Case study: Cumbria - let down by court

PC Suzanne Scott-O’Neill is concerned that courts and the CPS are sending a poor message to offenders.

She had spotted a suspected drug dealer while on patrol, and told him he was being detained for a drugs search. He “kicked off” and the officer suffered a cut finger during the struggle. In an interview he admitted the injury had happened while the officer was trying to keep hold of him.

He was charged with police assault, but amid claims by the accused’s solicitor around the legality of the search, the case was eventually dropped the day before it was due to go to court.

PS Scott-O’Neill said: “I made a complaint to various people and the actual CPS lawyer who discontinued the case. I was told that I would get a full copy of his rationale, and that at the end of the day it was a bit of cannabis and a minor injury to my finger.

“I felt this sent out a bad message to him and his peer group that he was untouchable – and that it also sent a negative message to my colleagues. I doubt this would have happened if I was a member of the public, but I got the impression that as I was a police officer it didn’t matter as much. I did ask why they hadn’t changed the charge to common assault if the search had been an issue – but they’ve never got back to me.

“It’s just as well I didn’t have a bad injury, as I doubt they would have done anything differently.”

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