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News and Comment December 2012

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11 December (Part 1) - Rotten to the core

If the first three installments of this story hasn’t convinced you that some of Bexleyheath’s police officers are incompetent and uncaring to the point of corruption then this one should do the trick. A father continues his story of how several police officers conspired to cover up an assault by one of their associates and deprive a badly injured teenager of justice and compensation.

Bexleyheath police stationLast week I introduced Bexley Police’s investigation of a serious assault, where family of the investigating officer (PC1) shared close friends with the assailant’s family. If you remember, before compiling the evidence, PC1 is reported to have downgraded the charge against the attacker, intervened to challenge his exclusion from school, declined to receive the medical evidence and concluded that it was just “a little bit of messing around”.

PC1 noted in the crime report that he would be interviewing the victim “with his mum” in attendance; but when we (the victim’s parents) arrived for the interview, we were told to leave the police station while PC1 interviewed our son (aged under 16) without a second officer or any other adult present. This was “usual practice” for Bexley Police, according to PC1, despite him interviewing the attacker with his father and his solicitor present.

Our son’s interview was neither recorded on tape, nor was any note made of it in the crime report. Due to eye injuries from the attack, our son was unable to see properly to write or read his own statement; but never mind – PC1 would do all this for him. Notes were made in the crime report a few days later about the interview being inadequate – that PC1 needed to take a fresh statement from our son as a “priority action”; but despite PC1’s supervisor DS1 being informed that PC1 had obtained the statement, no new statement was ever taken.

PC1 was then asked by DS1 and DI1 to “review” and “assess” the CCTV, and he concluded that it “merely shows a group of persons at the end of the playground” and had “no evidential value” (although how he managed to make this assessment is a mystery, as it later transpired that Police had actually seized the wrong CCTV footage - a still shot of the school entrance gate).

PC1 had also already taken receipt of statements given by seven witnesses and the attacker himself. Nearly one month later, according to the Headteacher of the school where the assault took place:

• PC1 phoned the school to say he had altered some of the statements and wanted to come to the school to get witnesses to sign the altered versions.
• When the school asked him to email some details, he claimed he didn’t know how to send emails (he must be a fast learner, as within a few weeks, there is a note of him in the crime report emailing another officer about the investigation).
• He then bypassed the school and visited three of the witnesses at their homes to get the altered versions re-signed, and claimed that parents of three of the other witnesses refused to allow them to give statements to Police (despite all of these parents having no recollection of any Police officers ever contacting them about the matter).
• Ultimately, the original statements of the attacker and the seven witnesses all went missing from Police files.

The school was so concerned about PC1’s behaviour that it telephoned his manager DI1 (the officer previously in charge of the obscene blog investigation) to complain. This complaint was passed on to PC1, who then told us about it, assuring us “it doesn’t bother me – I get them every week”. However, according to the Headteacher, despite several messages being left for DI1 to call the school back about the complaint, he didn't return these calls.

With two senior officers (DS1 and DI1) dealing with the case, you would imagine that at least one of them would have noticed that something was wrong with this investigation.

So did they do anything about it? … What do you think? (More to follow.)

The nonchalance about a complaint sounds familiar. That is very close to what Chief Superintendent Stringer and his deputy Tony Gowen said to me when we met on 10th February this year.

The complete story so far.


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