Saturday, 16 August 2008

Technicalities and grey areas

Oh boy am I back or what? Forget that holiday and my relaxed state - I'm well and back into the grind. Had two court cases, one where I sat around all day and was not called but he pleads, and the second a nightmare day in court.

It would appear I've made an unlawful arrest and of course that equals money time for the other side. What crime have I committed? You be the judge.

Cutting the story down - I arrest a male for disorderly conduct who calls me a cu*t in a busy bar. He is going to kick off (I'm alone) so I call for back up before I make the arrest. He's horrible, spitting in the van, calling me racist (love that race card) , and is apparently going to do nasty things to my mother.

As I take him into custody he kicks open the first door. He is handcuffed to the rear but still a danger. I'm now in like an airlock void and he kicks hard the entrance door to the custody suite which is closed. I'm trapped in the void and decide to take him to the ground. We both end up on our knees and he takes the opportunity to butt me in the face. It hurts and he gets further arrested for assault on police. He continues to be horrible but is interviewed the next day and bailed for CPS. He is subsequently charged with disorderly conduct and assault on police.

I'm there for the trial and he doesn't turn up. His defence call him and put up a sob story he's dropping off a child and will be there in 10 mins. He's not but eventually turns up and we start 1 and a half hours late. If I hadn't turned up the case would have been thrown straight away.

The prosecutor's only comment to me is shame we didn't have another witness to the assault. I think this is his way of saying it's my word against his and we're onto a loser. "Lucky job we've got the doctor's report of my injury then" says I. "Oh well there is that, we're give it a run anyway".

He has already pleaded to the disorderly conduct and we are only trialing the assault on police. I give evidence of the whole incident and am ready for cross examination. I am asked about the arrest again and the words used. Here is what I said to him on arrest.

"I am arresting you because you are drunk and have called me a cu*t in a busy bar. You are under arrest for disorderly conduct, your arrest is necessary for you to account for your actions". - cautioned - reply "You are a fcuking cu*t"

Now the district judge picks up on this asking why is his arrest necessary when he's called you in the bar it's obvious why he's been arrested. I try to explain the legal requirement and that human rights means we have to show necessity. There's much hoo haring about this and I can't see the problem. I just love the district judge giving the defence ammunition to fire. It's a hostile cross exam I'm out of order, his client wasn't drunk, I was out to spoil his night, and any injury I sustained was an accident as his client never headbutted me. Oh and I used unreasonable force on his client.Yeah whatever.

Prosecution finishes and the judge breaks for lunch wanting medical notes of the prisoners injuries. They are not in the file. I have to trudge back to the station to hunt them down. There are two reports, one where the prisoner was so stroppy that he couldn't be examined and the second stating he has a swollen wrist and needs an x-ray once released.

The defence drooled on seeing the wrist injury. So he's up for a submission of no case to answer, this is for the arrest. The district judge starts off by saying we're into a grey area. He's been reading up during lunch. This is where I've put a spanner in the works. When I've said to him his arrest is necessary for him to account for his actions - By saying this I've meant for the matter to be investigated and him interviewed.

Both sides make their legal arguments.

The good book under section 24 PACE requires two elements to make an arrest lawful

1. A persons involvement or suspect involvement in the commission of a criminal offence AND
2. Reasonable grounds for believing that arrest is necessary

Criteria 5 states re necessity - To allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence OR of the conduct of the person in question. - this would include where it is necessary to interview somebody to obtain evidence.

Now this is where the judge has a problem. He says that there is no need to interview in the disorderly conduct as the case is complete when the defendant insults me in the pub. Hence when I tell him we need his account that was the wrong and he should have been straight charged. It's all a play on words as there is no case law around these new powers. So he declares the arrest unlawful - hence I wasn't acting in the execution of my duty thereafter - hence no offence of assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty. NOT GUILTY

So this leaves the job wide open to a civil claim, unless it gets appealed to the Divisional court. I must hold my hands up to not explaining myself fully but I think I have shown myself to have acted within the spirit of the law. Also my notes were not the best, but when you've been in a bundle and still seeing stars from being headbutted that's understandable. The district judge is perhaps looking for a case law judgement but everyone including the clerk and prosecutor thought his decision wrong. Still he was fined £85 for the disorderly conduct.

I really sometimes don't see the point of carrying on with decisions like these. Perhaps I need off the streets. And you know the most annoying thing? I took the codes of practice on holiday and only finished upto code C when code G would have seen me spot on in this case.

Still that's our justice system for you protecting the guilty.

No comments: