“I want offenders to feel terror” – new Home Secretary declares

Priti Patel has said she wants criminals to “feel terror” at the thought of offending, as she distanced herself from her comments in support of the death penalty.

In her first interview as Home Secretary, she pledged to get a grip on violent crime after Boris Johnson committed to recruiting 20,000 more police officers.

“I’ve always felt the Conservative Party is the party of the police and police officers,” she told the Daily Mail.

“Quite frankly, with more police officers out there and greater police presence, I want (criminals) to literally feel terror at the thought of committing offences.”

Ms Patel previously said in 2006 she was in favour of the “ultimate punishment” for the worst of crimes, and supported the death penalty during a Question Time debate on the subject in 2011.

Asked about the death penalty, she told the Mail: “I have never said I’m an active supporter of it and (what I said) is constantly taken out of context.”

Her comments on the BBC show were: “I do actually think when we have a criminal justice system that continuously fails in this country and where we have seen murderers, rapists and people who have committed the most abhorrent crimes in society, go into prison and then are released from prison to go out into the community to then re-offend and do the types of crime they have committed again and again.

“I think that’s appalling. And actually on that basis alone I would actually support the reintroduction of capital punishment to serve as a deterrent.”

Ms Patel was one of the greatest beneficiaries of Mr Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle after he became Prime Minister.

She was elevated from the backbenches having been sacked as Secretary of State for International Development by Theresa May in 2017 for holding secret meetings with members of the Israeli government.

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook, the definitive 1,600-page annual guide to the prison system of England and Wales, writes:

First of all offenders are the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, not the Home Secretary; this isn’t her brief.

Secondly the very reason why so many young people carry knives and guns is precisely because they already feel terror – terror at the thought that if they do not have one their life is on the line – and the staggering number of deaths on our streets proves they are right.

Thirdly, she needs to understand that policing is not simply a numerical issue – you can have 200,000 extra police on the streets and still not make a difference – indeed if you deploy them in a way that does not have the consent of the communities they police, then the danger is you will make things worse not better.

Finally, it is clear that Ms Patel has little understanding of the real issues surrounding crime. Offenders are far more terrified of gangs on the streets who can kill them, than they ever are of the police who, at worst, can only arrest them; it is deeply concerning that, as Home Secretary, she obviously just doesn’t get it.

Former police officer and care worker gets life for attempted murder.

melissaswiftA former police officer and  care worker, who used eye drops and a bleach-based cleaning fluid to poison colleagues at a residential home, has been given a life sentence.

Melissa Swift was handed a minimum term of eight years after a court heard how she also sent an anonymous bloodstained letter to her step-sister, threatening to kill her before cooking and eating her body.

Swift, formerly of Hambletts Road, West Bromwich, pleaded guilty in February last year to three counts of attempted murder. The 25-year-old former police volunteer further admitted two offences of making threats to kill her step-sister and another woman.

opening the facts of the care worker’s offending in July and August 2014, prosecutor Matthew Brook said Swift had placed noxious substances into water jugs and bottles at West Bromwich’s Goldfield Court care home.

Swift’s actions led to at least three of her colleagues being taken ill – one with a suspected stroke – after they consumed what they thought was normal water.

Mr Brook said: “The offences not only represent a severe breach of trust but also the accepted intention to kill three people.”

During the sentencing of Swift, who appeared in court via a videolink to Rampton psychiatric hospital in Nottinghamshire, it emerged that the poisonings were only uncovered after she confessed to a friend and her GP.

Judge Mark Wall QC was told that Swift has since been treated for a depressive disorder at Rampton.

Ordering that the would-be killer should be cared for at Rampton rather than in a prisonwhile she still requires treatment, Judge Wall told Swift: “You took, from your home to your workplace, containers which had noxious liquids in them.

“Your guilty pleas confirm your desire that people should drink those liquids and die as a result.

“The effects of what you did are unmeasurable. What is known is that at the time you were doing this, seven members of staff and 23 residents became unwell. You are surely responsible for much of that illness.”

