POLICE COMPLAINTS AUTHORITY
The independent body established by Act ofParliament to oversee complaints by members of the public against police officers
10 Great George Street London SW1P 3AE
Our Reference COM 2000/142/007075
Date n ' April 2000
I am writing about the complaint you made to this Authority in September 1999, concerning an officer of the City of London Police. You complain that PC Mc????? was oppressive in his conduct when he stopped you for not displaying your vehicle's tax disc. You also complain that the officer gave you a fixed penalty notice for failing to wear a seat belt and that he unnecessarily delayed you. You also complain that subsequently you were stopped by the police for having a camera in your car and a picture was taken of your car from an unknown vehicle that you believe was a police car. You have said that you believe that this was directly linked to your dealings with PC Mc?????. You have also complained that PC Mc????? committed perjury by not telling the truth in his statement, as exemplified by inaccuracies in his description of the colour and registration of your car.
An investigation into your complaint has been carried out based on your correspondence of September 1999. The officer in question has been interviewed and statements have been taken from other officers. I have also examined all relevant police records.
The officer concerned has denied your allegationsand has given a different account of what happened. PC Mc????? says that he originally stopped you for not displaying your tax disc and says that this matter was quickly resolved when you retrieved the disc from your dashboard and the officer was able to check it and confirm it was in order. He says that he then noticed that you were not wearing your seatbelt correctly and says that he pointed this out to you. The officer denies saying that you were not wearing a seatbelt only that it was being worn incorrectly and would therefore not afford you proper protection. He says that you became increasingly agitated because you were late. The officer says that the seatbelt was being worn underneath your arm and he asked you to rectify it. The officer says that he explained to you his reasons for asking you to adjust your seatbelt, but you refused to do so. The officer states that he warned you that if you did not put it on properly then he would have to give you a fixed penalty notice and you replied that he should do so. The officer says that you were issued the ticket whilst standing outside the car and you became very agitated and began to shout. The officer says that he then warned you about your behaviour and his colleague, who was present throughout the incident, has supported this. PC Mc????? has denied deliberately delaying you and says that it was your own actions that led to the delay. His colleague has affirmed his belief that PC Mc????? dealt with you in an exemplary fashion and was professional throughout. PC Mc????? has also denied telling you that he would call a mobile inspection team out; he says that this would not have been possible, as he knew they would not have been available.
PC Mc????? says that the same evening he saw the camera in your Rolls Royce but did not submit an intelligence report as he felt that it might have been construed by yourself to be provocative. It was in fact an officer at the control point that reported the camera in the car, which led to you being approached by officers in a van. The officer says that he would have stopped you himself but you had driven past and therefore he alerted his colleagues to your presence. His actions are considered appropriate since the prospect of any filming of control points and the security of the financial district, which at the time was on heightened security alert, was of concern. The officer who spoke to you about the camera says that once you explained the situation no further action was taken. The officers involved in this incident were from a different division from PC Mc?????. PC Mc????? says that he heard the call on his radio that a car had been seen with a camera and says that he drove past to ascertain what the situation was. However on arrival he saw that the other officers were dealing with the situation and drove on. All the officers deny any knowledge of an unmarked car taking photographs of your vehicle. Given the location of the alleged incident it has been suggested that it could have been tourists.
PC Mc?????'s statement corresponds with his notes in his notebook made that dayand what he has said has been corroborated by other officers involved in the incident. You have stated that the officer was wrong in law for giving you the ticket and that at a subsequent hearing the case was dropped. There has, indeed, been a case whereby an individual was found not guilty of wearing a seatbelt incorrectly. I am, however, given to understand that this has not set a precedent and that similar cases will need to be judged on their merits and by the available evidence. I am informed that your case was not proceeded with due to the Crown Prosecution Service not getting the file until the morning before the court date rather than on legal issues.
With regard to the inaccuracies related to the car, I note that the fixed penalty notice gives the correct registration, whereas both PC Mc?????'s statement and your own affidavit prepared for court misrepresent it in one particular. I also note that you informed the visiting officer that you had audiotape evidence of the officer's behaviour but that this has not been disclosed.
Within the case file I have found your correspondence from February and March. I apologise that this was not responded to earlier. Cases received by the Authority are dealt with in date order subsequent to being received at our office.
In examining any complaint concerning events before 1 April 1999 the Authority has to consider if the allegations can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the same standard as in criminal cases. In this instance I do not consider that the evidence could meet that standard and justify disciplinary action
I am sending a copy of this letter to the police for their information.