Disable-Adblock.png

We have detected that your browser is using AdBlock

Police Community is a not for profit organisation and advertising revenue is key to our continued viability.

Please disable your AdBlocker on our site in order to continue using it.
This message will disappear once AdBlock has been disabled.

Thank you for your support - we appreciate it !

If you feel you are getting this message in error please email support@policecommunity.co.uk

Sign in to follow this  
bensonby

Do we sometimes do more harm than good in situations?

Recommended Posts

I went to a racial incident yesterday. A neighbour had allegedly shouted "you should go back to your own country" at the victim. This insult was part of a diatribe of abuse over a minute or so. It was allegedly completely unprovoked, there was no history of bad blood and nothing has happened since (it had been 5 days since the incident.) The victim had reported it to the housing ASB officer and they had told them to report it to us.

The victim didn't want any action taken and declined to provide a statement. They said they only reported it to us as the housing officer had told them to. The victim wanted it logged in case it became a repeat occurrence. My pocket book was signed to that effect.

I went back to the nick, had a chat with the beat officer for the area to see if he had any knowledge of the situation and to flag it to him. I did intelligence checks on the suspect and nothing of concern flagged up. I wrote on the crime report that I did not believe an arrest or further intervention was necessary for the following reasons:

- The victim doesn't want us to progress. We should be victim-led unless there are particular risks identified.

- The incident was apparently one off and had happened several days ago and nothing had happened since, intelligence checks did not highlight any further issues or apparent risk.

- Although the racial element was an aggravating factor it seemed that it was one insult amongst many just thrown into a diatribe. There was nothing to suggest that the suspect sought out someone of a different ethnicity nor that this incident was specifically motivated by racial hatred.

- I did not believe an arrest was necessary due to the time elapsed and lack of any other risk.

- intervention post event would only be likely to stir things up more and escalate the situation.

- Relevant parties were already involved/aware: the housing and the neighbourhood team. Other interventions such as mediation etc might be appropriate.

As it has a racial element I had to go and speak to CID. To say they weren't happy is something of an understatement. I explained all of the above but they essentially said: "it's a racial, we must arrest." I pointed out that I couldn't justify it under s.24 and that they would be distinctly unimpressed if I turned up with a prisoner but not victim statement. Their attitude, in my mind quite shockingly, was that we could essentially just arrest, interview and NFA - which I pointed out seemed a gross abuse of process. Whilst they kept mentioning risk I pointed out that I failed to see how arresting and kicking out a suspect was probably increasing risk. And, even if charged , the risk wouldn't be managed: the DS (in my min naively) said: well, we can remand... To which I pointed out that that would mean the suspect was kicked out 48 hours later rather than 24 hours later.

In the end I left it with CID to progress as they saw fit. I was going off duty anyway and I had made my case and my justification was on the report.

Do you not think that in cases like this, when we take such a dogmatic approach and don't listen to the wishes of the victim we are doing ourselves no favours and we are potentially even making situations worse: be that eithe inflaming situations or even discouraging victims from reporting matters next time?

Or am I wrong? And I should be following such "positive action" procedures with a more fervent gusto?

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally I hate this culture of "its racial - we must arrest" or "its a domestic - we must arrest". It just comes across as an exercise in blame reassignment "we arrested the person - the cps declined to charge, its not our fault what's happened since"

I have no problems with the policy of positive action - I agree with it. What I don't agree with is the perception that positive action = arrest.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went to a racial incident yesterday. A neighbour had allegedly shouted "you should go back to your own country" at the victim. This insult was part of a diatribe of abuse over a minute or so. It was allegedly completely unprovoked, there was no history of bad blood and nothing has happened since (it had been 5 days since the incident.) The victim had reported it to the housing ASB officer and they had told them to report it to us.

The victim didn't want any action taken and declined to provide a statement. They said they only reported it to us as the housing officer had told them to. The victim wanted it logged in case it became a repeat occurrence. My pocket book was signed to that effect.

I went back to the nick, had a chat with the beat officer for the area to see if he had any knowledge of the situation and to flag it to him. I did intelligence checks on the suspect and nothing of concern flagged up. I wrote on the crime report that I did not believe an arrest or further intervention was necessary for the following reasons:

- The victim doesn't want us to progress. We should be victim-led unless there are particular risks identified.

- The incident was apparently one off and had happened several days ago and nothing had happened since, intelligence checks did not highlight any further issues or apparent risk.

