Independent trader from Wanstead threatened with fine of up to £2,500 over fence advert in Leytonstone

A hard-up construction worker is outraged after being threatened with a fine of up to £2,500 for putting a temporary advert for his business on a fence he erected.


Stephen Aldridge, 50, of Wanstead Fencing, was sent a letter from Waltham Forest Council stating he had broken regulations after putting up the notice outside a house in Bushwood, Leytonstone.


Mr Aldridge says he has been attaching adverts to residential fencing in the borough for the last ten years without any fines or warnings from the council.


His fine will be £60 if he pays within 14 days but could rise to £2,500 if the case comes to court.


He said: "It's hard enough for small businesses at the moment without Mickey Mouse penalty notices like this.
 

"The council seems to have introduced this new policy without any warning. It's clearly a scam to make money to help their budget. It's austerity Britain gone mad.
 

"I think it's outrageous. That fence was my only job last week and I might as well have stayed at home, it's just a little sign that is only going to be there temporarily.
 

"I have the permission of the owner of the property and it's not hurting anyone. Councils should be helping small businesses but instead they are clobbering us."


Mr Aldridge, of New Wanstead in Wanstead, said he is considering appealing against the fine.


The Guardian is awaiting a comment from the council.


It comes after the council began fining estate agents in 2011 for having 'for sale' and 'sold' boards up for too long in some roads, in an attempt to smarten up high streets in the borough.

 

Comments (23)

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12:24pm Tue 12 Feb 13

SXH says...

The council seems to have introduced this new policy without any warning. It's clearly a scam to make money to help their budget. It's austerity Britain gone mad

This is true no warning has been given and business's are informed they can appeal.

When i made reports regarding street furniture rails on footpaths in high road being used for drying cloths, i was informed maybe they have no garden (on public highway)? Thats Waltham forest for you, just greed we will loose many traders, i thought the council's policy was to help small business's.
The council seems to have introduced this new policy without any warning. It's clearly a scam to make money to help their budget. It's austerity Britain gone mad This is true no warning has been given and business's are informed they can appeal. When i made reports regarding street furniture rails on footpaths in high road being used for drying cloths, i was informed maybe they have no garden (on public highway)? Thats Waltham forest for you, just greed we will loose many traders, i thought the council's policy was to help small business's. SXH
  • Score: 0

12:37pm Tue 12 Feb 13

Sam Hain says...

Maybe we should await the comment from the council before we rush to judgment.
Maybe we should await the comment from the council before we rush to judgment. Sam Hain
  • Score: 0

2:40pm Tue 12 Feb 13

Cornbeefur says...

The gentleman cannot really be described as hard up if he can afford such a lavish address to live in?

He has my sympathy but then again where will you draw the line?

High big will signs get? When will enough signage be enough?

You need to control these things but surely the Rip Off Council should have had a word in his ears?
The gentleman cannot really be described as hard up if he can afford such a lavish address to live in? He has my sympathy but then again where will you draw the line? High big will signs get? When will enough signage be enough? You need to control these things but surely the Rip Off Council should have had a word in his ears? Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

4:33pm Tue 12 Feb 13

Walthamster says...

Waltham Forest council has been putting up illegal signs for years, as the WF Guardian reported only yesterday:

http://www.guardian-
series.co.uk/news/wf
news/10220379.Some_p
arking_signs_have_ne
ver_been_authorised_
for_use_in_Waltham_F
orest

and back in 2010:
http://www.guardian-
series.co.uk/news/wf
news/4867170.WALTHAM
STOW__Council_traffi
c_sign_breaks_law

So could they stop squeezing money out of any normal working person who puts a foot out of line, please, and start supervising their own staff?
Waltham Forest council has been putting up illegal signs for years, as the WF Guardian reported only yesterday: http://www.guardian- series.co.uk/news/wf news/10220379.Some_p arking_signs_have_ne ver_been_authorised_ for_use_in_Waltham_F orest and back in 2010: http://www.guardian- series.co.uk/news/wf news/4867170.WALTHAM STOW__Council_traffi c_sign_breaks_law So could they stop squeezing money out of any normal working person who puts a foot out of line, please, and start supervising their own staff? Walthamster
  • Score: 0

5:07pm Tue 12 Feb 13

mdj says...

