Friday 19 February 2016

The Other Side Of The Coin

A drug dealer caught with a £5k stash of heroin has complained that police are stuck in the 1980's when it comes to valuing their drugs hauls.

He reckons the £5k stash he was caught with is only worth around £3k or maybe even a bit less.

The only reason this 'costing' issue came up at all was because his defence solicitor was trying his best to keep the value of the haul as low as possible so that his client would get a lighter sentence. A bit over the top and clutching at straws maybe but hey, that's what defence solicitors do.

While most people will look upon this story as just another scum drug dealer trying to play down his crime to minimise his sentence (which, let's be honest, it is), there's also another darker side to this story: Police trying to 'talk up' a crime in order to maximise a persons sentence.

And this is where we get in to the murky area of how untrustworthy Police Scotland work.

While no-one is going to complain loudly when police try to throw the book at a scummy drug dealer, the real issue we should be concerned with is that embellishing the facts and playing up crimes has become standard procedure for Police Scotland in EVERY area of alleged crime.

For example, I was contacted by someone who was charged with a very minor traffic infringement. When it got to court the police officers who charged him marched in to the witness stand and told the court that the infringement had taken place near to a school. This impressed the judge immensely. The 'minor' traffic infringement was now bigger and far more concerning because the case now threw up a serious public safety element - the safety and protection of innocent children no less. Aha, send for the hangman, this mans going down!

Of course, what the police didn't tell the court was that the school had been closed down a year before. It was boarded up and completely empty.

Yeah, the police officers conveniently left that little fact out of their story.

This is not an isolated case.

The police regularly 'play up' to the court and embellish incidents in order to help their bosses in the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service get successful prosecutions and bigger penalties. I see it in the courts regularly.

Police lying on statements and stretching the truth in court happens every day. That's bad enough. But it's made even worse when you realise that it's NOT THEIR JOB to get prosecutions against the public.

The police are only supposed to be 'reporters' - they get called to incidents and are supposed to 'report' what they find to the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service. It is the COPFS job to do the prosecuting, not the police.

Many members of the public don't realise this and it's little wonder. Nowadays we are completely used to police arresting and charging members of the public and pulling out all the stops to get convictions.

But this is NOT part of their job. They should NOT be doing this.

Did you ever see the TV program '24 hours in police custody'? In the program we saw police officers high five-ing each other and celebrating after they charged someone. 'Hurrah, we got him' commented one officer to his colleague. So much for innocent until proved guilty. It's not their job to 'get' people. It's their job to 'report' people. Someone needs to remind police of that.

The police must get back to doing what they are supposed to do - helping, supporting, and protecting the public.

They need to stop seeing members of the Scottish public as targets that they can make in to criminals.

That's NOT the job of the police.

And while you're at it Police Scotland, try to be honest too - I know it's rather a lot to ask of you but we, the public, would really, really appreciate just a teensy weensy bit of honesty from you and your bosses in the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.