Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Police response way over the top

I don't know what it is about those we can loosely describe as "being in authority" but it seems that they are forever making poor judgements. This has just showed up in the way the police dealt with an alleged crime committed by a Plymouth man. The story goes as follows: Mark Frearson took leave from work so that he could spend time with his seven year old son Harry who it seems would normally be living at the home of Mr Frearson's wife, the couple being separated. One evening Mark and his son go shopping, Mark tells Harry not to wander off when they get to the till but the seven year old does just that. After some minutes of frantic searching father finds son and gives him a smack on the bottom (or the back of the leg depending on what report you read or hear). No suggestion that Mr Frearson is ranting and raving or causing any other form of distress. A witness sees the smack and reports matter to the police. A few hours later police arrive in force at Mr Frearson's house - presumably the witness had noted Mr Frearson's car registration number before he drove off from the shops. When I say they "arrived in force" we are talking about no less than four police and a child protection officer! Harry is made to strip so they can see if there was any evidence of injuries, Mr Frearson stated that they found none. Harry is taken away to spend the night at his mother's home. On the evidence of this one witness Mr Frearson was arrested and taken to the police station. After a while the police said they couldn't carry out an interview because the witness "was not in a condition to give a statement". Mr Frearson was kept in a police cell overnight and well into the following morning at which time the witness decided to withdraw the allegation. Mr Frearson alleges that there was no apology from the police when he was released and is, understandably, not happy with the situation. He has made a formal complaint about the matter.

Now I'm not going to delve into the rights and wrongs of smacking in this post, suffice to say that there seems to have been only the single smack and having heard Mr Frearson on the radio he does come over as a genuine concerned parent. What I want to know though is who was the imbecile in the police force who decided on this totally over the top way of dealing with what appears to be a very minor misdemeanour. There was a time when you would trust them to be proportionate in how they responded to possible crimes. Not in this instance though, did it really need four of them plus a child support officer to respond to the allegation. Having removed Harry from Mr Frearson's house did they need to criminalise the father by keeping him in a cell overnight. Of course they didn't. What on earth is the matter with those making such ludicrous decisions? We are paying them good money for doing it right but they get it wrong too often.

As I said earlier Mr Frearson has made a complaint to the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority, very justifiably based on the known facts. A full and unreserved apology is the very least that the police should now give as a result of their crass behaviour. One final thought - policing is a two way thing, alienate a member of the public for no good reason and it wouldn't be surprising if that person decided not to help the police when assistance was needed.

No comments: