I must thank my good friend Dai for the inspiration for this post. There we were mulling over the problems that the Met have caused for the rest of the Policing World, each with the beverage of our choice, a Guinness for him and a White Wine Spritzer for me, although Cornflakes might have been more appropriate.
I have said before that I was once proud to have been a Police Officer for 30 years and now I feel ashamed and tell people any old thing I can think of. After chatting with Dai, I changed my view somewhat. Dai said something very profound; he said that the Met is single-handedly bringing us all into disrepute, and I can’t really argue with him, but it did make me think. It can be dangerous when I think, it can lead to Tweets, blogs and all sorts of carnage. On this occasion it made me realise that I’m not ashamed to have been a Police Officer for 30 years, I’m still proud of that, but I am ashamed to have been associated with the Met for 30 years. Since I’ve been living in DeadBadgerShire I’ve met a few of our County Cousins and do you know, they’re not bad folk. Making friends with Dai has led me to knowing some good and interesting people.
I gave a talk recently about my 30 years career in the Met and after it I was approached by a member of the audience, a retired local Police Officer, who asked “was it really like that in the Met?” He wasn’t enquiring about scandal and corruption, he was enquiring about the wealth of opportunities that exist in the Met and we take for granted, that simply don’t exist in DeadBadgerShire Constabulary. They are TOTALLY different animals, the Met and most County Forces. So, it is unfair to tar all Police Officers with the same, broad brush. Grossly unfair. By and large the good boys and girls of the Constabulary Forces do an excellent job under very trying circumstances so please don’t tar them all with the Met’s brush
Having got that out of the way, the rest of this blog is aimed solely at the Met, as it’s the only Force that I’m qualified to comment on. If you recognise any of the problems I mention please feel free to use the Comments section at the bottom. Likewise if you can proffer any solutions.
I have never served with Sir Bernie at the helm, so I speak solely as an outsider in that respect. I have no inside knowledge whatsoever, I have not stayed in touch with anyone who could vaguely be described as Management.
Whilst I was serving I felt that the ‘end was nigh’ when Constables started calling their Sergeants Jim or Peter or whatever. Sarge or Skip was always good enough for me. Then that strange band of folk who lived above the 1st floor (Superintendents and above) started surrounding themselves with their chums. Heaven only knows what happened to ‘best man/girl for the job. At a Divisional level that’s not too bad, normally one can live with it, but it’s not good for those on the promotion Helter Skelter, a tad unfair, and still wrong. Within a specialist unit it’s a terrible practice, one to be deplored and if possible, outlawed. The Met has many bosses but I’m not seeing many leaders. I’ve seen a few wankers on the 2nd and 3rd floors but I have never felt comfortable working under a wanker, who’s a chum of the boss, in a specialist post. Corrupt practice? Possibly, Discuss.
Dai had a great description of Bernie this morning; likened him to the captain of the Titanic, refusing to accept the inevitable disaster he’s responsible for, and we are the band.
Fiddling while London (Rome) burns, Ships? I see no ships, or Iceberg? What Iceberg? I don’t know which is the best analogy, but they all have their merit.
Now Sir Bernard, this bit is for you. I noticed the other day that the BBC had been trawling through this blog, searching for Constable James Patrick, Crime Stats, and reading my About Me page. Why do you think that was? Audit trails are wonderful things. Audit trails were my bread and butter at one point of my career, one can tell a lot from a good audit trail. I fear that the ship has sailed where Crime Stats are concerned, you had your opportunity to do something about it but you didn’t take it. Constable James Patrick told PASC what was happening with Crime Stats, and I, and many others, am convinced he spoke the truth. I joined the Met in 1972 and Crime Stats were being fiddled with official sanction all the way back then. For example:- Criminal Damage, value less than £20 – No Crime. I could arrest a man for theft of a pint of milk (value 50p at today’s prices) and it would merit a crime book (CRIS) entry, be recorded and counted BECAUSE THERE WAS A PRISONER ATTACHED. Breaking a pane of glass worth £19.99 would have been No Crime’d because that was the Force Policy. Is that not fudging the stats?
