I’m pleased to say that the sad case of Aiden McHaffie, covered here several times, seems to have reached a satisfactory resolution with apologies and other remedial action from West Midlands Police. Aiden himself wrote about it on his blog last night, and his partner Linda Mason has written a great piece about it today, which with her kind permission I reproduce below for the benefit of readers.
I welcome the actions taken to sort this lamentable situation out by all concerned, but I still feel that it’s atrocious that ordinary citizens have to go to these lengths to obtain decent service from our police. One can’t help feeling that in this case, what has actually achieved resolution is not the the case in itself but the bad publicity hit the police have taken. One of the things that will remain with me about this was the attempts by various people to sweep it under the carpet.
Linda appeared a second time on the Adrian Goldberg show on Radio WM last Tuesday, after her initial piece a few weeks ago. A recording of it is available below:
I’m very pleased for Aiden and Linda, but as Linda says, if you have to fight to get decent service, then it doesn’t inspire confidence, and frankly, this whole episode has left a very nasty taste for me, as a fellow cyclist. At a time when many police are complaining about service cuts and appealing for public support, it would be nice if they were to see their organisation the way we do sometimes. Cyclists have experienced this kind of treatment again and again across the country, and although things are getting better, it often feels like we’re the underclass.
Thanks to all involved in the successful resolution of this matter, and let’s hope it never happens again.
Most of all, I wish Aiden a speedy, and hopefully better than expected recovery for that elbow. He’s a darned fine cyclist and I’d love to see him back in the saddle.
‘Sorry’, it’s such a tiny word when you look at it but sometimes it’s an enormous word to say. On a personal level it can be difficult to say because pride gets in the way. On a professional level uttering such a word can leave you open to doubts over competency, even disciplinary proceedings and at worst moves for compensation against you or the organisation that you work for. Yet when people ask what is it that you want to achieve my complaining, most respond that all that is needed and wanted is an acknowledgment that something did go wrong and an apology, that little word ‘sorry’. No compensation is required. Just five letters in one word that together say ‘sorry’.
I’ve said before that receiving a complaint gives a person, organisation, service, company an opportunity to pause and reflect. Few actually do this; instead they defend the indefensible to their own detriment and also to that of the person who made the complaint, making a negative process even more negative when it could be a creative and positive process.
Last week we discovered that the failure of WM Police to attend Aiden’s accident was not down to WMAS as we had been led to believe but down to someone in Police Control making a decision without having the full information they needed to make that decision. It had been a difficult voyage to make that discovery because we were thwarted by WMAS trying to avoid what we saw as our rights under the Data Protection Act but fortunately they saw sense in the end and I was able to listen to the 999 calls that were made on 1st March and also to the conversations between WM Police and WMAS control centres.
Last night Inspector Paul Dutton from WM Police sat in our home and admitted that the decision not to attend Aiden’s accident was wrong. He also admitted that were other areas where Aiden had been let down by the service and gave full explanations as to what had gone wrong and why. He gave us background information that was helpful to us and he listened to us. He apologised. That little word ‘sorry’. And that was all we had ever wanted; to be taken seriously. The justice that we had sought for Aiden was never about a prosecution but about someone admitting that when at a very vulnerable moment in his life, the service that we all expect to help and assist us wasn’t there and that decision caused further problems.
And thanks again to all those who helped make this possible. Brownhills Bob, The Plastic Hippo, TheYamYam, Adrian Goldberg, Louisa Lewis, Richard Shepherd MP, ACC Marcus Beale and yes, Supt. Sean Russell and Inspector Paul Dutton. Thank you also to the many people who have emailed privately, DMd on Twitter and have supported us publicly on our blogs, Facebook, various forums and Twitter. It’s not over yet but we’re getting there.
There is so much more I could say but not for now. In my own words I need to pause and reflect. The policy issues surrounding when Police attend RTCs is to be examined and personal recommendations made. It is disappointing to us that of all the councillors at Birmingham and Walsall local authorities that were emailed details of the complaint made to WM Police in order for them to consider and discuss the policy issues raised only one, Imran Azam, has taken some time to let us know that the issues will be raised. I need time to develop my thoughts about democracy and accountability. Seems that at 50 the fire in my belly, the one I thought had died back in my 20s is flickering away again, ready to ignite into a large flame and I’m ready to think, evaluate and then campaign, hassle and be a general nuisance once again on issues that are important to me, although Aiden says that it might just be dyspepsia!
<span >One final point. On 13 March we made a formal complaint to the Chief Executive of Birmingham City Hospital about the appalling way Aiden was treated, detailed here and here. Again all we want is an acknowledgement that what was experienced was wrong, shouldn’t have happened, an assurance that it will not happen again, oh and that little word ‘sorry’. We still await a formal response. I will not be holding my breath waiting to hear that little word because I would become a permanent Guinness World Record Holder and that’s not what I want.