Friday, 15 February 2008

Life In The Balance

“I would prefer to be treated as a criminal in a Crown Court than sit before my head teacher and his interpretation of justice !”

I have previously described my police interview and that this has been the only occasion when anyone has asked me about the events of the 26 & 27 September 2007.

Remember that the police are trained, skilled and experienced in their job. They can detect even minor deviations from the truth - that is what they do and they do it well. As an experienced teacher, I can tell much about my children - almost by sixth sense ... the police have those same skills - so again I remind you ... tell the truth, be open and frank - it will be the only time that you will be availed this opportunity, unless your case does progress to the Crown Court.

In so many ways now, I wish that my case had ended up in a Crown Court. The police knew that I was not guilty and they commented on the fragility of the key witness’s statement - they suspected that I was being victimized but it is not their job to investigate beyond the case submission criteria of the Crown Prosecution Service.

My case was dismissed on the grounds of ‘Insufficient Evidence’. This is a very broad category - and neither proves nor disproves guilt. It is a less than satisfactory outcome; but remember that the police know in much more detail the probability that you did not commit the allegation.

The CPS operate on the principle of ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ - that is the cornerstone of the British judicial system. The police investigative process must meet this objective - but their internal processes are also founded on the principle of ‘balance of probability’. The police can quickly reach a solid conclusion but then they must be able to provide the supportive evidence - and many times this is not possible.

(It is difficult to appreciate - the police can become your best friend; so keep a note of the names of the officers / detectives who were involved. In my case, I kept in contact with the police and they are outraged by the behaviour of the school; so much so that they will be in attendance at my future hearing.)

What happens next ? You might be led to believe that the worst is over after the CPS dismiss the case - but no, the pressures continue. The school has to now follow protocols and you are notified that you will face a Disciplinary Hearing. The initial phase of this process necessitates an investigative process, organized by your head teacher ... instead of your fate being determined by a judge and jury - mine is now in the hands of a florist - Chair of the Disciplinary Committee !