Questions over police ability to handle evidence…

ONE of the emerging themes of the Omagh bomb trial is how the police appear to be verging on incompetent when it comes to handling evidence

  • ONE of the emerging themes of the Omagh bomb trial is how the police appear to be verging on incompetent when it comes to handling evidence…

    It is only NOW that Police incompetence is being highlighted!

    I thought this was the first rule of Policing,

    institutionalised incompetence, followed by institutionalised racisim.

    When you have a majority of law enforcement being the kids, no-one liked at school, weasel featured, moustache wearing little shits, and that is just the women, no wonder public opinion is very anti-police.

    Rather than working for their pensions, police should be working for the common good.

    Mind you, wonder who had access to the evidence?

  • Dec
  • POL

    Never had much problem concocting it.

  • Never had much problem concocting it
    pol

    There has never been a problem preserving concocted evidence, in fact the police concocted evidence rooms are always maintained so the concocted evidence is always in first class condition.

  • m

    So this is the removed PSNI we are told about?

    Is the evidence tampering an addiction for these people? Can they ever be trusted to do their job with integrity?

    Evidence tampering ffs! What sort of police service is that!

  • Fanny

    Remind me again why Sinn Féin are reluctant to support this sterling police force.

  • Arthur Morgan

    Fanny Sinn Fein will be announcing their support for this same police force in the near future, yes like all the other UTurns, remember not a bullet not an ounce. Anyway back to the subject, this case against this individual was always going to be a crock of shxx. The authorities North and South have been so interested in closing down these dissidents that they seem to have forgotten about the rule of law, resulting in several miscarriages of justice and cases collapsing. The McKevitt case was an example of bad law. The Omagh victims and their families have been let down by both governments by their lack of will to go after the bombers. This case stinks and will probably turn into a circus.

  • Well, presumably the problem lies with the original RUC mishandling of cases, but I agree that this kind of thing should never happen, regardless of whose watch it occurred under.

    Fanny- it’s not about supporting the police per se. It’s about supporting and using policing structures to help ensure a better service for the public- this involves praising the police when relevant, and strongly censuring them when needed. We need to move from the old unionist approach of blindly supporting the police no matter what, and the current provisional approach of criticising the police no matter what (the ‘heavy handed approach’ mantra being the prime example), to a reconciled position whereby the police can be viewed objectively. This is why it is inportant for parties to roll up their sleeves and utilise the Patten structures to direct policing towards a position whereby it provides a full and professional service to the whole community.

    Hopefully when we reach that point, gross incompetence such as that highlighted will become a thing of the past.

  • nmc

    El Mat,

    well put.

  • P O’Neil

    The evidence processed at crime scenes is done so by SOCOs (Scene of Crime Officers, now called CSIs) who are mostly part of a civilain scientific support team. Evidence is usually stored in a secured Evidence Room, depending on the nature of the crime evidence may remain there for up to 30 years. However, it is clear from the trial that that evidence has been tampered with, wrong labels, and evidence from other scenes catelogued as evidence from the Omagh scene. If this is the standard of evidence collection on behalf of the SOCOs it is bad enough. But given the situation, it may be more possible that evidence was intentionally altered or tampered with by a third party, this is supported by the fact that a handwritting expert was called to testify. Even though the evidence ‘may not’ have been tampered with, reasonable doubt exists. All evidence is labelled so that a clear chain of custordy can be established ie all those who handled the evidence for the scene to the court room. If this chain cannot be established then the evidence is inadmissable.

    In normal circumstances possibly ‘tampered’ evidence is no longer admissable in a court of law, however, the North of Ireland is far from normal. In fact if the entire case is based on the afore mentioned evidence then the case would be thrown out on technicalities. If the mistakes were the fault of Scene Investigators heads would usually roll (again being NI….). However, if there are more sinister forces at work with the intention of peverting the course of justice, then matter is a lot serious, although I doubt heads will roll, because it would have been an inside job. Given the ‘case’ it’s obvious that someone wants to cover up the truth, or involvement of securocrats in the Omagh bombing. Again another shining example of British Justice and the CJS in all its naked devilry. The more pressing question is, if it happened in this case, how many more cases did it happen in, and how many of them were detected…..?

    Over the years, there has been calls for CSIs to be more independent from Policing Authorities because of such eventualties, also it’s difficult to ‘police’ someone when they are actually paying your wages.

  • Fanny

    El Matador

    “… this involves praising the police when relevant, and strongly censuring them when needed.”

