Not Guilty

Last week the Tomlinson case came to a conclusion at the Crown Court. The jury considered the case of manslaughter against PC Harwood and returned a not guilty verdict. Since then there has been outrage in some corners and sighs of relief in others.

If you are in the former then I urge you to read this article by @legalaware This gives a good insight into some of the complications in such cases.

On the same day 8 men had not guilty verdicts returned in relation to the Birmingham riots deaths. There has been similar outrage and shock. The BBC reported the incident as a terrible accident

In some police camps there has been strong support for the verdict for PC Harwood yet condemnation of the Birmingham verdict. People pleased to see justice done, even if they have doubts about Harwood’s actions, then find themselves outraged as these accused murderers walked free. This is likely to be viewed by spectators with contempt because it promotes the stereotypical belief some may have, that as far as police being prosecuted is concerned, its one rule for us and another for everyone else.

This viewpoint has high potential to further undermine public confidence in the police if we are seen on social media platforms to have contrary views about two not guilty verdicts. The facts remain, no matter how unpalatable the results may be to some of us, that in both these cases a not guilty verdict has been returned. The evidence has been presented and the cornerstone of justice, the jury, have concluded the case. There may be appeals. There may be civil actions. There may be internal investigations into officers involved. As police officers, win or lose, we have to accept the verdicts. It’s the system we work within.

The whole ethos of the jury and the court system is detailed beautifully here by tweeter @crimsolicitor_

There is much shouting in the press and social media about PC Harwood’s discipline record. I don’t see any shouting about previous convictions of those acquited of murder. The disclosure of Harwood’s record was denied. This is not my area of expertise but the reaction post verdict seems to confirm that a lynch mob mentality could have been engendered. It’s very confusing when you compare the general inability to disclose previous convictions in a court case but in others bad character evidence is admissible. Greater legal minds than mine will be able to explain this in a far more erudite manner than I can.

I leave you with one final thought in relation to the Harwood case. I tried to transfer forces about 11 years ago. I had a perfect discipline record but I had undergone knee surgery a few years prior. I was knocked back and refused because of that surgery. My application was rejected during the selection process. I was fully fit and operational but I didn’t challenge it. My eldest had just been born and I decided I was better placed with the team I knew than with a new force. A few years later I tried again and this time they snatched my hand off. For the sake of knee surgery I was initially refused a transfer even though fully fit. This raises some interesting question marks about the recruitment practices that PC Harwood has navigated.

Last night I followed #copchat on twitter. One tweet by @T_Burrows struck home.

If public knows of a bully cop, report them 2 supervisor, complaint system. I dont want those ppl giving me bad name #CopChat

This to me says it all. Harwood is not guilty of manslaughter but he has no place in the police service when his one action has eroded so much trust other officers work hard at every day to build.

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