciplinaries. Professional Standards Dept's will be done away with and replaced by a truly independant body.
To make this happen we need to bang on the doors of the IPCC (for what they're worth), European courts of human rights, but above all the government, local MP's etc. You're the electorate, make the powers that be listen.

Then DB won't have to arrest so many of his fellow gang - members, sorry, colleagues.

I wonder how long it will be before Bloggs deletes this post. Any takers....

22 July, 2012 09:14

 
Blogger Kaela said...

I am willing to bet, that if the original assault had not been photographed, and launched into the public domain, this entire story would have been a non-starter.

Truth is, Harwood has been judged by the media. Right or wrong, it should have been up to his peers at the time of the incident to meter out just punishment or reward, not up to the headline grabbing media.

22 July, 2012 09:24

 
Anonymous PJW1 said...

Come on Bloggs, I've checked out the link to the Daily Mail and the allegations are substantiated there. As well as in every other major newspaper last week. Not to mention Sky news, BBC news24. Thats the legality sorted. So, in the interests of fairness please re-post my post. It was not abusive or offensive. Maybe just a little inconvenient if you happen to be police officer. I think that you are in them and us mode and behaving very cynically.

22 July, 2012 11:27

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pjw1, if you are judging the police by in your words - what you read on the internet - then I would suggest you get out more.
If I judged the public on the contents of "comment is free" posts in the Grauniad then I probably wouldn't bother coming to work.
Luckily real life isn't the same as the internet.

Tang0

(For what it's worth my impression of Harwood is that he might well be an arse and I don't think I would particularly like to work with him, but as a cop with knowledge of the complaints system I would reserve judgement on an allegation unless or until it is proved.
Still hopefully with this backlash we won't have any more objections to bringing up actual convictions when we are trying to prosecute the prolific scrotes we actually spend most of our time dealing with)

22 July, 2012 12:08

 
Anonymous MTG said...

Good afternoon Tnago,

A few years ago, on this and the more notorious Gadget blog, I made the prediction that such law and order as existed in the UK, would suddenly disappear without any forewarning.

This prediction was derived from a number of performance parameters, including a corrupt and ineffective state of UK policing and its multi-tier response system, the economy itself and generalised perceptions of Injustice and Inequality.

I predicted that this breakdown would be triggered by police themselves and quickly spiral into rioting and looting before approaching the tipping point when a substantial number of police were indiscriminate casualties of baying crowds.

The Harwood trial and verdict has done nothing to distance the Country from that prediction. The greatest change to witness is the mood of police themselves, who like sheep, lose their bleats upon the approach of the abattoir gates. It is interesting to contrast your present mood with an earlier enthusiasm for foul-mouthed derision of friendly citizen advice.

22 July, 2012 12:36

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I have next weeks lottery numbers Melvin as you are so good at predictions?
Here's a prediction from me.Your future posts will be anti-police,not understandable,pompous and patronising.Do I win £5?
Jaded

22 July, 2012 13:19

 
Anonymous PJW1 said...

Anon 12:08. My point exactly. You've taken one word I typed and used it to take my whole argument out of context. I also mentioned other types of media that I use to judge the police and the views and accounts of many mop and police officers which I also use in forming opinions. You should try it. It makes all the difference between being able to offer an informed argument and trolling.

22 July, 2012 15:01

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pjw1,
I had a look at the link you referred to you.
you do understand what "substantiated" means don't you?
An allegation is an allegation. The Daily Mail repeating it does not "substantiate" it.

For what little it might be worth I would only reiterate - from what I've seen, including the unsubstantiated allegations, I get the impression that Harwood should not have been in the cops - and the story of his medical retirement and rejoining appears to be an appalling lapse in vetting/selection.

But -if you are going to lynch someone on the basis solely of an allegation, then you have to understand that due to the nature of our job complaints are inevitable. We deal with prolific offenders and violent criminals and sometimes we use force to arrest them.
In the CJS if they can log a complaint against us it helps mitigate the sentence they inevitably get, muddies any water when they are "bang to rights", and drums up sympathy when their case is hopeless.
On occasion genuine complaints are made - and as you will no doubt be aware from your wide and voracious reading when we find a bent cop we try to root them out and they get sacked and/or sent to jail. Sometimes it even makes the papers. No-one in the job likes a bent cop.
I am sure that you will already be aware of this as your objective knowledge of policing won't have just focussed on the negative stories.

As for getting out of bed in the morning - to protect the community and lock up dangerous people for every one Harwood story you can find numerous positive stories about cops risking their lives to save others, or sending extremely nasty people to jail. It's just a pity that, objectively speaking, you appear to have missed those stories.

Tang0

22 July, 2012 18:01

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kimpatsu
"However, the individual officers who shot him were acting in good faith, and believed they were saving lives by their actions."
Then they were incompetent, and should not be police officers.


I would like to award you the trophy for armchair general comment of the week.
Please can you tell me where I can get my magic mind reading hat from so that when I am told by the surveillance command that the person I am following onto the train is a terrorist and is believed to be about to activate another bomb - I can read his mind and realise that they have made a mistake.

Tang0

22 July, 2012 18:10

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Exactly Kimpatsu.