The judge ruled that there was evidence of planning before the offences, including internet searches related to poisons. Passing a life sentence coupled with a Mental Health Act order, the judge told the defendant: “I am of the view your mental health issues do not extinguish your culpability.”

A previous hearing was told Swift had been a special constable with West Midlands Police until a month prior to her arrest in August 2014.

Commenting on the case, Detective Chief Inspector Michaela Kerr, from the force’s Public Protection Unit, said: “Melissa deceived her colleagues and hatched a plan to cause ill to those she worked with as a result of some malice, for which we have never truly discovered the cause.

“She not only thought out a way of poisoning her work mates but also followed the plan through and administered bleach to their drinks, leaving them in the usual staff fridge where she knew they would go.

“Today’s sentence reflects the severity of her actions. Thankfully no one was seriously injured as a result of what she did, but the story could so easily have been different.”

“Face of the Force” Top Cop Sacked For Fraud

Chief inspector John Buttress appeared in an advert for the police in 2005. Ten years later he was sacked for fraud
Chief inspector John Buttress appeared in an advert for the police in 2005. Ten years later he was sacked for fraud

A senior police officer accused of mortgage fraud, once the face of the force, has been sacked.

Chief Inspector John Buttress, 48, was dismissed for ‘gross misconduct’ following a week-long disciplinary hearing.

He was accused of failing to tell his mortgage provider that he was using part of his north Wales farmhouse for holiday lets.

The officer was charged with mortgage fraud but a jury took just 20 minutes to clear him following a trial in January.

But he remained the subject of internal disciplinary proceedings which has now concluded he was guilty of ‘gross misconduct’. He was dismissed from his ?55,000-a-year post with immediate effect.

While the jurors in his trial had to ask whether he was guilty ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, the panel of two senior police officers and a lay member decided he was guilty ‘on the balance of probabilities’.

The former officer is considering an appeal.

Speaking outside GMP’s headquarters in Newton Heath moments after learning the ruling, Mr Buttress said: “I’m absolutely flabbergasted. It’s just utterly ridiculous.”

He continued: “I absolutely deny any suggestion of dishonesty and always have done. There isn’t even a motive for me to have done the things I have done. It’s clearly ridiculous.”

He said he had ‘never clocked a sub-clause which is in the 80-page booklet accompanying the mortgage details’ which required him to tell his loan provider part of the farmhouse was being let to holiday-makers.

After his arrest, he said he notified his provider and they charged him ?75 administration fee before allowing the holiday letting to continue.

He said his main residence was the ?650,000 Overton Vale Farm near Wrexham although he also stayed in Manchester during the week for work.

The former officer claimed the investigation into him was prompted by a series of complaints he had made against the force alleging ‘bullying, nepotism, cronyism among the upper echelons’ of the police’.

“I was a whistleblower,” he said.

GMP has asked Kent Police to investigate the allegations.

The force said the officer had ‘fallen below the accepted standards in relation to honesty and integrity’.

John Buttress was sacked because he had ‘fallen below standards of honesty and integrity’, say police bosses.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: “The public rightly expect the highest professional standards from their police officers and these expectations are higher when they are senior officers. When we join policing we are aware of the responsibilities that come with the uniform.

“Chief Inspector Buttress has fallen below the accepted standards in relation to honesty and integrity and discreditable conduct in that he applied for a specific mortgage relating to a domestic dwelling when he was in fact renting out the farm house as a holiday rental. He also applied for two lots of single person’s discount from the council for council tax for the same period on two different properties when aware that he was only entitled to one.

“When such allegations emerge it is important that an investigation takes place and that was what was carried out. The decision of the hearing demonstrates that we will take action to ensure standards are adhered to and we maintain confidence in policing.

“The code of ethics clearly sets out the principles and standards of behaviour that are required for everyone who works in policing. We believed Ch Insp Buttress had a case to answer for gross misconduct in relation to breaching those standards which is why this was pursued. In the interest of transparency we felt that the evidence should be considered by an independent panel.