One rather unpleasant aspect to this 'enforcement' policy readers may have come across is when Council officers set dates for supposed offenders to attend the Town hall and be interviewed under the Criminal Law and Evidence Act, with the interview recorded. It all sounds very intimidating, and intimidation is all that it is. NO council, not even the Police have the power to 'summon' you for an interview. Even if you get a visit from a council official wearing a bogus police uniform, do not fall for this bullying. The Council is skating on very thin ice by doing this, for impersonating a police officer, and claiming legaL powers you do not have, are imprisonable offences.

This notice in any case was attached to private property. Recent cases have tried to bully members of library campaign groups for putting up stickers.
Remember that our Council are control freaks who do not tell the truth.
If this case goes to court, we must unite to protest at the waste of money. The Council hangs garish banners on fences to big themselves up (using our money) all the time: do readers really believe they get planning permission every time?

Could Cllr Loakes please comment? He owes me a letter on this subject from about a year ago. Or will this be another job for the anonymous 'spokesman'?
One rather unpleasant aspect to this 'enforcement' policy readers may have come across is when Council officers set dates for supposed offenders to attend the Town hall and be interviewed under the Criminal Law and Evidence Act, with the interview recorded. It all sounds very intimidating, and intimidation is all that it is. NO council, not even the Police have the power to 'summon' you for an interview. Even if you get a visit from a council official wearing a bogus police uniform, do not fall for this bullying. The Council is skating on very thin ice by doing this, for impersonating a police officer, and claiming legaL powers you do not have, are imprisonable offences. This notice in any case was attached to private property. Recent cases have tried to bully members of library campaign groups for putting up stickers. Remember that our Council are control freaks who do not tell the truth. If this case goes to court, we must unite to protest at the waste of money. The Council hangs garish banners on fences to big themselves up (using our money) all the time: do readers really believe they get planning permission every time? Could Cllr Loakes please comment? He owes me a letter on this subject from about a year ago. Or will this be another job for the anonymous 'spokesman'? mdj
  • Score: 0

6:07pm Tue 12 Feb 13

Walthamster says...

mdj wrote:
One rather unpleasant aspect to this 'enforcement' policy readers may have come across is when Council officers set dates for supposed offenders to attend the Town hall and be interviewed under the Criminal Law and Evidence Act, with the interview recorded. It all sounds very intimidating, and intimidation is all that it is. NO council, not even the Police have the power to 'summon' you for an interview. Even if you get a visit from a council official wearing a bogus police uniform, do not fall for this bullying. The Council is skating on very thin ice by doing this, for impersonating a police officer, and claiming legaL powers you do not have, are imprisonable offences.

This notice in any case was attached to private property. Recent cases have tried to bully members of library campaign groups for putting up stickers.
Remember that our Council are control freaks who do not tell the truth.
If this case goes to court, we must unite to protest at the waste of money. The Council hangs garish banners on fences to big themselves up (using our money) all the time: do readers really believe they get planning permission every time?