    Oh yeah? So Wiki is wrong as usual with this entry:

    “He [Ronnie Flanagan] quit in 2002, amid criticism over the handling of the Omagh bombing, and was replaced by Hugh Orde. Since then he has served in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and was appointed as HM chief inspector of constabulary in 2005. He has been tasked to review the police arrangements in British-occupied Iraq in December 2005.”

    What would have his “praising” and reward had he REALLY fucked up? An earldom?

  • Fanny- you miss my point. I really couldn’t give a toss what positions the British choose to put ex-policemen in. My interest lies in addressing problems so as those highlighted, and working to ensure that they don’t happen again. Isn’t that what we all want?

  • Rory

    As, nmc says, “Well put” indeed, El Matador.

    Who knows with enough goodwill the PSNI may earn itself a reputation for fair play and that public respect that is earned only by the police’s own respect for law and civil rights such as that accorded to the London Metropolitan Police.

    But only by the Daily Mail of course. The rest of us know what a bunch of rotten, brutal, thuggish, racist, corrupt, murderous, fit-up merchants they truly are.

    Still, these days at least, they don’t really care if one is a Catholic or Protestant low income earner before being fitted-up or shot and if one is black or Muslim why, then even one’s income level is not so important.

    A form of equal opportunities policing I suppose.

  • * such as those highlighted

  • Fanny

    El Matador

    “Isn’t that what we all want?”

    Sure, but is there a valid reason why coppers in NI should be judged by different standards from other UK forces?

    Is it because people say: “Well gee, those poor folks have had such a rough ride, anything they do that’s halfway respectable has to be rewarded with much wampum and honours.”

  • The Devil

    ****** WHY DO YOU ALL BELIEVE THAT THE EVIDENCE WAS MISHANDLED *****

    DO YOU NOT THINK THAT THIS SENARIO HAS BEEN CONSTRUCTED SO THAT THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INCARCERATION OF REPUBLICANS FOR THE NEXT 30 YEARS…. because that is what will be expected as a sentence if Hoey is deemed guilty by the court.

    NO A MUCH MORE ADVANTAGEOUS SENARIO IS A DISMISSED CASE DUE TO FABRICATED EVIDENCE, A PRESSURE FREE SEIN FEIN, AN POLITICAL FREE MAGHERBERRY, AND A PROMOTED JUDGE FOR SERVICES RENDERED.

    **** OR AM I JUST BEING A CYNIC *****

  • silly us

    Devil,

    2 things… 1 you’re probably spot on and I never thought along those lines and for that alone I thank you, and 2 stop shouting I can read

  • Dr Snuggles

    [b]Fanny said:[/b]
    [i]”Oh yeah? So Wiki is wrong as usual with this entry:

    “He [Ronnie Flanagan] quit in 2002, amid criticism over the handling of the Omagh bombing, and was replaced by Hugh Orde. Since then he has served in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and was appointed as HM chief inspector of constabulary in 2005. He has been tasked to review the police arrangements in British-occupied Iraq in December 2005.”[/i]

    [b]Response:[/b]
    Yes, it is wrong. The language is deliberately pejorative. First, he did not “quit” – he served out his full term as appointed by the then Police Authority, with two unprecedented extensions. Secondly, he was not “replaced by Hugh Orde”, he was suceeded by Hugh Orde, who applied for an open position. The language clearly implies that he was forced from office and a ready-made replacement installed.

    This is what security journalist Chris Ryder says about Flanagan:
    [i]”He had to go round reassuring all sorts of people, including police widows. He had to quell mutinies. No other individual would have had the trust and authority. His reputation is perhaps tarnished because of Drumcree and Omagh and by the subsequent atmosphere of witchhunt, but when the mists of history clear the true value of his integrity and contribution will become clear.”[/i]

    And this from Humberside Chief Constable Tim Hollis, who cooperated with Flanagan’s review of the Soham murder inquiry:
    [i]”He is one of very few people I regard as truly inspirational, not only for the professional way in which he has resolved the most complex issues within the RUC and HMIC, but also for his honest and raw humanity. He is a very warm, pleasant and charming human being, with no airs and graces. I witnessed the great sensitivity with which he dealt with all concerned, the police officers and the families of the murdered girls.”[/i]

    Maybe you’re a better person, Fanny. Maybe you know all and see all from the dizzying altitude of your high horse. Maybe you could have done a better job under the most trying of circumstances. But I fucking doubt it.

