Connect The Met–WTF?

With apologies to Bernard Rix for (almost) nicking his blog title, he’s obviously far more polite than I am.

In the last week two odd things have happened, or at least they seem odd to my warped way of thinking.

James Patrick abandoned his Employment Tribunal.  That in itself isn’t odd, but the circumstances surrounding it are.  As far as I am aware (serving officers or Police Staff please correct me if I’m wrong) the Metropolitan Police Mission Statement still adheres to the

Mission, Vision and Values of the Metropolitan Police Service policy

i.e.

we will strive to:

  • treat everyone fairly;
  • be open and honest;
  • work in partnership; and
  • change to improve. “

There’s only four items in that list, how difficult can it be to stick to them?

Ask James.

  • Treat everyone fairly – Do you think James feels that he’s been treated fairly?  I can think of many, many other people who don’t think that they’ve been treated fairly.  Whatever else Grandma B and others think of my blogs I have always championed Truth and Fairness.  I can’t say that I’ve seen an awful lot of ‘Fairness’ going around within the Met hierarchy, but I have heard many complaints of bullying, oppression, corrupt/unlawful practices.

 

  • To be Open and Honest – Ask James, has the Met been open and honest with him?  Ask anyone who regularly makes Freedom of Information requests of the Met.  I certainly haven’t encountered much Openness and Honesty.  It seems like they go to almost any lengths to avoid answering the most mundane, and reasonable, questions, and then trip over and contradict themselves, which they wouldn’t do if they’d simpley answered questions truthfully and comprehensively in the beginning.

 

  • Work in Partnership – I don’t know a huge amount about the Met’s Partnerships but one immediately springs to mind; the Trident Independent Advisory Group.  They worked with the Met for 10 years to build community trust, prevent and reduce gun crime and to ensure police adequately investigate shootings when they happen.  Then in February last year the Metropolitan Police barred former members of Trident Independent Advisory Group (IAG) without giving them any notice. The Trident Independent Advisory Group was replaced without consultation with community members who had long held police accountable. That’s working in Partnership is it?

 

  • Change To Improve – Well I can’t say I’ve seen much of that going on, there have been muttering in dark corridors and musty rooms about the need to improve, but things change very slowly at the Met, I have likened it elsewhere to trying to do an Emergency Stop in an Oil Tanker at sea.

Briefly may I return to ‘Treat Everyone Fairly”?  The absolutely perverse findings of the Misconduct Hearing against James, and the equally perverse appeal findings?  Were they ‘Fair’ by the definition of an ordinary person?

Since James submitted his Open Letter entitled Closure, I have reason to believe that he has been contacted by a Supervisory Officer within the Met offering to send the Essex Police round for a ‘Welfare Visit’ to check that he’s OK and isn’t in need of anything.  Are they ****ing serious?  It was visits from Essex Police at the instigation of the Met that added to James’ stress in the first place, and he doesn’t even work for them any more, they saw to that.   Not very ‘Open and Honest’ either really.

The second thing that struck me as odd was the advert in the press recently for a “Commissioner’s Chief of Staff”.  What is that all about?  “This critical high-profile role reports directly to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). With connections across government and the criminal justice sector, you’ll be one of the most visible and influential members of the Met.  “

This is then followed by loads of psychobabble such as “

We’re looking for a credible leader with expert knowledge of government, the GLA and Mayor’s Office and today’s policing challenges. You’ll be capable of managing the Commissioner’s Private Office team and a budget of £1.8m.

You’ll also be able to deal with the media; manage stakeholders; build partnerships; and handle conflict thanks to your impressive track record in external relations management. Highly articulate, with excellent negotiation skills, you’ll be politically astute and able to navigate a complex policing landscape.”

The advert is subtitled

Connect the Met

but notably the one thing it fails to mention anywhere is;

“The successful applicant will be responsible for the daunting task of repairing the massive Disconnect between the Met’s SMT and ordinary hard-working Bobbies and Police Staff”

I’ve read it several times now, and even for almost £100k I can’t find that mentioned anywhere.

Austerity?  What Austerity.  Those of you in the Met (or living/working in the Metropolis) suffering cutbacks to your frontline Police Services may well want to ask Bernie or Boris or Steve (or maybe even Apocalyptic Mr Gibbs) how this appointment works in such dire times, which are seemingly destined to continue for a few more years yet, with a new raft of cutbacks poised to be implemented from 2015.

