Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Ben Harp – To Hell and Back Again – Chapter 11

Well back in August I wrote Chapter 10 of the Ben Harp saga.  At the time I mentioned the story was far from over.

After careful consideration of what had occurred and having listened to some professional advice I concluded what had happened extended beyond a civil dispute.  Ben Harp had lied to my solicitors telling them the boat in his yard wasn’t ours and he had already sold our boat.  It was obvious he was attempting to steal our boat.  Attempted theft is a criminal act rather than civil.  It was also obvious we were NOT going to get any money back from the Harp’s; so there was little point in continuing to pay solicitors to pursue them.  But their attempt to steal our boat enabled me to report the matter to the police.  I duly lodged a formal complaints of actual and attempted theft with the police in August last year.  The police informed me the wheels of justice turn very slowly in the UK.  However, I’m retired, still have some of my brain cells and am sufficiently determined to keep pursuing the matter.

In March of this year the police contacted me to advise they had completed their investigations and the file had been forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a decision.  Apparently the police are no longer responsible for making this decision.  In mid May I was again contacted by the police with the opening comment “You may not like what I’m going to tell you!”  After examining the file, the CPS had decided that there was sufficient doubt whether Ben Harp had stolen our £9000 of equipment (domestic battery bank, satellite dome & Empirbus system) and they therefore wouldn’t pursue the charge.  Allegedly Ben Harp had told the police his yard had open access and anyone could have stolen the equipment.  My comment to the police was…… The equipment was in a locked container that took us 2 hours to cut our way into when recovering our boat.  It was full of valuable tools belonging to Ben Harp (which we didn’t take).  The container is in a locked compound which is inside a secure industrial estate!  The police then went on to inform me that the CPS had decided since our insurance company had paid our claim for the damage done to Waiouru we were no longer the “injured party”.  Our insurance company was now the injured party and they would have to press charges.  Our insurance company is a broker.  The insurance risk is shared by three major insurance companies and they know there is no possibility of recovering any money so they aren’t interested in pointlessly spending money on prosecuting Ben Harp.  However the police did tell me there was one charge they could pursue Ben Harp with.  The Document Server who attempted to serve our 2nd High Court order had the side window of his car broken, allegedly by Ben Harp, when he tried to deliver the order.  I was informed Ben Harp would be notified that he was only going to be charged with breaking the window at his next bail meeting on 4 June.

Initially I was stunned!  No wonder there is a problem with increasing levels of crime.  Then I decided I would simply have to combat both Ben Harp and the CPS.  I couldn’t understand why the CPS appear so reluctant to prosecute.  Did they have performance targets to achieve and perhaps there were performance bonuses at stake?  Looking at crime figures on the CPS website I chose the statistics for Staffordshire (Ben Harp’s location) and selected the figures for June 2010 <they can be found here>.  Quite interesting.  Theft & Handling – successful conviction rate of 93.9%.  The figures for successful prosecutions in the other categories of crime are equally impressive.  So a very high conviction rate!  The cynic in me suggests one way to have a very high success rate is to eliminate all but the most clear cut cases.  Surely discarding all but the most easily won cases does nothing to improve the overall health of society.  The information being reported by the CPS appears to be a case of “picking your statistics to suit a desired outcome”.  Rather than report the successful conviction rate from the total number of reported cases; measure the success rate from the cases selected for prosecution.  It makes your performance look much better!  I came to the conclusion there must be “performance targets” for the CPS to achieve.  I also wondered if there was a remuneration performance bonus scheme operating in the CPS.  And I was right <click here>. Quote: “A performance related payment averaging 5 per cent of the total eligible SCS pay bill is available to the top 25 per cent of eligible staff. Performance related payments will be in the region of 10 per cent of pay”.

It appears to me there is a financial incentive to achieve a high conviction success rate and this is being done by excluding as many reported cases as possible. The problem with this is it only encourages more criminal behaviour.

So what did I do…….. That will be in Chapter 12


Wandering Mouse said...

What ever became of the fellow that was watching the boatyard for you? The one that was assulted and had his phone and camera stolen. Was Ben Harp ever made to go to court for that?

Tom Mauer

Tom and Jan said...

I don't want to steal David's opportunity so could I suggest you ask him via his blog (


Sue said...


I am so pleased you have published this blog, it is quite an eye opener. I admire your determination to keep going even after you had the insurance payout.

It won't be long now until Waiouru will be in the water, you have done a magnificent job.

There will be many people reading this particular blog that will admire your tenacity.

We will all give such a good cheer when you sail away from this and enjoy the rest of your life.


Mike, Mags, Poppy and Abbey said...

Hello Tom.

I understand that due to a quirk of the British legal system. If a member of the public takes out a criminal prosecution. The CPS often take over the prosecution.


Anonymous said...

Hi T&J- Please continue your wonderful blog.

As for Ben Harp & the CPS. Let's not go there.. I do not know whether to be angry or just let out a big resigned sigh....

Let me just go & site down & catch my breath!

Kevin & Donna

David said...

Hi Tom (Mauer that is)

No action was taken in my case and I think Tom's blog entry gives the perfect explanation.


Tom and Jan said...

I wouldn't want any of our blog readers to think we are bitter and seeking revenge. There are more important things in life.

Why am I persisting with the CPS..... To quote Edmund Burke "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

If WE (the good people) allow THEM (the bad ones) to get away with it then society steadily collapses into chaos!

Nb Duxllandyn said...

Oh Tom, Oh Jan.....
This must be so hard for you both.
BUT... you can continue on with your lives with your heads up, whereas Mr Harp must need to be very careful about the company he keeps. One day he will be on the receiving end. Those that cheat and deceive usually do get their 'come uppance' in the end even if you may not have the satisfaction of being around to see it.
Keep your chin up both of you.
Nb Duxllandyn

Ian said...

Hi Tom & Jan,

Yes, it's not about "bitterness and seeking revenge"; it's about seeking justice. And I shall be cheering you on from the sidelines every step of the way!

P.S. We keep seeing glimpses of the floor plans in the background of several photos - is there any chance of having a peek at those plans for a better idea of the overall layout? Please? I've seen photos of nearly every inch of your boat, and yet still have difficulty picturing the entire layout in my head - perhaps it needs examining? (my head, not your boat!) :o)



Tom and Jan said...

How silly of me to not think of providing a floor plan. It will also be a challenge working out how to make something long and skinny fit onto the screen!