    [b]Art Hostage said:[/b]
    [i]”When you have a majority of law enforcement being the kids no-one liked at school, weasel featured, moustache wearing little shits, and that is just the women, no wonder public opinion is very anti-police.”[/i]

    [b]Response:[/b]
    This is the most blatant example of ignorant, generalised, and [u]sexist[/u] abuse I’ve seen in a while on Slugger. What makes it so pathetic is that it’s dressed up as (feeble) humour. Although it barely warrants an intelligent response, it’s fair to point out that the latest Omnibus Survey showed that 83% of respondents had confidence in the PSNI “to provide a day-to-day policing service for everyone in Northern Ireland”. Hardly a case of public opinion being “very anti-police”.

  • mzrti

    I heard Martin Ingrim and Kevin Fulton being interviewed on an American radio show and Kevin Fulton said three days before the Omagh bomb he met with the man who was mixing the bomb,Kevin Fulton says this man was his “boss” in the IRA and also a British agent. Why has Fulton not been called to give evidence, or has he?

  • Fanny-

    “Sure, but is there a valid reason why coppers in NI should be judged by different standards from other UK forces?”

    No. Why? Who said that?

    The Devil-

    The Omagh bombers were not republicans.

  • The Devil

    El Matador,

    The people that carried out the attack were former members of the PIRA and left for reasons of ideology and for what they percieved as the betrayal of Republican ideals….

    Now you may think of them as Bastards extaordinaires or mindless diehards but the reality is that NEITHER of those thoughts make them any less Republican in their political beliefs THAT MILITARY FORCE IS REQUIRED TO REMOVE THE BRITISH INTEREST IN IRELAND therefore they are REPUBLICAN…..

  • Devil-

    I know why they quit the provos. But whatever their motivation, their activity did nothing to further the cause of Irish unity in any sense, either geographical or demographical. It had already been proven that bombing people in Ireland was not going to get the British Government to withdraw, hence the fact that their erstwhile friends in the provos were looking for alternative methods of operation. They damaged the cause of bringing about a 32-county Irish republic of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter- therefore, they are not Republicans.

  • The Devil

    El Matador,

    Irish Republicans believe in the use of force
    Irish Nationalists believe in the use of dialogue

    **** Omagh was not Dialogue ****

    **** The Continuity IRA are not Nationalists ****

  • Paolo Di Canio

    mzrti
    beware of Alex Jones. Many regard him as a disinformation channel

  • mzrti

    Paolo, I have heard this before and to be honest i’m not really a fan of Alex Jones but I was linked to the interview by a friend and thought it was worth mentioning. There has to be a grain of truth into what Martin Ingrim and Kevin Fulton are claiming went on inside the organisations they both worked for. I always thought Republicans believed Fulton was a Walter Mitty type character and Loyalists believed him to be more truthful but now he has said these things about the British government, I wonder what people will think of him.

  • Fanny

    Dr Snuggles, thank you for setting me straight on Ronnie Flanagan, whom I chose as a suitable case for treatment only because he’s rather better known than other ex-RUC constables.

    I’m delighted for him that the chaps you mention think so highly of him, and presumably by extension the force he commanded.

    There is, however, a question that continues to niggle me. And it’s this. If Flanagan and the RUC were as wonderful as you suggest, why did HMG set Chris Patten on their case?

  • A strange paradox, while Reddaway settles into his new abode in Dublin and Gordon Kerr gets to play change the leader in Iraq, both retaining all their privilages and pension rights, Martin Ingram, Kevin Fulton etc, the point men during the dark days in Ireland, get hung out to dry.

  • Devil-

    The two are not mutually exclusive. Someone who believes in the concept of physical force no matter what is neither a nationalist nor a republican- they are quite simply a nut.

    An Irish nationalist believes in a united nation, an Irish republican wishes to see a system of government on this island which has no place for a monarch or hereditary hegemony. The two are generally complementary. Indeed, some would argue that those who use physical force are more nationalistic (as they wish to violently eject the ‘foreigner’) whereas those who use dialogue and peaceful means are more republican (as they believe in the use of democratic procedure and agreement rather than imposed and unaccountable governance).

    Don’t just believe the propaganda of self-awarded labels.

  • Dr Snuggles

    [b]Fanny asked:[/b]
    [i]”If Flanagan and the RUC were as wonderful as you suggest, why did HMG set Chris Patten on their case?”[/i]

    [b]Response:[/b]
    Firstly, I did not suggest that either Ronnie Flanagan or the RUC were wonderful – read my post. I just wanted to provide a counterpoint to the glib assertion that Flanagan was booted out of office in ignominy. Therefore, the premise for your equally glib question isn’t valid.

