Torture Bleeds

As no single source includes the full story I have edited together the following from current reports because all the details are relevant to why this has caught my attention-

Two policemen were jailed for 18 months today for inflicting “deliberate cruelty” on a 19-year-old woman in custody in an incident described by a judge as a “little short of torture”. Pc Jason Hanvey, 37, and Sgt Andrew Kennedy, 51, showed “appalling and inexcusable conduct” at Collyhurst police station in 2008, a jury heard.

The incident began in October 2008 when Miss Keigher and Jamie Lee Hall, also now 19, were arrested -on suspicion of carrying out a racially aggravated assault- following an incident in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre. Both girls was taken to Collyhurst police station and were being booked in when the ordeal began.

Hanvey taunted her that he earned more money than her and that she was on benefits.

When they arrived Miss Hall complained that officers were being so rough they were in danger of breaking her arm. Kennedy responded by saying: “I think you’ve lost, don’t you? Who gives a —-?”

PC Jason Hanvey, 37, attacked 19-year-old Amy Keigher at a police station and threatened to rip her ‘f*****g skull off’. Hanvey grabbed her by the hair and forced her head down on to a desk -which caused her to complain the police were “pathetic”. He then brought the handcuffs over her head from behind while she sobbed in pain, she is searched and the girl can be heard asking him to let go of her. In CCTV pictures taken in the police station, he is seen to hold her in that position for more than a minute. While Keigher sobbed in pain, Kennedy stood nearby showing “complete indifference” and appeared to condone Hanvey’s actions. When she pleaded that Hanvey was hurting her, the custody sergeant retorted: ‘If you misbehave you will be hurt. It is the technique we are trained to do – hurt.’ Before Hanvey orders the traumatised teenager to beg for mercy by saying: ‘Pretty please’.

Kennedy later failed to inform her of her right to both free independent legal advice and to inform someone that she was being held in a police station. When she asked for a phone call he refused, expressing doubt that anyone would be concerned for her and saying he did not want her to wake anyone up at 2am.

The court heard the two suspects later pleaded guilty in court to an offence of common assault and although Miss Keigher did initially make a complaint about her treatment by police which resulted in the investigation into the officers, she later withdrew it.

Detectives passed the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which led an investigation before it referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The police refused to release the CCTV footage of the incident to the media, “to ensure future disciplinary hearings are not compromised”.

The judge told Hanvey: “You could and should have stopped what as happening. That was your job and you allowed Hanvey to act in the way he did. Moreover, you appeared to approve of what he did by going on to deny her er right to a telephone call. That is why I’m giving the same sentence to both of you.” Judge Gee said Hanvey’s actions could be described as “absolute thuggery”. Referring to his conviction in 1998, he went on: “Despite the age of that conviction, I regard it as a relevant fact in your case. Cases of assault by police officers are difficult to detect and are always regarded as serious when they are detected”.

The October 2008 attack at Collyhurst police station came 10 years after Hanvy was convicted for punching a prisoner in the face at the city centre Bootle Street station but was allowed to keep his job. He was convicted of assault by magistrates in Manchester and then faced a disciplinary hearing in February 1999 which was conducted personally by the then chief constable Sir David Wilmot. Sir David concluded the offence was “out of character” and that the suspect had contributed in some part to the incident, Manchester Crown Court heard. The Judge said, “On May 15th 1998 you struck a man, Mark Hewitt, in the face causing injuries. You denied the offence and were convicted for common assault. Somewhat remarkably you were allowed to keep your job.”

In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said: “The offence in question occurred 12 years ago and, following the resulting misconduct hearing before the Chief Constable at the time, he was retained by the force due to his previous good character. Thereafter the officer’s behaviour was monitored for a suitable period of time before, like anyone else, he was deemed suitable for deployment in any operational role.”

Hanvey has now resigned from GMP following his conviction for using unlawful force, while Kennedy, of Atherton, has retired after his conviction for failing to prevent such force.

Judge Gee said to the pair: “During the time we have had together I have detected in neither of you not one hint of remorse or regret for what happened that night. In the witness box you sought to justify what you did in what I regard as an arrogant fashion.”

Members of both officers’ families were in court and one woman gasped “no” as the judge imposed his sentence.

[from:- Manchester Evening News, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Fleetwood Weekly News, BBC]

I do not believe this was an aberration by the officers, neither reacted to the others abuse with shock or telling them to stop it, especially with Hanvey’s record the Sgt didn’t even warn him off so he didn’t get into trouble again (let alone because it was wrong). Also it says she was searched, so did a WPC do that and thus another officer who failed to stop it or did the male officers search her, while she was held in a stress position (so beloved of torturers) and taunted while she begged for the pain to stop, in which case I find it hard not to think some element of sexual sadism (clearly of the non consensual variety) may be involved. In concert with the power taunting over relative wealth and status. Also please note the current police rigid handcuffs made by Hiatt (who also supply Gitmo) –

Amnesty International has also criticised Hiatt, claiming that implements made by it have been used by despotic regimes around the world in the torture and incarceration of prisoners. Hiatt refused to say how many pairs of handcuffs it makes for police forces in Britain but confirmed it was by far the biggest supplier.

British police prefer rigid handcuffs or speedcuffs, which are hinged in the middle and said in the Hiatt catalogue to offer “greater subject control”. The more traditional chain-linked handcuffs have been supplied by Hiatt to law enforcement agencies in other parts of the world.

They are an innovation that along with the removal of our right to silence signalled the slow drift into a more oppressive security force role of the police. The refusal to allow a phone call and get a brief are predictable in these thuggish abuses of power. As is her later dropping the complaint which suggests to me there might have been intimidation. But for them it was too late, the detectives kept the case going, so good for them and amazingly the IPCC managed to get a prosecution with the video evidence (something they apparently can’t manage with the Met). There is just no way this behaviour came out of nowhere and as the previous conviction shows there is form, Hanvey and Kennedy’s attitude did not magically appear that night, this is an expression of how they relate to people of less power, they taunt and abuse them, there is also a misogynist undercurrent. Certainly it is shocking for the families of the officers, the one woman gasping ‘no’ suggests support for them but I would venture to suggest there will be some quiet sighs of relief among people who have had to live with these men’s behaviour.

Torture is not new or rare in police settings, the development of torture is in part because democracies enact state violence on its citizens but the cultural and political climate demands this is done in such ways as to leave little evidence or permanent -physical- damage. However the war-on-terror era has normalised torture, has damaged work towards better human rights, in this case it creates more room for people like these officers to operate in, it is more permissive of pain compliance (hello Taser Inc!), more unquestioning of authoritarian memes. It is intriguing the Judge saw fit to say ‘Cases of assault by police officers are difficult to detect‘. However there is hope in the actions of the detectives, who did not cover up for their colleagues, who were rightly disgusted with these thugs and kept the case moving forward, of course we should not expect anything less, the attack and torture was on CCTV and for once the camera did not mysteriously *malfunction that night* or some other scam. Maybe it was just they were took stupid & overconfident and ran out of friends in the force. Despotic regimes will staff their security forces with bullies and sociopaths, they are both useful for controlling the populace and in failing to be good enough at police work to catch the serious criminals who make up the regime and it’s cronies. Ridding the police of bullies like this is a small step to avoid that future, even if our elections suggest otherwise.

PS. I would add treatment like this goes on in our migrant detention camps and the govt with a nod and a wink approves it.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Human Rights, Torture, War On Terror Era. Tags: , . Comments Off on Torture Bleeds
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