genny | 28.06.2008 14:59 | Ecology
NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO PROSECUTE?
What the CPS had in the way of evidence was:
- two witness statements, from the skip operative and his supervisor;
- a signed statement from me saying that I removed the chairs from the skip;
- two video interviews in which I said I removed the chairs from the skip, broadcast on television and on the internet;
- any number of radio interviews in which I said I removed the chairs from the skip, broadcast on radio;
- a radio phone-in during which I explained why I removed the chairs from the skip, broadcast on radio and subsequently available as a podcast;
- interviews with the press in which I said I removed the chairs from the skip and why;
- letters to the press in which I said I removed the chairs from the skip...
There have been letters in the local papers every week since the middle of May discussing the case, which has attracted a great deal of public interest and caused serious embarrassment to Wrexham Council and North Wales Police.
READING BETWEEN THE LINES
What the CPS actually meant, of course, was: "Although there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction, a prosecution is not needed in the public interest" [and - whispering now - "a crown court case would be really embarrassing for the council, the waste management group which runs the skips, the police and the CPS, and might lead to even more awkward questions being asked about council waste management policy; policing priorities, targets and incentives; CPS decisions; and expenditure from the public purse."]
Freedom of Information requests made of the council, the police and the Waste Recycling Group are still outstanding, and overdue, but if the details asked for are released, they might make interesting reading.
THE COMMUNITY GETS ON WITH RE-USING
In the meantime, Freeconomy Wrexham is continuing with its Bring and Take 'Free for All' events, demonstrating that local people understand the concept of re-use far better than the local authority. What's more, in a heady mix of human kindness, community co-operation and environmental awareness, they are putting the re-use idea into practice without costly contracts or business plans, and in a way that benefits everyone.
FROM THE PRESS RELEASE
Freeconomy Wrexham is teaming up with the Church of the Nazarene, Stryt Issa, Penycae, to bring another free Bring and Take event to the local community on Saturday 5 July.
In a world where everything has a price - often more than we can afford - it can be difficult to imagine a completely free event. But from 10 am until 1 pm on Saturday, all the donated goods in the church on Stryt Issa, Penycae will be there for the taking. Everyone is invited to come and help themselves, and to enjoy free refreshments into the bargain. People can also donate anything which is in reasonable condition and which could be used by someone else. Just bring it along on the day. Large items such as furniture can be collected from within the Penycae area on Saturday morning, and there will also be a van on hand to deliver larger items to their new homes. The organisers would like to make it clear that you don't have to donate anything to take part in a Bring and Take event. Everyone is welcome - bringing, taking or both.
Freeconomy Wrexham welcomes donations of toys, games, clothes, shoes, household items, garden items, furniture, electrical goods, ornaments, books, videos CDs, DVDs, bikes, tools - you name it!
With Bring and Take, everyone wins. People have a chance to clear out things that they no longer need, knowing that these items will find good new homes, while anyone who needs something is free to come along, have a look at what's on offer, and take whatever they like. By holding events in local communities and offering collection and delivery for larger items, Bring and Take is open to everyone. Anything left over at the end of the day will be stored at our donated warehouse space until the next event.
The other important benefit of Bring and Take is that it promotes re-use. We live in a throwaway society where we just don't value the things that are made with people's labour and the Earth's resources. If we allow good things to be thrown away and trashed, then the time, effort, materials and processes which have been put into making them are lost to the community. Even worse, once they're in landfill, these things become an environmental hazard. Re-use is one of the most important aspects of any good waste management policy, but it's simply not being taken seriously here in Wrexham. If someone can be reported for theft by the council, then be arrested and threatened with criminal prosecution by the police for removing good plastic chairs that nobody wanted from a skip so that they can be re-used rather than destroyed and sent to landfill, then there is something badly wrong.
Through our Bring and Take events, Freeconomy Wrexham is taking positive action to reduce poverty, to protect the environment, to build a sharing community, to have fun and be happy. Come and see for yourselves! We are looking for local groups to host future Bring and Take events and for individuals to help out with planning and organising, as well as with transport, collections and deliveries. If you would like to find out more, call 0845 330 4505, email: email@example.com, or come along on Saturday and talk to members of Freeconomy Wrexham and the Church of the Nazarene over a free cup of tea and a slice of free cake to find out what's involved.
Following the event in Penycae, the next Bring and Take event will be on Saturday 12 July between 11 am and 4 pm at Caia Park Environmental Day in Gwenfro School, Queensway. Everyone welcome.
30 JUNE 2008
GARDEN CHAIR CASE DROPPED BY CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided to take no further action over the case of the garden chairs removed from the Lodge household recycling site by Genny Bove on Friday 2 May.
Genny had been arrested, interviewed under caution and bailed four times by the police while their investigations into the alleged theft continued, and four weeks ago the file was handed to the CPS. No charges had been brought and the CPS has now said it will not be taking further action, on the grounds that 'there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.'
In numerous press, radio and television interviews, in letters to the press, and in a signed statement sent to North Wales Police, Genny freely admitted removing the chairs from the skip destined for landfill at Lodge. However, she also strenuously denied that this act amounted to theft and was prepared to argue her case in court if necessary.
Genny said today:
"I am very pleased that the CPS has had the good sense to drop this case, as too much public money has already been wasted on it, thanks to the heavy-handedness of the council and Waste Recycling Group in reporting what I did as theft, and the unwise decision of the police to invest their time and resources on investigating the matter. I cannot begin to imagine how much this has already cost the public purse, but I am very relieved that there will not now be a costly court case on top of the money already wasted.
"I am, however, increasingly frustrated by the disingenuous statements made by the various authorities involved, which indicate a sad lack of honesty and integrity.
"Firstly, Wrexham County Borough Council made statements to the media, stating that it didn't want to press charges. If the council didn't want charges to be pressed, why on earth did officers countenance reporting the matter as theft in the first place, thereby diverting the police from the serious and useful tasks they perform? Secondly, the sergeant who interviewed me at Coedpoeth police station made it clear that the police had the option to 'do nothing' but had decided that this would not be in the public interest. I didn't agree with her, but acknowledged that this was a policing decision. However, I have subsequently been told by the police that they only investigated the matter because - once reported as theft - they had no choice but to invest time and resources on the case. This is simply not true. Thirdly, the CPS has now given 'insufficient evidence' as the reason for dropping the case. This cannot possibly have been the reason, since there is ample evidence that I removed the chairs from the skip.
"In the weeks since this happened, I have spoken with many people who report that things are regularly taken from the skips, by or with the blessing of the skip operatives, while they turn a blind eye, or at night time when the skips are closed. Indeed, I have been assisted to retrieve items by helpful skip operatives myself in the past. Whilst I agree that climbing into the skips is not advisable, I have to commend anyone who is putting re-use into practice - it is what we all must do if we're going to have a chance of saving the planet. These illicit removals only take place because Wrexham's waste management practice fails to address the issue of re-use. I would like to enter a constructive dialogue with the council about how this matter could practically be addressed, and I seek the council's reassurance that it will not report any similar cases to the police in future.
"I have also spoken with a number of people who have been convicted of theft from skips, or have accepted cautions when threatened with prosecution as I was. These include one young person who was criminalised as a juvenile for doing no more than I did. I would urge the police to use their discretion and refuse to investigate such cases. I realise that they are under a lot of pressure to achieve numbers of arrests and convictions as a result of government targets, but criminalising people for environmentally friendly acts is short-sighted and ill-advised. It is a criminal waste of our money, does nothing to reduce crime, and damages the reputation of the police in the eyes of the public."