Freelance forces police to reveal rapist officer info - Press Gazette

Freelance forces police to reveal rapist officer info

Northumbria Police has revealed details of an internal investigation into a rapist officer after a journalist took the case to a local MP.

The force initially rejected a Freedom of Information Application by freelance Nigel Green after he asked if an internal investigation into Stephen Mitchell had taken place.

Mitchell, recently jailed for life for raping female prisoners, joined the force and served as a police constable after hiding the fact he had previous stood trial for sexual offences.

He was eventually disciplined for using the force computer to get information on his ex-wife and her new partner and having sex with a woman shortly after she was arrested.

Northumbria Police admitted making errors in the initial investigation into Mitchell and Green asked if there had been an internal investigation into the handling of the case.

Initially, the force refused to release any information, claiming it would breach the privacy of those involved.

After a front page story on the refusal appeared The Sunday Post, Green contacted Ronnie Campbell, Labour MP for Blyth, about the force’s refusal to release further details.

Campbell, who sat on the select committee which drew up the Freedom of Information Act, vowed to raise the case in Parliament if the force did not release the information.

Northumbria Police then released a statement confirming officers involved in the original investigation had been ‘given advice’over their ‘failings”.

Green, a former Sunderland Echo crime reporter, has campaigned for many years for Northumbria Police to be more open.

He recently revealed that despite spending £1.5 million a year on corporate communications, the force released details of less than one per cent of crimes to the media.

Green said: ‘Over the years, I’ve had Freedom of Information requests knocked back by Northumbria for all sorts of strange reasons.

‘As most journalists know, it can take a year or more by the time you’ve appealed the decision and contacted the Information Commissioner.

‘It’s crucial that such information is released quickly and this shows that we shouldn’t be afraid of putting pressure on them when we have a case that is so clearly in the public interest.

‘These officers failed in their duties and it’s ludicrous for the force to use the excuse of privacy. I hadn’t even asked for them to be identified.”

Northumbria Police also recently rejected a Freedom of Information application for the financial costs of the hunt for killer gunman Raoul Moat.

Moat hit the headlines last July when he shot one man dead and blinded a police officer.

Hundreds of officers were drafted in from across Britain before Moat was eventually cornered and shot himself dead in the village of Rothbury, in Northumberland.

Steven Bridgett, the Liberal Democrat county councillor for Rothbury, used the Freedom of Information Act to ask how much the inquiry cost and whether the Home Office would be helping Northumbria Police meet the costs.

But Northumbria Police reject the application, arguing it would be wrong to release the information before the outcome of investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the coroner.


7 thoughts on “Freelance forces police to reveal rapist officer info”

  1. Up here in Northumbria, every crime has to be accompanied with the term “rare” or even “incredibly rare” – often after the most horrendous of murders.
    I have personally told the chief constable how offensive this must be to the families of the victims.
    You can almost imagine the officers turning up on their doorstep and saying: “Your husband’s been murdered but, don’t worry, these crimes are incredibly rare.”
    The irony of the frequent use of the word “rare” seems to be lost on them.
    All forces are now under guidelines to make these stupid statements and it’s all part of the great con. The government tells the police to tell the public that crime is low in order for them to get voted in. In return, senior officers get bonuses if they hit “public confidence” and “fear of crime” targets.
    We as taxpayers pay for all this.
    I recently did research for a dissertation which revealed Northumbria (which spends £1.5 million a year on corporate communications) now releases less than one per cent of crimes to the media – again for the same reasons mentioned.
    The thinking seems to be: If we don’t tell the public what’s happening, they won’t ask us what we’re doing about it.”
    What’s worse is that so few journalists challenge this.
    If it’s not on the voicebank, it doesn’t go in the paper.
    If the police say crime is falling and they’re “winning the war” it goes in.
    Anyone with time to look at this will realise how important it is that we challenge it.
    FoI your local force to find out how much crime happened over a given period – and measure it against what they’ve told you.
    You’ll be horrified by the results.

  2. As a former freelance journalist (now a profphotog) I have found all manner of unreasonable obstructions from those who feel that ‘official information’ is their own property. I have battled police/councils/Environment Agency to name but three. It is vital that we pursue these battles as every one won is a chip in the armour of the enemies of the people – the jobsworths that pervade many establishments. Like lawyers, some you win, some you lose. It’s a learning curve though and irrespective of the result, you find you have learnt something. The Information Commissioner’s office provides a number of Awareness Guides that are free and can be downloaded. This same office has a website that contains data protection myths and realities, well worth knowing.

1 2 3 4

Comments are closed.