Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Sgt Smellie and ex-Commander Dizaei
So today has been an interesting news day for the Police.
In one article, we see that ex-Commander Dizaei has now been fired by the met.
Good riddance, and it's nice to see that we've finally rid ourselves of him.
Incidentally, the Met stopped paying him as soon as he was convicted - so at least he hasn't been adding to his nest egg whilst in prison.
Also, a verdict (and hopefully some closure at last) for Sgt Smellie.
When this News Story came out, I was uncharacteristically silent about the matter.
This was partly because I was actually at the G20 and so couldn't pretend to be objective so close to the incident. It is also because I know some of the people involved in this investigation.
My opinion now (for what it's worth) is that the courts made the right decision.
The video of Sgt Smellie striking Ms Fisher is uncomfortable viewing, and is not pleasant to watch at all.
Unfortunately, many actions within a public order environment are not pretty. Our sensibilities are understandably designed so that a woman being struck is not something we want to see.
But British law provides for the person using force NOT to be omnipresent, and NOT necessarily to be able to judge all of the facts in the cold light of day. Sgt Smellie was in the middle of a very long tour of duty (I did something like seventeen or eighteen hours on both days), surrounded by a shouting mob, jostled, objects being thrown, and attempting to protect the officers behind him who had their backs turned - and were dealing with something else and so unable to assist or defend themselves.
The thing that struck me throughout the video was how calm the Sergeant is - he does not look to me like a man panicking and unable to make reasoned thought. He looks like an officer in a pile of shit who calmly uses approved officer safety methods to build distance and space and to prevent either an aggressor or potential aggressor from attacking him. His serial are behind him and afterwards he goes back to staying at the back of his serial - Sergeants are trained during public order training to do exactly that, and to make judgement calls about whether to split or even turn the serial to deal with threats. He made the judgement call to protect his serial and allow them to continue to Police.
Have I ever hit a woman with a back hander? No. Have I struck a woman in other ways? Yes, absolutely.
Although we deal with hundreds (thousands?) of peaceful protests in the Met, we also deal with numerous public order incidents of varying description. Sometimes officers have to use force - and they should only be judged (as law states) by the information available to them and the situation they were in at the time.
EDIT - for my views on the G20, written after my policing experience there, see HERE