Online Archive  
Issue 14 - July 1973
A Rotten Apple?
No doubt everyone has heard the standard joke about the man who telephoned Leeds police and when he was connected to the murder squad was politely asked: "Whom would you like murdered?"

Well, I think most of us would agree that there is a slight exaggeration, although perhaps a certain David Oluwale would disagree were he still around.

However, there is growing concern, here in Durham, about the behaviour of some police officers allegedly carrying out their duty.

For instance there was the case of Derek Tate. It was spectacular in that more than twenty members of the force from Sunderland took part in a courtroom ID parade at the request of a Crown Court judge.

Derek was charged with assault. He claimed he was taken into the police station by two policemen who held his arms while a third one punched him in the stomach.

He claimed he was pushed onto the floor and kicked, several times by several officers.

He claimed he was locked in a dark room for "what seemed like eternity".

He claimed he was told he would be refused bail if he didn't make a statement admitting the assault. And it is alleged that when that was said to him the officers knew that both Derek's parents were critically in hospital. (Just for the record, his father died.)

He claimed that a statement was produced which he was told to sign without being able to read it. It was never read aloud to him.

The interesting point was that Derek was acquitted of the assault. The jury took only a few minutes to reach a unanimous verdict of not guilty.

Derek was cleared. Which is more than can be said for the police.

The head of Sunderland police, Chief Superintendent Kell has assured me there will be an inquiry.

A senior officer, believed to be a Superintendent, was in court taking notes during the case.

When the inquiry, which will of course be carried out by a senior police officer, is completed, the results may be sent to the DPP.

If they are and charges are preferred against one of the officers, that is one thing.

But if, as in most cases of this sort, no charges arise, we will hear no more about it. We will be left to form our own opinions.

And that is not a good thing - not for us, not for the police.

Another young man, who this time was convicted, accused the police of brutality. After sentencing him, a Crown Court judge said he was not at all satisfied with the police evidence and at once granted him a legal aid certificate to employ a QC and appeal.