Thursday, February 26, 2009

Police officer arrested in investigation into supply of Class C drugs

A police officer was arrested today by detectives investigating a body-building drug supply racket.

The 26-year-old Metropolitan police constable was held after a series of early morning raids in Swansea, south Wales.

He was arrested on suspicion of supplying controlled class C drugs following an investigation by anti-corruption officers.

Four other men were detained as officers searched five properties in the area, including homes, commercial addresses and a shop.

A Metropolitan police spokesman said the men are believed to be linked to a network supplying steroids to hundreds of people across South Wales.

He said: "Officers are expected to meet the highest standards of honesty and integrity. The Met is determined that those who fail to meet these standards will be dealt with swiftly and robustly."

The operation was carried out by members of Scotland Yard's directorate of professional standards with officers from South Wales police's anti-corruption team.

Officers suspect the men were supplying anabolic steroids in pill and injectable forms to bodybuilders and weight trainers.

Steroids are categorised as class C drugs and can only be sold by pharmacists with a doctor's prescription.

Police 'misfiled' 133 complaints against officers

Scotland's second-biggest police force failed to follow up properly a "significant" number of complaints against its officers, including accusations of criminal behaviour, instead filing them as "miscellaneous inquiries", the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland has found.

In an unprecedented examination of Lothian and Borders Police's complaint handling over a four-year period, Jim Martin found that 133 complaints had been misfiled in the lesser category, including 16 that would "reasonably be taken to allege criminality on the part of officers".

However, despite the seriousness of the latter allegations, in nine of the cases there is no evidence of any attempt to notify the area procurator-fiscal, who would decide whether to bring any prosecution, Mr Martin found.

The commissioner, whose post was introduced in April last year, also found evidence that the force had misled complainants, including an MP, as to how their grievances had been handled.

He has now asked L&B to reinvestigate all the original complaints, review its complaint-handling procedure and ensure that any relevant cases are referred to the fiscal.

The commission is also seeking an urgent meeting with the remainder of Scotland's eight police forces to ensure that official complaint-handling policies are being carried out properly.

Describing his findings as "very worrying", Mr Martin told The Herald: "What I have uncovered in this review is well over a hundred cases which haven't been handled according to correct procedures. The fact that some of the cases contain quite serious allegations is worrying.

"Whether it is a case of poor administration in some cases (or otherwise), is frankly neither here nor there. There are procedures in place to give the public confidence that their complaints are handled appropriately. That I found 133 cases of this not happening is very worrying."

The investigation into L&B's complaints and conduct department - the first time such an inquiry has taken place in Scotland - was sparked in May after Mr Martin found that officers had been "insensitive" in the handling of an apparent suicide of someone who had died in police custody.

The PCCS investigation, published today, looked at just over half of L&B's miscellaneous inquiry files (804) between 2003 and 2007 and found that 16.5% of those should have been filed as complaints.

This resulted in the official number of complaints against the force being under-reported by 7%, the report found.

Among the 16 complaints that could potentially give rise to criminal investigations were allegations of assault and verbal abuse against a child by police officers, dangerous driving and allegedly failing to tell one woman that her son had received hospital treatment after an altercation with police.
There were also allegations about evidence that was later given by officers in court but not recorded and where the fiscal appeared not to have been informed, the report found.

The review did not examine whether police officers had deliberately misfiled complaints. Mr Martin said this was a question for L&B to address and, if upheld, decide whether or not any disciplinary action was necessary.

However, a spokesman for the force sought to play down the findings, saying they had not found fault with actual complaint investigations.

The spokesman said there was no intention to take action against any officer as a result of the PCCS findings.

Police Officer arrested on suspicion of being rioter

An Essex Police officer has been arrested in connection with a night of football violence.

On May 14 last year, rioting broke out in Manchester where 150,000 Rangers fans had arrived to watch the Glasgow club’s UEFA Cup match with Zenit St Petersberg at the City Stadium.

A screen in the largest Rangers fan zone broke before kick-off, and violence erupted.

Officers and supporters clashed in the street, leading to one Russian fan being stabbed and a number of other people being injured.

Greater Manchester Police launched Operation Gale to find the perpetrators, and last month the force published 49 photographs online of people they want to speak to in connection with the disorder.

One of those pictured in a red baseball cap, tracksuit and white trainers is allegedly a serving Essex Police officer.

The 44-year-old was identified by someone who saw the photograph on the police website.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “Officers investigating the trouble following last year’s UEFA Cup Final have made an arrest. The 44-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder”

He confirmed the man is a serving Essex Police officer.

Heather Watts, from Essex Police, added: “Essex Police has been made aware of the arrest by Greater Manchester Police, who are investigating the incident.”

The man has been released on police bail pending further inquiries until June 2.

Sorry Sir, you can't report a crime, we're playing poker

A householder who tried to report a burglary was turned away – because police were playing poker.

Instead, Graham Hall was handed a fridge magnet bearing the force’s non-emergency phone number and told to ring it. The retired financial adviser had just discovered that thieves had ­broken into a rental property he owns.

But a security guard on the front desk at Thames Valley Police headquarters told him no one could help because a card game involving 14 officers was about to start in the social club.

Mr Hall then rang the number he had been given on the magnet. An operator promised that a police officer would get in touch – but a week later he has still heard nothing.

Mr Hall, 69, of Oxford, discovered the break-in when he visited his property in nearby Kidlington last Wednesday. Thieves had made off with hundreds of pounds worth of snooker equipment from a games room.

Mr Hall walked 300 yards to Kidlington Police Station but a sign on the door said it closed at 5pm so he went another 150 yards down the road to Thames Valley Police HQ.

He said: “A security guard popped up from behind the desk and said: ‘Good evening. Are you here for the poker?’

“I said: ‘I thought this was a police station, not a casino.’

“I told him I’d come to report a crime, but he said I couldn’t do it there. I was flabbergasted – you can’t even report a crime at the police headquarters.”