As I said in the beginning, apologies to Bernard, but I do think the two blogs are quite easy to tell apart.

Will the last one out please turn off the lights.

What Could You Do With £68k?

I was going to take a day off today, but events overtook me.

What could you do with £68,000?

You could employ 3 Police Recruits (or Student Constables, whatever they’re called today) for a year.

You could buy/lease a few nice shiny cars to compliment the fleet.

You could certainly fund a new Reward Specialist.

You could mount several street-level operations against Borough priorities and keep the public happy.

Or you could move a sign.

A Freedom of Information Request (not one of mine this time MPS) has revealed that it cost £68,000 to move the revolving sign outside New Scotland Yard in 2012.  Money well spent I say, seeing as how they’ll all be moving out by 2016 as Boris sells off a bit more of the family silver.

In it’s entirety, mainly cos it;s Monday and I could do with a laugh, here’s the request and the Met’s response.

Enjoy, I’m off to lie down in a darkened room;

I have heard that the MPS spent a considerable amount of money moving the revolving NSY sign outside New Scotland Yard. Could you please advise me:
1. Is this true?
2. When was the work done?
3. How much did the work cost?
4. What was the reason for the move?
5. How far was the sign moved?
6. How long had the sign been in place prior to its being moved?
7. How long is it before the MPS is scheduled to leave NSY, taking the sign with them?

RESULT OF SEARCHES

The searches located information relevant to your request.

DECISION

I have today decided to disclose the located information to you in full. Total costs of replacing and relocating the sign were £68,000. This figure included design and manufacture of a new sign, the mechanical and electrical infrastructure required to support the sign, installation, building work and associated professional fees including Town Planning process.

The works were part of resilience and security redevelopment works to NSY in preparation for the Olympics. The sign now provides electrical points for broadcasting organisations and is located to provide open interview space for news items.
The sign was moved in June 2012. The new site is approximately 15m from the original site of the sign where it had been for over 30 years.

The move of staff and officers from New Scotland Yard will be completed by Spring 2016.

Forgive me for being pedantic, but isn’t this Public (Council Tax Payers’) money? Could it not have been better spent? Yet one more example of inexplicable priorities.

Corruption In The Met

Now, there’s a headline to grab your attention.

22Fir06.qxpNew-Scotland-Yard--London_web

I have never denied that there is corruption present within the Met, I know there is. I have, however, frequently disputed the scale of that corruption.  Personally I do not think it’s as endemic as the Media would have you believe.

So, here’s a suggestion for you Sir Bernie and your Directorate of Professional Standards.

Corporately, you have repeatedly refused to tell me how much the disciplinary enquiry into James Patrick has cost the Met.

There has been another, becoming, high profile investigation into the TSG6.

I am willing to bet that both investigations cost many thousands of pounds.  The enquiry into, the then, PC Patrick lasted approximately 18 months, and involved a Review of the evidence by an outside Force (although I accept they did not charge the Met for this Review).  That HAS to have totalled some serious money.

Then, whilst PC Patrick was serving his period of notice, having had enough of your oppressive regime and resigned, your Directorate of Professional Standards served papers on him once more informing him that he was to be investigated for Gross Misconduct. This was despite the fact that he was within a few weeks of leaving your employ, and the Gross Misconduct allegations rely on the same Met Policies that were deficient in the original case.

The TSG6 involved (obviously) multiple officers, a Crown Court Case, a Civil Action, resultant disciplinary proceedings against DPS staff, the alleged tampering with personnel records and an Employment Tribunal.  I doubt that little saga was cheap either.

I am sick and tired of reading in the press every week (or seemingly so) about this trial or that trial that has failed to allegations of MPS corruption.  Investigations stalling because of alleged or perceived corruption. The public deserve so much better than that.  PC Patrick was responsible for a decline in Public Confidence in the MPS? I don’t think so.

I have encountered this interference personally when a murder enquiry I was involved in was actually visited by an officer allegedly in the pay of a North London gang.  On this occasion the SIO was wise to it and sent him away with a flea in his ear (and reported him).  Various, subsequent, computer checks that we carried out did, unfortunately, have the effect of tipping off said detective as to who we might be interested in though, so I am no fan of corruption, definitely not.

So, Sir Bernard, Boris, Blair, whoever, here’s a radical idea for you.

