Cops wear body cams from today

Police officers with body-worn cameras

Landmark changes to operational policing will be trialled from today in an attempt to boost transparency and accelerate convictions.

Officers with the Metropolitan Police will begin wearing tiny cameras on their uniform, designed to capture evidence at scenes of crime and help support prosecution cases.

The trial, thought to be the largest in the world, will see a total of 500 cameras distributed to 10 London boroughs. Firearms officers will also be testing the cameras in their training environment with a view to wearing them if the pilot is successful.

It follows criticism of the Met following the death 29-year-old Mark Duggan at the hands of armed officers, which sparked the 2011 riots.

Met commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the cameras would result in speedier justice for victims, particularly in cases of domestic violence.

He said: ” Body-worn video will not only help us fight crime and support victims but help the Met to be more accountable

“Our experience of using cameras already shows that people are more likely to plead guilty when they know we have captured the incident. That speeds up justice, puts offenders behind bars more quickly and protects potential victims.

“Video captures events in a way that can’t be represented on paper in the same detail and it has been shown the mere presence of this type of video can often defuse potentially violent situations without the need for force to be used.

“I believe it will also show our officers at their best, dealing with difficult and dangerous situations every day but it will also provide clearer evidence when it’s been alleged that we got things wrong. That has to be in both our own and the public’s interest.”

The debate over the more widespread use of body-worn cameras by British police comes after a jury at the inquest into Duggan’s death concluded in January that he had been lawfully killed after being shot dead by Met marksmen – a conclusion which prompted outrage from his family and supporters.

None of the officers involved in the incident in London were wearing body cameras.

The Met has continued its efforts to repair the damage to its relationship with the community caused by the controversial shooting.

Speaking ahead of the pilot, the Met said officers taking part in the pilot must comply with guidelines about when cameras are to be used, but that they will not be permanently switched on.

Camden Borough is the first to take delivery of the new cameras, from today, with further trials in Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Brent, Croydon, Ealing, Havering, Hillingdon and Lewisham.

Officers will store material from each incident and keep it on file for a month unless required for evidential purposes.

Three homophobic bullying cops sacked

Hampshire_Constabulary_logo

Three police officers have been sacked for “deeply offensive” sexism and homophobia following a disciplinary hearing.

Det Sgt Mark Hall, Det Con Andy Holt, and Pc Colin Campbell were dismissed by Hampshire police after it received complaints from colleagues of “bullying and inappropriate behaviour”.

The officers, all based at Havant, were referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and dismissed for gross misconduct with immediate effect following a formal hearing on Wednesday (April 30).

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “The detail of these allegations was extremely serious in nature. The subsequent investigation uncovered evidence of grossly inappropriate and offensive behaviour centred on homophobic and sexist comments about colleagues within the force.

“I find the behaviour that we uncovered detestable. It is not something that I will tolerate within Hampshire Constabulary.”

An IPCC spokeswoman confirmed that the issue was referred to it in November last year and it agreed to supervise the force’s investigation.

IPCC Commissioner Jennifer Izekor said: “The language and behaviours of these officers displayed deeply offensive homophobic and sexist attitudes towards others. Their casual and repeated use of demeaning language demonstrated a complete lack of respect for their colleagues and the force can only be stronger without them.

“They have no place in policing and their behaviour fell well below the standards expected by the people of Hampshire. I am satisfied that this case was treated with the seriousness it deserves by Hampshire Police and want to commend the force on the thorough and robust nature of their investigation once these allegations emerged.

“I endorse the action they have taken in dismissing these officers.”

Corrupt ‘Fit-Up’ Cop Jailed

Daniel-Withnell

A former police officer who accepted a bribe to plant a shotgun in a bid to frame a man has been jailed for four years, police said.

Daniel Withnell, 31, was approached by Claire Smethurst to put the weapon in the man’s car for £19,000 between September 30 and October 30 last year.

He admitted two counts of misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing and was today jailed at Manchester Crown Court.

Withnell, of Cranark Close in Bolton, also sent a fake tip-off by text to an officer on March 16, in which he claimed a hitman had been offered money to kill him.

He also used his position to access the force’s database to research a money laundering investigation, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

Smethurst, 48, of Westhoughton, Bolton, was found guilty of of perverting the course and was given a 15 month suspended sentence for her role in the plot at the same court on October 9, the force added.

Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley said: “The conduct of former DC Daniel Withnell fell well short of what is expected of a police officer.

“Police officers, staff and the communities of Greater Manchester would be appalled by his actions, which detract from the hard work that our officers and staff do on a daily basis.

“GMP expects the very highest standards of all its officers and staff. They should be honest and act with integrity and should not compromise or abuse their position.

