I took a rather dim view of this, and accordingly put in a complaint to the Metropolitan Police website. On 19 May, I received a phone call from Detective Inspector Yates from Acton police station, and we had a very civilised conversation about it. He promised that he would have a word with the officer in question. We also had a discussion about Mrs Gumley Mason's complaint. It was all very amicable. After the conversation I wrote to him as we had agreed, enclosing a scan of the letter, so he could see for himself whether the information provided was adequate. This is what I wrote. (I've deleted the name of the officer concerned. I see no need to publish it.)
Dear Inspector YatesHe replied to me today, with a very nice letter confirming what he has done, as follows.
As I understand it, you suggested that you would issue a verbal reminder to DC [name deleted] of the need to identify herself in response to a request from a member of the public. On the phone, I indicated that I am satisfied with this course of action. On reflection, I wish to qualify that. If this is not the first occasion of a complaint against her of this nature, then I will wish to reconsider whether my complaint should be taken any further.
As we discussed on the telephone today, please find attached a scanned copy of the prevention of harrassment letter served on me on 5th April. As you can see, much of the information listed at the bottom as being required is missing. Now that you have told me that that the officer's name is [name deleted], I can make that out, and probably also the rank (DC). but the warrant number, station attached and contact telephone number are not present, although clearly indicated in the printed information as being required.
You indicated that I would be invited to the station to sign a form describing the resolution of the complaint. Assuming this is the first such complaint against DC [name deleted], I see no need for a visit, I am happy for the resolution of the complaint to be on record by means of an exchange of letters or emails between us.I have also attached for your records a copy of my letter to Mr David Murphy, chairman of trustees of St Augustine's Priory School, concerning Mrs Gumley Mason's complaint against me, requesting that if she or the school are concerned about any further comments on my blog, then they should contact me about it without delay, and that I will be entirely amenable to requests to delete any comment which is genuinely abusive. The letter was sent by recorded delivery to Mr Murphy, but I have received no reply.I wish to place on record my reasons for writing about St. Augustine's. I am concerned by the regulatory failings in child protection measures there, including (as described in a recent report by the Independent Schools Inspectorate) failure to carry out adequate CRB, List 99 and other checks on staff, failure to promptly report allegations and incidents of abuse to the LADO, failure to notify the ISA within a month of a staff member leaving when their fitness to work with children is in question, and shortcomings in the school's written child protection procedures and the implementation thereof. It is my view that the school's child protection procedures are still significantly short of good safeguarding practice, and arguably still do not meet regulatory requirements for prompt reporting of allegations to the LADO. These matters are all the direct responsibility of Mrs Gumley Mason in her role as headmistress of the school. There is a clear public interest justification for raising these issues, and I intend to continue to do so until substantial improvements are made.
For your information, the prevention of harrassment letter, letter to the chairman of trustees and my notes of the subsequent police visit have all been published on my blog http://scepticalthoughts.blogspot.com/.
Dear Mr WestI've replied thanking him and saying that I now consider the matter closed.
I am glad to report that I have now done everything you asked me to do in connection with the complaint you made about the incident on 5th April.
I have spoken to DC [name deleted] and reminded her of her responsibilities to fully identify herself. Her name was on the letter but I can see from the copy that it may not have been entirely clear. She was on a very busy schedule and was attending your address at my request fitting it in amongst her already existing workload. I can confirm that she has no other complaints of this nature.
We take any complaint against the police very seriously. You have my assurance that we are committed to resolving the points you raised with us and improving the service we offer to the community.
I hope you are satisfied with the steps I have taken. You have the right of appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) if you think I have failed to follow the correct procedures. You have 28 days within which to make your appeal to the IPCC. You are advised to post your appeal in good time to ensure it reaches the IPCC before the end of the 28th day. The 28th day is on 8th May 2011. Appeals received after 28 days may not be allowed unless there are exceptional circumstances.
You might want to consider using guaranteed next-day delivery post service to ensure that your appeal is received within time. If you do decide to appeal, this is the address to write to:
The Independent Police Complaints Commission
90 High Holborn
London WC1V 6BH
You can have a copy of the Police record of your complaint, showing that your concerns have been formally recorded. If you would like this, you need to put your request in writing and send it to me within 3 months of the date on this letter.
Please let me close by expressing my sincere thanks. This has been a constructive process for all of us here and your cooperation has been invaluable. Thank you again.