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Worth complaining?

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
Last week I was stopped and searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act four times. On three occasions it was the same police officer who stopped me. The officer always seemed to be working alone and so had to call for another officer to come and witness the search. The officer who came to witness the search was never the same. After the first search he threaded to search me every time he saw me in town. Each time I was searched I was on my own so I have no witnesses.

Given that it's essentially my word against that of the police officer is it worth making a complaint?

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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Did you get his number?

    If so then there are two things to consider - did you give him reasonable grounds to suspect you? If not, is it worth following up?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I have his name and number.

    His grounds of suspicion have always been "you looked suspicious". On the first day he claimed I had drawn him a dirty look as if I was up to something suspicious about 20 minutes earlier (impossible as I was on the bus 20 minutes prior to that!). Hardly reasonable grounds to suspect me of having drugs!
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Then yes I would raise it as a harassment concern.

    I'm a little cynical though so I doubt much will come of it, however it would be useful if he was a little dodgy and subsequently planted something ;)
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Always worth complaining, but not much will come of it. Of course if you say you were searched, and he's never recorded it, then there's more to be going on.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Have you considered that you may be loitering around in an area known for drug dealing or use?

    As for making a complaint, it's not going to stop you from being searched. Yes maybe the cop will have words in his ear from the boss but if he suspects you, he suspects you. In terms of burdens of proof, it's in a sliding scale, and it doesn't take much.

    Untrue..............................Suspicion..............................Belief.........Fact.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    since when did standing at a bus stop constitute loitering? Or what about being in the queue at KFC? Or entering a church building?

    It's not simply suspicion that's required...section 23(2) states reasonable suspicion...he has failed on each occassion to show reasonable suspicion. All he demonstrated was a dislike towards me.

    Also I think you missed the point that he threatened to search me everytime he saw me, and so far he has. I call that harassment. If he were an ordinary member of the public (or even off-duty at the time) engaging in behaviour that constituted harassment then he would be liable to have an interdict granted against him, but because he is a police officer he can abuse his power almost with impunity.

    The problem is it's his word against mine and who is his Inspector likely to believe: his officer or a random member of the public. Without there being any other evidence I can't ptove anything other than that he searched me 3 times in 5 days.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    He should have recorded the searches and if he didn't, well, that's grounds for complaints in itself.

    However it does sound like you have a bit of a chip on your shoulder about the whole thing. Whether it's justified or not I wouldn't want to say, but it's certainly not going to help things.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Avizandum wrote: »
    since when did standing at a bus stop constitute loitering? Or what about being in the queue at KFC? Or entering a church building?

    It's not simply suspicion that's required...section 23(2) states reasonable suspicion...he has failed on each occassion to show reasonable suspicion. All he demonstrated was a dislike towards me.


    You're missing my point. My point is that suspicion is entirely subjective and requires absolutely no proof whatsoever. The easiest way to explain reasonable suspicion is "I suspect but I cannot prove". What constitutes reasonable suspicion is entirely upto the officer who searches you. Until you know why he has those suspicions merely speculating isn't going to do anything but wind you up.
    Also I think you missed the point that he threatened to search me everytime he saw me, and so far he has

    You didn't say that. Also, even if he did, so what? If he thinks you're a drug dealer, he's going to search you, that's his job and what we pay our taxes for. A Cop who thinks someone is in posession of an illegal substance but does nothing about it for fear of making you feel bad, isn't a very good cop.


    .
    The problem is it's his word against mine and who is his Inspector likely to believe: his officer or a random member of the public. Without there being any other evidence I can't ptove anything other than that he searched me 3 times in 5 days.

    You're right, it is. You've also not considered some other factors about why he has singled you out to be searched which you'll have to think about yourself.

    Now, I'm playing devil's advocate. It may be that the guy is simply a cunt on a power trip. It may be that he has a genuine belief that you're in posession of drugs, in which case he is going to intercept you every time he sees you. If it's the latter, there is very little if anything that can be done.

    My advice is ring his inspector or arrange to meet him/her. Inform them of what has been happening, and ask if there is a reason why it is happening. yes they will probably side with the cop, but at the very least once you've gone he will be asking the cop what he's doing. The answer may not be suitable for your ears (operational reasons) but he will have to satsify himself that the cop is acting lawfully and respond to your complaint. If you aren't satisfied with the action taken you can contact the professional standards unit who will investigate the matter on your behalf.
    Contrary to what people think, PSD do not look after rank and file cops. If they see dirt they use it.

    Ultimately, PSD may give you an answer that you don't want to hear, and that is the cop is acting lawfully, there is nothing we or anyone else can do. In which case you're stuffed and you'd better start walking around in a latex body suit.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I've spent the afternoon locked away in the library doing some research and discovered that the court has previously declared that the grounds he said gave him reasonable grounds to suspect and therefore the authority to search me do not constitute reasonable grounds to suspect on their own. So, he had better have a damn good explanation as a complaint is on its way.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Sorry, phrase that better.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but a court case has said that the reason he has given for having reasonable grounds is ok, but somehow they're not?

    Ultimately, just because you don't think the PC has reasonable grounds, doesn't mean he doesn't. I'd suggest, follow my advice and try and establish some facts first. Also, shoving a court case in the inspector's face isn't going to help your cause. Case law isn't made on the outcome of just one case, to suggest it is, is naive.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm perfectly aware of how case law works. I have spent the best part of the last 5 years reading Law (and no I'm not some Law student on a power trip. I've always respected the Police and still respect the work they do, this officer has done nothing to keep the respect he got by virtue of his position in the community).

    I have discovered dozens of cases in the case reports that specifically rule that the grounds this officer claimed gave him reasonable grounds to suspect do no such thing.

    My plan is to make a complaint to his Inspector, depending on the outcome of that will depend on whether I start using the judgments of their Lordships in the Appeal Court. As far as I'm concerned the reasons he has given at the time of the searches to justify the search do not, in law, justify the searches.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Has he not said anything other than "you look suspicious"? To be fair, that on it's own is a bit thin, it's how you define suspicious.

    To me a lad waiting alone in a known drug haunt is suspicious. Someone walking up and people's driveways is suspicious e.t.c.
    He does need to be more specific when he explains his actions, but as I've said before it's entirely subjective.

    I stopped a bloke because he'd been sat in his car outside a school for an hour, that seemed suspicious to me but to someone else perhaps not.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hey there,

    This must be really frustrating. You can see that the police have to do their job, but you are obviously frustrated because this police officer stopped you 4 times and said he would do so every time he saw you.

    As you rightly say, this will be his word against yours if there are no witnesses to the contrary.

    However, if you feel strongly about this then you should bring it to the attention of the relevant police authority. These days you can do this relatively easily by going on to the website of the police authority. They should have a complaint procedure and you should be able to complete this online. Include as much information as you can.

    You might also like to read this page about complaining about the police for more information. You may also like to visit the Independent Police Complaints Commission's website who oversee police complaints. You can make a complaint through their website too.

    As for it being worth it, it depends on what you are seeking. For complaints like this, which are not that serious, the police are likely to give you an apology and acknowledge that they did mistreat you. For complaints that are more serious, for example a police officer hitting someone etc, then a more formal and thorough investigation may be needed.

    Hope this helps. :)
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