Wednesday 2 September 2009

Association of Chief Police Officers Review was "A Waste of Time"

Readers would be surprised to see this headline in the JEP, and yet the logic of it is clear.

THE excavation of Haut de la Garenne was a complete waste of public money, time and effort, the senior police officer who led the historical abuse inquiry for the past year has said. Det Supt Mick Gradwell, who left the Island yesterday when his contract ended, told the JEP that there was no justification for the police excavating at Haut de la Garenne as part of the abuse inquiry. Mr Gradwell said that there had been no hard evidence or intelligence indicating that such a search should take place.(1)

Now - after the excavations of the floor had begun - Lenny Harper had called in a team from ACPO. The general brief of the organisation is as follows:

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is an independent, professionally led strategic body. In the public interest and, in equal and active partnership with Government and the Association of Police Authorities, ACPO leads and coordinates the direction and development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In times of national need ACPO - on behalf of all chief officers - coordinates the strategic policing response.(2)

This is relevant, because the review covered the period after the excavations had begun, and hence the period where Mick Gradwell said the investigation had gone off the rails:

Wendy Kinnard [Home Affairs Minister] said she had commissioned an independent review from the Association of Chief Police Officers to look into how Harper's team had handled the inquiry so far. The first, confidential report from Acpo, which covered the period between February 29 and March 2, showed the police were doing their job well, she said.(3)

This was also noted in The Times this year:

During the press conference, and in subsequent briefings and interviews, Jersey police have sought to create the impression of Harper as a maverick, bullying figure. Yet, far from going it alone, Harper early on sought the advice and support of the homicide working group of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), who sent a team of three officers to Jersey to monitor and review the inquiry. The team was led by one of the country's most eminent detectives, André Baker, now a deputy director at the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca). The others were Anne Harrison and John Mooney of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).

If you mention this team to the new Jersey police, they will say they were not there to review the inquiry and only had a limited role. This, so far as I can tell, is not true. I have seen the team's terms of reference, and they clearly state that its role was to "quality assure" the investigation. They did indeed make many recommendations, and all were implemented except, by mutual agreement, two or three that were deemed not relevant.

The team made four visits. Its role was to "monitor the 27 recommendations, to maintain the role of mentors, and to identify any further work". Later it reported: "The recommendations from the initial visit have been acted upon, some within a very short period. The States of Jersey Police are to be commended for their positive reception of the report and for their extremely prompt response in implementing recommendations."  Two team members also gave a private briefing to Frank Walker, the then chief minister, and some of his most senior colleagues, which would have presented another opportunity to report concerns. There were none.

Mention was made of these visits briefly by Graham Power, after his suspension. If they did not comment in depth on the enquiry, then there can surely be no problems with releasing their reviews into the public domain so that we can see that this is the case. If this was, then it is clear that Lenny Harper and Graham Power may well have "gone off the rails". If they are not released to the public domain, and not even mentioned in any of the briefings I have read from Mick Gradwell, perhaps because it would be an embarrassment to lambast that body, then clearly we are still not getting the full picture, and the arguments that this is a smear campaign may have some truth.

I have not made up my mind yet on the truth of the matter, but without those detailed reviews, it is impossible to know who is telling the truth. Mick Gradwell was extremely forceful in his presentation on BBC Radio Jersey today, and in the Jersey Evening Post. He mentioned the press reports as unusual, although again these came before the ACPO review and do not have been critiqued by that.
The fact that was no mention of the Association of Chief Police Officers and their part in the affair makes the press briefings by Gradwell seem rather like the curious incident of the dog in the night time. Where was ACPO's bark?



Jill Gracia said...

I am not convinced of Gradwell's genuineness. In fact I would say that even though (of course) he has denied being brought in to discredit Harper/Power et al, that this is exactly what has happened and the cover up gets deeper and deeper.

Bet he has been paid a pretty penny to make the statements he has, and shame on all the 'accredited' media for giving these such prominence.

Nancy said...

One does wonder what Lenny might have to say that it is necessary for Gradwell's puppet masters first to so discredit him.

Anonymous said...

What Mr Gradwell has done very succesfully is stir up a huge diversionary fuss. You would think no abuse had ever happened if it wasnt that a court found abuse had indeed gone on.

The next step in the spin will be a load of playing up that this is one UK copper having a spat with another UK copper. Nothing to do with blameless Jersey realy. Nothing to see here, move along please.....