“For A Time I Didn’t Want To Be Here, On This Earth Anymore” | Guest Blog
“I write this email anonymously for a number of reasons but at the same time I need to get this off my chest. I hope it may help someone else one day, this happens all too often and it needs to stop.
I’ve suffered for many years as a direct result of the ‘not’ so independent Police complaints commission, now Independent Office for Police Conduct
For over five years I have been subject of a witch hunt by the then IPCC now IOPC for doing my job. It’s left a massive impact on both mine and my families life.
So much so I’m not sure I want to be in this job anymore and for a time I didn’t want to be here, on this earth anymore. Had it not been for a few close friends, family and a couple of colleagues, I might not have been.
Over five years ago I attended a job at the start of my shift as I did most shifts as a copper.
I arrested and restrained someone who needed to be arrested.
They were one of the nasty ones, one of the ones who try to wind you up in anyway they can, one of the ones who push the boundaries….. but I didn’t bite…. and never do.
I am the calmest copper you could meet, even when fighting with criminals. It’s just who I am. I get called “Job Pi**ed” all the time because I love my job and it shows. I’m one of the keen ones.
During the arrest the person struggled but between four of us he was detained easily without having to use much force. Unfortunately, even though hardly any force was used, they received a bit of a nasty injury which meant the usual trip to A&E after being taken to custody.
That could have been avoided had the person just submitted to the arrest and not gone nuts…!
After a very long period (close to the end of the shift) I completed my statement as I have done many times before, from memory and on my own. I was shattered, but stayed on regardless and made sure everything was completed. I went off duty as I do every busy shift, drained and exhausted.
The next day I got a ‘come see me’ from the skipper…. the usual complaint came in from the injured person I’d arrested the shift before, as it often does but I just let it go over my head.
It always happens and it very rarely goes anywhere other than the first stage of investigation and then it’s kicked out as malicious.
You see I’m an honest copper like nearly all of us are. I worked too hard to get here and I’ll be damned if I’m going to ruin my chances by lying or being over zealous for some little toe rag who gets arrested day in day out and will probably spend most of their life in prison.
This time, unbeknownst to me…. it would be very different….
The court case came and went. It’s laughable but they were found not guilty despite four officers evidence. That’s the nature of the courts these days.
After a few weeks I got called to see the duty Inspector. I got served a Reg 15 notice, my first one despite being a senior copper.
I was being investigated properly now. There was a little worry but I’d done nothing wrong so I wasn’t ‘overly’ worried.
I was criminally interviewed and interviewed over misconduct. I was the only officer to be interviewed in fact but I just assumed that was because I had done the ‘arresting’.
It went nowhere, professional standards where happy with it all….. I was exonerated.
Game over I thought…. how wrong I was.
You see it turns out… and only in my investigation interview did I realise, I had made a mistake in my evidence. In fact a couple of mistakes but nothing major. Through either tiredness, stress or simply I just I heard and saw it different to what actually happened…. My evidence was wrong and it was evident on the CCTV.
That CCTV I wasn’t able to watch before completing my statement. In fact all of us got it wrong in some way, even the one who was arrested made mistakes….. So again, I didn’t get too worried.
Although it’s always in the back of your mind that your being scrutinised. I was kicking myself but didn’t understand how I got it wrong. I guess it’s just one of those things.
The investigation was closed…. but then all of a sudden I hear it’s re-opened….. it was appealed to the then IPCC.
Queue the ‘nuclear bomb’.
After a very lengthy wait their report came back. They were outraged, they were convinced I was lying, they pretty much believed I was corrupt, they wanted blood…..!
Despite a substantial criminal and dishonest background, they believed the lies of the person I’d arrested and centred on the small mistakes I’d made in my evidence. They took the word of a criminal over a long serving copper who’d not even had a telling off from a supervisor for being late.
Impeccable service and recognised for good arrests on countless occasions. I was gobsmacked.
Despite an experienced Detective Constable from investigations leaving no stone unturned and signing it off as no offences via the Standards bosses, despite the Chief knocking back misconduct saying I had no case to answer, they disagreed.
They were outraged my force signed it off as no further action and even wrote about their disappointment throughout their summing up.
To my horror I was put off the streets, suspended from front line, restricted from public contact, I could not do anything that may put me in the evidence chain. I was barred from moving laterally, I couldn’t apply for promotion.
I was shoved in an office and in fact, over the next four years I would be shoved into many different offices, different roles, different shifts until I finally kicked up a fuss and asked for more stability whilst restricted.
It wasn’t that no one wanted me, as where ever I was sent I worked hard. It was just I couldn’t do much because the restrictions were so tight. It would have been easier to suspend me but they didn’t.
I was the only one out of four of us that was restricted and it was like a kick in the teeth.
