Yet another police officer is jailed. The offence this time was concerned with the scandal at the News of the World. But what of the low level bending of the rules? It is unlikely that colleagues have not at some time harboured doubts on the veracity of evidence by a police officer. Every bench will use its judgement to decide on the weight to be given to any discrepancies when multiple witnesses offer their varying versions of an incident. And despite their training police officers are not going to give identical evidence; indeed sometimes identical accounts of a complicated series of events can reduce credibility of those witnesses.
Late last year my colleagues and I were trying a case of criminal damage. There was a query about where the arresting officer`s notes were written up. It was an unusual situation. He was unsure at what police station he had been and/or with whom. Only a minor point but it turned out to be not insignificant when discussing the case in the retiring room. I cannot recollect anything else of the trial except the officer had a very distinctive lisp. The crux of this post is that two or three weeks later that self same officer was again an arresting officer. And once again there was doubt about his notes. He had timed their completion but not when the narrative began. In this latter case it was a serious omission because the chronology was of some importance. We wrestled with it for a while and decided to place greater weight on other evidence which allowed us to decide that the prosecution had failed to reach the required hurdle. My personal query will be my reaction if that officer is again giving evidence and again there is doubt as to the veracity of his note making.