A sweaty 2nd Class DS with a fag hanging out of his mouth might have said “hold onto that for a couple of days son, you can put it in as a red inker later” i.e. a crime report with a prisoner attached, looks much better.
We didn’t have s1 PACE in the 70s, but Stops were used as a Performance Indicator even then. And YES stops were recorded from the telephone book just to make up the numbers, particularly on the run-up to Appraisal Time.
So for you to say that you were unaware of the practice of fudging Crime Stats is something I find difficult to believe. You had the opportunity after Constable Patrick’s appearance before PASC to get him onside and advise you as to what was going on, how it was being done, and how to address it, make it right. Did you do so? No, one of your Senior Management Team appeared on TV implying that Constable Patrick was ‘mistaken’. He was not mistaken, as a general principle Stats have been fudged since before I joined the Met, I find it absolutely unbelievable that senior officers can claim they had no knowledge of the practice.
Constable Patrick has tendered his resignation now. I haven’t discussed it with him, but it is possible that he may have been willing to act in some sort of consultancy role after his resignation. Events now make that prospect highly unlikely, but as I say, I haven’t discussed that with him, so I may be wrong.
Corruption? Yes the Met undoubtedly has some officers who are corrupt, and there are undoubtedly those out there who seek to corrupt your officers. I had the privilege, and I mean that, of working on half a dozen or so murder enquiries during my time and I can honestly say that I NEVER encountered a single officer on those enquiries who did not want to solve the murder. We encountered alleged interference from a well-known North London family once, but it was managed. The SIO on that occasion I would happily follow to the end of the earth. He was a hard taskmaster but he appreciated what the troops did for him and would fill the fridge out of his own pocket at a successful conclusion (fruit juice and lemonade of course).
I NEVER knowingly encountered corrupt officers on a murder enquiry, although that was only in one part of London, I never served in the part of London people are discussing at the moment. I have a very simple, innovative, resource-efficient way to help restore public confidence where corruption is concerned, but I too have been ignored. What should I make of that? It might not work, but it is not expensive to implement and why not try something different? You never know it might work, and if it doesn’t nothing has been lost.
Bullying? The latest scandal to hit the Met. I personally have no idea whether there is currently a culture of bullying within the Met. I hear officers say that there is, I know that there used to be. “Just F***ing Do It” was a frequent method of conveying an instruction from Inspector Level officers (well some, not all, to be fair). Were the previous Management really unaware of this practice? Are the current Management unaware of it now?
I’ll be charitable, inappropriate/unprofessional behaviour by DPS officers. One or two allegations are beginning to surface that DPS officers haven’t always behaved professionally. Non-Disclosure of things that might weaken their case seems to be a common factor (allegedly). If this is true, this cannot possibly be allowed to continue, and any officers found to be engaging in such practices should really be firmly dealt with. There is a perception out here in Publicland that DPS are used as Management Henchmen with little regard for Justice, a law unto themselves, maybe even chasing their own KPIs who knows? Or maybe they are just inefficient and are in the wrong posting.
So, the Titanic has hit its Iceberg and is listing badly to starboard. May I suggest that you have one option left? Put right everything that is wrong with the Met, and I do mean everything. Stop promotion from being an ‘expectation’. Post Senior Officers to a post because they’re good at what they do, not because of who they’re friends with, or what golf club they belong to, and don’t even get me going on The Lodge. It will be painful, it will not happen overnight, but I truly believe that officers and public alike can be patient and understanding if they are appraised of what is happening, why it is happening and that it is all for the greater good. To rebuild the Met once more into a world-class Police Force, but you only get one shot at it.
So which do we fancy?
- I see no ships?
- Fiddling while Rome Burns?
- Iceberg? What bloody Iceberg?
- or Isaiah 58:12 ( I don’t normally do Biblical References but this one seems appropriate) “And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in..”
I’d go for Option 4 myself.