The raid by police goes beyond cost
Friday 22nd February 2013, 3:00PM GMT.
WHEN she was penning her information strategy for the States of Guernsey, consultant and former Whitehall mandarin Belinda Crowe said that ‘managing information well to increase transparency will enhance Guernsey’s global reputation in line with its strategic aims’.
A little less than two years later, a number of deputies are considering whether to challenge the Policy Council over the shadowy decision to keep secret the cost to the taxpayer of a botched raid on a local law firm.
Following disclosures by this newspaper, it is now well known that attempts by the police and Law Officers to defend the indefensible have raked up substantial costs and that these were made even higher by the then chief of police deciding – unlike his opposite number in Customs and Immigration in similar circumstances – not to accept a summons personally but to put his individual officers in the frame instead.
While attention has, rightly, focused on the cost and quality of legal advice from the States own lawyers, there are some more substantial underlying issues that also require explanation.
After police and St James Chambers belatedly backed down, AFR Advocates had it explained to them that there was no effective supervision of the officers involved in applying for or executing the search warrant at 3am.
In his own statement on the matter, the police chief said that there was no evidence of misconduct and that the officers had acted in good faith.
Yet this is hard to reconcile with what actually happened.
If the officers concerned were not adequately supervised, then they were, surely, going
commando and acting outside their remit.
And what is adequate supervision? It is difficult to accept that police do not have clear guidelines controlling kicking open someone’s door and going through and confiscating their possessions.
Worse, we are asked to believe that an individual investigating officer can take it upon himself to raid a local firm of lawyers without anyone in authority asking why. And that isn’t – apparently – some form of misconduct.
The waste of public money is bad enough but it is not just the cost that is being covered up.
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