11 Apr IPCC Complaint – Northamptonshire Police

This complaint is about the “cannabis odour is carcinogenic” story.

Follow the story through these articles:

Corby Police Claim Cannabis Odour Is Carcinogenic

Police Apology About Cannabis

UPDATE On The “Cannabis Odour Is Carcinogenic” Story

Whether this complaint will get anywhere remains to be seen but I do not believe we should let the police off the hook. Whether it was an honest mistake or not, there should be consequences for those responsible.

—– Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
To: !enquiries
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 4:03 PM
Subject: Complaint against Northamptonshire Police

Dear Sirs,

I wish to make a complaint against Northamptonshire Police concerning a statement made to the press and published in both the Northants Evening Telegraph and the Harborough Mail.

The relevant parts of the statement were:

“Police are warning that when cannabis plants reach the final stages of maturity the odour they release has carcinogenic properties…people who have plants in their home, especially anyone with young children, may be exposing their family to a health risk”.

This is inaccurate, misleading and false. It is politicking and propaganda of the worst kind and amounts to gross misconduct by the officer(s) concerned. It is scaremongering based on false science. It is terrorism used as a method of law enforcement.

I make the complaint in my capacity as the leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), a UK political party, of P.O.Box 674, Salfords, Redhill, RH1 9BN. I am acting on behalf of the victims of this misconduct who are members of CLEAR and who have been subjected to fear and distress by this false information. You have my permission to communicate with Northants Police about this complaint.

For the purposes of correspondence, please communicate with me by email.

A complaint was made directly to Northants Police on 6th March 2012, copy attached.

Det. Supt. Peter Windridge replied stating that this was an issue of “Direction and Control” and refused to record it as a complaint against individual officer(s).

I then engaged in correspondence with Kate Barrett, senior communications officer, who accepted that the information was misleading and apologised for the error.

I also made Press Complaints Commission complaints against both newspapers which were resolved when they published an apology and correction issued by Ms Barrett.

Although I appreciate the apology and correction issued by Northants Police, they do not go far enough. That such mendacious information can be circulating within Northants Police and that some officers clearly believed it to be accurate is a cause for great concern.

In making this statement the officer(s) concerned acted dishonestly, without integrity, fairness and impartiality. They abused their authority by making a statement which is misleading but which, as police officer(s), they know that the public will believe without question. They also acted in a way that discredits the police service and undermines public confidence.

I accept that the police have a duty to uphold the law as it presently stands, It is however entirely improper for them to engage in politicking, scaremongering and propaganda by the publishing of false information.

I would be grateful if you would deal with this complaint at your earliest convenience. I shall be happy to provide any further information required or to give oral evidence in support.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Reynolds

—– Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
To: [email protected]
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2012 3:26 PM
Subject: Complaint concerning Corby police

Dear Sirs,

I am writing in connection with an article that appeared in the Harborough Mail on 3rd March 2012 under the headline “Drugs factory raided”. The article is still available online at: http://www.harboroughmail.co.uk/news/crime/drugs-factory-raided-1-3578914

I am the elected leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR) a UK political party with almost 10,000 registered supporters. We recognise that the police are as much victims of the misguided policy of prohibition as any other part of society. We also recognise that you have a duty to uphold the law as it presently stands.

However, in the seventh paragraph the article states: “Police are warning that when cannabis plants reach the final stages of maturity the odour they release has carcinogenic properties.”

This is inaccurate, misleading and false. It is politicking and propaganda of the worst kind and amounts to gross misconduct by the officer concerned.

The article goes on to say that “…people who have plants in their home, especially anyone with young children, may be exposing their family to a health risk”.

Again, this is absolute nonsense. It is scaremongering based on false science. It must be corrected.

From the article it would appear that the officer responsible for these statements is Inspector Gary Williams.

Please will you ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is taken against Insp. Williams or whichever officer is responsible. We also expect Northamptonshire Police to issue an apology and a correction.

If such action is not forthcoming then this will be raised as a formal complaint with the IPCC.

A complaint is also being made to the Press Complaints Commission.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Reynolds