Buffoonery Without Equal

According to MI5’s website the Threat Level for International Terrorism today is SEVERE, which is only one less than the maximum of CRITICAL.

Since March 2010 this unelected coalition, led by a man intent on become the least popular Prime Minister ever, has reduced the strength of the Police Forces of England and Wales by almost 17,000 officers, not counting PCSOs and Specials, whose numbers are also being slashed.  The government was hoping to make up the slack by recruiting more Specials, but the evidence doesn’t seem to support that happening.

The Armed Forces fare no better;

If I may quote from the September 2014 UK Armed Forces Monthly Personnel Report

The full time trained strength of the UK Armed Forces was 147,660 at 1 September 2014, down from 148,160 at 1 August 2014 and down from 150,890 at 1 April 2014. This trend is likely to continue due to the SDSR’s decision to reduce the size of the Regular Armed Forces by around 17,000 posts (around 5,000 each from the RN/RM and RAF and approximately 7,000 from the Army). A further reduction of 12,000 to the Army was subsequently announced as a result of the 3ME, bringing the total reduction of 19,000 to the Army.

The requirement for full time trained UK Armed Forces was 154,890 at 1 September 2014, down from 155,460 at 1 August 2014 and down from 159,640 at 1 April 2014. This is likely to continue to decrease as the Services move towards the targets identified in the SDSR and 3ME exercises (RN/RM 29,000 Army, 82,000 and RAF, 31,500) in 2020.

The deficit for the UK Armed Forces trained strength was 7,230 (4.7 per cent of the requirement) at 1 September 2014, compared to a deficit of 8,750 (5.5 per cent of the requirement for trained UK Armed Forces) at 1 April 2014 and a deficit of 2,230 (1.4 per cent of the requirement for trained UK Armed Forces) at 1 April 2013.

At 1 September 2014, all three services the RN/RM, Army and RAF were in deficit (50, 5120 and
2,070 respectively).”
Closer scrutiny of that document shows that the strength of the UK Armed Forces has been below the Required Level since at least 2008.
So the Threat Level is increasing.  We have allegedly 100s of disaffected Jihadis making their way to Syria and elsewhere to fight for a cause.
An unprecedented number of arrests are being made for Terrorism-related offences, Border Controls are virtually non-existent.  It is absolutely impossible for the Police and Security Services to maintain surveillance on even the most serious of suspects for any length of time, resource-sapping activity that one.
So what are our illustrious government doing about it?
I’m not quite sure is the answer.  I’m reasonably confident that SB, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ will be doing absolutely everything within their remits and abilities to keep us safe, but I’m left seriously questioning the sanity of a Prime Minister, Defence Secretary and Home Secretary that can sanction wholesale slaughter of our trained Defenders in such times.  Maybe they’re hoping to just ‘wing it’ till after next May and that any disasters will be on someone else’s watch?
I do hope Alexander the Meercat is standing for election next year, he must be able to do a better job than this crowd.

 

So Just When Will Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe Resign?

I’m sure you don’t need reminding that Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe is the ‘top cop’ in the land, the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, Big Cheese, Top Johnny. He is in charge.

Under his stewardship we have seen one of the biggest scandals to rock the Met for decades, (but by no means the only one, where do I start?).  The recording of Crime Statistics for Metropolitan Police District.

It has been known by almost everyone within the Met that Crime Figures have been fiddled, it has been going on for decades and quite probably since the very first year that numerical targets were first introduced.

The then Police Constable James Patrick (amongst others) gave evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee and they eventually reported back that crime figures were being manipulated.

Tom Winsor of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary admitted that the manipulation of crime figures was taking place. The UK Statistics Authority withdrew the Met’s gold standard national statistics status. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, was forced to admit the numbers were being fiddled and said the issue was a cause for concern.

FOUR eminent authorities all admitting that Crime Stats were being fiddled.

So what happened next? Was it put right?  Is all OK now?

Personally I have no idea whether I can yet trust the Met’s Crime Stats.

What happened next is that Police Constable James Patrick was hounded out of his job for daring to speak up.

Bernard Jenkin, the chair of the parliamentary committee that investigated the manipulation of crime stats, said: “The most depressing part of our inquiry is the way in which the Metropolitan police have treated my constituent, PC James Patrick, who was our key witness.”

