If I were in Cleveland I’d be extremely concerned. Why? Because it seems very clear to me that there is an inherent problem in that force. Doesn’t mean to say every officer is a bad professional but there does seem to be a top down malaise that’s been there for some time and never gone away.
It should disturb any thinking person that senior police chiefs at that force can habitually ignore public complaints and submitted evidence of potential crimes. It is absolutely unbelievable that the most senior people of that force can receive recorded mail and fail to respond a month later. Not even so much as one acknowledgment for anyone that wrote to them – and there were a number who did.
This came on the heels of three months of the public sending ad hoc complaints of a similar nature to the same force – and they were also met with absolute silence. Since these are the only people with the full legal powers to (coughs) protect you, surely you must see it as gravely alarming that not one officer from that entire force have commented or remarked upon Frankish and his dog torture and child rape remarks. Not one. Not ever. To no one at all.
It makes you wonder what other sorts of evidence and statements are given to them that they’ve been sloppy about and incompetent. It makes you wonder how many others have submitted genuine complaints and had their complaint ignored or the evidence lost.
To look to the present look to the past – and the past does not look too rosy for that force.
What marks Cleveland out is the number of recent scandals including allegations of corruption.
Few forces can boast of having their own Chief and Deputy Chief Constable arrested and sacked. Subsequent investigations also seem to be dogged with delays and escalating costs.
An television investigation found “a host of investigative failures”, “mistakes, incompetence and alleged dishonesty” and “some of the basic principles of investigation… were flawed”.
The report which goes back to events that started a decade ago also looked into how police then erroneously targeted the solicitor for one defendant by arresting him for perverting the course of justice.
James Watson received half a million pounds in compensation for what he was put through.
(This next part is almost comically ironic)…
“Jacqui Cheer took command of Cleveland Constabulary two years ago and says she has stopped the rot, lessons have been learned and it’s time to move forward.”
She has since retired from that role but let’s have a little look into the mind of Ms Cheer.
“She stood up for the Teesside’s youth, telling an inquiry that police and residents should be more tolerant of young people’s ‘anti-social’ behaviour – adding society is too quick to label normal growing up as a nuisance..”
(Here’s some anti social behaviour)
There you have it. What possible chance do good people have when such senior and well paid police chiefs are sending out that sort of message? She wasn’t “standing up for Teesides youth”, she was devolving her and her forces duty to protect the public from scum bag behaviours by poorly socialised feral rats. Her suggestion is that you need to be “more tolerant”. Seriously – she was suggesting that the problem are the victims.
Is that how she “stopped the rot” internally, did she just stop it by tolerating it? I see little or no evidence of that force behaving promptly, professionally and with transparency. I’d love to report otherwise, but they have made it impossible.
This is extremely disappointing to me as I was raised as a kid to have faith in police and hold them to a higher standard. I find it hard to keep the faith when half an hours worth of research on just one force reveals the above mentioned. Keep in mind that when they get caught out and have to compensate someone (like that £500K) it is public money that is used – its not coming from the pockets of police chiefs. Even when they are corrupt or incompetent you still pay.
Here’s the thing – are Cleveland police some exceptional blip or are they indicative of a nation wide issue? Can we establish other high profile examples in which police willfully let victims down, failed to follow up complaints, lost evidence, etc?
Sadly we can.
Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal
Widespread organised child sexual abuse took place in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England, between 1997 and 2013. Local investigations into the abuse began in 1999, although some reports were never finalised or made public by the authorities.
A subsequent investigation by The Times reported that the child sex exploitation was much more widespread, and the Home Affairs Select Committee criticised the South Yorkshire Police force and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council for their handling and covering up of the abuse.
Rotherham’s former MP, Denis MacShane, criticised the police for concealing the extent of the abuse, saying “it is clear that the internal trafficking of barely pubescent girls is much more widespread and I regret that the police did not tell Yorkshire MPs about their inquiries.”
A national report by the Office of Children’s Commissioner, also published in November, found that thousands of children were sexually abused by gangs in England each year.
In October 2012, the Home Affairs Select Committee criticised South Yorkshire’s chief constable, David Crompton, and one of its senior officers, Philip Etheridge, for their handling of child sex abuse.
The select committee issued a report on 18 October 2014, that claimed that files containing information on alleged failings by the authorities to investigate abuse had been stolen from the office of a Rotherham Council researcher in 2002. The allegations were made in private hearings of the committee, which concluded that both the council and South Yorkshire Police had ignored evidence about the scale of the abuse. The chairman of the committee, Keith Vaz, said that “The proliferation of revelations about files which can no longer be located gives rise to public suspicion of a deliberate cover-up.
In November 2013 Rotherham Council commissioned Professor Alexis Jay, a former chief social work adviser to the Scottish government, to lead an independent inquiry into the its handling of cases involving child exploitation since 1997. Jay’s initial report published on 26 August 2014 revealed that the number of children sexually exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 was, by “conservative estimate”, at least 1,400.
According to the report, children as young as eleven were “raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities in England, beaten and intimidated.”
Three previous inquiries—in 2002, 2003 and 2006—had presented similar findings but, according to the report, had been “effectively suppressed” because officials “did not believe the data”.
The inquiry team found examples of “children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone”.
The report highlighted the role of taxi drivers in the town in facilitating the abuse.
Because most of the perpetrators were of Pakistani heritage, several council staff described themselves as being nervous about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others, the report noted, “remembered clear direction from their managers” not to make such identification.
One Home Office researcher, attempting to raise concerns about the level of abuse with senior police officers in 2002, was told not to do so again, and was subsequently suspended and sidelined. She had been accused of being insensitive when she told one official that most of the perpetrators were from Rotherham’s Pakistani community. A female colleague talked to her about the incident. “She said you must never refer to that again – you must never refer to Asian men.” “And her other response was to book me on a two-day ethnicity and diversity course to raise my awareness of ethnic issues.”
The report noted that the police showed lack of respect for the victims, who were deemed “undesirables”.
It seems clear to me that we’re not at all limited here to one force being somewhat incompetent and tardy but what appears to be more a systematic and willful top/down directive by police chiefs (backed by local authorities etc) to literally allow thousands of children to be raped, abused, trafficked, tortured and who knows what else. Set against that as a background is it any wonder the public can’t get a response in regard to their concerns over Frankish and his criminal statements?
When the people paid and entrusted to protect the vulnerable are actually accommodating the perpetrator and dismissing victims as “undesirables” then you have to surely conclude that not only are the laws a farce but the law enforcers are contaminated to alarming levels as well.
This absolutely cannot be tolerated and least of all by those in uniform. A strategy is going to need to be developed that can to some level start pushing back against that as well.