    Secondly, the Patten Commission was set up under terms of reference that were spelt out in the Good Friday Agreement – not just by the British Government.

    Thirdly, is from the Irish Echo:

    [i]In 1996, Flanagan at age 47 was already deputy chief constable when he became associated directly with reform, overseeing a wide-ranging review of the force. Entitled “A Fundamental Review of Policing,” it produced 189 recommendations for change to bring the RUC more into line with being a community-oriented service.

    “It’s important to remember that of the 175 Patten recommendations, 150 came from the Flanagan review,” said Michael McGimpsey, an Ulster Unionist Party assembly member. “He carried a load of enormous change with little thanks.”[/i]

    So, while the name and badge change and some other superficial stuff came from Patten, the root and branch reform came from Flanagan’s own review.

    Your question has no factual basis whatsoever.

  • Fanny

    “the Patten Commission was set up under terms of reference that were spelt out in the Good Friday Agreement – not just by the British Government.”

    Oh, please. What sort of doublespeak is this? If the force had been doing its job competently, impartially and fairly, then there wouldn’t have been a need for an inquiry.

    That clear enough for you, Dr Snuggles?

  • Dr Snuggles

    Fanny,

    Yes, quite a lot is clear.

    It is crystal clear that you are making facile assumptions about my opinion of pre-Patten policing that are not reflected in my posts.

    I did not say that the force was doing its job competently, impartially and fairly. I was simply correcting erroneous personal aspersions that were cast on an individual. You named an individual and relied on a woefully amateurish and innacurate Wikipedia entry to do it. All I did was set that right.

    My views of pre-Patten policing are beside that point, but it so happens that I most definitely believe that there was a need for a new beginning to policing. However, it happens to be a fact that the Patten Report’s recommendations reflected almost in their entirety the recommendations of Flanagan’s Fundamental Review — a fact you tactically (but unsurprisingly) ignored in your response to my last post.

    But let’s be clear, the Government did not “get on the RUC’s case”. The Patten Commission was set up by the Good Friday Agreement. That’s not doublespeak – it’s fact.

    Here’s what the Agreement says:

    [i]”An independent Commission will be established to make recommendations for future policing arrangements in Northern Ireland including means of encouraging widespread community support for these arrangements within the agreed framework of principles reflected in the paragraphs above and in accordance with the terms of reference at Annex A. The Commission will be broadly representative with expert and international representation among its membership and will be asked to consult widely and to report no later than Summer 1999.”[/i]

    Pretty clear.

  • Fanny

    “Pretty clear.”

    Oh really? To whom, a lawyer? Let me make it clearer: If Flanagan and his force had been doing their job competently, impartially and fairly, then there wouldn’t have been a need for a root and branch overhaul of the RUC.

    I stated earlier that the RUC were also singled out for accolades not accorded to other forces, such as the George Cross. Given that this force had a big hand in many of the discriminatory practices of the Stormont-led regime that the GFA sought to replace, this was akin to awarding a firefighter for putting out a blaze he’d helped to start.

  • Reader

    El Matador: They damaged the cause of bringing about a 32-county Irish republic of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter- therefore, they are not Republicans.
    Same applies to the Provos, doesn’t it? In fact, the safest way to remain a Republican is never to get out of bed in the morning. That way you don’t get into arguments with Prods and Dissenters. The other problem with your definition is that it is retrospective. You can’t tell who isn’t a Republican until after they are dead and you can audit their life’s work…

  • Dr Snuggles

    Fanny,

    Lawyers aren’t the only ones who can understand plain English.

    Restating a false statement doesn’t make it any truer. You are ignoring the [u]facts[/u] in my responses to your ill-considered questions, and then replying with vague allegories about fires.

    The root and branch overhaul was needed primarily because of the move from a war mode to a post-war mode. I suggest you actually read the Patten Report. I have.

    Here’s what it says:
    [i]Policing cannot be fully effective when the police have to operate from fortified stations in armoured vehicles, and when police officers dare not tell their children what they do for a living for fear of attack from extremists from both sides.[/i]

    As for the George Cross, perhaps you should go to the not considerable bother of finding out why it was awarded.

