Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Police Conflicts of Interest in a Small Island

An extremely serious email correspondence has emerged on Stuart Syvret's blog, which relates to the 1996 investigation into Andrew Jervis-Dykes at Victoria College. In this, the Detective Constable in question writes to his Senior Officer, saying: "Further to our earlier conversation, as requested I confirm in writing what I have alleged."

Names of police officer are given in Stuart Syvret's blog and can be seen there. I have decided not to name individuals here, as I want to concentrate on the situation rather than the personalities involved.
The DC describes how in 1996 he was "seconded for a time to the Child Protection Team" and:
I took on an investigation concerning Mr. Andrew JERVIS-DYKES a Teacher at Victoria College who had allegedly assaulted students whilst either on Combined Cadet Force (Navy Section) outings or when taking pupils sailing either in and around Jersey or Greece. DYKES was later convicted of numerous indecent assaults committed on the pupils and possession of indecent images of children (pupils at Victoria College.)
He then goes on to mention the enquiries were hampered by a senior colleague who was a Detective Inspector and his supervisor:
During the investigation I had cause to conduct enquiries at the St Helier Yacht Club situated at South Pier. It was alleged that Dykes took pupils to the Club to socialise and teach them navigation. He would also supply them with alcohol. Unfortunately having made my intentions known, I was prevented by [named colleague] to attend at the Yacht Club without his presence. On attending there, [named colleague] viewed the Club log book/register and provided me with certain dates that DYKES had attended there. I was not allowed to attend at the Club without his presence, or to view the log book.
The reason for this became apparent later:
As the Club Secretary and Chairman were very much on-side, and not understanding the reasons as to why I was prevented from viewing the log book, I attended at the Club where the Secretary allowed me to view the log book. I then discovered that a group of senior officers frequently attended at the Yacht Club together, and who were apparently sailing buddies. I seem to recall discovering that at times when the officers had attended at the Club, DYKES was also present with students.
One of those senior officers was, of course, one of his own superiors on the case .And the DC also mentions that because the investigation involved Victoria College, there was pressure, both general and personal to stop the investigation, although precisely from what sources, he does not make clear:
It is worthy of note that due to the high profile of the investigation, the Police were under pressure to drop the investigation as it was harming the reputation of the College. I personally received threats and promises that my career would be hampered. In addition certain exhibits went missing from the file.
Clearly in a small jurisdiction like Jersey, it is always likely that criminals and police may socialise, especially, as in the case with Jervis-Dykes, where we are talking about a middle-class man who enjoyed sailing.
So there is nothing that remarkable about the senior officers frequenting the same club as Jervis-Dykes. In a small island, it is no wonder that a common activity would bring people together. There is no reason to suppose they colluded with Jervis-Dykes in any way.

But they were obviously worried about guilt by association, and the high profile of the case (and perhaps also loss of status and friendships) and clearly acted in panic whereas what they should have done was to:

(a) be transparent and open about frequenting the same club as the suspect
(b) distanced themselves from the investigation, and let officers who were less connected take over.

In particular, the DC's immediate superior (the Detective Inspector) who was involved should have asked to be taken off the case if he felt there was any conflict of interest or he might be compromised in any way.
What is clearly the case is that there should be definite written guidelines for the police if faced with a perceived conflict of interest or vulnerability of this kind, and it is extremely important for a small jurisdiction like Jersey to have these.

Clearly either there were none in place at the time, or they were disregarded. It would be useful to know if there are now guidelines in place to deal with this kind of situation.

The problem with the situation described in this email is that we do not know:
- what happened,
- if the complaint by the DC was investigated
- if the officers concerned were reprimanded in any way
- if there were any guidelines in place then or now.

These are unanswered questions which, now the matter is in the public light should be answered, not because it is raking over the ashes of old cases, but as can be seen, because it has implications for the best practice in the future of policing in Jersey.

In a small community, there are bound to be cases where members of the force have socialised with a suspect, and this email gives a warning that something might go very wrong with an investigation without the proper rules and guidelines, which both the police and public should be aware of.



Anonymous said...

Guilt by association could be construed several ways.

If certain members were always present near the scene when the students were plied with alcohol and sexually abused, these members would at least be essential witnesss.

By withholding the witness names and other critical evidence, the individuals responsible for obstructing the full police inspection of relevant club records cost their members who had been present with the suspect, their only proper chance to clear their own names. This caused, perhaps inadvertantly, the potential witnesses to further obstruct the investigation.

Instead, they became part of a highly suspicious cover up, now known far beyond Jersey's shores, even if the sailing companions were, by some remarkable chance, truly innocent of even knowing anything helpful about the illegal activities.

What you have brought up is the story of obstructed Jersey police investigations which seems to be repeated again and again. Then there is a cover up of the cover up, and so on...

TonyTheProf said...

"If certain members were always present near the scene when the students were plied with alcohol and sexually abused, these members would at least be essential witnesss."

Some of the students may have been 18 - there is a 6 form at Victoria College, and without asking directly for proof of identity, it is very difficult to tell ages.

I once took a second cousin round Exeter on a Anglican Society social evening (=pub crawl)when she came to see the University, and assumed she was 18; only later did I find out she was 17!

Moreover, seeing a group of young adults with a teacher, perhaps out of school hours, they probably thought nothing of it, and didn't even take in much of it, any more than anyone notices much of what is going on at another table at a pub (people drinking) when there for a pub meal. Do you remember much of the people at (for example) the next table when you are there?

The cover-up may have been because of panic at an embarrassment at the disclosure, when in fact they were not there in their capacity as police, and would not be expected to treat the cheerful banter and drinks they may have seen with suspicion, because it undoubtably looked innocent - after all Jervis-Dykes sexual abuse of boys did not take place in public.

Anonymous said...

The problem remains that no one knows how evident anything was because no one was allowed to do more than speculate. There was a cover up. We do not know all the reasons for the cover up but it exactly this sort of thing which invites speculation and destroys trust in the investigative process.