Regular readers of this blog will no doubt recall the case of my client Ben Joynes, who was subjected to an un-provoked headbutt by PC Mark Knights of Derbyshire Police, after he tried to complain about the officer calling him a “fat cunt”.
Knights was convicted of common assault in Derby Magistrates Court in December 2020 and then in March 2021 dismissed from the Force, and placed upon the Police Barred List.
It has now been revealed that Knights was also under investigation for the harassment of a female Police colleague, and was convicted of this latest offence by Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court earlier this month. His behaviour, including asking his victim to “come and sit on my ****” reduced his victim to tears, and the best defence which Mr Knights’ barrister could offer – it seems – was to describe Knights’ behaviour as “immature” and “stupid”. In reality, his behaviour was a lot more sinister than that. He was a serving Police officer, not a school boy. The woman he harassed summed up Knights’ behaviour as follows –
“It was predatory. He thought I was new in the service and thought he could get away with it.”
Knights received a suspended sentence as well as a fine and 120 hours of unpaid community service. District Judge Jonathan Taaffe informed Knights that he was very lucky not to be going to prison, admonishing him with the following words –
“The fact that you were a police officer is of course relevant because the public have the right to expect police officers to uphold high standards. It leads me to question what on earth was your attitude to members of the public? There is a breach of trust here to the public and to your colleagues…You have let the people of Derbyshire down and you have let your colleagues down.”
The latest court proceedings also revealed that Knights was frustrated after his application to become a firearms officer was rejected- shortly before his assault upon Mr Joynes; however, a man like this should never have been allowed to become a Police Officer at all.
It is salutary to reflect on this in the context of the Government’s push to recruit 20,000 new Police Officers by 2023. On the day that the Government proudly boasted that half the recruitment total had already been achieved (27 October 2021), HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor, sounded the following note of warning to the Home Affairs Committee- “If you’re going that fast in recruitment there is a danger the wrong people will get in…” cautioning that when officers during their probationary service display “attitudes or preferences which are incompatible with the office of constable, the police need to be much more assiduous in recognising that and throwing them out.”
I whole-heartedly endorse his comments, as the list of vices and character flaws which Sir Thomas warned against have, in my experience, been amply displayed amongst many of the current crop of Police Officers who have abused, assaulted and mistreated my clients – a propensity for violence, a fondness for exercising power over their fellow citizens, misogyny, racism, homophobia and a basic “lack of maturity and judgement.”
Ex- PC Knights is just one such example against all too many.
The doorway to the Police profession needs to be vigilantly guarded, but sadly I suspect the Government’s current programme is more focused on quantity than quality.