However much money you are currently spending on investigating James Patrick, and others like him, for doing what they believe to be morally and ethically correct, please remember that this is PUBLIC MONEY that you are spending.

I am now a member of that public, and so are many like me. I truly believe that I speak for many when I say that that money can, and would, be better spent fighting the rotten core of corruption than victimising the few with the balls and integrity to stand up and be counted, and challenge wrongdoing and malpractice.

It may not be enough to fund the fight totally, but it would swell your anti-corruption budget enough to make a difference.

Even if it was only enough to fund the investigation and prosecution of one corrupt officer, isn’t that better than spending it victimising  James Patrick and others like him?

You, the public, read these blogs and rants of mine. What do you think?

British jihadists ‘walk through’ airports

Below is reproduced a letter from The Independent, 20 June 2014

You may recognise the author, he is one of life’s Good Guys, on the side of the angels;

I find what he had to say deeply disturbing;

“Concerns, recently articulated by David Cameron, referring to the number of UK and UK-based jihadists training and fighting abroad have been expressed by Special Branch and counter-terrorist officers for many years.

In 1995 at Heathrow I stopped two British passport holders who arrived from Pakistan, and the chilling documentation in their possession showed clearly that they had been comprehensively terrorist-trained.

Intelligence poured into Special Branch clearly illustrating the scale of the problem, yet in 1998 Jack Straw, then the Home Secretary, to the fury of police and immigration officers, abolished embarkation (departure) controls.

That means that even in today’s world, ridden with terrorism, 99 per cent of passengers will board flights in the UK without passing under the eyes of any UK law-enforcement officer.

The saving was £3m a year and successive Home Secretaries have ignored pleas for these controls to be reintroduced.

Former colleagues I have spoken to believe that despite the increasing number of arrests of returning jihadists, it is generally far too easy for most of these individuals to enter and leave the UK. As one despairing officer told me it’s a “walk in the park” and most trained UK jihadists remain below the intelligence radar.

Instead of shredding the morale of the police service, who of course will be in the front line when the predicted jihadist attack occurs, today’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, should listen to front-line counter-terrorist and Border Force officers and strengthen our borders.

Chris Hobbs

London”

I just hope that no Home Secretary, current or future, has need to justify and defend this appalling lack of action. Our Border Security is a joke, only beefed up in response to an actual threat, otherwise anyone can come and go.

What Has Changed?

Back in April I wrote a blog post called If I Were Commissioner.

A little tongue-in-cheek maybe, but basically serious.  Not that I am ever going to challenge Sir Bernard Hogan-Who for the ‘top ‘job’ but I do like to keep abreast of what’s happening.

In the case of the Met, 2 months later, I don’t see any sign of anything changing any time soon.

I know things can’t be changed overnight, but I would have hoped to see some sign of an intention to change.

Much has been made, by a number of people, about James Patrick’s situation. What has changed? What is likely to change? He’s unemployed, that hasn’t changed. Have the Met given any indication that they are considering changing anything?  They have acknowledged that something needs to be done about CrimeStats but have ignored the one person who could possibly have been of most use to them. Nose Cut Face Spite.

The TSG6 – What has changed there? Have the Met issued any statements about the TSG6? Are Criminal/Disciplinary proceedings pending against any of the officers involved in the prosecution and discipline cases?  Not that I’ve heard.

Is there a new era of transparency dawning under the Total Policing brand? Not that I can see.

I can not speak about any of the individuals currently in the Met’s SMT and Management Board because I don’t really know them, I’ve been gone to long, most of the names mean nothing to me.  But I have heard and seen them, via the medium of TV etc, perform in their current roles, sacrificed on the altars of HASC and PASC. Mainly they were pathetic, avoiding issues, denying the undeniable, unaware of what was happening within their own organisation.

Decades ago there was most definitely a practice within the Met of promoting buffoons to get rid of them. Make them someone else’s problem. That tailed off a little when the buffoons that had previously been promoted introduced a policy that if the OCU Commander was willing to recommend an officer for promotion then he/she should be willing to keep them for a year.

That didn’t stop totally unsuitable officers mainly of senior rank being imported from the Counties. That ended well, with at least one high-profile Court case as the Met failed to identify that person’s problems when he transferred in. Or maybe they were developed after he joined the Met, who knows? DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

There was a time when the Sergeant or Inspector etc was Sarge or Sir/Boss/Guv. Now it’s John or Sid or whatever. That has changed.

