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Phil Edwards @DrSchwitters
, 16 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
Brief note on @glinner and @WestYorksPolice , and just what it was that they gave to him.

The offence of harassment* is unusual in that you can't do it just once; it's defined as 'a course of conduct'.

*Slight simplification which doesn't affect the argument
@Glinner @WestYorksPolice But what is a course of conduct, and (more importantly) how do you make one stand up in court? You have to have dates and specifics - you show that an identifiable course of conduct began on date X, when the offender began the process of harassment by doing action Y.

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice (Obviously this is highly artificial - a domestic abuser, for example, may have been harassing his victim for weeks or months prior to the start date you identify, in a whole variety of ways. But it's about making it actionable evidence.)

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice The start date is where the 'warning' Linehan was given comes in. 'Harassment Warnings' are also known as 'Police Information Notices'; usually they're on paper, and usually the police ask you to sign them.

This site advises against signing:…

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice A PIN is not a penalty, a caution or anything like that. The point of a PIN is, simply, to set the clock ticking on an identified 'course of conduct' in a possible future prosecution for harassment. They know you did X on date Y, and (if you sign) you don't dispute it.

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice Whether Linehan was given anything on paper, and (if he was) whether he signed it, is unclear; some - but not all - stories refer to a phone call.

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice At least until the mid-2010s, the number of PINs being issued exceeded the number of eventual prosecutions by several orders of magnitude. In 2014, 900 PINs were issued in Greater Manchester alone.

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice To say that PINs have been controversial would be an understatement.

2009: College of Policing issues guidance on PINs, saying that officers should not suggest that issuing a notice implies guilt.

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice 2013: Home Office (under T. May) issues consultation paper on PINs: "We recognise that there are concerns ... Some argue that those issued with a PIN are not given a fair hearing."…

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice 2015: Home Affairs Select Committee concludes "Police forces should provide further training to officers on the use of PINs. It is also vital that intended recipients of a PIN are given the opportunity to give their account of the situation" ...

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice 2015 (cont'd): Official police response to this finding: "New guidance ... will shortly be issued by the College of Policing"

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice 2017: joint report by HMIC and CPS recommends
“chief constables should stop the use of Police Information Notices and their equivalents immediately”.

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice 2018:
"The College of Policing has been working on new guidance for some time and this is expected to recommend the term “Early Harassment Notice” ... The College says that the guidance will “clearly outline the limited circumstances when officers can use them.”

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice (Erratum on #7: the number of PINs issued didn't exceed the number of harassment prosecution by "several orders of magnitude" - more like one, i.e. a factor of 10.)

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice TL;DR

PINs have no legal force and have been massively over-used, supporting vexatious complainants and deterring investigative journalists. The police have recognised these problems and have effectively withdrawn them in favour of a better-designed replacement, tba.

@Glinner @WestYorksPolice Of course, it may be that all this is irrelevant. Perhaps nothing as formal as a PIN was involved and WYP simply leant on Linehan - "mind how you go, sir, wouldn't want to get into any trouble, would we?". But I thought that kind of policing went out with Gene Hunt.

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