The Grauniad went so far as to report this;

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) made repeated attempts to silence a whistleblower who exposed the widespread manipulation of crime statistics, it has emerged.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that senior officers made three separate attempts to stop PC James Patrick speaking out over the course of less than five months.”

Not a very honourable course of conduct in my opinion.

We also have the sorry tale of the TSG6, also on Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s watch.  If you missed that story previously you can read the transcript here.

In the last few months two senior people have resigned from Tesco due to ‘an accounting error’.  First we had the Finance Director falling on his sword, and just this week the Chairman.

So isn’t it about time that someone from the Met fell on their ceremonial sword and resigned as a point of honour over the most dishonourable things that appear to have happened, not to mention ‘an accounting error’ i.e. the Crime Stats?

Anyone want to run a book on when this will happen?

Numerical Targets – A Somewhat Different Version

Back in January I posted a blog relating to Austerity and the Manpower (should that be Personpower?) targets each of our 43 Police Forces has set, that they should reach by March 2015. When I last addressed it in January 42% of the Police Forces in England and Wales had shed more posts overall than were required to meet this target.

In the light of the terrorist activity, both home and abroad, this does not seem like a good time to be shedding posts hand over fist. Imelda and Uncle Tom have a lot to answer for.

According to recent news approx 500 so called Jihadists are on foreign soil Jihadding. The UK does not seem to have a cohesive plan to deal with them when, and if, they return home. Apparently, revoking their passports and making them ‘stateless’ is not cricket, but surely most people would expect, or demand, something in the way of sanctions when they return.

If they do return home, do we want Police and Security Services to monitor them for the coming months and years or do we just ignore them? Not ignoring them requires some serious resources. Resources that have now been stripped by Imelda and Uncle Tom.

When Winsor’s fabulous Reviews were published, and taken on board by Imelda with indecent haste I asked the Home Office for details of Winsor’s Risk Assessments, Impact Assessments and any What If Analysis carried out on his two tomes. There are none.

So here we are, faced with a potentially awful terrorist situation at home with 16,000+ less officers to confront, contain and investigate it.

If just one Police Officer, PCSO or squaddie is killed or injured the cost of that can be measured in terms of 16,000 officers’ pay, or maybe even just the number of officers below the 2015 targets forces have reduced their establishments. This has to be a deliberate strategy, maybe a political ploy when PCCs and Chief Constables can declare “Ta Dah, we’re opening a few boxes of Policemen for you”

Not that I ever expected them to, but not one single Force has told me the reason why they’re shedding more than they need to. Maybe Simon Guillfoyle and Stick Child can explain it to us all.

The Poisoned Chalice

So who is holding the Poisoned Chalice this week?

My nomination would be Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley of the Met. He is the current holder of the post of Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations or ACSO. This is a hugely privileged post, the holder gets to know all kinds of ‘stuff’ and make decisions on that ‘stuff” A post with huge responsibilities to be fair. There have been some truly magnificent and inspirational holders of this post, notably Dave Venness, who I did know as a DCI, top guvnor. There have also been some right planks, you can look those up for yourself. I have no idea which camp Mark Rowley sits in as I know nothing about him outside of his bio.

He can’t be having an easy time of it though, wherever he pitches his tent.

A week ago we had the almost unprecedented instance of the Threat Level being raised due to a (then) unspecified threat to Police Officers’ safety.

Yesterday a bit more flesh was put on the bones following the charging of 5 individuals. The details disclosed yesterday and repeated this morning are truly shocking

5 Terror Suspects Charged – wanted to kill Police Officers

Purchase of a firearm with silencer, hostile reconnaissance of a London Police Station, photos of 2 Police Officers and 2 PCSOs, together with graphic images of an IS beheading.

The tricky bit is that many of our brave, frontline officers had to find out via Twitter or Facebook. The officers involved in this case will have had a mare of a job. Who knows how many Exhibits to log and ensure Continuity and safekeeping. I don’t suppose the interviews were much fun. In tandem with all of this would have been the decision about how much information to disclose to the troops, in what format and when.

It isn’t really acceptable that anybody should have found out through SM (how ironic), it has to have been possible to prepare a briefing and for the release of vital information to Police Officers to have been professionally managed.

So, for these reasons Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley gets my nomination for the Poisoned Chalice. Not very often I have any sympathy for an ACPO officer.

Is The End Game Finally In Sight?

