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News and Comment November 2011

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4 November (Part 1) - “There is nothing worse than a bent copper” - PC George Dixon of Dock Green

Dixon of Dock Green Stringer of BexleyheathShortly after I first reported that Bexleyheath police appeared to be stalling their investigation into Bexley council’s obscene blog someone emailed to forecast that they most likely would not be investigating it at all. A case of a car broken into right under one of Bexley’s CCTV cameras was cited. The police said they had exhausted their enquiries but an insider at Bexleyheath council with the necessary access permissions to view the log, knew that there had been no police request to view the tape.

As those who have followed this case closely will know, Bexleyheath police wrote on 23rd August to say “At this time all enquiries [into the publication of an obscene blog] have been exhausted”. Chief Superintendent Stringer’s Assistant Commander wrote three weeks later a confusing letter indicating that the investigation might not be concluded but a request for clarification has gone unanswered. Meanwhile a Freedom of Information request for the date on which “Bexley council’s computers have been subject to a vigorous audit” was ruled on appeal to be not in the public interest. That issue and more is now with the Information Commissioner. Now there has been another twist.

A Freedom of Information request to Bexley council (their ref. 11/994) has been answered as follows…

FOI responseSo what have we now? The Chief Executive who together with council leader Teresa O’Neill appeared to be able to get rid of the obscene blog within a few hours of it being formally reported to them says no one was interviewed. They are most certainly aware that the case was reported to the police, indeed Will Tuckley recommended and took that course of action, but according to his council, five months later, he is not aware that any police investigation took place.

CS Stringer on the other hand said on 10th August that “[I] can confirm that this matter is still under investigation, there are numerous lines to follow and examination of computer systems to pursue”. All done without any hint of it reaching the ears of Will Tuckley? It defies belief.

Bexley’s FOI response numbered 11/994 will go to the Information Commissioner today to be added to their file about the police’s refusal to provide dates and another complaint will be winging its way to the Independent Police Complaints Commissioner. Probably a report should go to Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, too.

When the FOI about dates was blocked as not being in the public interest I imagined Borough Commander Stringer making frantic phone calls to the FOI office to get them to find any excuse, however outlandish, to block the request. The scenario is looking ever more likely. There cannot be much doubt that the untruthfulness and/or deception (there may be wriggle room if a councillor or employee got someone else to set up the obscene blog) is on an industrial scale.

Dixon of Dock Green : BBC TV police drama, 1955-1976.


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