There was a time when Police Officers (in the Met, don’t know about the Counties) were ORDERED not to speak to the press.  All enquiries MUST be referred to Press Bureau. Now it seems to be open season, anyone can give a quote to the press, and who monitors what is inappropriate, or who’s had a bung?  That has changed.

Steven Greenhalgh gave a speech on Wednesday to ACPO outlining his (or at least his Principal Advisor’s) vision for change for the future. I didn’t see anything new in it, nothing that the Met isn’t already doing, or has previously tried before. Except of course for his ludicrous (in my humble opinion) suggestion that OCU Commanders could consider ‘pooling’ their (already depleted) budgets with local ‘partners’. I could easily be wrong but it has the flavour of Blair Gibbs and the apocalyptic Policy Exchange all over it.

Mr Greenhalgh included this in his speech, I thought it was priceless and wanted so much to share it with you;

“Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has proven this [reform will be the new default and will succeed] in London – a peerless reforming and crime-fighting Commissioner who has had a harder job than any of his predecessors, but one who is delivering on what matters: cutting crime and boosting confidence whilst cutting costs and changing culture”

So, basically, whilst the Met is a bit like an ocean-going tanker and takes a few miles to stop or change course, I don’t see much sign that the Captain is awake and responding to inputs.  In the good old, bad old days the Met had more than a few Working Parties, looking at this problem or that.  Every now again one came along that had the right people on it; experienced practitioners with no vested interest in the outcome.  Oh, wouldn’t it be glorious if that could happen again.

A working party formed to reinvent the Met, staffed by people who know what they are talking about, know what is possible within the budget, know what is achievable and no vested interest in the final outcome other than pride in a job well done.

So there’s a challenge for you Boris, Blair, Sir Bernie, whoever.  Sit down and think about it. Get your joined-up thinking heads on and identify suitable people to form a Reform Working Party, NOT just over promoted senior officers looking for their QPM, but people from all walks, Constables, Sergeants, Inspectors, Retired Officers, MOPAC staff, Police Staff and MEMBERS OF THE GREATER LONDON PUBLIC to thrash this old chestnut out once and for all, and get it right.  We all want the same thing – we want the greatest Police Force in the world back again.  Sadly, for a variety of reasons, it’s a little tarnished at the moment, but it’s not too late, it is fixable, but don’t wait too long.

It will never happen in my lifetime, that hasn’t changed

Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave – Chapter II (With Pictures)

We left our hero, Police Constable Patrick James, shut up in his broom cupboard with strict instructions not to talk to anybody, not even his own bosses.

Patrick James in the Broom Cupboard

Patrick James in the Broom Cupboard

His broom cupboard, on the 13th floor of New SlapSlap Yard, was small, stuffy and wasn’t blessed with one of the best views of London. They were reserved for the Head Commish, Sir Bernie Hogan-Who on the top floor.

Patrick, however, was beavering away. Smoke was pouring from his abacus as he tried to make the numbers make some  kind  of sense.  A Punishment Posting. Crime Stats at The Centre. Nobody’s idea of a plum posting, and to make matters worse The Tank had been converted to a bloody gym.

The beads on the abacus were clacking wildly as PC James pushed them from side to side, trying his hardest to make the numbers add up. Something was wrong, there weren’t enough crimes here.  Somebody had made some Sexual Offences disappear since Patrick had last performed his query. Patrick was absolutely certain that when he had counted them last week there had been hundreds more. Hundreds of serious sexual offences had just disappeared off the books. “What to do?” thought Patrick, “What to do?”

After a short period of deliberation he decided he would quietly raise the matter with his boss, DCI Quentin R Sole. Sole became very heated and agitated as Patrick unburdened himself on his poor, unfortunate boss. “Now look here James, do yourself a favour and forget you’ve ever told me and forget the missing crimes, it doesn’t matter, it’s nothing”

Detective Chief Inspector Quentin R Sole

Detective Chief Inspector Quentin R Sole

“It most certainly isn’t nothing guv” said Patrick, “Those bloody tecs are making crimes disappear off the books. Why?”