Could Cllr Loakes please comment? He owes me a letter on this subject from about a year ago. Or will this be another job for the anonymous 'spokesman'?
This is disturbing. No wonder Waltham Forest Council makes such frequent appearances in Private Eye's "Rotten Boroughs" column.
[quote][p][bold]mdj[/bold] wrote: One rather unpleasant aspect to this 'enforcement' policy readers may have come across is when Council officers set dates for supposed offenders to attend the Town hall and be interviewed under the Criminal Law and Evidence Act, with the interview recorded. It all sounds very intimidating, and intimidation is all that it is. NO council, not even the Police have the power to 'summon' you for an interview. Even if you get a visit from a council official wearing a bogus police uniform, do not fall for this bullying. The Council is skating on very thin ice by doing this, for impersonating a police officer, and claiming legaL powers you do not have, are imprisonable offences. This notice in any case was attached to private property. Recent cases have tried to bully members of library campaign groups for putting up stickers. Remember that our Council are control freaks who do not tell the truth. If this case goes to court, we must unite to protest at the waste of money. The Council hangs garish banners on fences to big themselves up (using our money) all the time: do readers really believe they get planning permission every time? Could Cllr Loakes please comment? He owes me a letter on this subject from about a year ago. Or will this be another job for the anonymous 'spokesman'?[/p][/quote]This is disturbing. No wonder Waltham Forest Council makes such frequent appearances in Private Eye's "Rotten Boroughs" column. Walthamster
  • Score: 0

10:06pm Tue 12 Feb 13

SXH says...

Cllr Loakes never replies to letters or emails, i'd been waiting years.
Cllr Loakes never replies to letters or emails, i'd been waiting years. SXH
  • Score: 0

10:25pm Tue 12 Feb 13

Cornbeefur says...

SXH wrote:
Cllr Loakes never replies to letters or emails, i'd been waiting years.
Rubbish, he always replies to correspondence!

As does Cryer the MP

Both, surprisingly quickly.

You must be sending them to the shoe shops or somewhere else?
[quote][p][bold]SXH[/bold] wrote: Cllr Loakes never replies to letters or emails, i'd been waiting years.[/p][/quote]Rubbish, he always replies to correspondence! As does Cryer the MP Both, surprisingly quickly. You must be sending them to the shoe shops or somewhere else? Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

10:38pm Tue 12 Feb 13

ColinOrient says...

I'm so glad I left this borough. Poor value for what you get from the council tax, filthy streets caused by residents who have no pride nor feeling for the place and in about 80% of the area you daren't step out after dark. Yet despite all this, the council make a scapegoat and easy target of a working man just trying to make a living. Totally absurd.
I'm so glad I left this borough. Poor value for what you get from the council tax, filthy streets caused by residents who have no pride nor feeling for the place and in about 80% of the area you daren't step out after dark. Yet despite all this, the council make a scapegoat and easy target of a working man just trying to make a living. Totally absurd. ColinOrient
  • Score: 0

11:06pm Tue 12 Feb 13

Clear Thinking says...

The council may "invite" a person in for an interview under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (shortened to "PACE" or also known as an "Interview under caution") - however it is precisely that, an invitation.

I work for a Local Authority (not WF) and have to conduct IUCs and officers who have not been properly trained or had adequate "refresher" training are one of my pet hates. The IUC is a tool for investigation NOT intimidation and needs to be used as such. Used properly it can help the decision whether or not there is a case to answer and can save the officer a lot of time (and the Council a lot of money) by not preparing a case file which isn't likely to succeed and risking costs and criticism in the Court. There is also the advantage that the interviewee can explain their point.

Not knowing how WF work, I can't comment on their procedures but the must make it explicitly clear that the person is not detained and is also entitled to bring their own solicitor into the room. I personally prefer having the interviewee's solicitor present as I find it keeps the interview flowing better.
The council may "invite" a person in for an interview under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (shortened to "PACE" or also known as an "Interview under caution") - however it is precisely that, an invitation. I work for a Local Authority (not WF) and have to conduct IUCs and officers who have not been properly trained or had adequate "refresher" training are one of my pet hates. The IUC is a tool for investigation NOT intimidation and needs to be used as such. Used properly it can help the decision whether or not there is a case to answer and can save the officer a lot of time (and the Council a lot of money) by not preparing a case file which isn't likely to succeed and risking costs and criticism in the Court. There is also the advantage that the interviewee can explain their point. Not knowing how WF work, I can't comment on their procedures but the must make it explicitly clear that the person is not detained and is also entitled to bring their own solicitor into the room. I personally prefer having the interviewee's solicitor present as I find it keeps the interview flowing better. Clear Thinking
  • Score: 0

11:38pm Tue 12 Feb 13

mdj says...

