Monday 20 January 2014

Back to June 2011, a police response

Someone sent me a link this morning from the September 2011 Quarterly Report for the Dyfed Powys Police Authority, before the 2012 Police Commissioner elections. It contains this extract;

'Protest - At 10.20 am on Wednesday 8th June 2011 Officers received a telephone call from County Hall Carmarthen stating that they had a female in the public gallery who was filming a council meeting which she did not have permission to do. The female is well known to council members and has in the past been abusive to members. Officers attended and spoke to the female who refused to stop filming and was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace. The county hall legal executive was happy that Police had taken positive action and were not making any formal complaint. She was therefore released from custody with no further action being taken against her.'

Aside from the fact that I have never been abusive to anyone in my life, the actual response from the then Deputy Chief Constable in a letter to the council Chief Executive Mr Mark James dated the 24th June 2011 was somewhat different in tone.

The letter was highly critical of the council's involvement of the police at all, largely due to the bad publicity the incident attracted and said, in no uncertain terms that they would not be doing the council's dirty work for them in the future. The Deputy Chief Constable was disappointed by the incident and "the role my officers were required to undertake". The letter went on to say;

"I am further disappointed to hear that when Mrs Thompson was removed from the public gallery some council officials within the Chamber sought fit to 'heckle' and 'cheer' at her arrest and removal. My officers were naturally upset and frustrated by such behaviour given that they had executed an arrest to prevent a breach of the peace.

I have made my position clear in my public response that Dyfed Powys Police is not responsible for the actions taken by Carmarthenshire County Council in respect of the 'prohibition' on filming."


Jan 21st; In response to a comment below, here is a copy of the undertaking I was required to sign before I was allowed to be released from custody. It followed discussions the police had with the council during the afternoon of June 8th 2011;


Anonymous said...

Unless there is some information missing concerning the events leading to Jacqui's arrest, I believe that the actions of the police was unlawful.

A breach of the peace is a common law offence.

There could not be a breach of the peace unless an act was done or threatened to be done which either actually harmed a person or, in his presence, his property or was likely to cause such harm or which put someone in fear of such harm being done. (Please see the stated case of R-v-Howell 1981)

Then there is the issue of Code 'G' of the codes of practice under the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which looks at the necessity of the arrest. I would question whether it was necessary to arrest her.

There appears to be prima facie evidence that Mrs. Thompson's arrest was unlawful and I would be interested to hear the police's response to this suggestion.

Mrs Angry said...

Just astounding. I really think it is time that the elected members of Carmarthenshire County Council found the courage to admit there is need of an urgent review of the way in which this council is run: and you, Jacqui, are owed an apology over your treatment in this disgraceful incident.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 18:13 that "Unless there is some information missing concerning the events leading to Jacqui's arrest, I believe that the actions of the police was unlawful."
Granted the police are not responsible for the action CCC took but equally they are accountable for the unlawful action they themselves took!

Anonymous said...

Anon 18:13 unfortunately your probably wrong. The police have the common law power to arrest to 'prevent the breach of the peace'. This is subject to the discretion of the police officer and is very rarely considered by the courts to have been miss used. Essentially power to arrest to prevent a breach is very wide as to allow the police the to remove people from situations that could get out of hand. I imagine that in this case the police will say that they decided it was better to remove jaqui from the situation to prevent a breach of the peace in general, rather than actually accusing her of being in breach of the peace. It's a subtle difference but it's the reason why the police are almost never found in the wrong when using their common law powers. It is subject only to the HRA principle of proportionality, which means the arrestee must show the arrest was disproportionate. This is harder to prove than is sounds as the police are given a general benefit of the doubt and would just say they were removing jaqui from a baying crowd (the Councillors). This is the bias of the uk public law system towards the police.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear Mrs Angry.

Anonymous said...

Jacqui,I may have got this wrong but from what I have heard is that a condition of your release was that you signed a CCC declaration that you would not film proceeding in the future? If this is true then I believe this to be unlawful too! Again, IF this is true, was this an official police document or one created by CCC?

caebrwyn said...

Thank you for all your comments.
All I can really hope for now is that no one else has to go through an experience such as this for trying to film a meeting of their local council.

Anonymous said...

it has always been my understanding that a breach of the peace was likely to occurs of having occurred was about to be repeated.

the understanding that you signed is actually part of th custody record and would have given the inspector "cover" to get you out. he arrest would have been seen by the police as instantly embarrassing and they would never have wanted to droit in oral circumstances.

the letter from the DCC is strongly worded but believe me she would have been livid that the force would have been put in this position.

The police have their own problems but believe me there is o way that any officer would want to arrest a middle aged woman for something like this. t seems to me that they have we're used disgustingly to make a point. ts a pity that you didn't tape the noises they made when of we're being removed.

Anonymous said...

I made the original comment on the likelihood that the arrest was unlawful and again refer those who disagree with me to the stated case of R-v-Howell 1981.

There was no evidence that Jacqui Thompson was being violent or likely to be violent, nor was there any suggestion she was about to commit criminal damage.

I also question whether it would pass the "necessity test” as defined under Code G of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Anonymous said...

Jacqui, I am no legal expert but to my knowledge there is no law against filming, therefore it could be argued that in making you sign such an undertaking then the police has breached your constitutional rights.

When you were arrested, were you interviewed? If so were you informed of your rights e.g. free legal advice etc? Do you have a copy of the custody record and if interviewed all records of this e.g. written, audio, video etc? You are entitled to these and you never know when you might need them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 14:43 makes a good point when he says, it is a pity you didn't tape the heckling and cheering that these despicable Cllrs and/or civil servants made. It could be argued that this is harassment! Take advice from your legal team as I am sure there were other members of the public sitting in the balcony who could bear witness.

Anonymous said...

Again, I am with you all the way anon 16:09!

Anonymous said...

Jacqui you might find this blog of interest to you, particularly the last paragraph where it could be argued that the police arrested the wrong person!

A case in the High Court was heard by Lord Justice Sedley in which he stated,"a police officer has no right to call upon a citizen to desist from lawful activity” and that “the critical question… is where the threat [of breach of the peace] is coming from, because it is there that the preventative action must be directed."

caebrwyn said...

Thanks again. All comments noted.

Anon 19.40 I was not interviewed but I was asked if I wanted a solicitor. I have copies of the custody record and all other relevant documents.

Anon 19.57 I was unable to record anything after the four police officers arrived as they immediately seized my phone.

Anonymous said...

I raised the earlier view that the arrest was unlawful and cited the case of R-v-Howell 1981. I have done some more research and have found the case of: -Redmond-Bate v Director of Public Prosecutions 1999

This highlighted the question for the police as to whether there was a threat of violence and if so, from whom it was coming. If there was no real threat, no question of intervention for breach of the peace arose.

I can see no reason for the two police officers to fear a threat of violence from Jacqui Thompson. I can also see no reason for her to be handcuffed as is shown in the photo that accompanies this blog.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the two female police officers think?
The picture of them is for all the world to see,they are arresting a person for something trivial.
What do people in other countries think,they probably
Did not think that such incidents happened in wales only
In banana republics.