Police union slams CPS for comments on Worthing police chief

THE POLICE union has called for a top Crown prosecutor to resign in the wake of comments made on the decision not to prosecute Worthing police chief Sharon Rowe with theft.

The Sussex Police Federation has called a statement by Alistair Nisbet, of Hampshire CPS, "deplorable and unusual" after he said the police had provided the CPS with enough evidence to charge Mrs Rowe with stealing wine from Marks & Spencer in October.

Mr Nisbet said the decision not to do so was made after considering Mrs Rowe's years of public service, the likely sentence if convicted and the tragic death of Detective Chief Inspector Jim Torbet, who was arrested with Chief Insp Rowe.

Dishonourable

The federation called the timing of the statement "dishonourable" and "discourteous" and said Chief Insp Rowe would have "relished" the chance to prove her innocence in court.

It added that lawyers and federation police officers supporting Chief Insp Rowe saw no evidence during the eight weeks of investigation "which amounted to cogent, compelling evidence of criminal wrongdoing by either officer."

Disappointed

The federation said it was "extremely disappointed" with Mr Nisbet and other Crown prosecutors, whom they said should "consider their position".

See the full statement below:

"Sussex Police Federation welcomes the announcement from the Crown Prosecution Service that there will be no further action.

However we are extremely disappointed with the statement last week of Mr Alastair Nisbet of Hampshire CPS and suggest he should consider his position, as should senior Crown prosecutors.

The timing of his statement was dishonourable in that there was no warning, nor consultation, as had been agreed with Sussex Police.

It was also discourteous in that the subsequent media surge of interest came as a complete surprise to Sharon Rowe, and friends, family, representatives and colleagues of both officers.

The statement was also deplorable and unusual in that a Crown Prosecutor has chosen to publicise their rationale for decision-making, including an assessment of evidence, which is a subjective view.

This has led to distortion in some media reports and ill-informed speculation from members of the public on websites, some of it damaging to the officers and hurtful to family and friends, as well as Sussex Police and its officers.

Mr Nisbet should be well aware that under English law, a person is innocent until proven guilty, and under Article 6 of the Human Rights Act has the right to a fair trial, which means with a jury properly advised by a judge.

This would have been relished by Sharon Rowe, to publicly prove their innocence.

For the record, each officer was supported throughout by a lawyer for each for the purpose of the crime investigation, and by an experienced team of officers from Sussex Police Federation for professional outcomes, this team including two Detective Inspectors.

Throughout eight weeks of investigation, nothing emerged to that team which amounted to cogent, compelling evidence of criminal wrongdoing by either officer.

Brian Stockham, Chairman of Sussex Police Federation states:- "We all know it is necessary for Police Officers to be investigated thoroughly when an allegation has been made, so that there is clearly no compromise to their integrity.

If this matter had been about a member of the public, a decision of no further action would have been made long ago, and probably with no need for the Crown Prosecution Service to decide.

However we are pleased that with the decision of no further action, that shadow has been removed from the names of Sharon Rowe and Jim Torbet."

Reaction

See the Thursday, December 4 edition of the Worthing Herald for readers' reaction to the Sharon Rowe story.

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