It suddenly hit me that this was serious, this was going somewhere.
Various Supervisors found it hard to give me work so I was shipped off to another department, and another, and another. It felt like forever that I was in limbo. Wondering when I’d hear anything. The stress grew and grew with each month that passes by.
My case was sent to CPS for criminal matters but I was exonerated.
The CPS wrote that there was no case to answer and in so many words pretty much said there would never be a case to answer. The decision was appealed by the toe rag. It was sent to the senior CPS but returned… I was exonerated again.
Not knowing the process and having never been here before I thought that was it. Wrong…. the toe rag appealed again and went to ‘right to review’ somewhere in London.
It was returned and I was exonerated once again. That’s the end I thought….. wrong…
It was appealed again and put to judicial review.
At this point, although I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, I was getting worried. On the day of the judicial review…. the CPS who made the decision didn’t even bother to turn up….!
Because of this the judicial review was allowed.
Apparently CPS messed up something and it was sent again to another review office to do the whole thing over again. It took forever…… I remember thinking how can this be.
Not only did the person get away with it but now I’m being put on the spot as the criminal…. all for making a simple mistake, like everyone that day.
The stress was massive. It had a huge impact on both me and my family, my kids, my partner.
I began to have anxiety attacks. I didn’t want to get out of bed but had to to show everyone I was innocent. I often cried on my own, worried I was going to prison for doing my job and making a genuine mistake and a very minor one at that.
Although at every step I was told I’d done nothing wrong I just kept thinking that it’s only so many times the CPS will repeat themselves before they cave and it’s put to a jury.
At this point it was three or four years post arrest. I couldn’t believe it had got this far….. I couldn’t believe it had taken this long. I’d effectively been on bail for nearly four years.
We couldn’t do that to a criminal…. we’d be hung out to dry…!
After a long period, It was returned from CPS after the judge directed them to look at the charges again. I waited holding my breath while my solicitor read the decision out in full, covering every point of the case and finally arriving at the conclusion…..
I was exonerated…. again.
For about the fifth time I was told I had done nothing wrong. I was inconsolable and had to put the phone down on my solicitor. It was the end of the criminal matters, I knew I wasn’t facing prison anymore. The relief was massive and if I’m being honest overwhelming even though I knew I’d done nothing wrong.
Up till this point I had thought of how I would cope in prison. I knew as a copper I’d have a rough time from EVERYONE.
I wondered if my family would survive prison or would I lose them. How would my partner pay the mortgage? How would my kids be treated like they’d been used too with loads of toys and live from their parent who wouldn’t be there?
Would my elderly parents survive the shock of me being imprisoned? How would my family handle the shame? Would I lose all my friends in and out of the Police? Stupid things that I should never have been thinking.
When I look back now the thoughts I had were ridiculous but at the time they were very real.
All because the IPCC didn’t apply common sense and acted like they had to get me on something. They were not impartial… they were not independent.
They were siding all the time with the criminal.
Even down to writing “I don’t believe the person was aggressive” when it was clear from the CCTV they were going mental.
Things like “The Officer used unnecessary force” despite simply taking them to the floor.
No punches, no kicks, I just held him and dropped to the floor. From the word go, the IPCC sided with the detainee despite being caught on CCTV fighting and struggling and swearing at officers.
That was the criminal matters over. I thought there’s no way they could even consider misconduct as the misconduct charges were similar to the criminal charges and they’d all be thrown out by the IPCC.
The IPCC had originally asked my force to consider misconduct. It was refused like I said by the Chief. I was exonerated finally after all these years. The end I thought, finally after near on five years I could breathe a sigh of relief.
Again, how wrong I was.
The IPCC spat their dummy out after finding that requesting a misconduct hearing didn’t work.
So, in one final attempt to have their way with me… they directed one….!
My force didn’t have a choice.
Despite years of legal investigation and numerous legal personalities saying I’d done nothing wrong, as high as a judicial review, despite them writing I should be praised for my actions, the IPCC kept wanting blood.
Numerous solicitors/barristers had said the detainee was acting aggressively and caused the struggle. Numerous people backed my actions. Everyone kept telling me I’d done nothing wrong.
Everyone one of these people were experienced officers or legal bodies with very long careers. This was except the IPCC, they wanted me jailed or sacked… or both. They wanted a piece of me.
The force that had cleared me at every point were now forced to pay a Barrister to try and take my job from me. My livelihood, my children’s food off the table, the career I’d wanted since a teenager and the job I loved. As a result, I hit rock bottom.
On a couple of occasions following that day of finding out I was going to gross misconduct hearing, I had so many thoughts of “this will all go away if I’m not here”.
“My children will be set for life with my many life insurance policies if I do myself in”. I couldn’t handle it. I nearly lost my family through stresses, arguments and mood swings that my partner couldn’t handle anymore.
