Sunday, August 26, 2007

Witness Protection

The death of Rhys Jones is a tragic event. Sadly, the media's almost orgasmic delight at having such an emotive story to cover during the silly season is helpful only to those looking to boost sales/viewing figures. Obsolete has written an excellent post on that.

What I'd like to do is focus on just one point from this case. There is undoubtedly a real problem in some areas with violent groups intimidating people into silence when something like this happens. The police are trying very hard to reassure the public that they will be protected if they come forward with evidence.

From the BBC:
Speaking at a press conference near the spot where Rhys was shot, Ch Supt Chris Armitt said: "We understand that people are concerned about giving information to the police, we understand that people are frightened.

"[But] what I want to say to people is, listen, they've got to stand up and they've got be counted.

"We have ways of protecting members of the public who come forward with information, we can protect their identity."
That's perfectly sensible.

And this is from the same report:
Police have confirmed they have spoken to a woman seen pushing a pram near the Fir Tree pub just before the shooting.
That's utterly barking.

Apparently, these Einstein's have not worked out that if this women has seen the perpetrators of this crime, there's a strong possibility that they'd have seen her too and that they might know who she is. If you were that woman, how would you feel next time you had to wheel your pram past the Fir Tree pub? Or the next time you hear a funny noise in the middle of the night?

This police confirmation and the media reporting of the same must be some new form of identity protection involving double bluff and...

No, sarcasm won't do. This is absolutely ridiculous. How many other witnesses have been put off from coming forward because of this announcement? We'll never know now.

Many years ago my mother saw two men syphoning petrol from the row of cars in the street in front of our house. My father was away on business so she phoned a neighbour (a prison warder) and asked him to contact the police; being a young mother alone with three children in the house, she didn't want to phone directly and have the police come to our door in sight of the men. The police came, caught the culprits in the act, locked them in the back of the car, went to the neighbour's door, took a brief statement and them came to ours to do the same. They did this in full view of the two men in the back of the car. Although no further harm came to the family as a result of this idiocy, it did have an effect on my mother and on her attitude towards the police. She felt that they had needlessly endangered herself and, more importantly, her children.

In recent conversation with her, I've argued that things have improved considerably in the intervening years. Today, as we sat together watching a BBC bulletin containing the information above, I had to concede that they might not have improved that much.

4 comments:

septicisle. said...

I don't particularly want to defend the police, but it seems the media might have had a hand in reproducing that. They probably asked the police if she had yet come forward: they said yes, and just repeated what the police had already said. Not necessarily the police's fault.

Tim said...

Any policeman in a position to comment on such matters should know that if he says it, the media will report it.

Gabriel said...

I think its quite easy to knock the police, but a lot of the negativity about the police is derived from peoples own personal dealings with them, so they score a lot of own goals...But watchinh programmes like 'Road wars' I must say that they seem incredibaly tolerant mostly..I must say that I find the blog most interesting and I shall be bookmarking it for further visits.

I hope some of your readers will visit my blog 'An Unrepentant Communist'..

http://unrepentantcommunist.blogspot.com/

Greetings to you all from County Kerry in Ireland

ourman said...

"But watching programmes like 'Road wars' I must say that they seem incredibly tolerant "

Gabriel...just wondering how tolerate, productive and downright nice you'd be at your workplace if your efforts were being filmed and beamed to a TV audience.