    This is what the citation says:
    [i]The Force has suffered heavily in protecting both sides of the community from danger – 302 officers have been killed in the line of duty and thousands more injured, many seriously. Many officers have been ostracised by their own community and others have been forced to leave their homes in the face of threats to them and their families. As Northern Ireland reaches a turning point in its political development this award is made to recognise the collective courage and dedication to duty of all of those who have served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary and who have accepted the danger and stress this has brought to them and to their families.[/i]

    You might not agree, Fanny, but at least have enough respect for yourself to make an attempt to respond to facts with something other than ever-more glib, unfounded, and unresearched nonsense.

  • Fanny

    Dr Snuggles

    I’ll try again one last time. The RUC were a major part of the problem in NI. They behaved abominably and were to most nationalists a discredited force. They either had to go, or undergo a drastic change. Flanagan had to make recommendations before someone else made them for him.

    And yes, I did read the Patten Report, and the George Cross citation. And I put it to you that “the danger and stress … brought to them and to their families” was largely of the RUC’s own making. And I’d have thought my firefighter analogy was anything but vague.

    Interested parties can put any spin they wish on these basic facts but cannot alter them. The RUC didn’t amount to much; the PSNI (as shown inter alia by this thread’s topic) have a long way to go as well.

  • Dr Snuggles

    I happened to be in Lurgan town centre on 16 June 1997 when two policemen on community beat in Church Walk were shot in the back by the IRA. I didn’t see the murders, but I heard the shots. I think that that amounted to quite a bit for those families, and I won’t ever forget that day.

    An innocent Catholic workmate of mine was murdered by the UVF in 1994.

    I’m also aware that there are other families who have suffered and blame the RUC. However, as an institution, I believe that the facts demonstrate a clear difference between the bombing or ambush shooting of terrorists, and the primarily defensive action of the police. You might not agree, but at least bring some factual information to the debate.

    The IRA (who have awarded themsleves some medals too) killed 1,707 people during the troubles. Thats 31 times as many people as deaths at the hands of the RUC. That may be an uncomfortable fact, but it’s a fact nonetheless, and one that some would do well to remember.

    I have already said in a previous post that I entirely accept that a new beginning to policing was required, and I happen to agree with the Patten recommendations, including 50:50 recruitment. Your “basic facts” are nothing other than unsubtantiated opinion.

  • Fanny

    Dr Snuggles

    Certainly the atrocities you cite did occur, and more besides. But surely the IRA didn’t wake up one morning in the late 1960s and 70s and say: “Let’s kill a few cops.” Insurgents/freedom fighters/terrorists do not suddenly attack the state because it seems like a good idea.

    The RUC had blotted their copybook and behaved abominably, demeaning their uniform (B-Specials anyone?). They ought to have taken steps to change many decades ago. They did not – nor did the sectarian government for whom they were by and large the armed enforcers.

    Only when a bitter war had been waged, one which no one showed signs of winning, did sanity prevail. Change was needed. It came grudgingly – and still does.

    This is not “unsubstantiated opinion” and it’s all I wish to say on the matter, as I’m going over old ground here. I see little point in it as it’s all in the public domain.

  • Dr Snuggles

    I’m glad that’s all you wish to say on the matter, as it’s crystal clear that you’ve failed to refute historical matters of record, facts or figures with anything other than sweeping, blinkered, and entirely one-sided opinion.

    Anyone reading the discussion can see that you maligned an individual, and when that was countered, you retreated into fairly mindless RUC-bashing.

    The individuals responsible for murdering those two policemen in Lurgan did indeed wake up that day and say, “Let’s kill a few cops.” And they got away with it too.

    I hope that other readers of this thread will at least see that I have tried to make a lucid argument based on matters of record, rather than lazy analogies and sweeping statements.

    Your comment that change was needed implies that I did not think that it was. For the [b]third[/b] time, I agree that change was needed and I back the Patten reforms.

  • Fanny

    Dr Snuggles

    I agree 100% with everything you say.

  • rtj

    Fanny,
    Come back in 2 days and read over your previous posts and it’ll be quite clear how you’ve been completely out-witted. I suggest you read Dr Snuggles posts and take away the lesson of (1) citing evidence and (2) keeping to the point.
    J

  • Fanny

    rtj

    I also agree 100% with everything you say.

  • Reader

    Fanny: The RUC had blotted their copybook and behaved abominably, demeaning their uniform (B-Specials anyone?)
    The B-specials weren’t part of the RUC.

  • Fanny

    Did I say they were, Reader? They were under the command of the RUC, though. Therefore the RUC knew what they were up to and clearly condoned their excesses.

    Now you know what I meant by blotting their copybooks. And that’s just one example of the behaviour of a truly dreadful police force.

    Need more? Look them up. Like I say, this stuff is all in the public domain.