FROM FARCE TO WORSE

From Big Brother Watch

By Dylan Sharpe

A woman who, frustrated with cricket balls landing on her front garden, decided to hold one of the offending balls captive has found herself on the National DNA database and Police National Computer.

As the Daily Telegraph explains:

‘Lorretta Cole says she was trying to teach her neighbour’s children a lesson after she claims the ball repeatedly landed on her property and even damaged her car.

The 47-year-old retrieved the £3.99 ball from land in front of her home in Baddesley Close, North Baddesley, Hampshire, and refused to give it back when asked by the father of the children.

Mrs Cole said that at the police station she was detained for five hours while she was questioned, had her photograph, DNA swab and fingerprints taken.

Following the interview at Lyndhurst police station, Mrs Cole was released on police bail pending advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)’.

Without knowing the full details of the case, I can only really say that Mrs Cole probably shouldn’t have held onto the ball – although it is worth noting that while she did not contact the police over potential criminal damage, the father of the boys was only too keen to get the boys in blue involved.

But, honestly, did Lyndhurst police really think that she was in any way a criminal? Did they consider whether, on this occasion, it might make sense to forego loading Mrs Cole’s DNA onto the database?

Big Brother Watch are asking Mrs Cole (or anyone who knows her) to contact us and let us help her get her biometric data back.

By Dylan Sharpe

The Southern Daily Echo has a disturbing follow-up to a story Dylan covered earlier this month, about a mother who confiscated a cricket ball from youths who kept whacking it into her garden.

To recap: as a result of this sensible act she received three visits from the police. She was required to attend the police station; she was arrested; she had her fingerprints, photograph and a DNA sample taken; she was questioned during a detention lasting five hours. And for what? To establish that she wasn’t a thief. Of course she wasn’t stealing the ball – she was simply doing what householders throughout the ages have done when scamps have knocked a ball into their garden.

Thank goodness, the CPS saw sense and the charges were dropped. But the way in which this was revealed to Mrs Cole is telling, and troubling.

When the police visited her home to inform her that the case was being discontinued, they took a press officer with them. He had a pre-prepared statement in her name which they wanted her to sign, effectively clearing the police of any blame.

The police preparing statements for suspects is the stuff of East German show trials, not democratic Britain. They’ve worsened the problem caused by their own basic mistake and pathetic overreaction by trying to put words in this poor woman’s mouth.

It’s absurd that Mrs Cole was ever charged, let alone the victim of the bullying she received from the police – she should receive an apology and her DNA should be removed from the database forthwith.

But sadly this sort of authoritarian overreaction is quite common. What’s new, and lamentable, is the statement. This is a rather sinister development.

By Alex Deane

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