Thursday, 23 July 2015

A Souvenir for Warwickshire Police

Warwickshire Police Here it is at last, your "Print Off & Keep" sarcastic synopsis.

Recent performance at the Warwickshire Justice Centre when I got lippy over seeking legal advice before signing a Caution. It was for using a word that rhymes with "Mikey" on a Facebook post to describe people attending the Kenilworth horse fair. The post heavily criticised the police and how they handle the policing of that event.

Cop Dealing With It: "My Sergeant wants to speak to you."

(We go into a private room where a Sergeant is sat at a desk. He looks at me with a sneer he's probably practiced in the mirror, that suggests I am ungrateful, unworthy and above all a git).

Sergeant: "Well Mr Manley, I don't think you're actually eligible for a Caution. You don't seem very sorry, you need to show some contrition."

(He apparently doesn't know or doesn't care that I used to be a cop and played this game several times from his side of the table).

Me: "Well...let's put it this way. Retrospectively had I known it was offensive I wouldn't have used it and in future I won't be using it again."

Sergeant (nodding approvingly): "Well done. I now think you're eligible for Caution again. I'd just like to say that I can report you to court myself right now."

Me: " does that work? CPS not involved in any way?"

Sergeant: "No. I can prosecute you myself. And we don't have to let you see a lawyer as you're here voluntarily."

Me: "I'm not entitled to legal advice?"

Sergeant: "Oh you're entitled to legal advice."

Me: "Err...right!"

(I briefly wonder if he moonlights as a super villain with question marks on his costume, in Gotham city).

Sergeant: "And we would also argue if this went to court that your line about 'thieving bullying c**ts' was racist."

Me: "That refers to the people in the specific examples that I gave of criminal behaviour, we established that in the interview!"

(I nod to the Cop Dealing With It who looks embarrassed but stays quiet).

Sergeant: "Nevertheless we would argue that it was racist in court."

Me: "So why is the Caution for Communications Act and not Racially Aggravated s.4(a) of the Public Order Act then? It would go to court for the same offence!"

Sergeant (oblivious to the fact that his tactics aren't working): "We would argue that in court Mr Manley."

Me: "From what I was told by the interviewing officer it was ONLY the word that rhymes with Mikey that got me here. All the foul language apparently didn't make a dent in anything."

Sergeant: "We would still have spoken with you but no, you wouldn't be here. That word's offensive. We object to having it slapped on our Facebook page."

Me: "Yes, as I said in interview I didn't realise that tagging Warwickshire police would result in that happening. Don't you have moderation on your security settings?!"

I go back to the foyer. After another hour a paralegal turns up who takes a brief look at the 'evidence' and then says "You haven't broken the law. They've just got the hump that you criticised them. Refuse the Caution."

We go back and the Sergeant's face has a look of discomfort and confusion.

Sergeant: "Oh, well...I don't wish to try and railroad you into taking a Caution you don't want."

I then offer to help things along by getting the DNA, fingerprints and photographs taken now, rather than have to come back later.

I went to magistrates court for this 4 months later with a lawyer via legal aid (who drove from Hemel Hempsted to Leamington Spa to represent me), only to find it had been dropped 3 days before by the Crown Prosecution Service who weren't initially consulted, even though they had to be as it was a social media case. What I said wasn't "grossly offensive" and therefore hadn't violated s.127 of the Communications Act.

I have calculated that this fiasco cost in the region of about £2000, all of which was on the taxpayer.

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