Summary: The three blog posts were written during 2014/15. The original posts were as follows:
1) David Sheekey, from the man himself 2) David Sheekey in North Wales 3) The David Sheekey case – an update.
This compilation of the three blog posts was created in April 2015. Minor alterations made on 18th July 2015 (in view of the entire blog’s withdrawal, to permit this one blog post to be kept for public viewing. These minor alterations consisted of an extended summary – and deletion of links to the original posts which are no longer extant.)
This blog post was compiled by VSJ (Vulnerable, Society Justice/Recompenz) to highlight the difficulties David Sheekey had with the racial/disability hate crime incident he encountered in Cheshire.
The subsequent investigations (or lack of these) plus the appalling attitude from Cheshire Police is examined at large. The Sheekey’s family’s distress is largely due to this awful missive sent by Cheshire Police, which is reproduced as follows:
Subsequent investigations showed Cheshire Police appeared to rely on some untruths in order to maintain that the incident had indeed been recorded as a disability hate crime/incident from the very start, when in fact it was not construed as such until much later.
The first post (Part 1) is written by David himself. The subsequent posts (Parts 2 and 3) are written by Rog from Recompenz as a result of further investigation into the failures by Cheshire Police.
1) Please read, this is the story of a remarkable individual; David Sheekey, from the man himself.
It`s not the type of message you want on your Seventh wedding anniversary, you’re a c**t, a scrounger, you should hang yourself and so it went on. The sender was a Tarvin, Chester based businessman and unfortunately a relative!!
I have spent most of the last two years living in Uganda, my wife is a national of that country, relocating to East Africa was not a favoured option but one dictated by oppressive and frankly racist UK immigration laws.
In Uganda I’m nominally attached to a Kampala NGO having trained as a social worker in the UK.
My opportunities to practice social work in the UK had been limited as since my mid teens I have suffered from Bipolar Affective Disorder, a `so called mental health problem` according to my correspondent who seemingly lacks any medical training being a purveyor of exotic plants and the owner of a bus converted into a bar.
In a follow up missive he was of the opinion that `Broadmoor awaits.`Not content with giving me the benefit of his knowledge on psychiatric conditions our Tarvin goosestepper decided to inform me that he was UKIP at a bare minimum’, (I would have thought way too tame, BNP would have welcomed him to their Nazi bosoms.) Indeed the far right polemical plant seller looks uncannily like the former BNP head honcho Nick Griffin.
I was also subjected to some `enlightened` views on immigration, `Small island`, small brain more like!! The sender knew my wife and stepchildren are Black Africans who may or may not at some time wish to subject themselves to the delights of life in the UK Not surprisingly I considered that all this malevolence constituted a hate crime, hence it was forwarded to the Communities Department of Cheshire Constabulary.
Insult to injury followed when the supposed Hate Crime Coordinator of Cheshire police replied in a two line email that it did not constitute a hate crime?? No explanation was forthcoming to back up this bizarre reasoning and no common courtesy was afforded to me in addressing me by name.
I guess the social worker in me coupled with a stubborn streak meant I was not taking this lying down, a complaint was fired off to the Winsford HQ of Cheshire Constabulary. The police attempted to even more bizarrely claim that `primacy` lay with the Ugandan police service!! A notion which I swiftly disabused them of!!
So an investigation was launched which eventually resulted in the issuing of a Police Information Notice. Never heard of it and it seems a bit like Scotch Mist!! The mishandling of my case is currently being pursued through various agencies including the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
In conclusion a former Head of the Crown Prosecutions Service says that the response of police forces and the wider criminal justice system to disability hate crime is akin to the prevailing attitudes to race hate prior to the Stephen Lawrence case. He`s right Police Services up and down the UK need to up their game dramatically. Cheshire Constabulary need to take a long hard look at the way they respond to victims of a truly odious and sickening crime.”
(Note: Previous link to Ormskirk Guardian no longer valid as now merged with the Southport Visiter)
2) David Sheekey – in North Wales
(or how not to become a hate crime victim in Cheshire)
Mold Crown Court, North Wales.