'The council may "invite" a person in for an interview under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (shortened to "PACE" or also known as an "Interview under caution") - however it is precisely that, an invitation.'

If you saw the letters addressed to a friend of mine, Clear Thinking, they gave no sense of being an invitation you were free to refuse. The online guidelines make clear that such an interview is aimed at 'helping obtain evidence to aid a prosecution' (approx. quote). As you say, it's entirely aimed to help the potential prosecutor.Who in their right mind would attend such an interview?
Only people who had been bluffed into believing that it was compulsory, which is exactly what the phrasing of the Council's letters implies. They are sailing very close to the wind.

'I personally prefer having the interviewee's solicitor present as I find it keeps the interview flowing better.'
As a state employee, it may not concern you that people are conned and harrassed into going to the expense of attending these fraudulent events with a solicitor in tow. However, if the Council has evidence, it can prosecute: we are not required to drag ourselves to interviews in order to help them trawl for self-incriminating (and possibly thus invalid) material.
'The council may "invite" a person in for an interview under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (shortened to "PACE" or also known as an "Interview under caution") - however it is precisely that, an invitation.' If you saw the letters addressed to a friend of mine, Clear Thinking, they gave no sense of being an invitation you were free to refuse. The online guidelines make clear that such an interview is aimed at 'helping obtain evidence to aid a prosecution' (approx. quote). As you say, it's entirely aimed to help the potential prosecutor.Who in their right mind would attend such an interview? Only people who had been bluffed into believing that it was compulsory, which is exactly what the phrasing of the Council's letters implies. They are sailing very close to the wind. 'I personally prefer having the interviewee's solicitor present as I find it keeps the interview flowing better.' As a state employee, it may not concern you that people are conned and harrassed into going to the expense of attending these fraudulent events with a solicitor in tow. However, if the Council has evidence, it can prosecute: we are not required to drag ourselves to interviews in order to help them trawl for self-incriminating (and possibly thus invalid) material. mdj
  • Score: 0

7:10am Wed 13 Feb 13

Clear Thinking says...

As I haven't seen the letters, I can't comment on them, but many people can and are intimidated, which is why the investigator needs to be very clear about the purpose of the interview in the invitation or risk criticism further along the investigation.

There is no obligation to attend and the investigator needs to explain this.

Many do attend either on their own or without legal representation, it merely means that the procedure has to be explained in greater detail and in simpler language as the interviewee will be stressed and the investigator needs to identify this and minimise it to get the interview carried out smoothly and efficiently.

Many of those I interview are involved in "significant" criminal activity so hardly fall into the £60 penalty class and the criteria I use before recommending an IUC is whether the prosecution would be in the public interest, only relying on the details in this article is not going to give a full story and a comment from WF would be needed to give balance.

I would add (from a personal view) that WF seems to have more of these types of story than other boroughs which may suggest a common failure.
As I haven't seen the letters, I can't comment on them, but many people can and are intimidated, which is why the investigator needs to be very clear about the purpose of the interview in the invitation or risk criticism further along the investigation. There is no obligation to attend and the investigator needs to explain this. Many do attend either on their own or without legal representation, it merely means that the procedure has to be explained in greater detail and in simpler language as the interviewee will be stressed and the investigator needs to identify this and minimise it to get the interview carried out smoothly and efficiently. Many of those I interview are involved in "significant" criminal activity so hardly fall into the £60 penalty class and the criteria I use before recommending an IUC is whether the prosecution would be in the public interest, only relying on the details in this article is not going to give a full story and a comment from WF would be needed to give balance. I would add (from a personal view) that WF seems to have more of these types of story than other boroughs which may suggest a common failure. Clear Thinking
  • Score: 0

8:49am Wed 13 Feb 13

AirForceOne says...