One comment even said that he'd 'done the same' as Harwood in that he'd hit someone in order to defend himself and people around him. LOOK AT THE VIDEO! There was no self-defence going on. Tomlinson was no risk - a police colleague even testified to this effect.

That commenter you referred to also went on to say, in the same sentence, I might add:

"....but I have never, ever struck anyone walking away from me and 10+ of my colleagues, as appeared in that video. It is that action and the tragic, disproportionate result, that will ultimately be the judge and jury in the awful death of Mr Tomlinson".

@Anon, 21 July, 2012 07:02, : Are you a sub editor for The Daily Star?

22 July, 2012 18:34

 
Anonymous DB said...

PJW1. I wouldn't want to walk where you live. It seems awfully dangerous. Fortunately it's patrolled by groups of 'rouge' officers, presumably from the nearby cabaret?

23 July, 2012 21:34

 
Anonymous 1433 said...

"Acting in good faith" so it's all allright then, Harwood was being a "Bullyboy" when there was no need, nice of the "defence" to keep Harwood's previous quiet if it was so trivial as PC Bloggs states.

23 July, 2012 22:47

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1433,
I don't think you have grasped the difference between "trivial" and "unproven".

If Harwood had a previous PROVEN complaint for an assault whilst on duty - regardless of how trivial (or indeed if it had resulted in a criminal charge or been dealt with by means of the discipline procedure) - then it would almost certainly have been allowed to have been brought up in court. And rightly so.

Tang0

23 July, 2012 23:55

 
Blogger Joker said...

Tang0, I don't think you have grasped the difference between 'unproven' and 'brushed over/covered up'.

Actually, the real problem here is that too many police officers *do* know the difference, but brush things over/cover them up...

24 July, 2012 04:36

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joker,
"Brushed up" is an entirely different allegation. It might be true, it might not be true. I have no idea - just like you (unless you have some secret source within the Met complaints and discipline board).
What I DO know, from personal experience is that (as per Bloggs OP) vastly more malicious and/or false allegations are made than genuine ones. That is not to say that all should not be taken seriously and investigated. Contrary to what you might think - all cops hate a bent cop.

Regardless of how you might personally feel about the complaints about Harwood (based I am sure on your extensive and objective view of the police ;-)) the bottom line remains that "unproven", "brushed over" or "false" the FACT remains that they were inadmissable.

Doubtless, since the disciplinary record was first aired at the inquest the press have been scouring the streets for the "victims" to get their story. I wonder why they haven't found any.

If you want to change the system so that allegations can be admitted in evidence - go right ahead. It will certainly assist us prosecuting criminals with lengthy offending records and tens to hundreds of previous CONVICTIONS.

Tang0

24 July, 2012 07:29

 
Blogger Unknown said...

The death of Mr Tomlinson is sad and and will be hailed by a minority and Daily Mail readers as proof the police are above the law. The point they miss is that he was tried and acquitted and unless significant new evidence comes to light that is how it remains - Innocent of all charges.

However, he will probably be hung out to dry by the bleeding heart liberal puppets in senior management when his disciplinary hearing is heard. Watch this space!

24 July, 2012 13:53

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

feel physically sick

28 August, 2012 13:21

 
Blogger Ian the Atheist said...

So, here's the problem I have with the Harwood/G20 thing.

It's about the rule of law, and being above the criminals. Police officers should be expected to behave in a morally superior way to a gang of thugs or rioters, no?

So, when you have a police officer who removes their shoulder badges you instantly have a problem. The badges are there deliberately to allow the members of the public to hold that officer to account if they abuse their powers, you have a situation where, arguably, that officer decided to behave in a way which was not morally acceptable when they left the station. The badge exists to allow the officer to be identified and differentiated from their fellow officers without compromising their actual name. It is the balance between allowing the officer a degree of anonymity to prevent criminal vendettas, whilst allowing for legitimate complaints from the public.

I have a very simple view of this. If you remove your shoulder badges, you are no longer acting as a police officer, and your actions should be viewed as those of a regular citizen - end of discussion. If you strike someone with a baton, that's assault with a weapon. If you restrain someone, that's aggravated assault, and if you act as a member of a group who have also removed their badges, then the various laws around gang violence, and pre-meditated rioting should come into play.

Twisting around the argument which is thrown at members of the public often enough - If a police officer has nothing to hide, and is acting in line with their duties, then they have no reason to hide their identity.

I am a law abiding citizen, within the normal ranges (ie, I may break the speed limit from time to time, but that's about it)... but I will absolutely not trust the Met police whilst they continue to turn a blind eye to officers removing their badges during events.

06 September, 2012 14:53

 
Blogger EarthMum said...

"The public are the police, and the police are the public" Sir Robert Peel. PC Harwood killed one of his own by thuggery, pure and simple. He went out of his way to use unreasonable force, on a man who had shown no aggression to the police, and who was defenceless due to having his hands in his pockets. What a brave man Harwood is. If you ask most members of the public about it, they will say that it was police brutality, which unfortunately is being trained into them these days. There are very good PCs out there, who are let down by thugs like Harwood, who should never have been allowed back into the force.

16 September, 2012 03:03

 

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