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Watchdog labelled 'not fit for purpose' after PC cleared of using dog as a weapon


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Review demanded into IOPC case branded 'farce from start to finish' by federation.

On guard: German Shepherd Jerry

On guard: German Shepherd Jerry

Date - 17th June 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
7 Comments7 Comments}

 

A police watchdog accused of a witch hunt has been branded “not fit for purpose” after an "ultimate professional" officer was cleared by a jury of allegations he used his dog as a weapon.

Three-times commended PC Paul Jackson was investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct after complaints about his use of German Shepherd dog Jerry and excessive violence while working for Greater Manchester Police's tactical vehicle intercept unit.

The probe led to the dog handler being put on trial accused of going on the attack with Jerry against five suspects who all abandoned cars followed by the unit in separate incidents between August 2015 and September 2016.

The Crown claimed the 36-year-old officer deployed Jerry to "vent his contempt" for criminals but on Friday a jury at Preston Crown Crown found him not guilty of five counts of wounding with intent.

His colleague, PC Paul Lockett, 37, a plain-clothes officer in the unit, was also found not guilty of aiding and abetting one of the alleged assaults and a second count of misconduct in a public office.

PC Jackson wiped away tears after he and PC Lockett were told by the judge, Mr Justice Nicklin, they could leave the dock and sit behind their lawyers.

Both officers nodded their thanks to jurors as they left the courtroom.

Today the police federation has called for a “full and independent review” of the case by Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Policing Minister Nick Hurd.

The five complainants who gave evidence at the trial all have previous convictions – ranging from cannabis possession and driving offences to a career burglar and a convicted murderer.

They were all accused of lying to claim that PC Jackson held them down to allow Jerry to continue biting them, and that their injuries were in fact caused by them resisting arrest.

Following the verdicts, Greater Manchester Police Federation chairman Stu Berry said the case had been "nothing short of a witch hunt."

Writing on the federation's Facebook page, Mr Berry said: "This whole case has been a farce from start to finish and an unnecessary waste of the public money in times of extreme austerity.

"This case has been nothing short of a witch hunt as the IOPC proactively sought evidence and built a flimsy case around evidence provided by convicted burglars and worse, a convicted murderer."

Calling for an independent review, he added: "The IOPC is clearly not fit for purpose in its current form.

"The lives of two highly motivated and respected police officers have been ruined with long-lasting consequences for their professional and private lives.

"Have we got to the point where we as a society believe the word of career criminals over honest and hardworking police officers?

"We now face a situation where dog handlers are reluctant to do their job. Instead of focusing on catching the bad guys, their first thoughts are 'we don't want to be the next Paul Jackson'."

Giving evidence, former lifeguard PC Jackson said he acted lawfully at all times in a reasonable and proportionate manner. He denied he lost control in anger and allowed Jerry to bite his target while on the ground.

Jurors heard the officer had received three commendations – including two chief constable's awards – since he joined the Greater Manchester force in 2008.

In 2010 he rugby-tackled a man who doused himself in petrol and threatened to set himself alight with his family nearby.

Five years later, he helped detain a gang who robbed a farmhouse in Hull and tortured a couple.

Inspector Tariq Butt told the jury PC Jackson was the "ultimate professional" and added: "If I could clone the traits of a police dog handler it would be Pc Paul Jackson."

PC Lockett denied acting as lookout in the alleged wounding of Kelly and said he did not report the incident because no wrongdoing had taken place.

PC Jackson’s co-accused also earned a chief constable's award for his role in apprehending the gangsters in the violent robbery in Hull.

IOPC regional director Amanda Rowe said: "These were serious allegations against the officers which clearly required criminal investigation.

"We respect the jury's decision. The evidence has been heard in full and has been properly scrutinised via the judicial process.

"The next steps are to complete the conduct matters for these officers. Greater Manchester Police agreed with our findings, and we await their response with regard to any further proceedings."

