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Retired chief superintendent awarded more than £40,000 after police spied on him


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Investigating officers showed 'disturbing lack' of knowledge of law, says tribunal.

Retired chief superintendent awarded more than £40,000 after police spied on him

A retired chief superintendent has been awarded more than £40,000 after he was spied on by another police force.

Gary Davies was subject to surveillance by British Transport Police (BTP) in 2016 which led to him being charged with five offences of sexual assault - charges he was later cleared of by a jury, a tribunal ruling said.

The investigatory powers tribunal found that Mr Davies was subject to unlawful surveillance in the absence of any authorisation, contrary to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000.

In its ruling the tribunal said Mr Davies is a man "with an exemplary record and of unimpeachable character", adding he had been a chief superintendent in another force and holds a senior and responsible post with a local authority.

Mr Davies left Avon and Somerset Police in 2012. He then started to work for Bristol Council, leading a team that supports troubled families in the city.

The ruling said: "The tribunal concludes that this was very far from being a mere technical breach of RIPA.

"It was a breach founded on ignorance that led to extremely severe and damaging consequences to the claimant.

"The invasion of the claimant's right to privacy on the train by the BTP was exacerbated by his arrest in full view of fellow commuters; the prosecution and trial that in our judgment would in all probability not have taken place; the issue of a wholly unnecessary press release; the inexcusable ignorance of all the investigating officers of the requirements of RIPA; the attempt to make light of the breach by Superintendent Sedgemore; the absence of any evidence that efforts are being made to make good the widespread ignorance of BTP officers of the relevant law; and the absence of any apology or offer of amends."

The tribunal made an award of £25,000 to reflect the gravity of the breach and the damage suffered by Mr Davies and a further award of £21,694 in respect of his defence costs, making a total of £46,694.

The ruling said the case "revealed a disturbing lack of familiarity with the relevant requirements of RIPA by almost every officer who was involved.”

DCC Adrian Hanstock from BTP said: "Investigations into allegations of sexual offences are complex and challenging inquiries, however we accept the tribunal's findings that in this case officers' standards of investigation and surveillance fell short of the quality we expect our officers to deliver.

"As part of an internal review to establish what could be improved both organisationally and for officers in this case, one officer appeared before a misconduct hearing and was issued with a gross incompetency notice.

"Another officer was issued a noticed regarding his unsatisfactory performance. Likewise we have sought advice from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal who hear complaints regarding the use of police surveillance.

"We will now review the findings and comments made by the tribunal committee and consider how best to respond to them."

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Usually these things are as a result of an over zealous but lacking in knowledge individual but in this case it must be worrying for the force that the knowledge was lacking at ‘almost every level’.
Suggests a fundamental lack of training/knowledge in RIPA across BTP.

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Sometimes you can’t write it.

RIPA is nothing new and there is case law regarding roles/responsibilities, who can do what, when, where and for how long etc.

There is not much more I can add other than to reinforce how incompetent this was. From the person who considered surveillance, to the person authorising it to the person(s) conducting show a huge level of incompetence. The article does not mention what levels of surveillance were conducted but at a minimum a superintendent would have been overseeing this. I think this should be given more attention that it has.

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As with most things, there's probably more to this than can be / will be put out in to the public domain.

All officers - regardless of rank, role or experience - should know the law they are expected to apply and seek clarity when there is any doubt about a tasking. "I was only following orders" isn't a defence to not abiding by the requirements of r-v-Sutherland.

 

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