“Look Patrick, can I call you Patrick? If you keep this up it won’t end well. That idiotic Home Secretary, Cruella Whatserface, has announced that crime is down, so down it bloody well will be. The Mayor, Lord Bozzer of Londinium (Bozo to his friend apparently) , has been briefed by Rabbi Glibs that crime is down on the capital, so it has to be down.”

“Why should I care about what the Home Secretary has rashly said?” asked Patrick. “She’s just too quick off the mark”

“Yes, I know”said DCI Quentin R Sole, but it gets worse, much worse, you wouldn’t believe.  If you won’t listen to me, old Two Dads wants to see you, that won’t be good”

Inevitably, after a few days, Nigel Goat-Botherer, Bernie the Ostrich’s Bag Carrier, summoned Patrick to the top floor of New SlapSlap Yard “Bring your Fed Rep with you”.  Sadly, on the appointed day, Patrick’s Fed Rep was busy, had an appointment to have his haemarhoids seen to and couldn’t sit down, so not much point in being there.

nigel

Nigel Goat-Botherer

“Go on in” said Goat-Botherer, “The Boss is expecting you”

Patrick apprehensively entered Inner Sanctum, Head Commish Sir Bernard Hogan-Who’s very own version of Hallowed Ground.  “Ah, James, thank you, no, don’t sit down, this won’t take long”  Patrick stood stiffly to attention, apprehensive.

commish

Head Commish SlapSlap Constabulary

“Just for once I won’t beat about the bush. My people in the  Directorate of All Things Bollocks tell me you’ve been stirring things up again. Apparently Crime Stats is your latest Crusade”

“Yes Sir” said Patrick firmly. “Crimes are being made to disappear from the books and it’s simply not right”

“Ah, you mean Project Finnesse. Those crimes aren’t going anywhere, they’re just being ‘tidied up’ a bit, make the books look a bit better. It’s all part of this Total Policing Bollocks.”

“With Respect Sir that is total bollocks” replied Patrick. “There’s no ‘tidying up’ going on, it’s wholesale weeding.”

Hogan-Who turned a nasty shade of purple, his fists clenched and he was visibly shaking. “OK young man, this is how it will be. Home Secretary Cruella de Night, Lord Bozzer and me, we have all told the gullible public that crime is coming down, so come down it bloody well will. We can’t be seen to be wrong now can we?”

Patrick stood quietly, aghast. Did Bernie the Ostrich really just say that? That’s not how it’s meant to be.

Quickly, Hogan-Who continued, slightly calmer, but not much. “And the final straw are these OCU Commanders and my SMT. They’ve been paid bonuses on the back of falling crime. What are you suggesting man? We all pay our bonuses back? Wake up man, that’s never going to happen”

“Well Sir, this is clearly a serious bit of malpractice and I can’t just sit back and watch it now can I? That simply wouldn’t be right.”

“Just get back to your broom cupboard and get on with whatever demeaning dross my people have found for you to do. One more squeak out of you and it will be Gardening Leave….Are we clear?”

Bowed but not broken our hero Patrick descended to the 13th floor and pondered his next move. The rest, as they say, is history, and history it truly is. SlapSlap Constabulary will forever be tarnished by the scandal. The Directorate of All Things Bollocks enjoys no confidence whatsoever. Neither Police nor Public now think that they are fit for purpose, with many believing that they are out of control and possibly some officers acting in a criminal manner themselves.

PC James is now plain Mr James, an Employment Tribunal is awaited. No less than 3 Peers of the Realm have weighed in to try and right this wrong, but without success. Lord Bozzer and the Head Comish both refused to stay the second set of Disciplinary Proceedings. Our hero Patrick was served a set of papers before he retired informing him that he was being investigated for “Being a Victim of Victimisation and Vindictiveness” and would likely be struck off, months after his retirement, now that makes sense in someone’s world I’m sure.

Some well-intentioned Freedom of Information Requests by friends have failed to receive a satisfactory response, #SlapSlapConstabulary just don’t want to talk about it. So while you’re mulling all this over, I will take my leave from the world of fiction with this little video clip, which seems quite appropriate at this moment in time.

Our Next Prime Minister

PC Patrick James, Head Commish, SlapSlap Constabulary, Sir Bernie Hogan-Who, Cruella de Night,  Lord Bozzer of Londinium, Rabbi Glibs, Nigel Goat-Botherer and DCI Quentin R Sole are all entirely fictitious and and any resemblance to actual persons, dead or living, is purely coincidental.