- Although the racial element was an aggravating factor it seemed that it was one insult amongst many just thrown into a diatribe. There was nothing to suggest that the suspect sought out someone of a different ethnicity nor that this incident was specifically motivated by racial hatred.

- I did not believe an arrest was necessary due to the time elapsed and lack of any other risk.

- intervention post event would only be likely to stir things up more and escalate the situation.

- Relevant parties were already involved/aware: the housing and the neighbourhood team. Other interventions such as mediation etc might be appropriate.

As it has a racial element I had to go and speak to CID. To say they weren't happy is something of an understatement. I explained all of the above but they essentially said: "it's a racial, we must arrest." I pointed out that I couldn't justify it under s.24 and that they would be distinctly unimpressed if I turned up with a prisoner but not victim statement. Their attitude, in my mind quite shockingly, was that we could essentially just arrest, interview and NFA - which I pointed out seemed a gross abuse of process. Whilst they kept mentioning risk I pointed out that I failed to see how arresting and kicking out a suspect was probably increasing risk. And, even if charged , the risk wouldn't be managed: the DS (in my min naively) said: well, we can remand... To which I pointed out that that would mean the suspect was kicked out 48 hours later rather than 24 hours later.

In the end I left it with CID to progress as they saw fit. I was going off duty anyway and I had made my case and my justification was on the report.

Do you not think that in cases like this, when we take such a dogmatic approach and don't listen to the wishes of the victim we are doing ourselves no favours and we are potentially even making situations worse: be that eithe inflaming situations or even discouraging victims from reporting matters next time?

Or am I wrong? And I should be following such "positive action" procedures with a more fervent gusto?

I absolutely agree Bensonby. Positive action is a broad term for essentially saying doing nothing isn't an option. And certainly in this case it appears to me that you definitely did take positive action with dilligent checks, liaision with neighbourhood teams/external agencies. Victim is satisfied and to my mind, risk is managed.
Problem is when arrest is seen as the only form of positive action and it sounds like here you've been a victim of that. But fair play for you for sticking your ground, there's plenty of police officers who would have just folded when challenged about it or were just too lazy to do something positive in the first place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To be fair I wouldn't be surprised if its later not crimed despite your dedication in following it through to the extent you had. Its hard to crime something where the victim doesn't want any action taken. CID shouldn't be telling you to arrest, if they want to then tell them there very welcome to follow it up but what's the outcome going to be? You got a signed pocket entry and dealt with the incident the way the victim wanted, we can't force people to provide statements and doing so might cause more harm in the long run.

You did fine in my opinion, performed checks and have been accountable through and through.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with everyone that you made the right call, especially with justifying your actions. If they don't like it after that then that's their problem.

Yes, sometimes we do do more harm than good. Usually it happens when we're acting in good faith to try and help, but it's just taken the wrong way by the other parties.

However, as an organisation and as individuals we're in the risk management business, we have to do things to reduce 'risk' to the public. Often this can mean a sledgehammer, blanket policy on something (such as arresting at domestics/racial incidents), and generally it's done with the best intentions, especially if it's in response to short comings.

But this can end up as being unnecessary, like in your situation, and whilst the overall policy is good it shouldn't be to the exclusion of individual officer discretion. If you can justify your actions then force policy etc. should respect that. Maybe it should require a Sgt. signing off on it formally, but removing officer discretion, however well intentioned, leaves little manouvering room for subtle nuances and complexities in unique incidents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When you say you wrote the crime report, do you mean you updated and closed the CAD saying that no offences had been committed or you actually recorded a crime such as a public order offence?

Why would you arrest for that? CID can do it if theyre so paranoid. You have no need to and you've put your justifications on paper.

Did the job go on as a hate crime?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course I wrote a crime report: it was certainly a substantive public order offence and NCRS is clear that a report needs making.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It does and should be crimed as said, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was later reclassified. It's a shame when victims report but then won't cooperate to give us the necessary information to enable things to be resolved fully, another situation whereby people become despondent. I hope the housing office are able to do something to help the victim but its probably more a bottom covering exercise so the police can be blamed later for not doing something about it.

But arresting.. I can't see how, when they're sat in interview and there's no disclosure and no substantial allegation or statement (unless he coughs it) it will make the situation worse for the victim.

Edited by Obsidian_Eclipse

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this