Sorry about this: the story is a few days old now, but I didn’t know about it until yesterday. So here we are – let’s get on with it.
A woman called Pamela Somerfield was arrested for sleeping in her car. She was sleeping there because she’d had a row with her boyfriend. But that’s irrelevant. It isn’t illegal to sleep in a car in the UK; but she wasn’t subsequently questioned or charged with anything, so that must be why she got pulled.
During her stay at Melksham police station, Wiltshire, Somerfield was a bit naughty, at one point she “slipped out of her cell” (how did she manage that? Was she so thin she could slide under the door?). Anyway, this made custody sergeant Mark Andrews very cross indeed. So cross that he dragged Ms Somerfield by the hair through the custody suite and hurled her head first into her cell. Her head hit the concrete floor so hard that an ambulance had to be called. On the way to hospital, blood began to put from her nose. While in the ambulance she really thought she was going to die.
Andrews’ attack on Ms Somerfield was caught on CCTV. You can see an edited version here.
One of Andrews’ colleagues reported the incident, after which Andrews was suspended on full pay pending the court decision. He has now been sent to jail for 6 months.
I have a few problems with this outcome:
1. You can see clearly on the CCTV footage that there were several police officers present during the attack. So how come only one officer reported him? I think the other officers should be sent to jail themselves (unlikely) or at least fired (also unlikely…).
2. Why only ABH? And why only 6 months? The prosecution could easily have charged Andrews with a more serious offense, which would have been kicked up to crown court automatically and given the judge the power to dish out a much more serious sentence.
3. Why was Andrews suspended on full pay? What kind of message is that meant to say to the public? “Don’t mess with us. Cos we’re the police and we can get away with anything!” That’s the message I’m picking up here.
I think that all police officers found guilty of a crime should be punished to the full extent of the law. Maybe introduce a new law that mandates a jail sentence of at least five years for cops who break the law. Who agrees with me?