“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – two coppers selling guns from the boot of their car! It was bloody disgraceful,” says fifty-two year old Joshua Weddler. “Of course, they were trying to hide the fact that they were the fuzz – they had raincoats on over their uniforms. But the car was definitely a police patrol car. It had blue lights on the roof and an orange stripe down the side!” The Hove TV aerial installer claims that he has suffered police harassment since he reported the incident – which allegedly occurred at a car boot sale – to his local newspaper. “The day after the article appeared, I was woken up in the early hours by the sound of my door being kicked in. Next thing I knew, there were all these rozzers in riot gear pointing guns at me and my wife while we were lying in bed,” says Weddler, who alleges that he was dragged, naked, from his bed, handcuffed and thrown into the back of a police car. “They drove me out into the middle of nowhere and told me that if I said anything else about the car boot sale, they’d fit me up for a load of serial killings! Then they took the handcuffs off and kicked me out of the car before driving off! I had to hitch hike back home. I tell you it’s not easy getting people to stop for you when you are a stark naked middle aged bloke!”

After finally getting to back to his house – courtesy of a lonely lorry driver who took him on an overnight detour via Scotland – Weddler found that the police were serious about their threat. “I found a bloodied axe under the sofa,” he says. “Worse than that, the wife told me that the bastards had been digging in the back garden – when I took up some of the paving stones in the patio, I found several dismembered body parts under them!” However, despite these attempts at intimidation, Weddler remains determined to expose his local police force’s criminal activities, revealing that he has evidence that the firearms he saw being sold had originally been handed in to the police during a recent gun amnesty. “My mate Kevin, who was at the car boot sale as well, reckoned he recognised this Kalashnikov they were knocking out to a bunch of hoodies was the same one he’d handed in to the police station a couple of weeks before,” he says. “His dad had brought it back from Toxteth, or somewhere, as a war souvenir. Anyway, he said it had the same notches carved into the butt that his dad’s had – he should know, he put three of them there himself.”

For their part, the South Coast Constabulary have denied Weddler’s allegations, although they do admit to having recently raided his house in connection with an on-going investigation into a serial killer targeting gay men. “Mr Weddler’s van was seen in the vicinity of several of the murders,” said a spokesperson. “Well, within a few miles, at least.” Nevertheless, this isn’t the first time that the legality of South Coast Constabulary’s activities have been called into question. Last year it emerged that a series of armed bank robberies in its jurisdiction had been carried out by a career criminal living in the area under the witness protection scheme – aided by his police handlers. “As we explained at the time – that was simply the result of a misunderstanding,” says Assistant Chief Constable Alf Felchett. “It turned out that when this individual – an accountant who was a witness in a major fraud case – had been given a new identity, due a computer error he had mistakenly been given the identity of a violent bank robber. Obviously, he had to behave in accordance with his new identity so as to avoid raising suspicion, and our officers were obliged to assist him in establishing this identity.” Nevertheless, rumours persist that several of the officers involved set up Swiss bank accounts before taking early retirement and moving to the Bahamas or Monaco.

Not everyone is surprised by the alleged conduct of the South Coast Constabulary. “This is hardly the first time that the supposed guardians of the law have been found to be corrupt themselves,” opines top criminologist Professor Jim Whatlow of Newhaven University. “I mean, the West Yorkshire force were notorious for this sort of thing in the 1970s, and before that the Metropolitan Police’s Obscene Publications Squad became infamous for closing down porn dealers who wouldn’t give them back handers, seizing their stock and selling it to dealers who would pay them.” However, the academic believes that this time, there might be motivations beyond simply making money, behind the South Coast Constabulary’s behaviour. “With police budgets likely to be cut by the coalition government and crime rate falling, Britain’s cops need to find new ways of justifying their existence,” he muses. “By increasing the number of guns in circulation and organising armed robberies, they’re ensuring an increase in local crime rates, thereby strengthening their case against taking major cuts to their budget. Plus, they make some money on the side. Tax free. It’s genius really.”

Local Tory MP Quentin Firk is recommending a full Home Office investigation into the matter, with a view to having the Constabulary’s alleged activities designated as a pilot programme, with a view to having it extended to other police forces across the country. “I think they should be commended for coming up with these measures to both cut costs and generate their own funding,” he says. “Take the bribing of officers, for instance – a simple and obvious way for lower ranks to supplement their income, thereby enabling cuts in overtime payments. It also has the benefit of further reducing crime statistics, as it means many minor crimes going unreported.”

Firk also approves of the ‘fitting up’ of suspects for crimes they didn’t commit. “It’s a highly cost-effective way of increasing the clear-up rate for forces without having to mount costly investigations. I mean, the people they ‘fit up’ are probably guilty of something anyway, so it’s not as if criminals are going completely unpunished,” he observes, adding that he also favours the police setting up and even committing crimes themselves. “What better way is there to regulate crime? This way the police can make out sure that armed robberies don’t get out of hand, and that street crimes involve only the minimum necessary levels of violence, for example.” Despite the enthusiasm of his local MP, Joshua Weddler remains unimpressed by South Coast Constabulary’s approach to crime management. “I don’t know controlling crime, but I do know that we didn’t have a problem with gun crime until those bastards started flogging them out of the backs of their cars! Now you can get a cap in your arse if you don’t pick up your dog’s crap from the pavement,” he claims. “I’ll admit they solved the problem of drug dealers outside the school, when they arrested them and confiscated their drugs. But the last time the local community liaison constable turned up at the school to give a crime prevention talk, he ended up by offering to sell the kids discounted drugs if they stayed out of trouble. It’s a bloody disgrace!”