For months and even years now, ex PC James Patrick fought the law, and the law won.  Whistleblower Extraordinaire, he exposed an undeniable truth, that CrimeStats were being routinely fiddled by a variety of people within the Met, and for a variety of different reasons, no doubt.  Undeniable because 100s and thousands of us KNEW that he was telling the truth because we have lived through it, it was the ‘norm’.

At the end of the day it cost him his livelihood, it cost him his tranquillity, it cost him (in a manner of speaking) his reputation, because he now has a Disciplinary Finding of Guilt, which won’t exactly act as a reference if he ever decided that he wanted to rejoin the Police Service.  In all the ways that matter, though, it has enhanced his personal and professional reputation immensely.

So, after a while Parliament conducted and enquiry/investigation into #CrimeStatsGate which culminated in yesterday’s news headline criticising the Met for its treatment of James.  Bernard Jenkin MP told parliament ex-Met PC James Patrick was the victim of “monstrous injustice” and was “hounded” from his job..  Quite strong words really, don’t you think?  Just because they are uttered with the benefit of Parliamentary Privilege doesn’t make them any less true.

“Mr Patrick had said crime figures had been manipulated and sexual offences were under-reported by 22-25%.”    Errrrmm and how much have reports of Sexual Offences gone up by now?  Surely there can’t be a connection?  Can there?

 

To illustrate the enormity of James’ actions I will reproduce a selection of verbatim quotes from the transcript of PASC’s meeting yesterday;

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): Although I am now a proud member of the Public Administration Committee, I was not a member when the report was done. Does my hon. Friend agree that PC James Patrick’s actions were both courageous and in the public interest, and that he has done a great service to this country in ensuring that this matter is highlighted, as the Committee has done?

Mr Jenkin: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is worth emphasising that under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, PC Patrick should have been afforded some protection. I will come to the position of whistleblowers later in my remarks………………………………….We found strong evidence that the police have under-recorded crime, particularly sexual crime such as rape, in many police areas. There remain wide disparities in no-crime rates—that is, where police decide that a crime did not take place—following reports of rape, for example. In January 2014, Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary, on behalf of the Rape Monitoring Group, released a compendium of statistics on recorded rapes in each force over the previous five years. I invite right hon. and hon. Friends and colleagues to look at the table showing how wide the variation is among different forces across England and Wales in their no-criming of rape. According to the figures, in Lincolnshire, for example, 26% of all reported rapes were no crimed in 2012-13; by contrast, in Merseyside, only 4% were. The national average was 11.9%…………………………….The main reason for misrecording was the continued prevalence of numerical targets………………

Our official police witnesses, most notably the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, were somewhat defensive and seemed unready to acknowledge that their statistics were inherently flawed. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told us that the accuracy of data on rape and sexual offences was

“a lot better than it was, if we took it back five to 10 years.”  [Well that’s alright then]……………..

even the Metropolitan Police Commissioner agrees that

“there is clearly something that PC Patrick raises that we need to get to the bottom of.”

Despite that, I can only describe the treatment of my constituent James Patrick as shameful. By doing his duty and raising the issues, he showed the highest commitment to the core policing values, but as a result he became the victim of the most monstrous injustice. He was in effect hounded out of his job, following a long period of harassment by the Metropolitan police command chain, which, I dare say, used and abused the disciplinary process to get rid of him. It does the police no credit that a whistleblower should be treated in such a way. He was, for example, accused of a conflict of interest for publishing a book about the misuse of police recorded crime statistics, even though the proceeds were paid to a police charity. In an LBC radio programme in December last year, Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said that he would meet PC Patrick. He never did so.

There is much, much more in the PASC document, but I think the above will suffice.  I had never encountered Bernard Jenkin before James’ problems, but in the limited contact I have had with him he strikes me as being one of a rare breed, a decent and honourable politician.  I just hope that I am not proved wrong.

So, Dear Reader, if you’re still with me at this point, just how despicable was James’ treatment at the hands of the Met?  You decide.

This should make you smile James:-  A new entry in Oxford English Dictionary perhaps; INTEGRITY – James Patrick, The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles:

Just a thought

 

Why We Are Hurtling Towards Lawlessness, Courtesy of HMG and The Press

Over the last 24 hours I have read, reread and reread again this article in the Daily Fail;

The first thing (but not the most serious by any means) was the bold assertion that the Police had ‘hacked’ the phones of journalists. We all know what is meant by ‘hacking phones’ thanks to various assorted members of the press themselves.

Is this really what the Police are doing?

