I Heard a Rumour, And I Didn’t Like It One Bit

In my state of euphoria yesterday following on from the #Plebgate findings I stumbled across a piece of “information”.

I must first assure that I cannot verify this information but it is certainly plausible, and if I were still a serving warranted Police Officer I would be banging on my Fed Rep’ s door, and my boss’s door demanding some reassurance.

It has been alleged that there is a policy residing somewhere within the Home Office to continue whittling away at the number of warranted officers until you are reduced to 80,000. The additional numbers that are required to be made up of PCSOs and Specials.

Quite shocking but hardly surprising.

The ConDems already have a similar policy with the Armed Forces. They have slashed the numbers of all three Armed Forces to below the level required to defend our country. The policy is to make up the deficit with Reservists. The flaw in their grand plan is that they’re not getting enough Reservists to make it work. You can read it here if you missed it.

As I have posted before, about half of the 43 Forces of England and Wales have already lost more warranted officers than they are required to to reach their 2015 Austerity Target set by HMIC. It’ s a good job that HMIC is independent and has no connection with government is all I can say.

As I said at the beginning I cannot corroborate this rumour at all, and I vehemently hope that it is false, but it sounds like the sort of garbage the Home Office could come up with.

If any of you have contacts within the HO I would love to hear their response.

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British Police: Sitting Ducks For Jihadist Fanatics? – A Guest Blog By Chris Hobbs

This has also been published in Huffington Post

As counter terrorism awareness week commences front line police officers in London and elsewhere are becoming increasingly fearful that they are likely to become victims of savage targeted attacks on the streets of the UK by fanatical Islamist jihadists.

Circulating on the police grapevine are alarming accounts which suggest that both police officers and PCSO’s have been recently subject to ‘hostile reconnaissance’ in the vicinity of police stations when off duty travelling to or from work.

Police have every reason to be anxious: Just last month five men were arrested in conjunction with a plot that featured Shepherds Bush Police Station in West London. Images of two police officers and two PCSO’s were recovered during that investigation.

After initially denying that these arrests were anything to do with an ‘extra vigilance’ warning emailed to UK police officers a short while previously, the Met later unusually provided very specific details of the alleged plot after the men had been charged and had appeared in court.

Newspaper headlines the day after the men were remanded in custody made alarming reading and it became clear that the plot allegedly referred to nearby TA barracks as well as the local police station and its officers.

The tragic events in Quebec and Ottawa that left two Canadian soldiers dead after attacks by ‘lone wolf’ jihadists certainly added to concerns. Just a day after the Ottawa murder two police officers were injured in New York, one seriously, after they and two colleagues had been attacked by another ‘lone wolf’ jihadist brandishing an axe.

The four ‘rookie’ officers, wearing full uniform were, at the time, posing for photographs with tourists. They were also armed and managed to shoot dead their assailant. Inevitably this led to largely unarmed British front line officers asking themselves and each other what the end result would be if such an attack were carried out in the UK. The conclusion was inevitable; at least one dead police officer.

The fact is that not only do UK law enforcement officers have to be concerned with those who have travelled abroad to fight or train and self indoctrinated ‘lone wolves’ but with the disturbing number of extremely dangerous criminals. Many of these individuals are gang members who have converted to this extreme form of Islam whilst serving their prison sentences. Most have, what is termed by police, to have ‘access to firearms’ either directly or via ‘armourers’ that supply firearms ‘on demand’ to the underworld.

There is no doubt that the Met’s counter terrorism command will respond vigorously to the threatening implications of any “hostile reconnaissance” but officers themselves are concerned that other than receiving ‘stay vigilant’ advice they are not being kept fully informed of events in relation to the very real threats to their own safety or being afforded additional protection which might, just might, enable them to survive such an attack.

Despite the threat, officers are still not permitted to carry equipment in the form of extendable batons or CS/pepper sprays to and from duty. Within the Met, several appeals have been made to senior managers over the years but all have been scornfully rejected with a clear implication that officers actually risk arrest if they carry their protective equipment when not on duty.

Rank and file firmly officers believe that those who now wish to ‘carry’ should be given the ‘lawful authority’ to do so. This will apply in particular to those who have to travel to and from work by public transport or have to walk some distance to and from their parked vehicles.

Police critics seem to forget that police officers are sworn constables for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Intervening off duty or being recognised as a police officer by the more nefarious elements that plague our society is a precarious business.

Mobile phones have proved invaluable to the off duty officer but they have their limitations. Dialling 999, waiting for the answer, telling the operator which service is required, listening to the operator repeating the mobile number to the control room receiving the call is amazingly time consuming when all hell is breaking loose or you are the individual being attacked.

The situation has now dramatically moved beyond intervening off duty or even being subjected to intimidation and assault by virtue of being a police officer to a very real threat of being attacked, murdered and possibly even beheaded. Clearly much more needs to be done by the Home Office and those of Chief Officer rank to protect police officers other than a ‘watch yourselves’ statement. This should include permission to carry equipment to and from work and perhaps at other times when off duty.