One day back in November 2013 the veteran anti-racism campaigner David Sheekey, a social worker, received messages that were vile and designed to grossly offense and ‘cause distress or anxiety.’ These threatening messages were directed at David’s disability as well as against being racist against David’s wife, who is of Ugandan descent.
The day in question was David’s and Sarah’s wedding anniversary and it should have been cause for celebration. Instead he was called a cunt, a scrounger, and should hang himself. Having bipolar disorder didn’t help either for he was also informed ‘Broadmoor’ was a fate that awaited. Clearly this was a slight against David’s disabilities and no doubt it was a hate crime.
His assailant, a local businessman, informed David his political views were “fucked up and misguided” and “so left wing it was painful.” He and his wife also received messages that were racist, clearly a slight against mixed marriages. Sarah’s family were victims of the Rwandan genocide thus receiving such communications were horrific. These messages were sent by email and also posted on Facebook.
Luckily for David North Wales Police were at hand to assist and take the perpetrator, a distant relative of David’s to task. They hauled the perpetrator before Flintshire Magistrates at Mold Crown Court and the perpetrator was found guilty of malicious communications and received a fine of £450 with £395 costs. The Flintshire judge said “the text was grossly offensive, not just the nature of what was said, but in the context in which it was said.”
Now for a bit of reality – These incidences related in the above passages really did happen, however two stories have been superimposed to illustrate the glaring disparity between two police forces, one in England and the other in North Wales.
In David’s case, his local police were NOT North Wales but Cheshire. David lives in Chester just on the English side of the North Wales border. Part of that city’s suburbs are actually in North Wales – and this is where the glaring dichotomy becomes apparent. Despite these westernmost surburbs of Chester coming under North Wales police, David lives just across the border in England, whose police authority is Cheshire Police, a force with a poor record.
In terms of the actual case happening in North Wales, it was an ex soldier and his wife who found themselves a target for hate crime. Both perpetrator and victim both reside in Saltney, North Wales, just a few minutes away from David’s.
The North Wales police force has a quite good record on dealing with hate crimes compared to Cheshire.
Cheshire Police’s ‘Be safe, feel safe’ logo – assurance not guaranteed.
To recap, Cheshire Police were very uncaring regarding David’s complaints (which have just been described above.) They insisted it wasn’t a hate crime nor even an offence as defined under the malicious communications act 1988.
Cheshire’s response was to send David an appalling two line message totally dismissing his plight – signed off by Cheshire Police’s very own Diversity & Hate Crime Co-ordinator – Deborah Ardern.
Cheshire Police eventually agreed their approach was poor and later classed the occurrence against David Sheekey a hate incident. It is important to remember this was an after-thought, not an original decision. It only came about because David clearly felt the crime was one of hate but Cheshire Police were not in the least interested in whether it was a hate crime or even something that came under the CJA 2003’s S146.
At around the same time as David’s experience occurred (Nov 2013) John Dwyer, PCC of Cheshire Police, asserted the county had far fewer victims than ever before. (Crewe Guardian) Surely it wasnt by writing victims like David off completely?
Safer? Yes in North Wales compared to Cheshire!
‘David Sheekey in North Wales’ shows us how glaring inconsistencies can occur between police forces with regards to what are essentially the same criminal act of hate crime.
Cheshire Police’s attitude and responses leave a lot to be desired especially when this police authority claims its doing all it can to ensure hate crimes of all types are challenged and that all victims are listened to and treated fairly.
The actual North Wales incident took place in August 2014. There was malicious communications and hatred directed against a disabled victim.
The victim was a military adviser who had been disabled by a bomb in Iraq. The victim, Mark Johnson, was called a ‘useless cripple’ and his wife slated a ‘fucking joke.’ The assailant, also a local businessman (note the many parallels that emerge between this and David’s case) was a relative who sent threatening text messages. The picture below shows part of the media reportage from Chester First.
It appears the case in North Wales was dealt with effectively and quickly. In November 2014 the perpetrator was taken to court at Mold and fined £350 plus costs.