For as long as I can remember builders etc have always put up a sign showing off their work. The vast majority are sensible in size.
So why would a council suddenly start trying to make life difficult for people?
Especially those who a) are trying to make a living and b) who are actually improving the area. It might only be a fence but it makes the place look cared for.
For as long as I can remember builders etc have always put up a sign showing off their work. The vast majority are sensible in size. So why would a council suddenly start trying to make life difficult for people? Especially those who a) are trying to make a living and b) who are actually improving the area. It might only be a fence but it makes the place look cared for. AirForceOne
  • Score: 0

8:58am Wed 13 Feb 13

Thunderbird4 says...

mdj - You mention visits from officials, dressed as police officers. This is not illegal unless they say they are the police; that's what I was told at the police station when this happened to me - twice. These pretend police even flagged me down when I was in my car; they used what looked like a police van.
This tactic is used as a frightener by criminal employees.
mdj - You mention visits from officials, dressed as police officers. This is not illegal unless they say they are the police; that's what I was told at the police station when this happened to me - twice. These pretend police even flagged me down when I was in my car; they used what looked like a police van. This tactic is used as a frightener by criminal employees. Thunderbird4
  • Score: 0

9:26am Wed 13 Feb 13

Clear Thinking says...

Which raises the point about the proportionality.

The solicitor I work with would ask what benefit would there be in prosecuting, is prosecution proportionate to the offence and what is the prior history, I would also question the wisdom of prosecution as it would make the authority appear unreasonable and potentially expose it to criticism.

I can sympathise to a point with the officers as some councils (again I don't know WF to comment) but I have known authorities engage officers who are not experienced or fully qualified for their role as it's often cheaper.

I have found that words of advice, followed up in writing are far more effective and that demonstrating this before threatening prosecution puts the officer in a better light, many "offenders" are unintentional and willing to follow their obligations if they are explained properly.
Which raises the point about the proportionality. The solicitor I work with would ask what benefit would there be in prosecuting, is prosecution proportionate to the offence and what is the prior history, I would also question the wisdom of prosecution as it would make the authority appear unreasonable and potentially expose it to criticism. I can sympathise to a point with the officers as some councils (again I don't know WF to comment) but I have known authorities engage officers who are not experienced or fully qualified for their role as it's often cheaper. I have found that words of advice, followed up in writing are far more effective and that demonstrating this before threatening prosecution puts the officer in a better light, many "offenders" are unintentional and willing to follow their obligations if they are explained properly. Clear Thinking
  • Score: 0

9:32am Wed 13 Feb 13

Isaythat says...

Having read all of these comments, I am appalled to think a police uniform can be worn by anyone other than the police. It makes the whole idea of an identifiable uniform a farce! Is it surprising that confidence and respect in police (or people we thought were police) has diminished over the years?
This is yet another ridiculous flaw in our legal system and should be changed. I thought it was an offence to inpersonate a policeman and wearing the uniform, whether you actually say you are or are not, is deception.
Having read all of these comments, I am appalled to think a police uniform can be worn by anyone other than the police. It makes the whole idea of an identifiable uniform a farce! Is it surprising that confidence and respect in police (or people we thought were police) has diminished over the years? This is yet another ridiculous flaw in our legal system and should be changed. I thought it was an offence to inpersonate a policeman and wearing the uniform, whether you actually say you are or are not, is deception. Isaythat
  • Score: 0

9:48am Wed 13 Feb 13

Isaythat says...

sorry, the last line should not read "or are not".
sorry, the last line should not read "or are not". Isaythat
  • Score: 0

10:24am Wed 13 Feb 13

Cornbeefur says...

Isaythat wrote:
Having read all of these comments, I am appalled to think a police uniform can be worn by anyone other than the police. It makes the whole idea of an identifiable uniform a farce! Is it surprising that confidence and respect in police (or people we thought were police) has diminished over the years?
This is yet another ridiculous flaw in our legal system and should be changed. I thought it was an offence to inpersonate a policeman and wearing the uniform, whether you actually say you are or are not, is deception.
They are not and are not allowed to wear official police Uniform but like some bailiffs and officials and security guards wear apparel that is remarkably similar with quasi markings to deceive.

