Welcome Aboard The RMS Titanic – Or The Met As She Likes To Be Called

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?

  1. I see no ships?
  2. Fiddling while Rome Burns?
  3. Iceberg? What bloody Iceberg?
  4. 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.

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14 thoughts on “Welcome Aboard The RMS Titanic – Or The Met As She Likes To Be Called

  1. Yes, very true. Come on BHH, go for it.

    Better to be remembered as “repairer of the breach” than as some hollow Rome fiddler boasting of the fastest reduction in dodgy 30-year crime stats.

    And start by admitting to & exposing any past dishonesties, bullying or corruption in the Met.

    Clear the Augean stables so that the best of the 99% of honest Met officers can at last get to work, rebuilding the ancient ruins – before they collapse completely.

  2. In my 30 years I encountered many, many bosses but can only recall one leader at Inspector or above. He was a man who led from the front and did not shy away from that responsibility, he would support you when he knew that what you had done was right and if that meant upsetting senior officers he would. His shift would have followed him into Hell. Needless to say he never got further than Inspector all the others for the most part were duckers and divers unable or unwilling to make a decision. Sadly I suspect far too many take the promotion road when they actually realised that they are unsuited or unable to do the job they originally joined.

    • I worked with one Det Supt who was an undoubted leader and had no reservations about expressing his views. He fiercely defended the chaps when they deserved it, or gave out bollockings to end all bollockings if they were deserved. On the whole I would agree though, very few leaders above the rank of Inspector

  3. I wouldn’t cross the street to speak to any of the so called bosses I came in contact with during my service they were not fit to lick my boots never mind lead men or make decisions.

  4. Pingback: Welcome Aboard The RMS Titanic – Or The M...

  5. Lord Dear had it right. Too many managers not enough leaders. To quote the man himself:-

    “The basic problem is leadership. The service has created, trained and promoted to its top ranks managers, rather than leaders. The roots of this go deep, certainly to a decision taken at the Police Staff College in the early 1990s to drop the focus on leadership on the grounds that it was “divisive and elitist” and concentrate instead on management. The police, like much of the public sector, remain preoccupied with the management ethic, ignoring the words of Viscount Slim p a noted leader in both the army and the commercial world – that “managers are necessary, leaders are essential”.

    The result is a service that is too risk averse, frequently process driven and displays all the defensive attitudes of the besieged. Of course there are notable exceptions, but the picture among the senior ranks overall is depressing and getting worse”.

    http://thinbluelineuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/police-leadership-time-for-new-moral.html

    • I couldn’t have put it any better than that, thank you. Bramshill has an awful lot to answer for, between Bramshill and the other controversial Think Tanks such momentous policies are born.

  6. “Caught red-handed: Why we can’t count on Police Recorded Crime statistics”

    HoC PASC 13th report of session 2013-4 – excerpts:

    1. “We are indebted to PC Patrick for his courage in speaking out, in fulfilment of his duty to the highest standards of public service, despite intense pressures to the contrary.”

    23. “This inquiry was prompted by the concerns expressed by PC James Patrick, a serving officer in the Metropolitan Police with involvement in data analysis”

    92. [PASC is] “..grateful to PC James Patrick, a serving police officer with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), for his courage in coming forward to voice his concerns. This was instrumental in prompting this inquiry”

    99. “We recommend that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary should investigate the Metropolitan Police Service in respect of the treatment of PC Patrick and review the internal processes and procedures of the police for dealing with whistleblowers, in order to ensure that they are treated fairly and compassionately. We further recommend that the Home Affairs Committee should inquire into these matters to ensure that whistleblowers in any police force are treated fairly and with respect and care. We have grave doubts that the Metropolitan Police Service has treated PC Patrick fairly or with respect and care.”

    Online version of report:
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubadm/760/76002.htm

    Downloadable pdf version:
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubadm/760/760.pdf

    Main points of report, listed:
    http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-administration-select-committee/news/crime-stats-substantive

    Thursday 10 April Mr Bernard Jenkin to launch report:
    http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=15227

  7. Alan, one area where it is going badly wrong in the Met is the increased use of the unsatisfactory performance procedures being used against officers who are off sick. In the last 2 weeks I have heard of 2 instances from reliable sources (both know the individual officers concerned) where one traffic officer who broke his leg on duty ( a spiral fracture, very complex) has been served UPP papers. This officer went out on a bike with new unscrubbed tyres and crashed. When the federation challenged the Met and asked why tyres were not scrubbed prior to fitment the response was the cost would be too great!!

    The other officer had had some health issues and was then admitted to hospital with a severe bout of shingles. While in hospital he suffered a stroke. He was visited by his chief inspector who at the end of the visit informed the officer he was now subject to UPP because of his sickness!

    I trust both sources 100% and I suspect that UPP is being abused on a frequent basis within the Met.

      • Yes they are Alan. The source who told me about the traffic officer retired last August at 55 with 23 years service. He had sustained a number of injuries on duty and he should have been medically retired. He had been off for some time because of his injuries (which were sustained on duty) and he had been told UPP was being considered against him. I’m sure the federation could supply info on how this process is being totally abused. Maybe an FOI is in order 🙂

  8. Bosses or leaders?

    The Peter Proniple suggests that people will tend to be promoted until they reach their “position of incompetence”. In the police I think that in a lot of cases the opposite was true. The incompetent were promoted out of harms way meaning that many competent leaders lost out on the promotion they deserved.

    • I have made that same point several times before, Promote ’em to get rid of ’em. Got so bad Met had to bring in a policy that if you recommended someone for promotion you had to keep them for a while after promotion.

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