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News and Comment March 2012

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26 March - An invitation to a meeting

Arnsberg Way Police StationElwyn Bryant and I were invited to meet Chief Superintendent Stringer, his Deputy, Chief Inspector Tony Gowen and a Detective Inspector. In the event, by the time the meeting took place, Mr. Stringer’s deputy had gone to pastures new and CI Gowen had taken his place; in a temporary capacity I believe.

I learned not to trust policemen in 1992 when one beat me up under a CCTV camera and his denial that he did it was accepted by the PCC, as it was then - note the lack of ‘Independent’. I ought to state that the local Commander had seen the tape and apologised profusely many times, but even so my view of the police was changed for ever. Being invited to meet four top policemen in the Commander’s office looked like a massive step forward but at the same time I feared the idea was for four professional men to brow-beat two pensioners into a metaphorical pulp. I called my MP and asked if she would accompany me; Teresa readily agreed.

Elwyn asked his MP, James Brokenshire, if he could do the same and he may well have done but the timing clashed with government business. So Elwyn asked the local Victim Support people who had been helping him if they could come. They said they couldn’t do that and implied they didn’t want anything to do with a case that might expose police failure.

Elwyn complained to their London HQ who told the local group they should provide support. The local people phoned Elwyn to complain about him going over their heads to HQ and made it clear they couldn’t help him any more because they didn’t have the staff. Victim Support HQ sent one of their top people instead, not a volunteer, one of their senior staff. So much for support at local level! And so we came to pass through the slightly dingy corridors of Arnsberg Way. CS Stringer’s office was nice enough, but no one could accuse him of being kept in excessive luxury.

The Commander began with the events of June last year when we reported the obscene blog to him and I asked if he could take a step back to March when Olly Cromwell and I were reported by Teresa O’Neill and Will Tuckley for harassment. He said he couldn’t because the two things were too closely linked and he wasn’t going to be able to say much about the obscene blog and because the harassment business was so inextricably mixed up with it he couldn’t say anything at all about it either, although he indicated he may be able to at some future date. I still don’t know what link he had in mind. One might speculate that he was considering whether the obscene blogger was one of the complaining councillors but that can only be a guess.

We then spent an hour not learning anything much at all except that the crime was being taken very seriously. We were asked more than once to “trust us” and while this is not an exact quote by any means, Borough Commander Stringer indicated that he was well aware that he had one MP and the Minister for Crime and Security breathing down his neck and there was no way he was going to deliberately drop the ball on this one. It seemed remarkably like ‘if it is a case of their career or mine…’

On the way out I said to Teresa Pearce, “They are either investigating very seriously indeed or we have been subjected to the most professionally executed con-trick of all time’. Teresa agreed, adding something like, “In which case the truth will eventually out and they are going to be in big trouble”.

The man from Victim Support said that his interpretation, and I suppose he must be well versed in these things, was that the police knew who published the obscene blog and were at the gathering conclusive evidence stage. We came away cautiously optimistic but we aren’t going to be counting any chickens just yet.

Apologies for late post. I have not been languishing in Olly Cromwell’s cell, I have had an electrician in and the power has been off. If I should one day be carted off to a cell arrangements are in place to have news placed here by A.N. Other.


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