Accusations that the Cardiff riot which made headlines across the UK broke out after huge police failings, have raised serious questions about the future of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for South Wales.
The force involved (South Wales Police [SWP]) have mandatorily referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) “to ensure the matter receives independent scrutiny”, after the disturances and deaths of two children.
Their importance, though, have led the office to look into it anyway.
There were nine arrests, of people aged between 15 and 29, following the trouble in Ely.
Kyrees Sullivan who was 16, and 15-year-old Harvey Evans, were riding an electric bike when the incident happened, and it is now evident they were being followed by the police.
Clearly relations between SWP and the local community remain poor, and at a recent vigil the family asked for police not to be present.
IOPC Director David Ford said: “First and foremost our thoughts and sympathies go out to the families and friends of the two boys who sadly lost their lives on Monday evening in Ely. It is important that we independently investigate the circumstances leading up to this tragic event. This incident and the events that followed have, understandably, attracted significant interest and public concern. It is important that we thoroughly and independently investigate this matter, in order to establish the full facts and circumstances of exactly what happened on Monday.”
In another statement to the media later, he stated: “Upon conclusion of the investigation we will determine whether there is any indication that anyone serving with the police may have breached the standards of professional behaviour”.
The future of the PCC for the area may now hang in the balance because of what occurred (Alun Michael – salary £85,000 pa, and one of FOUR in Wales). Initially he had said the police did NOT chase the boys who died, but CCTV has now shown that this was false.
Heledd Fychan, MS, said: “Alun Michael has seemingly acted as a spokesperson for South Wales Police rather than the community…”.
Under the headline: “Are PCCs the voice of the public in law and order matters – or the voice of the police?”, the columnist Will Hayward wrote in the Western Mail (WM): “Mr Michael…blamed the “rumours” of a police chase leading to the riot. But then later the same day CCTV emerged appearing to show an electric bike being followed by a police van.”.
A tax-payer in Wales who looked on with horror as the tragedy unfolded, said: “This is extraordinary. I pay Alun Michael’s wages, but all he seems to be is a mouthpiece for the police who have behaved terribly!”.
Yet an earlier ‘Oath of Impartiality’ was sworn by PCCs, although it has now been replaced in South Wales, and proclaimed: “I will give a voice to the public, especially victims of crime and work with other services to ensure the safety of the community and effective criminal justice”.
This has all come out after the trouble which was sparked by that chase and deaths of the two boys.
In the past the police have denied there was a pursuit, and said that none of their vehicles were on the road in question when the crash took place, but now another story has emerged.
It has also been claimed that officers refused to let the parents of the teenagers who died get close to the scene of the accident. SWP have also been accused by a politician of a lack of community communication.
Disorder broke out following the crash, with 15 officers injured.
Fireworks and other missiles were thrown at a line of police holding riot shields who were blocking one end of a street.
Jenny Sampson declared about SWP: “Basically we were all at the scene, the police was just having none of it, they wouldn’t let the mums, the dads come up and see their own kids laying on the floor.
“They wouldn’t let (the parents) do nothing, it was disgusting how they treated them, and they made them walk home and give them the news in the house, didn’t give them any sort of news at the scene, we were there for hours waiting and waiting and they still wouldn’t let them through to see if their son was OK.”
John Urquhart, of the UK Harmony Party, who lives in the Ely area of Cardiff where the rioting happened, said: “They (the police) showed nothing but disdain for the community and acted like we didn’t deserve to know what happened on our own doorstep”.
There appears, now, to be disdain too for the actions of the highly-paid PCC for South Wales, after he said the police were not chasing the two boys who died, but CCTV footage has painted a very different picture…
The memories of our Editor Phil Parry’s astonishing decades-long award-winning career in journalism (during which he has reported numerous controversies about the police) as he was gripped by the rare disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.
‘Reading the riot act part two’ is tomorrow, where we examine how this all highlights past misdeeds by SWP.