“As soon as this conduct came to light, the Professional Standards Branch carried out a thorough investigation, supervised by the IPCC and as a result Mr Withnell has been convicted of two counts of misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice and Ms Smethurst has been convicted of perverting the course of justice.”

Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said Withnell faced a dangerous time in jail.

“Going to jail as a former cop is dangerous at any time, but going to jail as a former cop jailed for trying to fit up an innocent man and send him to jail marks Withnell out as a man with a price on his head.

“Withnell is the worst kind of corrupt cop, a loathsome individual who was willing to sacrifice the freedom of an innocent man in exchange for cash – a despicable low life whose past criminal arrests and convictions should now be the subject of review lest he has done this before – and got away with it.”

TERROR COP DENIES MISCONDUCT

A counter-terrorism detective has denied misconduct in a public office over claims she passed information to the News of the World.

DCI April Casburn, 53, is accused of offering the now-defunct tabloid information about Operation Varec, the investigation into whether the Met inquiry into phone hacking should be reopened.

Wearing a red suit, she appeared at the Old Bailey today for a short hearing and entered a not guilty plea to one count of misconduct in a public office.

Casburn was told that a date for her trial will be fixed in the near future.

She is also facing a separate charge under the Official Secrets Act that can only be dealt with by magistrates.

It is alleged that she had secret documents at her home without permission to keep them there.

Casburn, who is currently suspended from work, was released on unconditional bail until her next court appearance.

15 MONTHS FOR INJURING COP IN HIT AND RUN

A man was jailed for 15 months today after seriously injuring a police officer in a hit-and-run.

Mitchel Graham, 26, was sentenced after admitting dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, and failing to report an accident in which Pc Diederik Coetzee (above with daughters) suffered serious head injuries.

The 55-year-old Nottinghamshire police officer, who was given the nickname RoboCop for his work on an estate in Nottingham, was cycling to a gym in Blidworth near Mansfield while off duty when he was hit last November.

Sentencing Graham at Nottingham Crown Court, Judge Jonathan Teare said: “You ploughed into him, throwing him into your windscreen and propelling him no less than 24 metres.

“You stopped for a moment, then drove off, knowing you had hit a cyclist, caring not when you left him whether he live or die.”

Pc Coetzee was found in the middle of the road with serious head injuries after the collision on Blidworth Lane last November.

The officer, who made headlines in 2005 after making hundreds of arrests in a year patrolling Nottingham’s Ladywood estate on his bike, spent six months in hospital and is still receiving rehabilitation treatment.

The court heard the 55-year-old, who joined Nottinghamshire Police in 2001, is in a wheelchair and has problems with mobility. He has no recollection of the incident.

On the night of the accident, it had been raining and driving conditions were damp, the court heard.

The car Graham was driving was in an extremely poor and dangerous condition, prosecutor Paul Stimson told the court.

There were defects with the drive shaft, exhaust and brakes and the tyres were worn and underinflated. The nearside headlamp and windscreen wipers were not working and the demisting system was faulty, the court heard.

The car was insured and had an MOT.

Graham, of Blidworth, Nottingham, told police he had a significantly limited view of the road ahead and could only see to the end of his bonnet on the night of the incident.

Sentencing him today, the judge said: “I accept you were not driving erratically or at high speed but your fault was perhaps more because you knew that your car was in a dangerous condition.

“It was dark and your visibility to your nearside was nil.

“You were effectively almost driving blind that night.”

He said Pc Coetzee had lights on his bike and was wearing a high-visibility vest.

“You saw him at the last instance and could take no avoiding action, the judge added.

“He suffered the most horrific injuries which have left him disabled for life.”

Graham told police the accident was caused by another driver who was speeding behind him but admitted he had known his car was faulty for at least a month.

When police asked whether he thought his car was safe to drive, he told them: “Not at all. I’ve been saying that for ages.”

In mitigation, Grace Hale, defending Graham, said he left the scene because he panicked, fearing he had killed the cyclist.

He thought he would be charged with murder when he found out it was a police officer, she said.

She said he apologised to the family for his actions.

Mr Stimson read out an impact statement from Coetzee’s wife Margaret in court.

In the statement, she said her husband required help to get up and walk and with tasks such as going to the toilet. He also wears a patch over one eye due to problems with his vision.

“The cheery outlook on life is no longer evident,” Mr Stimson read from the statement.

Summing up, the judge said of Pc Coetzee: “He was known in the county as he was a dedicated Pc.

“He will almost certainly never fulfil that role again. Even now, 10 months on, he had limited mobility and has suffered due to your actions a personality disorder.”

The judge said he accepted that Graham had shown genuine remorse and now accepted full liability for the accident.

Sentencing Graham to 15 months in prison and a five-year driving ban, Judge Teare said: “It may seem ridiculously short to those who grieve for a loving husband and father but that is all I can do.”

Following the sentencing, Pc Coetzee’s family thanked people for their support since the incident.