“This is the end of a process that began when the Crown Prosecution Service felt there was sufficient to take a criminal prosecution forward. Ch Insp Buttress may have been acquitted in a crown court where the burden of proof is beyond all reasonable doubt, the burden of proof for breaching the standards of professional behaviour is based on the lower threshold of a balance of probabilities.

“He has been dismissed from Greater Manchester Police with immediate effect.”

GMP Top Cop Quits

peter-fahy

One of the UK’s top police officers Sir Peter Fahy is to retire as Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

Sir Peter, originally from London, has been a police officer for more than three decades including serving as the chief constable for both Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

He will leave his £193,000-a-year post in October to take up a role as the chief executive of a charity.

In a statement Sir Peter said: “Following 34 years as a police officer including almost 13 years as a chief constable I have decided that now is the right time to leave policing. It has been a great privilege to serve the people of Greater Manchester and to lead the wonderfully dedicated staff of GMP.

“It has always been my intention to leave during the autumn of this year. I have led the force through four years of budget cuts and staffing reductions but despite this we have achieved significant improvements in service, increased public confidence and reduced crime and anti-social behaviour.

“It is now time for someone else to bring fresh ideas for what will be more challenging years ahead.

“The best part of my job has been to work with so many committed members of staff, members of partner organisations and so many active community members and charities.

“I would like to thank them for all the support they have given me and for the personal support I have received from police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd.

“I have been offered the post of chief executive of the children’s charity Retrak. Over the past five years I have worked with the charity on a voluntary basis with teams of GMP staff and colleagues from the Fire Service travelling to Uganda and Ethiopia to work with street children there.

“It is a great charity rescuing hundreds of children every year and with the potential to grow further. It fits in well with my interest in child protection and child welfare issues in this country.

“I am very excited by this new challenge.”

Disgraced top cop pays back £23,000

image-11-cleveland-police-chief-constable-sean-price-727858961

Cleveland Police which was suing its former chief constable for £500,000 has settled out of court for less than 5% of the figure, it has emerged.

The force was trying to claw back salary and bonuses it believed Sean Price was wrongly paid across a number of years before he was sacked for gross misconduct in 2012.

The civil case was due to be heard next month but police and crime commissioner (PCC) Barry Coppinger said Mr Price’s offer of £23,000 had been accepted.

That was due to mounting legal costs during a time of budget pressures and having consideration for Mr Price’s ability to pay more.

In a document on the PCC’s website, Mr Coppinger said the case against Mr Price was based on the legal argument that the payments were originally made “by mistake of law”.

He accepted the £23,000 offer was a “modest proportion” of what had been hoped for, but it was made in good faith, with reference to his ability to pay.

Mr Price, a father of two, has allowed the force to see financial documents, the PCC said.

Mr Coppinger said: “I concluded that I faced a choice either to accept the sum which Mr Price had demonstrated he could afford or proceed to court, risking an estimated overall six-figure sum in court costs which was unlikely to be realistically recoverable.”

He said the force had already spent about £30,000 on external barristers’ fees – £7,000 more than Mr Price’s settlement.

He added that other PCCs and forces had considered similar civil claims before deciding not to proceed.

Mr Coppinger said the payments Mr Price received were investigated under the wide-ranging Operation Sacristy inquiry into alleged corruption, but did not result in criminal charges.

He said: “Although ending the claim will mean that the court will not have the opportunity to address the legal questions, taking all of the considerations in the round I have determined that it would be appropriate to conclude the matter on the basis of the payment of the sum offered.”

Mr Price said in a statement: “This was a difficult decision for me as I had a strong case that the payments were lawful and should not be repaid 10 years later.

“However, the case has cost me several thousand pounds already and the public a great deal more. The only people benefiting have been lawyers.

“I made the decision that the best course of action was to settle now to prevent the costs escalating further.

“Notwithstanding our differences, I would like to pass my best to all at Cleveland Police in dealing with the financial challenges facing the force in the future.”

Mr Price was the first chief constable in 35 years to be sacked. An inquiry found he lied about his role in the recruitment of the former police authority chairman’s daughter.