From occurrence in August to a conviction in mid November! Compare this with David’s case which has taken the best part of a year and still hasn’t made satisfactory progress in terms of how the Cheshire police authority dealt with it.
Below is a statement from John Dwyer, Cheshire’s PCC, given in response to enquiries made by Disability News Service in September 2014. It shows further inconsitencies in Cheshire’s claims. They allege the occurrence was classed a hate incident right from the very start.
The important thing to remember when reading Cheshire’s statement is the email from Deborah Ardern. It informed David the incident was neither a hate crime nor a hate incident.
London based Disability News Service (DNS) took up an interest in David’s case. Upon being told the case had been classed a hate incident from the start, DNS decided there was no newsworthy element to the story, it did not even consider the Ardern email and dropped all interest in the case.
The statement by Cheshire Police that the ‘victim was happy’ is a somewhat of an elaborate claim. That very email from Cheshire Police came from it’s top advisor on hate crime and diversity! It fobbed David off from the start, neither did this email address him by name!
Cheshire Constabulary has prevaricated, and made attempts to deflect accusations it had failed David Sheekey.
Inspector Gareth Woods, from the force’s Communities Unit (which deals with equality, anti-social behaviour, bullying and online harassment amongst other things) has said “We know that hate crime inflicts great physical and emotional distress on the victim. Whatever the motivation; racial, homophobic or otherwise, there can be no justification for it. Everyone has the right to live without fear of abuse, and it will not be tolerated.”
Some police forces, or perhaps more than some police forces, seem to say one thing and do another. The ways and means of dealing with disability hate crimes clearly vary in large amounts depending on which police force it is, who the officers are etc.
Obviously it is quite unsettling that like-for-like crimes can receive totally different responses depending on where one resides. Inconsistencies in occurrences happen even within police forces. In Bristol a hairdresser was convicted of a hate crime against a person with disabilities, having shaved a swear word into his hair. The same police force, Avon & Somerset, consistently ignored the horrific experiences Bijan Ebrahimi encountered right up to the time he was murdered by his perpetrators.
David’s assailant who hails from rural Cheshire was issued with a ‘PIN.’ This is a Police Information Notice. These do not carry any legal credence they are simply a notice, they are not like, say a police caution, which has legal and criminal implications should any further attempts against the victim be made.
Cheshire police (known legally as the Cheshire Constabulary) has been recognised for appallingly poor performance. It was amongst the lowest denominators in Europe in regards to detecting and dealing with crime. In 2011 a meagre nine percent of all its reports were actually logged as a crime.
Deborah Ardern, the Hate Crime Coordinator for Cheshire Constabulary, who wrote the dismissive email to David, has asserted that the police are “working with the minority communities in Cheshire to improve their confidence and ensure that incidents of hate crime are reported to the police.” Warrington Guardian
What happens in practice, and the techniques the police use to approach disability hate crimes, intersects as a major dichotomy. Consequently there’s a huge scale of inconsistency to be found throughout the police forces of England & Wales.
Quite oddly Cheshire Police’s website has a number of pages that shows a background image that most ironically depicts a huge swathe of Merseyside! Yes its a nice picture showing the Mersey estuary, the Wirral and the City of Liverpool from Frodsham Hill in Cheshire!
These pictures are from Cheshire Police’s pages on hate crime and communities, but one could easily interpret these as the force itself turning away from the very communities it is meant to serve. The picture by Tony Worral can be found at Flickr
Links to the Flintshire/North Wales incident & Cheshire Police’s website etc:
Chester First: Domestic fallout led to offensive text ‘as banter’
Daily Post: Flintshire man fined after calling man left disabled by Iraq bomb ‘useless cripple’
Cheshire Police: Figures show rise in confidence in reporting hate crime in Cheshire
Cheshire Police: Cheshire Police urge victims to report hate crime
3) The David Sheekey case – an update
Following VSJ’s (now Recompenz) blogs David Sheekey – In North Wales and his earlier guest blog post, the fight still goes on to put right what is clearly perceived an injustice by Cheshire Police.
