Why you should try to present powerful evidence
We’re on a mission at ONRECORD to give people the tools to stand up against public bodies, organisations and any other systems that perform badly or, at their worst, corruptly, by helping you to present powerful evidence.
As part of that mission, we spoke with Nathan Taylor, former Scotland Yard Detective and member of the Counter Terrorism Command who talked to us about how best to deal with the police.
Nathan talks about how the police work, how you should best present your problem to get them to investigate, what you can do to make the police take your case seriously, what are the best ways of getting their help and what to do if the police are investigating you.
We also spoke with Ian Ross who has investigated the failings of the Post Office towards its sub-Postmasters in the Post Office Scandal. Whereas the police will respond well if you approach them in an effective way, some (perhaps most) organisations, like the Post Office, clearly do not want you to be powerful or present powerful evidence
How organisations seem to resist and limit the power of their users and clients
When we first had the idea of creating ONRECORD to help people gather evidence to make them more powerful and capable, for example if they had to go to court or make a complaint, we thought it would be embraced by organisations who were helping those same people. How wrong we were. We found that many of the people in charge of so-called helping organisations clearly think they know what’s best for the public. It seems they choose to do only what’s right for themselves however much it harms others.
We spoke to several hundred helping organisations, charities, lawyers and other businesses, chosen specifically because ONRECORD would help the people they were supporting or involved with. As ONRECORD is designed to help people keep records, we were particularly interested in the organisations that had websites recommending people should make records if they had certain problems. For example, we spoke to many charities dealing with domestic abuse, stalking, bullying, harassment etc. We approached some Police and Crime Commissioners, especially those that have appeared on the TV promoting the idea of record keeping. And we wrote to the CAB as it used to be but now known as Citizens Advice. Their wonderful, informative and wide ranging website repeatedly recommends the need to keep records.
There were only positive comments from those we spoke to who were on the frontline of those organisations, those who were providing services directly to the public. These were mainly the junior members of staff and the ones who answer the phones and give advice directly to clients and have first hand experience of seeing the people with the problems, when they first seek help. They consistently told us how useful ONRECORD would be to the people they helped. Those first responders had to advise us write to whoever was in charge. All the benefits of keeping records were easily understood by those on the front line of this kind of work.
So what happened? Almost invariably silence from the senior people. If I followed up with another call there was often an embarrassed reaction from the person I’d originally spoken to and promises of someone getting back to me. A few were frank enough though to say their bosses just didn’t get it. They were not familiar with tech, they were older and not happy with the idea of having to change their ways of working. Younger members of staff felt that their managers would probably be unable to use or understand an app themselves and did not want to be embarrassed by admitting it. What an admission. The worst reaction though was when they said their bosses had said clients wouldn’t be able to work the app, suggesting the public weren’t bright enough. What? Most people are used to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email these days and it would be absurd to suggest that they wouldn’t they be able to use an app to record what’s happening to them, especially given ONRECORD’s guidance and common sense advice. How disrespectful to the people they were working with! You wouldn’t want people like that helping you.
Citizens Advice’s response was: “Thanks for your email. This sounds like an interesting and potentially very worthwhile project”. But, they said, they couldn’t help because they had so many requests like mine. Now, they may just have been being polite and they don’t actually think it’s a good idea but if that’s the case why is their website filled with recommendations to keep records.
How ONRECORD helps you present the best evidence you can
Evidence is what makes you powerful and ONRECORD is the best way to gather, organise and present powerful evidence. Our website helps you to understand what evidence is, what is strong evidence and what evidence you will need to prove your case in different situations. The ONRECORD app helps you to present your evidence clearly, with all the essential information properly organised and then allows you to share your evidence, securely and online, with professionals such as your lawyer or with other supporters such as family or friends. Learn more about how ONRECORD helps you gather evidence here.
Chris Daw KC, who has represented very many people as their defence barrister, talked to us about what evidence you need to record, why you need to record it and how to present it. Listen to his expert advice here.
What can go wrong if your evidence is not powerful enough to be taken seriously?
For example take a look at this interview we did with Dr Ed Johnston if you’re hoping the criminal system of justice works well and you’ll be fairly treated.
Dr Johnston is a senior lecturer in law at the University of the West of England. He also has a podcast ‘Criminal Justice Natters’.
Ed talks about ‘managerialism’ in the criminal justice system. Managerialism describes the fashion to use private sector management methods in the public sector, with the emphasis on hurrying cases through the court. He describes how pressure by judges to simply get on with the case can lead to defendants being unable to defend themselves properly. There is a bias for prosecution while defence is undermined. This obviously leads to injustice and in many cases wrongful convictions. The pressures placed on defendants can cause innocent people to plead guilty. You need to present powerful evidence to fight against such pressures.
And what about the family court? This 30 minute interview ‘Dismantling The Ministry of Justice Report’, with Terry White is a must for anyone involved in private family law cases, including parents, older children, lawyers, CAFCASS, the judiciary and social services.
Terry White has extensive experience of analysing reports, written with the intention to deceive by corrupt regimes all over the world, for example those prepared by Russian oligarchs or African despots. The Ministry of Justice Report ‘Assessing the Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children’s Cases’ bears all the hallmarks of these corrupt reports. Terry has applied for Judicial Review to challenge the process followed by the Ministry of Justice. The review, if allowed, will be heard in about a year’s time (as of January 2023).
Terry dissects the report to show how it fails to be a trustworthy or reliable description of the experiences of those in the family court and why it is not a scientifically based, statistically sound analysis deserving of respect or credibility. This is another missed opportunity for children.
What if I upset organisations by presenting powerful evidence against them?
Everyone who reads this should be under no illusion. If you want to have the best chance of being successful in a dispute of any kind or if you need to prove something in order to be taken seriously, you have to keep honest, accurate records with supporting evidence and you then have to present them in a way that people will take seriously. That’s what we call presenting powerful evidence. Don’t worry that organisations don’t like the idea and won’t like you for being such a nuisance as to disagree with them or complain about them. Do it anyway. They can’t use the fact that you’ve kept records against you.
It’s an uphill struggle dealing with organisations and public bodies and the only way you’ll get listened to is if you can force them to take you seriously. If they know you’ve actually got evidence and that it’s good evidence, they will have to take you seriously. It’s sad to say but you have to frighten them sometimes, perhaps by exposing the truth about them, to make them do their job properly. Knowing that you have convincing evidence to support your case can make them fearful of ridicule or worse if they’re found out. They have to fear you enough to feel obliged to overcome their desire to carry on as normal, ignore you, cover up, fob you off and make their own lives easy. So use ONRECORD and get started.