I have now received the case documents requested from the North Wales Police regarding the Tywyn flags incident last year. (Click to enlarge.) I gave a progress report with this post last month. Unfortunately, the information now tohand adds little to what we already knew.
The police reports sent to me have been so heavily redacted as to make them almost worthless. Just about the only thing they add to what I told you last month is that in addition to receiving cautions, the culprits also made financial restitution to the council of £270 each. Which, if nothing else, clarifies that the council is the owner of the poles (even though it is claimed they were paid for by another body.) The redacted documents also tell us that the culprits wrote a letter of apology to the council. Ah! bless.
Though one intriguing curiosity from the police documents is that the culprits were charged with damaging only the flagpoles, not the flags. Yet the newspaper report from just after the incident made it clear that ” . . . Welsh flags had been ripped in half”. And according to Mike Stevens, chairman of Tywyn Coast Protection Group, “It’s also a disgrace to de-face the sovereign flag of Wales . . .”. In fact, it was being suggested that the damage to the poles was almost incidental, the real targets were the Welsh flags. So why are the flags not mentioned in the police documents?
I think the answer to that question lies in part of my original request to Gogplod. I asked if this offence had been recorded as a hate crime. By ignoring the flags that question becomes almost irrelevant in what is now a straightforward case of criminal damage against flagpoles. This, I believe, explains why the police chose to ignore the desecration of our national flag, but not why Cyngor Gwynedd – or whoever owned the flags – didn’t ask for compensation.
The police attitude towards the flags may have been revealed in the Cambrian News report from May last year. There they were quoted as saying, “Eight people were arrested on 7 May on suspicion of causing criminal damage to two flagpoles and various other bits in (sic) the seafront”. So it looks as if the North Wales Police regards our national flag as nothing more than, “other bits”.