I wouldn’t have blamed them either….. I had changed and for the worse. This was the biggest blow I’d received and I didn’t think I could get any lower… but I did.
A family member died very suddenly and I had a massive health scare that still to this day has not been resolved. I continue to have investigations and treatment.
Luckily, through family and close friends I pulled myself together and gave it one last push. I accepted OHU help via the best sergeant I’d ever had. I went to therapy and learnt how to cope to a certain degree.
It took a while but by the time the Misconduct hearing came, I was halfway to getting better. On the day, I’ve never been so nervous in all my life, even though I’d done nothing wrong other than make a genuine error.
Something I’m sure most of us have done time and time again. We are human, we make mistakes. Mine wasn’t even a big one, it was minor. But the IPCC twisted it as if I were trying to lie to justify my actions.
Yet they never once made reference to any other officer or the toe rag, who actually made more mistakes in their evidence than me. Every single person present that day made errors for one reason or the other.
The only one who I know lied was the person I’d arrested.
Yet they got away with every forked tongue lie that came out of their mouth. That was the hardest pill to swallow.
D Day came…… misconduct hearing.
Everyone was called and it was 100 times harder and more nerve racking than giving evidence in court for the first time as a probationer.
I was the last to give evidence. My Barrister was amazing but equally the jobs Barrister was good. He twisted everything I said and refused to accept any explanation.
He was very good at twisting the truth, good at making me look guilty and as if I was lying. After all evidence was given, The panel retired and were deliberating for a number of hours.
I was convinced because of the length of time, I was getting sacked. I didn’t know what I would do. I didn’t have many qualifications, I wasn’t skilled and I was the main breadwinner.
When I was called back in, I was physically shaking as I entered the misconduct hearing to hear my fate. The legal chair took some time in telling the hearing what he had heard and how it had influenced the misconduct panels decision.
He gave nothing away until the final moment.
He then said…. “case not proven”.
For the second time in my life as a copper, I cried uncontrollably on duty. I was absolutely broken again. Despite knowing I’d kept my job, I had no more to give at that point.
I’d taken a step back in my mental health.
It was like I’d been through ten rounds and had just been knocked clean out even though I’d had great news.
Finally Someone believed me. Someone understood me, someone saw I hadn’t been lying all these years and could say it to my face.
The panel went on to commend me in my evidence and conduct during the hearing. They criticised the IPCC and stated it should never have been investigated the way it was never mind a misconduct hearing.
They criticised the time it took and said it was inherently unfair I was ever the only officer to be put through this despite EVERYONE making mistakes.
The legal chair even went as far to thank me for my professionalism and my service to the local community and apologised for what I’d been put through. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the whole room that afternoon including the panel.
A good while has passed and I’m getting better but I don’t think I’ll truly trust my mental health again.
This took me off my feet. I’ve always been strong but this managed to break me. It’s taken a piece of me I don’t think I’ll ever get back.
Just a normal job, a normal shift and a normal arrest turned into what has so far been the worst years of my life.
It very nearly actually cost me my life. I contemplated suicide a number of times over the years just through the sheer stress that they…. the IPCC put me under for no good reason.
They singled me out and went for blood. But I never gave them blood. They only got sweat and tears.
If I had to say one thing to all of you, it would be keep an eye on your oppo.
They may appear strong as I did every time I stepped foot in the office but they may be broken inside.
No one I worked with ever truly knew how bad things got and how close I was to suicide.
When I look back now I’m glad I never done it as I proved them wrong, I proved them I didn’t lie and it was a genuine error.
If this has happened or is happening to you…. accept help, tell someone, there is a life after all of this.
I’ll end by saying this.
Although it broke me… it never killed me. I’m still here and they will never do it to me again. Stay safe, look after each other and keep fighting the good fight.
We have offered the person who wrote this blog on-going emotional support by joining one of our on-line communities just for emergency services personnel who feel that they would benefit from the emotional support of their colleagues.
Whilst we support and encourage accountability, this went way beyond any perceived motive of holding someone accountable.
We, as a country, ask the brave men and women on the thin blue line, to give up their lives in order to protect a complete stranger.
And yet THIS is how we treat them? How is this ‘ok’? How is this ‘acceptable’?
This is not acceptable. This persistent attempt to ‘go after’ this police officer would never be allowed had this PC of been a criminal facing charges.
How has our country got to the stage where we think that it’s ok to treat the men and women who keep us safe in this way?
It’s times like this, that I am ashamed to be British. No other country treats their law enforcement personnel with such contempt.
I wonder if any research has been done in relation to the effect that adrenaline has on our memory? Ask anyone who has served on the front line of the emergency services or armed forces about what happened during a high-adrenaline fuelled event and they will tell you that details often get forgotten.
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