In a statement released by Nottinghamshire Police, they said: “This has been the most testing time for us as a family. Not only do we value and appreciate the selflessness of our loving father and husband, but so do the wider community of Mansfield and the police community, both local and afar. They obviously see the same valued qualities in him that we do.

“We received an overwhelming amount of emails and cards which made us aware just how well respected he is.

“The collision has undoubtedly changed his life and our lives forever.

“It is important to promote road safety among drivers and cyclists. Our dad always encouraged us to wear high-visibility clothing and helmets, and have sufficient lights on our bikes. But we know it takes all road users to be aware of what they need to do to encourage and promote safer roads.

“Our lives have certainly taken a dramatic turn, but we still remain close and we always try to keep a positive stance on things.

“The help and support from everyone, especially the police, has really helped us to overcome the initial incredibly difficult time while he was at King’s Mill Hospital and during his current specialist treatment.

“We would like to take this time to thank everyone who has sent emails, cards and messages of encouragement, from near and far, and to all of the doctors and nurses who have taken good care of my father. We truly have noticed their compassion and how important our National Heath Service is.

“The money that was so kindly raised by the local community has been donated to King’s Mill Hospital, as we felt it was important to share it with our local community.”

Detective Sergeant Ged Hazelwood, who led the investigation for Nottinghamshire Police, said he hoped today’s result would help Pc Coetzee and his family to focus solely on his progress.

Mr Hazelwood said: “Irrespective of the victim being a police officer, this has been a very emotive investigation.

“The brave battle by Diederik during his rehabilitation has been an inspiration to all involved and cemented the need to bring to justice the man who left him critically injured at the side of the road that night.

“The entire Force has been rooting for Diederik during his recuperation, and we have been supporting him and his family as they make this long and difficult journey to recovery.

“There has also been a massive response from the public, from members of the Mansfield South community for which Diederik is the beat manager, to police officers from foreign forces, all wishing him well.

“While today’s result will not change the very trying circumstances he now finds himself in, Diederik is a tough man, in mind, body and spirit, and we hope he and his family will now be able to focus solely on his progress.

“Diederik is one of a number of cyclists and pedestrians who are not seen by other road users. I would like to remind all motorists to look out for these vulnerable people on the carriageways.

“If you lose concentration and, as a result, hurt or kill someone, you will have a tragedy on your conscience and a family having to pick up the pieces.

“Nottinghamshire Police will leave no stone unturned in ensuring you face justice.” end

TOMLINSON COP: “MY ACTIONS WERE GROSS MISCONDUCT”

The Met Police officer accused of killing Ian Tomlinson has accepted that his actions brought discredit to the force, a disciplinary hearing was told.

Pc Simon Harwood, 45, admitted that his conduct on the day the newspaper seller died, and the way in which it was reported by the media, brought discredit on the force and this amounted to gross misconduct.

However, his lawyers have refused to accept an allegation that his actions inadvertently caused or contributed to the 47-year-old’s death.

Harwood, 45, hit Mr Tomlinson with his baton and shoved him to the ground during the G20 protests near the Royal Exchange Buildings in the City of London in April 2009.

Mr Tomlinson, who was an alcoholic and had slept rough for a number of years, managed to walk 75 yards before he collapsed and later died from internal bleeding.

Harwood, from Carshalton in Surrey, has already been acquitted of Mr Tomlinson’s manslaughter, although an inquest found the father-of-nine was unlawfully killed. He is now facing police disciplinary proceedings, which are being held by the Met in public for the first time.

Patrick Gibbs QC, for Harwood, told the hearing: “Pc Harwood does indeed accept that the discredit which his actions, and the way in which they have been reported, has brought upon the Metropolitan Police Service amounts to gross misconduct. He has twice offered his resignation to the Commissioner.”

He said that, with the benefit of hindsight, Harwood would have used “no force at all” if he had known about the state of Mr Tomlinson’s health.

Mr Gibbs said: “If he had known then what he now knows about the circumstances, everybody’s movements and Mr Tomlinson’s health, he would have used no force, let alone the force that he did use.”

The hearing continues.

DISGRACE TOP COP CRITICISED FOR £250,000 PAYOUT

Disgraced police officers should not receive pay-offs when they retire, an MP said today after the chief constable of North Yorkshire received £250,000 when he stepped down.

Tory MP Julian Smith said new rules were needed so police chiefs found guilty of gross misconduct could be kicked out without receiving any money.

His comments came after it emerged that former North Yorkshire chief constable Grahame Maxwell admitted helping a relative avoid an oversubscribed hotline when applying for a job at the force.

The male relative did not get the job but the Independent Police Complaints Commission accused the police chief of “an unacceptable attempt to discredit the investigation” into the case.