It is an obscene ploy and should be stopped in my view.
[quote][p][bold]Isaythat[/bold] wrote: Having read all of these comments, I am appalled to think a police uniform can be worn by anyone other than the police. It makes the whole idea of an identifiable uniform a farce! Is it surprising that confidence and respect in police (or people we thought were police) has diminished over the years? This is yet another ridiculous flaw in our legal system and should be changed. I thought it was an offence to inpersonate a policeman and wearing the uniform, whether you actually say you are or are not, is deception.[/p][/quote]They are not and are not allowed to wear official police Uniform but like some bailiffs and officials and security guards wear apparel that is remarkably similar with quasi markings to deceive. It is an obscene ploy and should be stopped in my view. Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

12:11pm Wed 13 Feb 13

mdj says...

'There is no obligation to attend and the investigator needs to explain this.'

If there's evidence on which to prosecute, then prosecute!The idea of dragging people in, under false pretences of a legal power, so that they can help you trawl for evidence against them - which is the only purpose of the interview, as the guidelines make clear - is illogical and vaguely sinister.

I'm sure you're a good public servant trying to tackle the genuine issue of systematic fly tipping.
My concern is the abuse of power.
If readers Google: technomist blog uk 'How some of our public officials view the world', they will see a short film clip of what happens when the wrong sort of person gets given a uniform and let off the lead. This person is an employee of our Council, but when I asked Cllr Loakes to identify him many months ago, and whether he endorsed his actions, he did not give me the courtesy of a reply.
I wonder whether Cllr Loakes will comment on this issue, or whether the 'anonymous spokesman' syndrome will kick in?
'There is no obligation to attend and the investigator needs to explain this.' If there's evidence on which to prosecute, then prosecute!The idea of dragging people in, under false pretences of a legal power, so that they can help you trawl for evidence against them - which is the only purpose of the interview, as the guidelines make clear - is illogical and vaguely sinister. I'm sure you're a good public servant trying to tackle the genuine issue of systematic fly tipping. My concern is the abuse of power. If readers Google: technomist blog uk 'How some of our public officials view the world', they will see a short film clip of what happens when the wrong sort of person gets given a uniform and let off the lead. This person is an employee of our Council, but when I asked Cllr Loakes to identify him many months ago, and whether he endorsed his actions, he did not give me the courtesy of a reply. I wonder whether Cllr Loakes will comment on this issue, or whether the 'anonymous spokesman' syndrome will kick in? mdj
  • Score: 0

1:19pm Wed 13 Feb 13

Clear Thinking says...

The interview is used to also give the individual and chance to explain why something was or was not done. The practice of fishing for evidence is both morally wrong and legally dubious.

Although there may be sufficient evidence for a prosecution, I would rather cover all avenues, good practice (according to our solicitors) is that every reasonable opportunity should be given.

I do not deal with fly tipping but rather more involved "multi agency" cases with other enforcing bodies, hence the reason for significant annual "refresher" training, in addition to my degree and institute assessments.

You may have gathered that I am more than exasperated by ill trained "wannabes" who do little more than create additional work for those of us with the requisite training who are then left to sort out the mess made out of a simple case resulting in inefficiency and negative publicity.

I have my own concerns about officers dressing as Police, but that is a different post altogether.
The interview is used to also give the individual and chance to explain why something was or was not done. The practice of fishing for evidence is both morally wrong and legally dubious. Although there may be sufficient evidence for a prosecution, I would rather cover all avenues, good practice (according to our solicitors) is that every reasonable opportunity should be given. I do not deal with fly tipping but rather more involved "multi agency" cases with other enforcing bodies, hence the reason for significant annual "refresher" training, in addition to my degree and institute assessments. You may have gathered that I am more than exasperated by ill trained "wannabes" who do little more than create additional work for those of us with the requisite training who are then left to sort out the mess made out of a simple case resulting in inefficiency and negative publicity. I have my own concerns about officers dressing as Police, but that is a different post altogether. Clear Thinking
  • Score: 0

7:03pm Wed 13 Feb 13

mdj says...