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It's astonishing that the IOPC are so desperate to prosecute police officers that they will use proven violent and dishonest criminals as witnesses.  It is correct that it is ultimately the purpose of the courts to test their evidence and their credibillity but there is also an evidential threshold that needs to be met before a case even ends up in court, and I can't help but think that if the defendants were not police officers this would never have got that far.

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It is often the psychological damage that they cause to the officer by their extended and prolonged vendettas. All you need for a disastrous verdict is for one or two Jurors who have convictions or have an axe to grind and your career and life can be finished. The topic headline is correct because, they are not fit for purpose.

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'I feel like I was being punished for doing my job'

GMP Fed: 'IOPC proactively sought evidence and built a flimsy case around evidence provided by convicted burglars and worse, a convicted murderer'.

PC Paul Jackson and Jerry

PC Paul Jackson and Jerry

Date - 20th June 2019
By - Martin Buhagiar - Police Oracle
1 Comment1 Comment}

 

A police officer who sat through a six week trial accused of using a police dog to assault suspects says he has been treated "terribly by the IOPC".

PCs Paul Jackson and Paul Lockett have been left to pick up the pieces after they were put through a two-year long Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation.

GMP Federation says the IOPC gathered and trusted evidence from convicted burglars and a murderer as part of the case against the two officers.  

PC Jackson, a decorated officer with ten years’ service, was accused of using his police dog Jerry to assault five male suspects. 

He said: “It’s ludicrous it got that far. I feel like I was being punished for doing my job, being too proactive.

“Jerry and I used to be a great team - we were catching criminals. I was making arrests, now two years of not being able to [that] - that’s what members of the public have lost out on.”

He added: “I’m not saying there shouldn’t be an investigation body of any sort. What we do, we should be accountable for doing so. But the way it does it is just wrong.

“I’ve been treated terribly by the IOPC. There’s been no consideration whatsoever from the IOPC investigators into the work that we do, the stress and everything that we work under and the split-second decisions that we have to make on a daily basis. 

“The way they’ve gone about it and dealt with it, it's disgusting and not appropriate 

“I’m glad it’s all over, and I’m glad the jury came to a unanimous decision.”

PC Jackson says the stress has led to him questioning his future with the service and as a PC. “I don’t know how I feel now,” he adds. “I’ve been thinking 'is this the role I want to keep doing?' Mainly because I don’t want to be putting myself in this situation again. 

“If I’m a frontline police officer, whether it be a dog handler or driving around as a local section officer, we’re using force all the time. That’s part of our job. That’s why we have powers to protect us.

“But it doesn’t seem that way. We’re just getting scrutinised for using what we have lawfully been given. I’m just scared I’m going to have to go through that again.”

During the trial, GMP Insp Tariq Butt told the court: "If I could clone the traits of a police dog handler it would be PC Paul Jackson."

A jury at Preston Crown Court cleared PC Jackson of five counts of wounding with intent and five counts of causing grievous bodily harm.

He said: “It’s all left me feeling very bitter. I used to want to get up and go to work. That is what I’ve really enjoyed about being a police officer. How do I feel now? I don’t know. Genuinely, I do not know. I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know what I want to go back to do.”

GMP Federation Chairman Stu Berry has been appalled by the investigation and how the IOPC went about sourcing its evidence. 

He said: “The IOPC proactively sought evidence and built a flimsy case around evidence provided by convicted burglars and worse, a convicted murderer.

“Questions have to be asked about the standards of the IOPC investigation and staggering levels of incompetence. How are these people accountable for their actions?

“The lives of two highly motivated and respected police officers have been ruined with long-lasting consequences for their professional and private lives.

“The IOPC has become a significant risk to officer welfare due to its disproportionate method of investigation and that is indicative of an organisation that does not possess the necessary experience, skill, ability or knowledge of policing to understand the tactics, split-second decision making or the demands of the Job.

“A simple change of name has proved futile in addressing those issues.”

