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Tuesday, December 2, 1997 Published at 11:16 GMT


'Robocop' suspended from CID
image: [ Ray Mallon: faces allegations of criminal conduct ]
Ray Mallon: faces allegations of criminal conduct

The police chief famous for championing "zero tolerance", Detective Superintendent Ray Mallon, has been suspended as head of Middlesbrough CID.

After being removed while two allegations are investigated, Superintendent Mallon said: "I'm very calm, cool and collected about all of this, because I always say when you tell the truth you've got nothing to worry about.

"I've got nothing to worry about."

[ image: Assistant Chief Constable Robert Turnbull: gave no details of exact offences]
Assistant Chief Constable Robert Turnbull: gave no details of exact offences
Earlier, at a news conference, Assistant Chief Constable Robert Turnbull outlined the basis of the charges leading to the suspension.

He said: "As a result of information which has come to my notice I have found it necessary to suspend Detective Superintendent Ray Mallon from duty, arising from allegations which relate to the disclosure of information of a confidential nature about the current investigation into a third party.

"Another allegation relates to activity which could be construed as criminal conduct. As this investigation is still underway, I am sure you will appreciate it would be inappropriate for me or anyone else from the Cleveland constabulary to make any further comment."

Tony Williams, a member of the Police Complaints Authority, asked anyone with information to contact an inquiry team led by the Northamptonshire Assistant Chief Constable, Andrew Timpson.

Mr Williams added: "I would like to make something very clear. We are investigating serious criminal and disciplinary allegations. Both the force and the PCA will take an extremely serious view of any attempt to obstruct this inquiry or interfere with it in any way."

Superintendent Mallon's solicitor said afterwards his client denied all charges against him.

"Mr Mallon has not had the opportunity of answering the allegations to his superior officers and will do so at the earliest opportunity," Andrew Brook said.

"He is forbidden from explaining himself to the public. Ray Mallon strenuously denies any wrong doing on his part and the evidence will show he is innocent of all allegations."

Although the allegations are apparently not related to "zero tolerance" it is with this policy Mr Mallon will remain linked in many people's minds.

When Mr Mallon was appointed in November 1996, he promised to quit if crime in the area had not gone down by 20% in 18 months.

His tough-cop style earned Mr Mallon the nickname "Robocop".

Reductions in crimes against property in Middlesbrough increased national interest in "zero tolerance".

But Mr Mallon received adverse publicity when he had to suspend two CID officers who gave a suspect heroin in return for confessions.

An idea from over there doing rather well over here

"Zero tolerance", or "positive policing" as many prefer to call it, originated in New York. A large drop in the city's murder rate was attributed to the strategy.

It attempts to tackle law-breaking from the bottom up by treating petty crime as seriously as other offences.

This philosophy behind it is known as the "broken windows" theory, because its proponents argue even minor vandalism leads to more serious crime.

[ image: Young people and ethnic minorities have complained of being victimised]
Young people and ethnic minorities have complained of being victimised
The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, is believed to have become one of the increasing number of supporters of "zero tolerance".

Yet it has been opposed by civil liberties campaigners who say its aggressive tactics amount to harassment.

In Cleveland, in one month, police stopped and searched 1,300 people.

But Cleveland Police insist they have no plans to abandon "zero tolerance".

BBC correspondent Joe Campbell reports on the day's events
Alan Brook, Mallon's solicitor, speaks on behalf of his client

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