Friday, June 03, 2022

Lost and Found

Six people are being prosecuted by the Metropolitan police for allegedly breaching Covid-19 restrictions during a vigil for Sarah Everard, who was murdered by a Met officer.

According to court documents, those being charged include Dania Al-Obeid, 27, from Stratford, east London; Vivien Hohmann, 20, from Clapham, south London; Ben Wheeler, 21, from Kennington, south London; and Kevin Godin-Prior, 68, from Manchester. Their cases were heard at Westminster magistrates court on Wednesday.

They are being prosecuted for allegedly attending a gathering of more than two people in an outdoor place when London was under tier 4 restrictions on 13 March 2021.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the four named above were being prosecuted under the single justice procedure, which meant the case could not be observed by the public. It also means the decision to prosecute under Covid laws was solely a Met police decision. Most prosecutions in England and Wales have to be authorised by the CPS. The Met said the case on Wednesday for the four accused was an administrative hearing.
Words fail me. The "offences" were committed on 13  March 2021; not too long before 16 April 2021, when two parties were held by Downing Street staff at No 10, the night before Prince Philip's funeral.

Wayne Couzens is serving a whole-life sentence after pleading guilty to the kidnap, rape and murder of Everard while a serving police officer.

The Met:
Couzens betrayed Sarah and all of us when he used his knowledge, status and equipment to deceive and abduct Sarah and we do not understate the impact this has had on public confidence.  
The fact that he used equipment given to him by the Met is reprehensible and it compounds the dreadful nature of his crimes.  

Nevertheless, it has to be the case that officers are able, on occasion, to take some or all of their equipment with them, between places of duty and where needed, travelling to and from work. They do not require explicit permission. It is a personal decision that has to be done for legitimate reasons and that they will have to justify if challenged. 
Couzens used his warrant card as part of his deception to identify himself as a police officer. Every officer carries a warrant card.  
Righty ho, that's OK then. "Every officer carries a warrant card." Point taken,  how about the small matter of the handcuffs he used on her? What do you think "Couzens betrayed Sarah and all of us" means? I think the Met's us refers to them - the Force - not the public, the rest of us. Don't you love the faux cwtch with which the folksy press release refers to "Sarah" as if she was some sort of acquaintance? Me neither. Something more like "Ms Everard" would have been more respectful.

The Metropolitan Police acted appropriately at the vigil held in memory of Sarah Everard on Clapham Common, a new inspection has found.

HMICFRS found that the Metropolitan Police was justified in adopting the view that the risks of transmitting COVID-19 at the vigil were too great to ignore when planning for and policing the event.

After reviewing hundreds of documents, body-worn video from police officers at the vigil and other media, and conducting interviews with the police, vigil organisers and politicians, the inspectorate found that:
  • police officers at the vigil did their best to peacefully disperse the crowd;
  • police officers remained calm and professional when subjected to abuse; and
  • police officers did not act inappropriately or in a heavy-handed manner.
However, HMICFRS also found there was insufficient communication between police commanders about changing events on the ground.

The inspectorate said that public confidence in the Metropolitan Police suffered as a result of the vigil, and that given the impact of images of women under arrest – which were widely disseminated on social media – a more conciliatory response after the event might have served the Met’s interests better.
Righty ho, that's OK then. My arse it is, for all that the last paragraph is one of the great understatements of our time. Remember all thise riots that groups of women instigated? When public order had to forcibly be reimposed. Me neither.

You know how we use that phrase "shame culture" to patronise and denigrate societies from other parts of the world, well there are worse things. Downing Street and the Police they have weaponised into some sort of executive arm charged with imposing policy, are incapable of feeling ashamed of anything. Nothing is ever their collective fault. It is always just a few bad apples.
Well I, for one, am ashamed of them.

(For what it is worth, and I may return to it again it has always seemed to me that if the boyfriend that Sarah Everard phoned on her way back that fateful night hadn't reported her missing and maintained a constant barrage of follow ups the murder might not ever have been solved. Remember when those two sisters were murdered in Wembley Park in 2020? The bodies weren't found by the police, they were found 36 hours later, in the bushes where they had been hidden, by the boyfriend of one of them. My heart goes out to him and his gumption but how is it that he could locate them and Plod couldn't? Imagine the scene he stumbled upon.)

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