Mr Maxwell, who admitted a charge of gross misconduct, apologised.

Today, Mr Smith (Skipton and Ripon) said the Government needed to ensure pay-outs were not given to disgraced police officers.

In a question to Commons Leader Sir George Young, he said: “Grahame Maxwell, the chief constable of North Yorkshire Police, was only the second chief constable in Britain’s policing history to be found guilty of gross misconduct. This week he walked away with a £250,000 payout.

“As part of the Government’s excellent policing reforms, can we have a new rule that if a police chief gets found guilty of gross misconduct, he should be kicked out and receive no money?”

Sir George replied: “It’s an issue across the public sector, whether people should lose, in some cases pension entitlement, because of any crime that they may have committed.

“But I will raise this specific issue with the Home Secretary (Theresa May) and see whether we have any plans to change the regime.”

PC TWIT – WARNED FOR TWITTERING

A police officer who sent a “wholly inappropriate” message on Twitter after helping to arrest two suspects in the Emma Winnall assault inquiry has been spoken to about his conduct.

Pc Hanif Sanghar, of West Midlands Police, reportedly used Twitter to inform his 2,700 followers that officers had “arrested the offenders” involved in the attack on the 93-year-old.

Pc Sanghar even alluded to the fact the arrests were going to be made, telling his followers that he was “due to be up very early” yesterday morning.

At 5.06am, just over an hour before a 56-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of assault, he tweeted to a colleague that he was “on an operation”.

Emma Winnall was left with a severed finger, a broken arm and wrist after the attack in her ground-floor flat in Moseley, Birmingham, on May 1.

Police said the arrested woman was not Miss Winnall’s daughter Joyce Blencoe, who is also 56.

Chief Insp Sally Seeley, from West Midlands Police, said: “The man and woman arrested in connection with the attack on Emma Winnall are suspects. They are innocent until proven guilty.”

She said in Pc Sanghar’s keenness to update the public “he used terminology which was wholly inappropriate”.

She added: “The officer has been advised and the tweets removed.”

 

20,000 POLICE PROTEST

More than 20,000 off-duty police officers have taken to the streets of central London as they warned that Government cuts are putting public safety at risk.

The officers, from all 43 forces across England and Wales, donned black baseball caps with the words “Cuts are criminal” as they marched to protest against the spending cuts and wide-ranging changes to their pay and pensions.

Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever told them: “We care very deeply about the communities that we serve. We have seen what happens when we have a Government that has given policing a very low priority.

“If you are cutting our jobs, then you are cutting the service we can deliver and the public’s safety is at risk.”

The officers, banned from striking under law, began marching from Millbank at around noon in a protest to show “the unprecedented attack on policing by this Government and the consequences that these cuts will have for public safety”.

Policing Minister Nick Herbert wrote an open letter to all officers telling them he and the Home Secretary were “constantly impressed by the work you do for your communities” but insisting that “all organisations have to keep pace with the modern world”.

The Government wants to recognise the professionalism of officers, reduce bureaucracy and ensure officers are rewarded “for the excellent job you do”, he wrote.

He insisted that officers will continue to earn more than other emergency services, continue to take overtime and continue to retire earlier than most people in the public sector.

Mr Herbert sought to reassure officers over the greater involvement of private firms in policing, saying: “It will continue to be a public service, accountable to the people.”

Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said: “We think the reductions in spending on the police are challenging but manageable and that the police will still have the resources that they need to do the important work that they do.”

CORRUPT TOP COP DIZAEI LOSES DELAY APPEAL.

Discredited Top Cop Ali Dizaei

Controversial Scotland Yard police chief Ali Dizaei has lost his High Court bid to have a misconduct hearing postponed.

The 49-year-old commander, who has twice been jailed for corruption, is due to face an internal disciplinary tribunal in London on Thursday.

In February 2010 he was jailed for four years but the conviction was quashed a year later by the Court of Appeal.

At a retrial this February he received a three-year prisonsentence – reduced by the time he has already spent behind bars.

He has since been released with an electronic tag and is pursuing a further appeal against conviction.

Dizaei won his job back with the Metropolitan Police before the retrial, but has been suspended on full salary, pending the disciplinary process.

He asked Mrs Justice Lang for an injunction adjourning the hearing, claiming that he received notification of the date, and details of funding of his legal expenses, too late for him to find representation. He claimed that the Metropolitan Police had been negligent in its handling of the misconduct proceedings – which he says should await the outcome of any criminal appeal.

Dismissing the application, the judge said that there was no evidence of negligence and that the claim was misconceived in law and had no prospect of success.

Dizaei was aware of the hearing date in good time and well aware of the provisions relating to legal representation and funding, she added. “The difficulty he finds himself in, in his lack of legal representation, is one of his own making.”

Dizaei was ordered to pay the £4,330 police costs of contesting the application.