Monday, October 12, 2009

Blindingly useless

This relates to something that happened a good while back but has needed a little distance and patience before posting.

One evening, on the door of a very busy bar, myself and 2 colleagues refused a gent. He was intoxicated and on refusal became very aggressive. He took on a fighting stance, I'd say amateur boxing not mixed marshal arts or anything that might kick. He swore a fair bit and then lunged in with a jab. Aimed at the doorman in the middle, not me in this instance. The lad on the far side shoved him off course, he missed the lad in the middle and I bounced him back out into the centre and away from the doorstep. My mate who'd been swung at was a little irate, the gent took another lunge at him. My colleague struck him, open handed, in the top of the chest. The drunk did a complete reverse in direction and fell backwards, onto his arse.
He got up and swore a whole load more, made some lovely threats and then on spying two high vis wearing members of the police accused us in a very loud tone of beating him up. The police invited him over the road and heard how he'd been punched, kicked and thrown onto the floor.
All of this had been done by my colleague, "yes officers, the one in the centre with the blond hair".
All of that is fairly common in this line of work. What's not is one of the officers, a sergeant, walking over, establishing the blond ones name and then arresting him. He called for a back up unit to whisk my colleague away. They did not ask to hear our evidence, they did not ask to see the ample CCTV. They did not ask if we were busy, they did not ask if this doorstaff's presence was necessary or more importantly if their absence invalidated any insurance or fire safety controls. They did not ask to see the doorman's licence and thus have full access to his criminal record and address details.
They lifted him off the door and went back to take a more formal statement from the drunk to support the allegation of assault. The chap in the van was more than a little pissed off, I was more than a little pissed off. The manager was more than a little pissed off. When the manager approached and asked if they would like to see the CCTV, he was told to go away. When he asked if he could expect the chap back that evening to finish the job he was paying him for he got told to go away or get nicked too.
The end of this story is long and pointless. The doorman was eventually charged, having not taken a caution. The case went to court, the CPS provided no case, he was cleared of the charges. The action against the officer for wrongful arrest was settled. All of this taking over 12 months.

All of it could have taken less than 12 minutes if he's asked to see the tape, 12 seconds if he'd have checked the badge, written down the details after checking the photo matched. He'd still be there at the end of the night, even if he vanished the club would have some contact with him, even if they weren't cooperating the SIA hold enough identifying evidence to get an arrest warrant. No need to pull him in on the say of a violent aggressive drunk.
If my colleague had hit him without restraint, without good grounds for fear of injury, without regard for the possible risks then perhaps a more front foot approach would be required from the boys in blue.

This is atypical, most officers we meet are professional, competent and pragmatic. Some are not.