He added: “In consultation with our legal team I will be writing to the Home Secretary and the Policing Minister and will be inviting them to Greater Manchester to speak to the officers and seek an urgent review of IOPC practices.”

PC Lockett, who was acquitted of aiding and abetting one of the alleged assaults, said he had had to take time off sick with the stress the investigation had caused. 

“I am incredibly relieved and shocked that it ever got to the stage that it got to,” he said. “Ultimately, if it hadn’t gone our way, we could have ended up losing our jobs, and potentially going to prison.

“The way the case progressed, I ended up going off sick with stress. It had all become too much for me.”

He added: “Part of me wants to get back straight to doing the job that I love to do. That’s why I joined the police. 

“I have this fear at the back of my mind that I could go out and the first job I come across could be something where suddenly I come under the focus again of the IOPC, and I don’t want to police in a world where I have that worry.”

Following the conclusion of last week's trial, IOPC Regional Director Amanda Rowe said: “These were serious allegations against the officers which clearly required criminal investigation. We respect the jury’s decision; the evidence has been heard in full and has been properly scrutinised via the judicial process. 

“The next steps are to complete the conduct matters for these officers. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) agreed with our findings, and we await their response with regard to any further proceedings.”

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IOPC strikes back: 'We won't apologise for holding officers to account'

Regional Director slams GMP Fed chairman's comments as 'unhelpful and disappointing'.

IOPC strikes back: 'We won't apologise for holding officers to account'

 

Date - 20th June 2019
By - Martin Buhagiar - Police Oracle
1 Comment1 Comment}

 

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has hit back at criticism of the way it handled a case against a GMP officer, stating it will not apologise for "ensuring such actions are held to account".

Three-times commended PC Paul Jackson was investigated after complaints about his use of German Shepherd Jerry and excessive violence while working for Greater Manchester's tactical vehicle intercept unit.

The probe led to the dog handler being put on trial accused of going on the attack with Jerry against five suspects who all abandoned cars followed by the unit in separate incidents between August 2015 and September 2016.

In court it was alleged the 36-year-old officer deployed Jerry to "vent his contempt" for criminals but earlier this month a jury at Preston Crown Crown found him not guilty of five counts of wounding with intent.

His colleague, PC Paul Lockett, 37, a plain-clothes officer in the unit, was also found not guilty of aiding and abetting one of the alleged assaults and a second count of misconduct in a public office.

This morning the IOPC was accused of leading a "witch hunt" against the officers with GMP Federation chairman Stu Berry labelling the investigation "a farce" adding: "The IOPC is clearly not fit for purpose in its current form."

However, IOPC Regional Director Amanda Rowe, has hit back branding Mr Berry's comments "unhelpful and disappointing". She said: "This is the largest investigation regarding police dog bites we’ve ever undertaken. Our work took place over a two-year period because of multiple complaints against PC Jackson over this time.

“People suffered serious injuries during these police incidents, and we’re sure the vast majority of people would want to know what happened. That’s what we did, and we won’t apologise for ensuring such actions are held to account.

“A large amount of evidence was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, who made the decision to bring charges. 

“This evidence was subject to intense scrutiny during a lengthy trial and two days of deliberations by a jury - proof that our work is thorough and robust.

“Both officers were treated fairly throughout this investigation, and remain subject to outstanding misconduct proceedings for their actions.”

Ms Rowe added: "Stuart Berry’s comments are unhelpful and disappointing. We liaised with the Federation throughout this investigation, and we addressed a number of Mr Berry’s specific concerns last year, and corrected his misbeliefs around this investigation.

"These were unfortunately repeated publicly last week, and we are considering our next steps. All complainants in this case were provided to us by GMP themselves.”

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Let's face it the ÌOPC are Teflon coated. Would anyone believe that they would ever admit being wrong and apologise, not in a month of Sundays.

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The IOPC seem genuinely surprised that a police dog bites. And they didn't just look into it as they claim, if they didn't want a conviction it wouldn't have gone to court. Simple.

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