David says: “a businessman from… Chester should have had his day in West Cheshire Magistrates Court. The Police force has not put up any compelling reason why he was not brought before the court…”
He adds that Cheshire Police “failed to prosecute it correctly… and the two line brush off was bang out of order.”
The two line brush off, sent 19 Nov 2013, says:
Clearly such messages give no confidence the matter has been dealt with properly by Cheshire Police.
To date Cheshire Police have managed what could be said to be an avoiding exercise. It sadly hasnt got to proper grips with the elements of the Sheekey case. Perhaps its one of those cases Cheshire Police “dont like to hear about…?”
Indeed when an offence was committed against David (at the time he was with his family in Uganda) the originator of the vile messages was the same person hailing from Cheshire. Police insisted this was out of their jurisdiction. This is quite wrong.
The law on sending offensive messages to outside of England & Wales can be confusing however: “In general terms provided the offensive message was either sent from within England and Wales or was received within England and Wales then an offence has been committed which the police and the courts in England and Wales can deal with.” (Harassment Law)
The Malicious Communications Act 1988, s 1, says it is an offence to send “a [communication] which is indecent or grossly offensive; a threat; or information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender; [if his purpose is that] it should cause distress or anxiety to the recipient or to any other person to whom he intends that it or its contents or nature should be communicated.”
These offences can be tried in the magistrates’ court – a person found guilty of such offences is liable to a max of six months’ imprisonment, plus a level 5 fine (max £5,000) – or both.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) says: “People have a right to publish their views but when these views become indecent, threatening or offensive then the individuals they affect also have the right to report them…The police will assist with any prosecution.” (BBC News)
In this case it has to be concluded there was no desire on Cheshire’s behalf to “assist with any prosecution” both in the nature of hate crime and malicious communications.
Recalling ‘David Sheekey – In North Wales’ the contents of a letter from Cheshire’s PCC alleged the crime was denoted a hate incident from the start. Compare that with the two line dismissive shown above which clearly shows no status of any kind was given to the crime right at the very start (November 2013.) There was a considerable racial element to the crime too, and so by rights should have been either a disability, or racial, hate crime – or even both.
That letter is published again below. It was sent in September 2014:
Evidently in November 2013 David is informed there’s no hate crime/hate incident. Yet by September 2014 the force has somehow insisted that the crime was denoted hate incident from the start. Whether this is valid or not remains to be seen. David was never happy with the outcome as the PPC claims. The two line dismissive felt very much like a brush off from the force – as if they didnt care.
The contract between Cheshire Police & its communities
Cheshire Police has a contract to perform according to the crime plan produced by John Dwyer, Cheshire’s PCC.
If Cheshire Police do not do what the Police & Crime Plan asks the PCC can hold the Chief Constable to task (since May 2014 it’s been Simon Byrne, who replaced David Whatton.)
What if neither are actually holding one or the other to task as per the directs given in the Police & Crime Plan? Is this the case for Sheekey?
Let’s look at a couple of webcasts that are available on You Tube:
Webcast: PCC Cheshire John Dwyer & Trevor Green – July 2013:
Dwyer is responsible for ensuring “policing is delivered properly and effectively for the people of Cheshire.”
Dwyer adds that he listens to the public who say what they want to see implemented. “I’ve then given money to the Chief Constable, asking him to deliver that plan, and I will hold him to account for delivering it.“
Trevor Green, interviewing John Dwyer, asks about numerous complaints to Cheshire Police, the claims that the force is not investigating crimes…is it something the PCC likes to hear….?
Dwyer replies: “We don’t like to hear about them, but clearly if they’re happening we need to know about them, because its important we get that feedback from the public.“
Green replies to Dwyer: “It does sort of indicate that maybe the recognised channels of communication and actually contacting the police and having the police respond to those complaints isn’t working.”
Dwyer replies: “Well, I accept that. In these cases you’re right. But the number of these cases are relatively small.”
Dwyer then goes on to add that if people have problems with Cheshire Police then he is the one to whom people should address those issues.