NO.

The second thing that peeved me was the assertion that RIPA is an Anti-Terrorist law, it is not. I would imagine that Terrorism forms a small percentage of RIPA applications. If you want to know the TRUTH about the sort of things that RIPA covers look here.

What the Police are doing, whether you think it’s right or wrong, is making an application under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) for an itemised phone bill for a specified phone number.

I agree that it is possible to abuse this process, much like any other regulated procedure, politicians expenses for example, but this is clearly wrong and such cases would, in my opinion, form the absolute minority of applications submitted. All applications are written and the original copy is retained for future accountability purposes.

Not one single itemised phone bill can lawfully be supplied by the phone companies without such an application.

So, in attempt to appease the whiter than white journalists, the whiter than white politicians, led by Imelda May, are now proposing to change RIPA meaning that all such applications would need to be authorised by a Judge.

The sheer volume of such requests that are made across the UK every year means that Judges would be bogged down with RIPA applications.

The likely result of that is that most would be rejected, or not even make it to the Judge in the first place.

These applications currently have to be authorised by a senior officer, they have to be proportionate to the gravity of the offence being investigated and have to be ‘targeted’ i.e. they can’t be part of a ‘fishing expedition’.

So, in order to appease the journos, Imelda will be tying one hand behind the back of every officer who is investigating something. Armed Robbers, Drug Dealers, Terrorists even, must be rubbing their hands in glee as it will now be made more difficult to gain evidence or intelligence on their activities and associates.

Surely it would be better to restrict your interference to ensuring rigidly that the requirements of RIPA are complied with, applications correctly compiled, submitted, authorised and retained for accountability.

Why would you weaken the Police Arsenal at a time like this, you’ve already nicked 16,000 of them, why take their powers away as well?

Be careful what you wish for journos, you might just get it.

Once Upon A Time

This is really the most fantastic story.  It’s not new but I heard it for the first time today, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’ll like it, or maybe I am.

Once upon a time there was a man called Henry Tandey.  He died in 1977 aged 86 years.  He was a quite unremarkable man, much like any other of his generation, except that he wasn’t, he was a true hero.

He had an awkward habit of always being in the wrong place at the wrong time during World War One. Born and brought up in Warwickshire he enlisted into the Green Howards and was shipped off to fight in the Trenches of France, being wounded at least three times, being brought back to England, patched up and sent back again.  During the course of all of this he started to collect a few ‘gongs’.

Tandey was mentioned five times in dispatches

In August 1918 at the Battle of Cabrai, Henry won the DCM for storming an enemy post with two comrades, killing several Germans and capturing 20 more.

A fortnight later he earned the Military Medal rescuing wounded men under fire and leading a bombing party into German trenches.

And he won the VC on September 28, 1918 at the Battle of Marcoing. When his platoon was halted by heavy machine-gun fire Henry crawled forward to locate the gun post and led comrades to destroy it. He then rebuilt a plank bridge crossing the canal, again under a hail of bullets.

Later that evening he and eight comrades were surrounded by Germans and apparently doomed. But Henry, though badly wounded, led a bayonet charge so fierce that 37 of the enemy were driven into the hands of his company.

Quite a remarkable haul of gongs for a PRIVATE soldier, and in such a short space of time.
But his story did not end there. “Henry Tandey will always be remembered as the most decorated private soldier of the First World War, but having won his VC, later that evening he found himself face to face with a German soldier.

As the ferocious battle wound down, and enemy troops surrendered, or retreated, a wounded German soldier limped out of the chaos and into Private Tandey’s line of fire, the battle-weary man never raised his rifle and just stared at Tandey resigned to the inevitable. “I took aim but couldn’t shoot a wounded man,” said Tandey, “so I let him go.”  The two young soldiers merely nodded to each other and went their separate ways.

That German soldier was Adolf Hitler.

An Italian war artist had captured soldiers of the Green Howards evacuating the wounded at the Battle of Ypres in 1914 – with Henry Tandey in the foreground carrying a comrade on his back.

Incredibly, Hitler later saw this painting and recognised him as the man who had spared his life.

He told Neville Chamberlain (in 1938) : “That man came so near to killing me I thought I should never see Germany again. Providence saved me from such devilishly accurate fire as those English boys were aiming at us”.

Hitler asked Chamberlain to convey his best wishes and gratitude to Henry.  Whether he did or not is unknown.

How differently things might have turned out.