'I have my own concerns about officers dressing as Police, but that is a different post altogether.'

I would disagree: the issue of pretending to powers one does not possess applies to both.
We are hearing stories at present about the way the RSPCA uses the uniform of its 'inspectors' to deceive people into believing they have rights of entry, when they are merely private citizens.
Good intentions don't justify this kind of conduct.

You say:' The interview is used to also give the individual a chance to explain why something was or was not done'
Again, good intentions don't justify the implication that the citizen has a duty to explain their behaviour. The only duty is that interviews, where conducted, must be recorded, to guard against abuse. I'm sure that your own standards are scrupulous, far from the shabby corner-cutting of Waltham Forest Council, but we must all resist the assumption that we are the servants of the state rather than vice versa.
'I have my own concerns about officers dressing as Police, but that is a different post altogether.' I would disagree: the issue of pretending to powers one does not possess applies to both. We are hearing stories at present about the way the RSPCA uses the uniform of its 'inspectors' to deceive people into believing they have rights of entry, when they are merely private citizens. Good intentions don't justify this kind of conduct. You say:' The interview is used to also give the individual a chance to explain why something was or was not done' Again, good intentions don't justify the implication that the citizen has a duty to explain their behaviour. The only duty is that interviews, where conducted, must be recorded, to guard against abuse. I'm sure that your own standards are scrupulous, far from the shabby corner-cutting of Waltham Forest Council, but we must all resist the assumption that we are the servants of the state rather than vice versa. mdj
  • Score: 0

1:08pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Clear Thinking says...

I would be extremely concerned about the inappropriate use of uniforms especially in that manner and I share your concerns completely that the ends do not justify the means in situations such as that.

Going very slightly "off topic", I resigned from one previous employer (local authority) who had established a team of uniformed "wardens". These were dressed almost identically, the cap badges and insignia were too similar to those of the police, in addition he instructed the purchase of body armour which was from the same manufacturer and design as that supplied to the police. Due to his (in my opinion) delusions he attempted to purchase Asps (the retractable Police baton) and CS spray on the grounds that these "wardens" would be patrolling council owned parks and open spaces and as such they were "private property" so he didn't feel that these constituted "offensive weapons". Despite repeated advice from myself and a number of others he still continued, even to the point of raising a purchase order, until a senior Police officer was informed and subsequently intervened. I was reluctant to post this little anecdote as I was worried that it would seem too bizarre and be considered in the realms of fantasy. I had to resign as many of those he employed would have been clearly unsuitable for employment with the police, some lacked basic literacy and communication skills and to have expected them to personally present any evidence in Court would have resulted in that authority being the subject of reputational harm.

The interview is to enable them to explain why the law has been broken, the cases I deal with are significant criminal matters often in conjunction with the Police/HMRC and not the £60 fixed penalty notices, despite this the law has to be followed. The Courts, rightly or wrongly, will draw their own conclusions if a person fails to attend an interview.

All formal interviews I conduct are recorded on two CDs, one is sealed in the presence of the interviewee and locked away, the other is sent for transcription (the recorder I use is typical of those found in Police stations and burns the end of the CD so that nothing can be added later it also burns the start and end time of the recording). Any formal interview needs to be carried out in accordance with PACE (Police & Criminal Evidence Act), otherwise the investigating officer will set themselves up for criticism. I have carried out interviews "on site" where I didn't have access to a recording device, in this case I had to write "contemporaneous" notes in my notebook which has consecutive numbered pages I then had to get the interviewee to sign this as a true record (it wasn't ideal but was accepted by both the Court and the defence barrister as the situation was unconventional).

There is no issue about scrupulous interviewing, the Act is available and those officers who conduct the interview need to be aware of the obligations it imposes, it is not the interviewees responsibility.

