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Bonkers Blog April 2011

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15 April (Part 1) - The police state of Bexley

Forty three minutes after putting that harassment letter on-line last Monday I received an email from an influential Bonkers reader offering to make enquiries on my behalf. Four hours later Bexley Police Borough Commander Dave Stringer found that enquiry on his desk. My influential reader felt the whole thing was “mad” and “sinister”.

Yesterday I received a little bit of feedback. Among the things said was…

“They do not intend that you should have to stop blogging or reporting on council meetings.”
“They confirmed that name calling etc. is not a police matter."
“They feel that there has at some point been something written that amounts to a threat to an individual’s personal safety.”

My esteemed reader said “I would be very surprised if you had ever made such a threat as it’s not your style at all but the police made it clear that this is the reason for you being issued with the harassment letter.”

It certainly isn’t my style. I have gone through 67 years of life without getting involved in a serious argument, let alone violence. Well not if you ignore the time I was beaten up by a Bexleyheath policeman on my own doorstep in a case of mistaken identity. The then Borough Commander was very apologetic indeed. In fact he referred his own officer to the complaints authority. But apart from that nothing. Not so much as a parking ticket or a speeding fine, certainly no criminal record or even the most minor of brushes with the law.

I’ve racked my brain for anything on the site that could be construed as a threat and the best I could come up with was the blog that suggested councillor Craske was ill-advised to make his route to work public on the web. I specifically advised that he had the reference removed. It is still there so Craske can’t have taken my little tease too seriously. On the other hand the Craske theory is attractive if you can believe the council’s leaks machine.

My ultra-helpful reader went on to say “What they propose is that they talk to you one to one about what the actual problem is” and “they have tried to contact you”. I don’t think they tried very hard. I have one phone number on the Contact page and another in the phone book. Lots of other people have found my email address on the site but a Detective Inspector hasn’t been able to detect it.

However, as my special reader had encouraged me to help the detective to make contact, I emailed him this morning…

Dear DI Marshall,

As you will know, within an hour or two of receipt of your letter, Xxxxxxxxx contacted me to offer to intervene on my behalf with Borough Commander Stringer and yesterday reported back certain information and that you have been trying to contact me. Your letter not only attracted the immediate attention of Xxxxxxxxx but also that of the press and has been widely discussed on a variety of websites across the country. Such near unique action by yourself implies a complaint of a very serious nature and that published comment has gone well beyond the normal bounds of what is commonly found on the net. If I am to address the problem I must know who I have offended and where on the site the problem is. Upon receipt of this information two members of the Bexley-is Bonkers team will be happy to see you at a mutually convenient venue. An afternoon next week (not Thursday) would be convenient.

I hope to hear from you soon.


Malcolm Knight

It took exactly 30 minutes for DI Marshall to reply. His short email included “I am unable to provide personal details of those who have contacted police regarding your web site as they have stated they do not wish to be named at this stage. I am duty bound to comply with their request unless or until legal action requires such information to be revealed.”

So we have a dilemma which defies logic. The police don’t want me to stop blogging but tell me if I offend some anonymous coward again I will be subject to criminal proceedings. Only at that stage will they reveal who the coward is. So they sort of encourage me to carry on blogging but if I say “boo” to the wrong person they may come and arrest me. I don’t see what else I can do, I’ll just have to carry on regardless and see where this madness goes next.


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