So the Dyfed Powys Police have finally got back to David Allen Green over their reasons for detaining and arrested blogger Jacqui Thompson for videoing a council meeting, which is neither against the law nor against the published rules for council meetings in Carmarthenshire. They were first asked on Friday of last week but on Wednesday they finally replied in the form of a statement on their website which was simultaneously CC’ed to the New Statesman’s columnist who originally asked the questions.
However over in his column in the New Statesman, David Allen Green shall we say rips the statement to shreads and has left me asking firstly ‘who is their PR person and when will they be looking for a new job?’ Secondly I’m asking ‘Why haven’t they apologised yet?’ and thirdly ‘It seems pretty clear they didn’t know the law – just how scary is that?’
I’ll start with the PR person query. Whoever authorised that statement going public is an idiot. To show that firstly they didn’t know the law is pretty inexcusable and then mid-way though the statement refer to Mr Green without any prior introduction just shows a lack of basic journalistic skill. Had the introduction said that this statement was in response to Mr Green’s questions then it would be fine but to just drop his name in from nowhere is woeful. I studied and graduated with a degree in Journalism and I don’t think anybody would allow such an oversight. Journalism and PR is such a competitive business so you can’t put together such an ill conceived press release and expect not to get rebuked.
As for why they haven’t apologised – well I think we know the answer to that. The police as a rule of thumb do not apologise unless they are backed into a corner by a media frenzy. They cover their tracks – or should I say they attempt to cover their tracks furiously. We all remember what happened in the Ian Tomlinson case with police lying hand over fist until they were confronted with rock hard evidence. It does piss me off that a regular joe can be arrested and charged with either lying to the police or not telling the whole truth to the police but when a police officer or officers do the same then it one of the perks of the job. Police can lie and deceive but it’s fine. One rule for one and one for another has never struck a chord with me and it never will.
The final question about the police not knowing the law though might even be more frightening. They seem very confused as to whether filming a council session is a breach of the peace. We all know the answer that it isn’t but they seemed to believe that it was. How can they not know the law? It is their job. I know we all have jobs where we don’t know everything but when we don’t know something we ask someone. There were four officers on the scene and not two according to multiple independent witnesses, which is again a lie from the police and I did notice they failed to name either officer photographed with the arrested blogger. I am sure someone can name them locally but they deserve some stick for their unlawful arrest of a citizen.
I think one thing is clear – the Dyfed Powys Police had no idea that an arrest of someone for a unbelievably minor crime could cause them so much heartache. A small mistake that could have been fixed with a bit of common sense and a quick apology has rumbled on and continues to do so with their substandard answers to media enquiries.
Not all the police are bent. We all know that. However every time a story comes out like this it rocks people’s faith in the law. When it comes out that they do not know or understand the law it is enough for us to see the police in a completely new light. If Jacqui Thompson wants to sue the Dyfed Powys Police then she has a case and she could drag the force through the mud. Oh how I wouldn’t want to be anyone in authority with that police force right now.
As Elton John once sang, ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’ and had they put together a quick apology all this would never have seen the light of day. However that apology was not – and still has not been – forthcoming and for that reason the Dyfed Powys Police will keep getting lumped into in the blogosphere and in the media.
Dyfed Powys Police – Safeguarding our community is their tag line. I have a new suggestion, ‘Dyfed Powys Police – Safeguarding our own backsides’. Or maybe, ‘Dyfed Powys Police – we don’t know the law’. Either or but both are seemingly just as or even more accurate than their own version.
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