Another pensioner feels the full force of the law

Taken from Arkangel

Lancashire Constabulary Special Investigations Unit have spent thousands of pounds investigating and prosecuting a Blackpool pensioner, Mrs Frances Gavin (73), for failing to move her animal welfare information stall exactly every 20 minutes – as stipulated on her Pedlar’s Licence.

A pedlar’s licence is issued by the police. However, if the person loiters in one place whilst not making a sale, they are classed as a static street trader and enforcement action can be taken against them.

The incident occurred on 14 August 2004 and involved a stall that Mrs Gavin, was manning and using for information purposes. Mrs. Gavin had held regular stalls in Victoria Street, Blackpool, for about eight years. Detective Sergeant Nasser and Detective Constable Simon Davison of Lancashire Constabulary Special Investigations Unit, spent two hours watching Mrs Gavin and Brian Gregory handing out leaflets, and collecting signatures on petitions, whilst occasionally a member of the public would give them a donation.

In what appears to be a conspiracy by both the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the CPS refused to drop the case against Mrs. Gavin even though she was admitted to hospital with a serious illness. The court was told by Mrs. Gavin’s defence that in 2000, she had been advised by street wardens that to avoid breaking the law and allow her to receive money from members of the public she should obtain a Pedlar’s Licence, which she duly did.

It was not until 2004 that Mrs. Gavin was then told by council officers to get a table that she could easily move every 20 minutes, this being one of the stipulations of her Pedlar’s licence. Mrs. Gavin did get a moveable table, but the court heard that on 14 August 2004 DS Nasser and DC Davidson had kept a watch for two hours and that Mrs. Gavin had not moved the stall. It was then that the officers moved into “action” seizing the material on the stall.

The two officers then approached the stall and seized the contents of the stall as well as a collecting tin that had ten pounds and thirteen pence. Mrs Gavin was later arrested by DS Nasser for charges including fraud, money laundering and going equipped for theft, and was held for questioning at Fleetwood police station on two occasions. She was eventually charged with two minor breaches of local byelaws and an offence under the Vagrancy Act 1824.

On 12 September this year, two years and one month after the arrests, Frances Gavin and Brian Gregory were convicted of collecting money without a licence. Mrs Gavin was also found guilty of trading in a prohibited area, but cleared of a third charge of purporting to collect money for a charitable cause but using it for her own purposes, namely to feed her dogs. The latter charge was dismissed after magistrates rejected the evidence of investigating Officer Detective Sergeant Marc Nasser. Both activists, however, were given an absolute discharge by Blackpool magistrates. The absolute discharges were received on the grounds that the two defendants were acting in good faith and that they had not intended to break the law.

The case has been criticised by those who claim that the case could have been resolved by council officers and not the police, and the countless government payroll hours and the thousands of pounds spent on pursuing the pensioner could have been better spent fighting more serious crime.

Local residents have commented that they are angry that CID officers have wasted their time on this case when serious crime is going “unsolved”. The magistrate on sentencing the two commented on the good character of the defendants and their commitment to their cause, but found them guilty of breaching the conditions of the Pedlar’s Licence.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: