If you are anything like me you may have laughed at the Metropolitan Police’s plan to spend £1·7 million on a Twitter Squad to police social media. We can all think of examples of senior police officers being total idiots and perhaps they have learned nothing and are going down the same path again. A sense of proportion certainly appears to be totally lacking among our politicised police force.
During the Independence Referendum the Scottish Police promised to investigate every single offensive comment made via the internet and were widely ridiculed. Meanwhile really offensive behaviour on Scottish streets was not prosecuted. Nearer to home, Bexley’s police are only too keen to threaten bloggers who “criticise councillors” or highlight the fact that a Councillor no longer lives in the borough.
But not all idiots are senior police officers, you can’t have people like John Nimmo threatening to kill an MP and sending her a picture of a large knife. Lock them up and throw away the key would be the correct response. But you don’t need a Twitter Squad poring over random puerile comments to find people like Nimmo.
I doubt £1·7 million will go very far. Bexley Council’s obscene blog has probably cost something like that.
I forget how much Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa told me it cost to forensically examine Councillor Craske’s computer some 16 months after the Borough Commander suspected that it was the source of homophobic obscenities, but it was a long way into five figures.
Since then Bexley Police’s admission that the case against Councillor Craske was “crippled by political interference” has been under further expensive investigation. It spent six months in Marlowe House, Sidcup where Sergeant Michelle Gower of the Directorate of Professional Standards decided that no one in Bexleyheath had done anything wrong and a further year at the Independent Police Complaints Commission who decided that the DPS report was a whitewash.
A further two and a half years at the DPS’s main office has involved too many police officers to count. From Commissioner down to Police Constable. Every month or so they write to me to tell me how they are getting along. Twice recently I have been advised that new lines of enquiry have been opened up. It sounds good but I have my suspicions that they are just ruses to introduce further delay.
Occasionally the DPS lets slip, inadvertently perhaps, how poorly their initial investigation was conducted. Only last week I was asked for the date of my meeting with CS Dave Stringer and who was at the meeting. You would think someone would have obtained such basic information years ago, and why did they have to ask me? Didn’t Bexley police make a diary entry?
It has all cost a massive amount of public money and it is all the fault of Bexley Council. After I stumbled across their obscene blog Elwyn Bryant told Council Leader Teresa O’Neill about it on the morning of 9th June 2011. I let Chief Executive Will Tuckley know about it at the same time.
By the time they took their morning coffee the obscene blog had gone. You can’t tell me that Teresa O’Neill didn’t have a very good idea of who had done it to have been able to get it deleted so quickly. If she had been totally honest during the following police investigation it would have saved hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money. On the other hand there is no evidence that Bexley Police took the case sufficiently seriously to even interview her.