The ex cop-cum-vicar who is suing God

Rev Mark Sharpe
Rev Mark Sharpe

A former cop-cum-vicar who claims he was the victim of a four-year campaign of hate is at the centre of a Court of Appeal battle over whether he has the legal right to bring an action for unfair dismissal.

The Rev Mark Sharpe says he was driven out of his parish in Worcestershire after his dog was poisoned, his car tyres slashed and his post tampered with.

His trade union Unite is backing his case and says it is seeking a landmark decision which could lead to all faith workers “finally being awarded basic employment rights”.

Mr Sharpe, a former police dog handler who left the police after being bitten by his dog, next became a Royal Navy Chaplain but left that because of objections to hard core porn watched by naval ratings – he later sued the Ministry of Defence and won a sexual discrimination case.

Then he joined a rural parish from which the current case comes. Mr Sharpe, who was in court today, resigned from his post as vicar at Hanley Broadheath near Worcester in 2009 and launched a constructive unfair dismissal claim against the Church of England (CoE).

The case has reached the appeal court after tribunals split over whether he could legally be categorised as an “employee” or a “worker”.

Mr Sharpe argues he is employed by the Bishop of Worcester and therefore entitled to protection by legislation, including the 1996 Employment Rights Act.

The CoE maintains he is not an employee but a “religious office holder” under ecclesiastical law.

Initially the CoE view prevailed, and an Employment Tribunal (ET) ruled that he was neither an employee nor a worker and blocked his unfair dismissal claim.

But the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) overturned the ET decision in November 2013 and said it had misapplied the law and ordered a complete rehearing of Mr Sharpe’s case before a fresh tribunal.

Today Thomas Linden QC, representing the CoE and the bishop, urged three appeal judges – Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justice Davis and Lord Justice Lewison – to rule it was the EAT that had erred.

Mr Linden said a central question the court had to decide was whether there was a contract governing the services of Mr Sharpe as a clergyman, and – if there was one – what was its nature.

Mr Linden submitted: “If there was a contract, its nature was not employment.”

He said: “Something more than an appointment to office is needed if a contract is to be established.

“Clearly Parliament intended that those who were appointed as (church) benefice holders should be subjected to the ecclesiastical law framework.

“It would be surprising if at the same time Parliament intended that there was another result, namely that they gained employment rights enforceable by employment tribunals and the county court, and so on.”

Mr Sharpe moved to Hanley Broadheath, near Worcester, with his wife and four children in 2005, but stepped down in September 2009 saying he had developed health problems as a result of a campaign of harassment.

His constructive unfair dismissal claim is based on the argument that the Church should have warned him of the nature of the parish and its problems and offered him better support and protection when the harassment began.

Sally Kosky, Unite national officer, said: “It is deeply disappointing that the Church of England has gone to such lengths to avoid its responsibility as an employer.

“It cannot be that on the one hand the church takes huge strides forward on gender equality, yet on the other remains in the dark ages on fundamental employment rights.

“There is much at stake here, not only for Mark, but many other faith workers who are unable to seek justice for unfair treatment.”

Police Pair Face Court Over Racial Assault Charge

bedspolice

Two police officers are to appear in court following allegations of assault on a man earlier this year, the police watchdog said.

The officers from Bedfordshire Police have been summonsed in connection with an alleged assault on Faruk Ali in Luton in February, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said.

Christopher Thomas, 33, from Welwyn Garden City, has been summonsed in relation to charges of racially aggravated assault, assault, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office.

Christopher Pitts, 39, from Bedford, has been summonsed in relation to charges of perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public office.

They will appear at Aylesbury Magistrates Court on September 1.

The IPCC has been supervising an investigation by Leicestershire Police, which is continuing.

Under their noses? 52kg of Cocaine Nicked From Police HQ!

cocaine

A French police officer is facing preliminary charges relating to the disappearance of 116lb (52.6kg) of cocaine from Paris police headquarters’ evidence room.

Prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said the unidentified anti-narcotics officer faces charges including transport, possession and sale of narcotics and covering up a drug ring.

The cocaine has not been found. It had been held in a locked room at the Paris police headquarters, close to Notre Dame Cathedral, and was reported missing on July 31.

