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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71040
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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During a Neighbourhood Watch meeting held recently at a

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During a Neighbourhood Watch meeting held recently at a local police station I was suddenly subjected to a verbal onslaught by a fellow local resident who was sitting next to me who suddenly turned towards me shouting loudly in what I perceived to be a threatening manner "Oh!...H..O..M!". The sudden intensity of his verbal attack made me fear, for an instant, that violence might be involved. Thankfully my sudden anxiety in this regard was not justified but he was careful to keep his hands (or fists) below the level of the table and out of sight while he was shouting.
As the conversation in which he had been involved immediately prior to this incident referred to 'Houses of Multiple Occupancy", the acronym for which is, of course, 'HOMO', I rather got the impression that he was trying to make some misguided statement regarding my sexual orientation and that everyone in the room would have 'got the message' even although he had not used the final 'O' at the end of his verbal onslaught. I should point out that my wife and I have been happily married for 36 years.
Was any offence committed by the gentleman concerned e.g. common assault or defamation?
Another fellow resident told me afterwards that she had been 'taken aback' by his 'outburst'. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the police officers in the room at the time took no action except to arrange for me to be escorted out of the building after I had stood up and indicated my desire to leave the meeting immediately after the incident occurred. The 'assailant' remained seated.
A letter of complaint was promptly sent to the Chief Superintendent (Borough Commander) regarding the incident and a reply received from the Professional Standards Dept. saying that no incident took place and that no intervention by any of the (1) Inspector (4) Sergeants and (1) PC in the room at the time had therefore been necessary. There was no apology of any sort.
Was there any failing by Metropolitan Police Service in any duty of care whilst I was a visitor on their premises? Should the matter be referred to IPCC? Police have now, in response to my further correspondence expressing dissatisfaction with their reply, offered a meeting to discuss the matter. Should I be legally represented at this meeting?

I'm really sorry but I'm afraid I'm not sure what you were hoping the police would do?

This was an unpleasant incident clearly but not really a matter for the police.

At the very highest point it is a S5 public order and that is being very generous.

It would also need to be in a public place to get over that hurdle.

This is just the type of dispute that happens sometimes sadly in life. It is not really a matter for the police.

I would really strongly suggest that you do not pursue any complaint and do not attend at the meeting. I'm afraid the police will form the view that the willingness to complain says more about you than about the incident. I'm sorry to be so blunt but I know how officers think about the world and they will not think this is good use of scarce resources.

If you are intent then you are free to complain. It is not likely to be decided in your favour though I'm afraid.

They will probably refuse to meet you with a solicitor and, in fairness, it is pointless. It achieves nothing but to antagonise and rack up cost to you.

I'm very sorry but that is the reality.

It is not really correct to say that there was no incident. It would have been more accurate to say that there was not one that required the intervention of the criminal justice system and therefore the police. People have disputes all the time and sometimes they behave badly during them. That doesn't make it a breach of the criminal law.

Can I clarify anything for you?


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