I was once told by one of the many solicitors I know that my role is only to record what I find and to present this to the court. It is saddening where local authorities ignore the fact that they are to protect the public and some social inadequates find positions where they choose to ignore this.
I would be extremely concerned about the inappropriate use of uniforms especially in that manner and I share your concerns completely that the ends do not justify the means in situations such as that. Going very slightly "off topic", I resigned from one previous employer (local authority) who had established a team of uniformed "wardens". These were dressed almost identically, the cap badges and insignia were too similar to those of the police, in addition he instructed the purchase of body armour which was from the same manufacturer and design as that supplied to the police. Due to his (in my opinion) delusions he attempted to purchase Asps (the retractable Police baton) and CS spray on the grounds that these "wardens" would be patrolling council owned parks and open spaces and as such they were "private property" so he didn't feel that these constituted "offensive weapons". Despite repeated advice from myself and a number of others he still continued, even to the point of raising a purchase order, until a senior Police officer was informed and subsequently intervened. I was reluctant to post this little anecdote as I was worried that it would seem too bizarre and be considered in the realms of fantasy. I had to resign as many of those he employed would have been clearly unsuitable for employment with the police, some lacked basic literacy and communication skills and to have expected them to personally present any evidence in Court would have resulted in that authority being the subject of reputational harm. The interview is to enable them to explain why the law has been broken, the cases I deal with are significant criminal matters often in conjunction with the Police/HMRC and not the £60 fixed penalty notices, despite this the law has to be followed. The Courts, rightly or wrongly, will draw their own conclusions if a person fails to attend an interview. All formal interviews I conduct are recorded on two CDs, one is sealed in the presence of the interviewee and locked away, the other is sent for transcription (the recorder I use is typical of those found in Police stations and burns the end of the CD so that nothing can be added later it also burns the start and end time of the recording). Any formal interview needs to be carried out in accordance with PACE (Police & Criminal Evidence Act), otherwise the investigating officer will set themselves up for criticism. I have carried out interviews "on site" where I didn't have access to a recording device, in this case I had to write "contemporaneous" notes in my notebook which has consecutive numbered pages I then had to get the interviewee to sign this as a true record (it wasn't ideal but was accepted by both the Court and the defence barrister as the situation was unconventional). There is no issue about scrupulous interviewing, the Act is available and those officers who conduct the interview need to be aware of the obligations it imposes, it is not the interviewees responsibility. I was once told by one of the many solicitors I know that my role is only to record what I find and to present this to the court. It is saddening where local authorities ignore the fact that they are to protect the public and some social inadequates find positions where they choose to ignore this. Clear Thinking
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12:47pm Fri 15 Feb 13

mdj says...

Clear Thinking,
I wish that all local government officials held to your standards of integrity and professionalism. I'm afraid that your employment prospects with Waltham Forest Council are poor!
I believe the case you describe was extensively covered by Private Eye.

There's a major defect in our democratic processes that allows bombastic and self-promoting people to carve out political fiefs at great damage to the public purse and good administration for long periods of time.
My tentative solutions would be compulsory voting and an end to party politics, which enables bullies with control of the Whip to get away with far too much.We have the power to end party politics in local government from below, by selecting local independent candidates; this would, of course, usher in its own difficulties, but would not permit the logjams of low performance we see throughout local politics.
Clear Thinking, I wish that all local government officials held to your standards of integrity and professionalism. I'm afraid that your employment prospects with Waltham Forest Council are poor! I believe the case you describe was extensively covered by Private Eye. There's a major defect in our democratic processes that allows bombastic and self-promoting people to carve out political fiefs at great damage to the public purse and good administration for long periods of time. My tentative solutions would be compulsory voting and an end to party politics, which enables bullies with control of the Whip to get away with far too much.We have the power to end party politics in local government from below, by selecting local independent candidates; this would, of course, usher in its own difficulties, but would not permit the logjams of low performance we see throughout local politics. mdj
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