The suspect has denied the charges, according to French press reports. They said the cocaine has an estimated street value of 2 million euros (£1.6 million).

Thieving Scam Cop Faces Jail

Alexis Scott faces jail
Alexis Scott faces jail

A former police community support officer from south-east London who stole thousands of pounds by tricking departing air passengers into thinking they were carrying too much cash could be facing jail.

Alexis Scott approached travellers as they were about to go through the final gate at Gatwick in Sussex and asked how much money they were carrying, police said.

She convinced some that they were carrying more than the maximum amount allowed and “confiscated” the balance, before reassuring her victims they could claim it back when they returned.

The 39-year-old then placed the money under her uniform hat and headed back to the police station.

The scam was uncovered when returning passengers began asking airport officials for their money back. Scott, of Plumstead, was arrested in May last year.

After a police investigation she was accused of stealing more than £15,000 from seven victims.

After a trial lasting more than three weeks, she was convicted at Canterbury Crown Court of six offences of theft and one of misconduct in public office, while she was found not guilty of one count of theft. The charge she was cleared of related to an alleged theft of around £1,500.

Scott was remanded into custody ahead of sentencing.

Following the verdict Deputy Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said: “Sussex Police expects the highest personal and professional standards of everyone who works for us.

“Scott fell woefully short of those standards, abusing the trust that we had placed in her, but more importantly, the trust of the public and in particular, the victims of her crimes.

“Passengers and other users of Gatwick Airport rightly expect that those who wear the uniform of Sussex Police do so with integrity and honesty.

“Scott failed in this simple requirement and has been duly punished, but this mustn’t be allowed to reflect upon the professionalism, honesty and integrity of other employees of Sussex Police who work tirelessly and selflessly around the clock.

“This was a complex and detailed investigation of an audacious act, but any such act will not be tolerated and we acted swiftly and decisively as soon as it came to light.”

After internal disciplinary proceedings in July last year Scott was dismissed from her job, which pays a basic salary of between £18,500 and just over £20,000 a year.

New police corruption law ‘unnecessary’ says ex Met Chief

sir-ian-blair

Former head of the Metropolitan Police Lord Blair of Boughton has hit out at new laws aimed at cracking down on corruption in the service.

He described the legislation as a “populist reaction to the wrong target” and said a far greater number of journalists had been arrested than police officers.

The independent crossbench peer, who was commissioner of the Met from 2005 to 2008, said police corruption was “an evil” but the measures to tackle it were “entirely unnecessary”.

But he said there had never been any difficulty in framing charges against corrupt police officers.

“The difficulty was not the charge but finding the evidence in a crime where all the participants do not want to tell anyone about it,” he said.

“Where is the evidence that the existing law is inadequate?”

He said the phone hacking investigation had led to the conviction of six journalists and hackers on a News International newspaper.

An he told the House of Lords: “101 journalists, some very senior, have been arrested, as opposed to 26 police employees, all very junior. Twelve more trials beckon.”

His comments came during second reading in the Lords of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which includes the new powers creating a specific offence of police corruption.

“The oddity of this clause is what if you substituted some other professions,” he said.

“What if you put journalists in this clause? Would the House support that? Or parliamentarians? Would the House support that? Or even NHS dentists, because they can get convicted of corruption?

“The police are far from being without fault and police corruption is an evil thing, but this legislation has no rationale at all and has the feel of a populist reaction to the wrong target.”

Lord Blair also criticised proposals in the Bill to make whole life sentences the starting point for anyone convicted of killing a police officer.

He said there was “simply no evidence” of the judiciary “failing to accord the conviction of a police officer or prison officer on duty with the utmost seriousness”.

He said there had been a campaign after the abolition of capital punishment in 1965 to reinstate it in the case of killing a police officer.

But it was argued by police officers at the time that if a criminal on the run knew he faced hanging, he would “have no compunction in killing other people including other police officers in order to escape”.

“The whole life term is the contemporary version of hanging. This clause is not only unnecessary but capable of risking lives – it is just wrong,” he said.