Saturday, 10 March 2018

Objective Professional v Emotional Presumptuous Policing

The ongoing police investigation into the suspected attempted murder this week of a former Russian military intelligence officer and his daughter, by means of a toxic nerve agent in the city of Salisbury, has highlighted the power of painstaking, traditional British detective work. A sizeable contingent of experienced police officers – supported by specialists and even army personnel – is investigating every possible lead. It is the sort of thorough investigative work that once earned British police forces the respect of the world.

Supt Sean Memory, Salisbury 2015
Police representatives and national politicians have been cautioning the media and the public from jumping to premature conclusions until hard evidence of who is to blame has been obtained. This is just as one would expect a professional investigative team to operate.

It is interesting that this unfortunate incident took place in Salisbury, the beautiful Wiltshire city where the late Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath had lived. It was outside his former house, in 2015, that Superintendent Sean Memory of Operation Conifer appealed via the media for anyone who had ‘been a victim of any crime from Sir Ted Heath’ to come forward. Clear echoes of the infamous ‘credible and true’ assertion made in 2014 by Superintendent Kenny McDonald of the Operation Midland fiasco.

In this week’s attempted murder case, we have not witnessed any police officers standing at the scene of the attack on Mr. Skripal and his daughter informing us that Mr. Putin’s dastardly regime was to blame and that anyone else who has been targeted by Russian agents should come forward and ‘you will be believed.’ Why? Because no one is yet sure of the actual facts. Evidence is still being gathered.

What a contrast this week’s approach is to the unprofessional, myopic way in which sexual accusations (often historical) are ‘investigated’ by our ideologically-obsessed police forces. So what are the reasons for this starkly different modus operandi? Why are police detectives able to conduct perfectly professional investigations in some cases and yet seem averse to doing so in others?

Having lived through my own lengthy nightmare of false sexual allegations in 2013-14, made by a couple of compensation-chasing perjurers – their lies dismissed unanimously in a matter of minutes by a Crown Court jury, yet since totally ignored by the state authorities – I have met with dozens of other victims who have had their lives trashed by liars, fraudsters and fantasists, not to mention the associated misery and trauma it has caused their family members. I have discovered that there is a marked similarity in respect of almost all of these cases – a seemingly determined approach by the police officers concerned to ignore completely any evidence which might hinder them in getting ‘a result’ – i.e. a criminal conviction in court.

In my own case, after I had been dragged from my bed and arrested at dawn in late 2012, I gave the investigating officers a list of former school colleagues who would be able to assist them with their inquiries. I had nothing to hide, so I was completely open. I answered fully all their questions and was under the impression that this could only help in ultimately determining the truth. But, did they bother taking statements from any of these potential witnesses, many of whom I had worked with for years? No.

And I have since discovered that when they did interview one former colleague of mine, apart from the usual ‘we believe the accused to be guilty etc at the start of the interview, they failed even to ask him the critical question on which their whole case eventually collapsed when it reached court nearly two years later: had I ever taught junior boys PE? The answer was no. I had told them ‘no’ at the outset, but the police officers realised that any confirmation of this fact could wreck the vile fantasy being spun by the two liars, who were both hoping to make a quick buck at my expense. Professional policing? Hardly....

So what is the reason that experienced detectives all too often abandon the pretence of conducting an objective, even-handed and professional investigation when allegations of a sexual nature have been made? And why is evidence which might assist the defendant repeatedly not being disclosed or, worse still, actually being concealed from defence counsel, as well as judges and jurors?  

My conclusion is that some of the present generation of police officers, particularly those investigating alleged child abuse, are allowing themselves to become involved emotionally with those who make the complaints. At the very least, they may indulge the complainant by conveying the message from the outset that they believe the allegations and he or she can rely on the police’s total support. Once this message has been made clear, there is no going back. If the complainant subsequently turns out to be an unalloyed liar, the police, having already compromised themselves, are now unable ‘to change sides’ and investigate the false accuser.

Some officers go further by ‘befriending’ those who make allegations (and often their families) long before cases reach the charging stage, let alone a court of law. Sometimes this familiarity involves exchanging messages via social media, or even sponsoring witnesses who are taking part in charity events. Occasionally, close personal relationships between an individual officer and the complainant (or a member of his or her family) may also go undisclosed and undeclared.

This ‘emotional investment’ in complainants makes it much more difficult for police officers to approach any criminal investigation of sexual offences in a fair, objective and dispassionate way. Some people who make false allegations are notoriously adept at manipulating others, including detectives, and, once hooked, it seems that certain police officers are credulously willing to swallow any tale, no matter how fantastic or improbable.

Some dishonest complainants are old hands at spinning lies: a few have peddled their vile fantasies several times (even using different identities), in order to secure hefty sums of compensation money. These days the news that any famous person or celebrity has been accused of sexual misconduct is very likely to attract a coterie of ‘wannabe victims’, who seek to profit from adding their greedy selves into the story of others. This is an obvious danger given the current police approach of bolstering very weak – or non-existent - evidence of historical sexual abuse by presenting multiple accusers in the witness box in order to sway jurors. It is no surprise that some of these opportunistic liars are later exposed for what they are.

