Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Police officers who do things like this need to be sacked

I cannot believe what I have just witnessed in a video taken by police during a pursuit of a disabled pensioner motorist who they suspected of not wearing a seatbelt last September in South Wales. You can watch it below:

Here are some of the details from the Telegraph article in which I read the story:

Footage captured on a police dashboard camera shows one officer striking the driver’s seat window with a baton up to 15 times and another officer jumping on the bonnet of the car and kicking the windscreen in an apparent attempt to crack it.

Police pulled over Robert Whatley, 70, for not wearing a seat belt as he drove through country lanes in South Wales. The 8-mile chase started after officers tried to give Mr Whatley a fixed penalty notice but he drove off.

The retired businessman, who is recovering from a stroke, was covered in glass when officers from Gwent police surrounded his Range Rover on a country lane following a 17-minute chase.

Mr Whatley, who was expecting officers to gently knock on the window of his £60,000 car, said: “I couldn’t believe what was happening. The police went completely over the top – you would have thought I had robbed a bank.

“I was terrified when they started smashing in the window and trying to kick in the windscreen. I tried to shield myself but I was showered with glass which could easily have gone into my eyes. “It’s something you might expect in America but not in the quiet of the British countryside.”

I wouldn't even expect it in America. I would not expect it from law officers in any civilised country.

Mr Whatley, who never broke the speed limit during the chase, said he had become confused during the pursuit.

He said he thought that the blue lights and siren of the pursuing car meant the officer was giving him a police escort home.

But he finally pulled over when he was confronted by a police “stinger” device on the road into Usk.

Mr Whatley, who has a heart condition, was later charged with several motoring offences.

The Police officers involved have been suspended pending an investigation but frankly I am not sure what needs investigating. They terrified a confused pensioner with as far as I can tell no justification, acting like utter thugs. The man has a heart condition. We could easily have been looking at something much more serious here. Next time maybe we will. That's why we need to try and make sure there is not a next time.

The officers involved should not just get a dressing down or get moved to office duties. They should be sacked.

That way their colleagues will appreciate what is and is not acceptable behaviour during the execution of their duties.


Sean O'Hare said...

Wow I agree with a LibDem. Whatever next?

Antisthenes said...

Utter rubbish. The man was breaking the law and compounded the offence by driving off and failing to stop when required to do so. The police officers as far as I am concerned were only doing their duty. They would not have been aware that he was disabled and what his motives were when he did not stop. As for his belief that he was being given a police escort home, beggars belief. The man is either a complete idiot or he had something to hide.

Will said...

There is no doubt that the police had cause to speak to the gentlemen, and it seems reasonably clear that this man thought he could leg it. However, having stopped the car, all the police needed to do was calmly apprehend him and book him at the station. Smashing his window and pulling him out the car strikes me as being well over the top.

Mark Thompson said...

@Antisthenes - Interesting perspective. I wonder what part of a policeman's "duty" you think smashing through the windows of a terrified pensioner's car with a baton and boot and dragging him out is fulfilling.

His story about thinking he was being escorted home rings true with me. He had no reason to suspect that he had done anything wrong, was confused and could not work out what was going on. He didn't break the speed limit which demonstrates he was not seriously trying to get away.

I'd hate to live in a state where you made the laws. Being a bit confused or mistaken about something would appear to attract a very harsh penalty.

Antisthenes said...

Mark, being myself a pensioner and sometimes making mistakes and being confused. If I was involved in a similar incident I would accept the consequences of my actions. On retrospect I agree the officers acted over hastily and were probably taking out their anger and frustration on the man. So reprehensible yes, understandable also yes so I believe that the man must shoulder most of the responsibility for what occurred. It does beg the question that is is the man a fit person to be driving a motor vehicle.

Sean O'Hare said...


"Acted over hastily" is not what they did. Went completely over the top is what they did. If as you say you are a pensioner then I hope you never come across officers like these. They are supposed to be public servants yet behave like Gestapo. I'm of pensionable age as well and can remember the day when bobbies were our friends and kept the peace. Why have they become the enemy? Politicisation by a socialist government, that's how!

SimonF said...

@will fae

Sticking to the speed limit is hardly trying to leg-it.

More likely he had his thumb in his bum and his mind in neural, as we used to say in the Army.

Steph Ashley said...

I read this story too. And wondered if such a fuss would have been made had the circumstances been exactly the same but the driver of the £60k car with tinted windows been, say, a 24-year-old single male. Doubt it. In fact I can give you any number of anecdotes of police behaviour towards my friends, family and acquaintances in their teens and twenties that have the same powercrazed, stasi flavour about them but oddly enough never made the papers.

Not disagreeing with you in the slightest, the filth want sacking for anything they do that isn't in accord with Peelian principles (the police are the public, and the public are the police).

Just think it's worth pointing out that just like the under-twelves, pensioners are generally considered innocents by default, where everyone else is more likely to be a ne'er-do-well of some sort.

Anonymous said...

I'm sixty, I had a stroke, but my main disability is that I've a lesion of the spinal cord.

Now I had to have two years off diving have a medical in which I was told I need hand controls on my car.

The stroke means I cannot drive a taxi or lorry or bus.

But even though I'm sixty if I got as confused as this gentleman I'd be worried about his driving, yes yes the police like always over acted to the situation, but if this driver is so confused then obviously he should not be driving.

You cannot be confused when your driving a vehicle and if he is that confused then sadly something is very very wrong with him

But again the police of this country go for the violence.

Peter Reynolds said...

The whole British justice system is on trial:

Adrian Windisch said...

When they were chasing him how could they have known about his health or age?

Yes they should be investigated for breaking the window. More serious is Ian Tomlinsons death though.

Who gets a police escourt? What circles do you move in Mark? Thats a lame excuse, a bit like the cat ate my driving license.