Monday, 17 December 2012

A Familiar Story


"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work,  instead of living on public assistance."

Cicero - 55 BC

Not much changes! Smile with tongue out

I have been asked on a number of occasions “What happened to Ben Harp?”  So this is an update.

Following our complaint to the police of actual and attempted theft Ben Harp was arrested and questioned by the police.  Apparently he claimed he couldn’t remember much about what had happened because it had all occurred so long ago.  The police did tell us the UK wheels of justice turn very slowly.  Almost a year later the police gave the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).  In the UK the police don’t make the decision to prosecute.  We were subsequently informed by the police several months later that the CPS had decided not to prosecuted.  The reasons given were:

  • Ben Harp had to be given the benefit of the doubt about stealing our equipment that was in his possession. (The complaint of theft) He claimed someone else had taken it.
  • We were not the victims of the attempted boat theft as the insurance company had paid our claim.

Our insurance cover was with a broker specialising in leisure marine with the actual risk being spread amongst three major insurance companies.  We were advised by the broker the main insurance companies were declining to make a complaint of attempted theft to the police as they believed there was almost no possibility of recovering any monies from Ben Harp.  Basically they couldn’t be bothered!

At that time we were informed that Ben Harp would be charged with the breaking of the document server’s car windscreen.  This occurred when he attempted to serve our High Court order on Ben Harp.  The document server was a former police officer who; unlike the insurance companies; was prepared to make a complaint.

I found this situation unsatisfactory as it ignored our own substantial financial loss (the gap between the actual loss and the insurance cover).  It also ignored the fact that the attempted theft was of our boat.

Following my representations the police requested the CPS have a more senior lawyer review the case.  Three months later we were advised the CPS had confirmed they wouldn’t proceed with a prosecution.  We were informed that whilst one of the values of the police was to offer a “service” to the public the cost of prosecuting ran into ten of thousands of pounds and the CPS would have done a cost benefit analysis as part of their review.  One assumes the inference is……… there were no victims as the Joneses had been reimbursed by their insurers and the insurers were no longer interested in the matter.

Returning to the matter of cost benefit analysis.  It is possible to look at the CPS statistics online and I’ve looked at the figures in October 2011 for Staffordshire.  October is the month the CPS declined to prosecute Ben Harp.

CPS outcomes by principal offence category fordshire

Total Prosecutions

Successful convictions

% Convicted

A Homicide




B Offences Against The Person




C Sexual Offences




D Burglary




E Robbery




F Theft And Handling




G Fraud And Forgery




H Criminal Damage




I Drugs Offences




J Public Order Offences




K All Other Offences (excluding Motoring)




L Motoring Offences




Admin Finalisations








Data available here

As you can see the CPS achieved a 94.3% conviction rate for the month.  Comparable figures were also achieved on the remaining months in 2011.  But of course you can make statistics say whatever you like.  In my opinion if an accurate measurement of crime is to be identified the success percentile should be measured against the number of cases investigated by the police rather than against those selected for prosecution by the CPS.  Adopting the latter approach could potentially lead to accusations of “picking the easy cases” to achieve a high success rate.

Did you know the CPS operate an employee performance bonus scheme where a percentage of the gross annual salary budget is available to be distributed if performance targets are met?  This could also potentially lead to the “picking of cases”.

At the end of the day the losers in all of this are you and me.  We all either directly or indirectly pay for insurance.  The insurance companies spread the risk amongst themselves.  Their premiums rise to cover their loses.  CPS bonuses are paid for achieving targets.  The police appear to waste a considerable amount of time investigating and preparing cases only to have them refused because they not 95% guaranteed.  It must be morale sapping for the frontline police!  The politicians like the statistics as it demonstrates to the general public that the UK is obviously a safer place.  The criminals like it.  They only have to throw a slight doubt into the case against them for it to be discarded. 

Many years ago I was taught “Justice delayed is justice denied”.  The wheels of justice turn so slowly these days it appears to be justice denied!  I was also taught “If you don’t stamp out the small violations then the environment will steadily deteriorate until you have a very significant problem”.  Crime was rife in New York until the mayor directed the police to get tough on all petty crime.

I reviewed our own situation regarding our complaint to the police and had to decide whether we should continue to battle for justice.  Whilst I would be prepared to battle on to stop Ben Harp from doing to other what he did to us, I don’t intend to spend my time trying to fix the British criminal justice system.  So we are cutting our loses and will focus on canal boating.  The name Ben Harp has been mentioned on this blog more than enough times that should he ever start building boats again any potential customer who uses Goggle should be warned.

This coming week should be our last tethered to the wharf.  The plan is to cut the umbilical cord (shore power) and slip the mooring lines.  Inland waterways here we come!



David said...

Onwards and upwards.
Looks like you are getting the best Christmas present of all!
Happy cruising.

David & Karen

Paul and Elaine said...

Hi Tom
I think you are doing the right thing by moving on. I do admire your fortitude, I would probably have given up and gone back to OZ.
Ben Harps name is forever tainted as a scumbag.
We will see you out there and have a beer sometime, enjoy the cruising.

Ian said...


Justice is worth fighting for, and you've fought the good fight. Time to cruise off into the sunset with head held high!

What is there now left to do on Waiouru? I hope we get a complete photographic tour of the interior when she's finally declared finished! It's hard to remember all the innovative features you've put in over the past year... and I may want to borrow an idea or three. :-)


Ian said...


Justice is worth fighting for, and you've fought the good fight. Time to cruise off into the sunset with head held high!

What is there now left to do on Waiouru? I hope we get a complete photographic tour of the interior when she's finally declared finished! It's hard to remember all the innovative features you've put in over the past year... and I may want to borrow an idea or three. :-)


Clive said...

As an ex-cop (more than half a century ago) I do wonder what's going on in the crime business. Your revelation that the CPS may lose a bonus if a case is lost is simply shocking, but not surprising in these cynical days. Police pay and pensions cut while our masters award themselves more and more plus 100% pensions.
Anyway, good boating, and please don't overload your repaired Garmin - it must have been FTB - Full to Busting!

Tom and Jan said...

Clive, I doubt there is a direct link between a lost case and any bonus. However "key performance indicators" will need to be achieved. One way of achieving any required conviction rate is to eliminate as many potential cases as possible.
I think I may have overloaded the number of maps being transferred into the Garmin. Lesson learned!

Nev Wells said...


Some things have to be left in the past, especially if they may impact on your future. I also think you have done more than enough and as an Englishman apologise for the experience you have had on albeit a small number of the population but more concernedly the bureaucratic and unbalanced legal system. You have earnt your cruising time, don't let it be spoilt ,

Happy Christmas,


Tom and Jan said...

Yes Nev, it's time to move on. no need for you to apologise. Obviously some slipped through the net 200 years ago :-)