Posts Tagged ‘Avon and Somerset’


IMPACT reoffending scheme

January 3, 2012

IMPACT Minister InterviewAvon and Somerset Police is the first in the country to use a method of dealing with prolific acquisitive criminals known as IMPACT. I describe it as being a carrot and stick approach. The stick is that the offenders are regularly drug tested and kept under much closer supervision by the police and probation service. The carrot is that they are given whatever help and advice they need to turn their lives around, whether that is rehab, housing advice, job help, psychiatry or whatever. It’s also been seen as controversial because of the sympathetic relationship that seems to develop between the police/probation officers and the offenders. Advocates say that is irrelevant because it works, and reduces crime. I set out to find the truth behind the scheme.

Here is a link to the BBC news story I wrote.

Here is my radio report:

Here is an interview with one of the offenders on the scheme:

The scheme is jointly managed by the probation service and the police. Here is a probation officer’s take on it.

We also asked a government minister what he thought of the scheme.

Channel 4’s Dispatches Programme has also covered this. Here’s a link to their film.


Avon and Somerset Assaults FOI

November 1, 2011

I discovered there is a big difference between the number of police officers in Avon and Somerset accused of assault and the number who are disciplined as a result.

This stemmed from a Freedom of Information request I submitted to Avon and Somerset police. I asked for a comparison between a) the number of complaints of assault received by A&S between 2007 and 2009 and b) the number of officers facing disciplinary action.

The resulting figures were that just over 1,200 officers had been named in around 600 complaints of assault during that time. However, of these, only yhree had faced verbal warnings, with none facing written warnings or criminal charges.

What I wanted to discover was: why? Two possible causes suggest themselves. The first is that accusations of assault against officers are routinely frivolous, or done out of a desire for revenge. The second, that accusations of assault are not taken seriously. I set out to ask whether either of these was the case, or whether there was another explanation.

Here is a link to a version of the story written for the BBC web site.

Here is the report I produced for radio:

Here is an interview I conducted with a woman who claimed she had been assaulted by an Avon and Somerset Officer:

Here is the response of the Police Federation:


Freedom of Information Appeal

April 9, 2009

I am attempting to challenge Avon and Somerset Police’s refusal to answer a freedom of information request. I’ll post updates here.

Here’s my letter:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to you to request an appeal into your response to my recent freedom of information request.

I asked the following question,

ACPO recently stated UK police forces have used hacking techniques (aka “remote searching”) to access information held on personal computers. ACPO states these powers have been used 200 times since they were granted. How many times – if any – have Avon and Somerset used such powers?

I consider the response from the force inadequate as in essence it was a refusal to disclose information on operational grounds.

Given that ACPO itself sees fit to disclose the information, for Avon and Somerset to refuse seems illogical and even perverse. If the body representing chief police officers does not believe that disclosing this information can be to the detriment of its operations, then it is unreasonable for Avon and Somerset to claim the same.

Avon and Somerset even states in its response that to disclose the information might be in breach of the law. If this is the case then one can only presume a warrant could be issued against ACPO. Of course, it can’t; but I think it shows the absurdity of Avon and Somerset’s response.

My request was clear enough. But, to clarify further, I am not asking for operational details, simply whether or not these techniques have ever been used by Avon and Somerset, and if so how many times.

There could be no imaginable detriment to the force’s operations by releasing this information. In fact, the force is usually happy to publicise its crime-fighting techniques on the grounds that publicity acts as a deterrent to potential criminals.

I include the original request and a copy of the response I received.

I hope you will be able to conduct this review within the recommended 20 day period. If you have any queries, please contact me.