I do not know James Patrick in the traditional sense, we have never met. We have exchanged views many times on Twitter however.
As many of you know he came to our notice with a video on YouTube called The Last Call To Attention. It doesn’t matter what I think about this, over 14,000 have now viewed this video made by a serving officer who clearly has the utmost passion for the Police Service.
Further videos followed and then a series of blogs, at first collectively entitled “The Police Debating Directive”, and then succeeded by “The Candle Legacy”
A book was published entitled “The Rest Is Silence”. This book was nothing more than a collection of previously published blogs, nothing new. Nothing that hadn’t been seen previously. It is important to note that James did not receive a single penny in recompense for this book, all proceeds were donated to charity, Care Of Police Survivors, and that was always his stated intention.
After the book was published the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards took an interest and disciplinary proceedings followed. James found himself in the absolutely awful position of being investigated for Gross Misconduct, an allegation that could have a profound effect on his future career.
The allegations made against him were;
1. He has written and published a book about police service in contravention of MPS Policy.
2. Some of the contents of the book could be harmful to the reputation of the police service and adversely impact on public confidence.
I can’t comment on allegation 1 as I don’t know what MPS policy on this matter currently is, but I do not believe that he is the first serving Police Officer to have written a book about his/her experiences.
As far as allegation 2 is concerned I have now read this book cover-to-cover twice, and I can’t find anything in it whatsoever that would damage public confidence in the police service.
There is plenty in it that might damage public confidence in the government and other public AND private organisations but these are not James’ words. He has merely circulated information which is already in the public domain and easily accessible to anyone who’s halfway decent in the use of Google (other search engines are also available. I honestly don’t believe that I read a single sentence that was not obtained from public domain material on the interweb.
So by collating and distributing this information does James (and I do mean James personally) damage public confidence in the police service? Or is any perceived damage caused by the authors of the documents and policies that James highlights? Personally I believe that it’s the latter, but you are obviously free to make up your own mind.
And finally, last week James appeared before the Public Administration Select Committee of Parliament chaired by Mr Bernard Jenkin, a Conservative MP.
I watched James give his evidence together with the other 3 witnesses in that session. If you haven’t already seen it, or you want to watch it again, you can find and follow it here
Personally I have a few minor issues with the manner in which James sometimes presented his evidence, but I can easily write that off to nerves. I don’t have a single issue with WHAT he said however. He gave a full and frank statement to the committee not only highlighting what I, and numerous others, have known for years, but also things that I hadn’t previously known, He then went on to explain how skewed crime statistics perversely influenced resource allocations across London. He was broadly supported by the three other witnesses in his session and the chairman ended up saying this “I would like to apologise on behalf of politicians of all parties”. Mr Jenkin said politicians were responsible for “creating this atmosphere in which targets must be achieved”. He added: “I have no doubt political leadership has played a big part”.
And James Patrick still stands accused of “harming the reputation of the police service”.
A Met Commander whose name was immediately forgettable appeared on our TVs that night defending Met Crime Statistics, implying or stating that the 4 witnesses that morning had been wrong.
Only today, Policing Minister Damian Green said “Recorded crime has fallen by more than 10% since the government came to power and we have put in place long-term reforms to help the police continue that downward trend.
“We have stripped away targets and red tape to free police from desk-bound jobs; we have installed the National Crime Agency to take on organised crime; we have installed a College of Policing to professionalise policing; we have modernised outmoded pay and conditions; and we have introduced a newly-reinforced ethical framework to ensure police conduct is on an equal footing to cutting crime.”
Erm excuse me Mr Green, but aren’t those figures in severe doubt now? But you still rely on them to spout your propaganda.
Additionally much of what James told us about in his book “The Rest Is Silence” and his earlier blogs has now been endorsed by Lord Stevens, no less, in his report published today;
The review said the PCC model had “fatal systematic flaws” and “should be discontinued in its present form at the end of the term of office of the 41 serving PCCs.”
The review’s survey of officers had found that the government’s “failure to engage the service in the programme of reform” had led to a “damaging stand-off” and “plummeting morale”, Lord Stevens said.
Restrictions on the use of private companies such as G4S and Serco for policing functions
That is just some of it.
To return to the beginning, do I think that James Patrick has damaged public confidence in the Police Service? He has said many things that have made me wince, we have not always agreed on everything he has said or done, but when I strip that away I see a man who is totally dedicated to his profession/vocation. I have seen untold numbers of people on Twitter who have no direct connection with the Police Service supporting James for his stance. I don’t recall seeing anyone (apart from MPS management) condemning him. He has done nothing more than tell it like it is. Should we prevent our police officers from telling the truth? Do we want them to not tell tell the truth. Who would you trust more, someone who is demonstrably trying to get the truth across or someone who is endeavouring to fudge the issue?
Finally, unless someone can correct me, James has NEVER been instructed to remove his book from sale, or take down his blogs, thus permitting a continuance of the alleged offence.
I rest my case members of the “jury”.