Added to this, some detectives deliberately avoid interviewing anyone who might cast doubt on the complainant’s claims. This can include ignoring the evidence of estranged members of the accuser’s own family, who are fully aware that the person making the allegations is a notorious liar and/or fantasist, based on years of personal experience; or else declining to interview key witnesses whose evidence might well undermine the allegations under ‘investigation.’ Perhaps this is the real reason why even the most outlandish and bizarre claims seem to go completely unchallenged by investigating officers, as was the case in the farcical (and ruinously costly) Operation Midland.

In the aftermath of my own nightmare, I seem to have become a repository for many other people’s ordeals, a number of whom are at the end of their tether because either they themselves have been falsely accused or else they have a family member suffering. Some of these cases should be causing serious concerns, especially when innocent people have been wrongfully convicted and sent to prison, often for years.

In one very worrying case, an adult prosecution witness claims that he was bullied by two female police officers because he steadfastly defended a former teacher under investigation, whom he believed to be completely innocent. When the witness attempted to name a specific individual who, he believed, had orchestrated a series of false allegations against both this teacher and a number of others, the police officers refused to record this in his statement and then forced him into signing it anyway. How can this be possibly justified?

In another case, a former teacher has been jailed for decades partially on the evidence of a prosecution witness who had spun a very detailed tale of historical sexual abuse in a boarding school. The story involved him and another named pupil, with an assertion that both had been sexually abused by the accused teacher at the same time. The man on trial was duly convicted and is currently in prison. However, I have since seen contemporaneous documentary proof that the second complainant, who, it was alleged, was a victim during the same assault, didn’t even join the school until a term after the teacher had left. They could never have met. This fact alone must raise serious doubts about the safety of some of the other convictions in that trial.

Police officers investigating allegations often make no effort to check the factual accuracy of claims being made, as they are on a pre-determined course. I find it hard to believe that if it were a murder enquiry, or the investigation of a major bank robbery, any key evidence would be ignored by detectives. However, if the allegations being made involve sexual offences – especially historical ones – the usual rules about gathering evidence can be completely disregarded. How is this being allowed to happen?

It is high time we woke up to the danger of police officers being ‘groomed’ by devious fraudsters, liars and attention seekers, who seem able to manipulate detectives (and others) emotionally. Surely it goes without saying police officers who work on cases involving sexual allegations must maintain a proper professional distance and resist the temptation to get involved in the often chaotic lives of complainants, some of whom are driven by either financial or narcissistic reasons. The ludicrous mantra ‘you will be believed’ must be rejected for good. As I have stated repeatedly, it is NEVER the police officer’s job to believe either the complainant or the defendant. Their duty is to investigate without fear or favour.

It is hard to accept the common excuses now being offered for the lengthening list of collapsed prosecutions as a result of disclosure failures or other types of police misconduct, which are: under-staffing and/or a lack of resources. As the current massive operation in Salisbury clearly demonstrates, thorough and professional investigations are perfectly possible when the political will is present.

My own experience – and the cases of others – leads me to the view that in too many instances police officers are studiously ignoring any evidence (whether involving a review of electronic records or taking eye-witness testimony) which might undermine the credibility of those making allegations of sexual offences, for fear that cases in which they have invested significant personal emotional effort and energy might collapse. This approach is, quite simply, a perversion of the justice system and urgent action to redress the balance is now required.

On a personal note, I think I have made it clear why I am convinced the two liars who had me dragged me to Court in 2014 will never be called to account by the State. Is this British justice to be proud of?


  1. I could not agree with you more. My husband is in prison for False Allegations from 45 years ago. The complainants were very good Actors. The DCI was a woman she was too close to the complaintants. She was patronising towards my husband. She even went for a drink with them to celebrate after he was sentenced. He did not stand a chance. They had a good Barrister we had a rubbish one who did not even try. The justice system is very unfair almost corrupt. Too many innocent people in prison.

  2. Once again Simon you have made many valid points. The police should look at any cases in an unbiased manner. This can never happen if the police involved in these cases are or have been "involved" with the complainant or with any member of the complainants family. Some police officers will pursue cases in order to further their career.

    While the police conduct themselves in this unprofessional manner, many people will continue to be falsely accused and even wrongly convicted.

  3. Even less effort is put in to investigating allegations of 'common assault'. Little effort is used to uncover or reveal all evidence. Though its not perhaps as tarnishing many innocent teachers have been destroyed by similar chancers. Link to this the perverse MO's and hidden agendas many school managers and L.A. children's services/H.R. departments use to proceed such false accusations. Sexual abuse allegations are the tip of an iceberg.

  4. I could have written this myself, so closely do I agree with every word. My wife is currently in prison despite the complainant's testimony being contradicted by known facts. The Police did not bother to interview a witness who made a statement corroborating her account and, at court for sentencing the detective greeted the complainant like a long lost brother. It's not an investigation, it's a witch-hunt. They might as well dunk them in the river.

  5. Yup,
    My case involves everything you eloquently put into this piece...
    Emails between the detective and the accuser that begin "Hi Hun,"

    You couldn't make it up...
    They could.