In the case of David Sheekey it has resulted in an unacceptable dismissive and considerably poor responses – that appear to avoid the issues at the crux of the matter.
David has consistently asserted that Cheshire Police are not doing their job properly. The brutal dismissive from Cheshire’s Hate Crime supremo clearly set the par for the course – despite the PCC’s claims they recognised the crime against David as one of hate right from the start, this has apparently not been the case, and the attempt appears to have been one of just brushing David aside.
In the next webcast we find the PCC discussing Cheshire’s victims…
Webcast: PCC Cheshire John Dwyer & Trevor Green – March 2014:
PCC is commissioning support for victims via a £700,000 Government grant:
Green: “So how are victims of crime going to benefit?”
Dwyer: “I have got this view that victims ought to, from the moment they become a victim, all the way through the process be it court or whatever, and beyond if need be, feel like there’s an arm put round them to make sure that they are protected, supported and ensure that they are signposted to the right agencies to give them the support they need. If ever you’re a victim of crime, no matter what that crime is, it can be quite traumatic. I want to make sure that victims, the thread of victims is threaded through the Police and Crime Plan this year.”
Dwyer says he’s setting up a committee to monitor & sort complaints against Cheshire Police and it’s “To ensure that the public can feel confident that actually in Cheshire we’ve got it right…So the public need to start to understand here in Cheshire things are OK, things are actually better than OK. They can have confidence in the service they’re getting.”
Dwyer claimed there was “a zero tolerance approach to hate crime and I think we’re only aware of the tip of the iceberg with regards to incidents.” (Nantwich News)
How can it be better for those victims such as David? Are things actually better than ok? Are there more victims in Cheshire that have been ignored? It does seem there are other victims who have fallen by the wayside.
The Cheshire writer, ‘Bloodhound,’ has several posts that take Cheshire Police to task. He says its not an attempt to ‘down’ the police but to show that the constabulary are not doing their job properly. Bloodhound says: “I condemn the Force because it turns blind eyes and is consistently prejudicial in whom it will and will not serve properly and professionally.” He adds that Cheshire Police (and PCC) are ‘an embarrassment’ because they make so many claims re protecting vulnerable people.
I sent Cheshire Police a message on 11th August when the PCC held a webchat open to any topic. Both PCC and it’s ACC replied:
David’s case does not seem to have been dealt with positively – no positive action has been taken therefore can one justify there has been a “knock on effect in others” (meaning further cases of hate crime.) Can we take the PCC’s assertions at face value? Seriously even?
Other related information
Cheshire Labour MP Helen Jones has a deep dissatisfaction with the PCC, who she claims says things without fully considering their implications.
Cheshire Police claimed to Disability News they had allocated the category of hate incident right from the start. This is an assertion that most certainly doesnt ring true when one reads the two-line dismissive from the Force’s hate crime supremo Deborah Ardern.
Cheshire Police are said to be England’s third worst constabulary – 31.1% of crimes are left unrecorded.
The force’s record on crime is most appalling as evidenced in detail and it was forced to take the step of recalling a number of crimes for further investigation (Chester Chronicle)
Cheshire Police do not inspire much confidence in the county’s residents. The HMIC in March 2010 viewed public confidence in the force as poor.
Crucial points related to David’s case:
1) Cheshire police’s dismissive (email from its hate crime supremo consisting of just two lines, not even addressing David by name.)
2) A virtually alike case resulted in court case and just penalty for the crime (see David Sheekey – In North Wales)
4) Dismissive of perpetrator’s hate messages sent to Uganda (it was alleged these are not in Cheshire’s jurisdiction – however they are indeed Cheshire’s responsibility.)
5) Disability News Service (DNS) is given apparently false information – Adding the category of hate incident as an afterthought despite claiming to DNS that this was added at the beginning.
Clearly Cheshire Police should revisit David’s case properly. Cheshire police have many failures and the re-opening of many cases underlines the seriousness which this police force faces in order to restore its credibility in the light of so many failures.
(Posts compiled into one by Recompenz/VSJ 8th April 2015)