Is it me or is the timing of a recent newspaper article very suspicious? I refer to a Manchester Evening News article which first appeared on the 28th March 2012 which was then picked up by the national papers and published to allow those with issues to make something more serious out of a stupid prank. The sinister aspect of this newspaper story will become apparent. It is yet another Neal Keeling story which has got to be leaked from within the Greater Manchester Police unProfessional Standards Department, first reported here on this very blog following a tip-off by a concerned citizen. Neal Keeling at the Manchester Evening News must have some black on someone at GMP to keep coming up with these exclusives. Maybe Manchester should have their own Leveson type inquiry into press and police relations.
This is a story about two firearms officers who have allowed themselves to be photographed by a firearms trainer apparently, in a stupid and infantile situation. It is insensitive because of the recent history of the GMP firearms department. What interests me, having also read in the recent past, is the fact that, quietly tucked away was the report in this and other papers, GMP are to face prosecution of the death of Ian Terry who was shot by a colleague in a training exercise. The prosecution is to be brought under Health and Safety legislation. The prosecution means that some senior officers may face significant consequences with the vicarious liability lying firmly with Peter Fahy, the Chief Constable. I can just see them all now lubricating their epaulettes to left shoulder the blame from them to their junior ranks. So, how fortunate to have an ace in the bag, so to speak, in the form of this photograph.
I may be cynical but this photograph was found on the computer of another firearms officer investigated for a drugs matter. The computer being seized by the uPSD as part of the enquiry when the officer was arrested. The photograph has been in the possession of the uPSD for something like 10 months but has only just materialised. How strange!?! Surely a breach of security like this may affect any proceedings in the drugs matter. How can we trust the integrity of the evidence? If this evidence has not been leaked by the uPSD then how has it got to the public domain?
Surely a photograph as sensitive and embarrassing as this to GMP would have been kept in a secure cabinet with limited access to a limited number of officers, wouldn’t it? Here is a scenario for you to consider. GMP will need a defence to the Health and Safety prosecution. What better to insist that the policies and procedures in respect of firearms training are robust and fit for purpose and then display the photograph as an example of the lack of discipline and horseplay in a training environment which is so evident in this stupid prank? This breach of GMP’s security stinks to high heaven. Am I the only one who can smell it? Watch this space.