Single crewing or patrolling is bitterly resented by most front line officers and cutbacks have made this even more prevalent. Those cutbacks have meant that assistance for the single officer in many parts of the country can be some distance away and of course there is also the question of litigious and frivolous complaints.

There is no doubt that at present the UK faces a very real terrorist threat from either organised, well trained groups or ‘lone wolves.’ The view amongst front line officers is therefore simply this; operational single crewing or patrolling should no longer be the ‘default position’ and must only take place under specifically designated circumstances.

With the march of technology, urgent consideration should be given to implementing a reliable GPS system which would enable officers to, if they wish, carry a discreet form of panic button. This would be automatically linked to the nearest police control room and would enable off duty officers to summon ‘urgent assistance’ in any part of the UK. Such buttons have been issued to some social workers and others such as community nurses.

Of course none of these precautions would protect on or off duty officers from an attack from well trained, well equipped terrorists but it might buy them some time in the event of a murderous assault such as that launched on the unsuspecting Lee Rigby.

Some UK police forces offer advice and even courses to companies and local authorities in order that they are able to counter what is termed ‘hostile reconnaissance.’ Surely now there is an urgent need for all police officers to receive counter surveillance/hostile reconnaissance training which would probably be of a single day’s duration.

Panic buttons, day courses for 100,000 plus officers plus the end of single crewing ‘by default’ would doubtless have force accountants, already struggling with millions of pounds worth of government cuts, reaching for their valium. In addition the fate of police community support officers would require some major decision making as they are not currently issued with any form of defensive weapon yet are also clearly vulnerable to terrorist attack both on and off duty.

Unarmed officers in London and elsewhere are dependent on their armed colleagues, such as those from the Met’s elite CO19 unit, to come to their assistance in the event of a firearms or terrorist incident.

It took ten minutes for such a unit to arrive at the scene of Lee Rigby’s death during which time unarmed police were ordered not to intervene. CO19 officers themselves are concerned as to their ability to respond to terrorist incidents especially in relation to a multi venue attack. Many Met officers of all ranks believe that the number of Armed Response Vehicles (ARV’s) on the streets of London should be doubled so that at least one ARV would be allocated to each London borough.

Worryingly smaller more rural forces outside London however would take even longer to deploy armed officers and whether inside or outside London, it is doubtful whether unarmed officers would obey orders to ‘stay back’ if one of their colleagues was in the process of being hacked to death and armed assistance was some way off.

The response by Canadian officers and indeed by police officers in most countries of the world to a situation such as that seen in Ottawa, would be far more efficient and effective in terms of sheer numbers of armed officers taking to the streets simply because all carry firearms as a matter of course.

In London and elsewhere, most officers would have to look on helplessly as their armed colleagues did battle with or attempted to hunt down the terrorists. It would simply not be possible to put the numbers of armed officers on to the streets of London or any UK city in a relatively short period of time as the Canadians were able to do.

The view of most UK police officers is still that they would prefer not to be armed yet the death of colleagues or a Mumbai/Nairobi type massacre of British innocents in any of our towns and cities would almost certainly bring about a change in police attitudes.

A major terrorist incident in the United Kingdom would undoubtedly result in a plethora of ‘full and frank’ enquiries. One question that will be asked is how the United Kingdom came to be populated by literally thousands of trained potential Islamist terrorists.

Since the mid 1990’s intelligence has poured in which has clearly shown a constant stream of individuals travelling abroad to countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Syria for the purpose of training or combat. Most foiled terrorist plots in the UK involve at least one individual who has fought or been trained abroad.

Yet ignoring the overwhelming evidence, successive governments have refused to strengthen our ‘chocolate teapot’ border controls. Despite concerns of police, the UK Border Force and the security services, it has, until recently, been a ‘walk in the park’ for individuals and groups involved in illegal terrorist activities abroad.

Increased activity by hard pressed counter terrorist officers at airports has produced some positive results but the absence of meaningful departure controls has still embarrassingly meant that direct travel to Turkey by jihadists or so called jihadi brides has still been possible.

Recently the Met Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, stated that at least five Britons a week were, notwithstanding the extra police activity, leaving the UK to fight in Syria while just days ago it was revealed that Sidhartha Dhar , despite being on bail for terrorist offences, was able to leave the UK presumably for Syria.

Outstanding work by the police and security services has frustrated numerous terrorist plots yet the pressure, compounded by cutbacks and increased demands on the police in terms of current and historic abuse allegations, pornographic child images, internet fraud and even social media harassment, is beginning to tell.

Added to this, despite denials by Chief Constables, is the collapse of community policing which is a direct result of the cutbacks. Popular safer neighbourhood teams have been decimated which, aside from other ramifications, has adversely affected the quantity of information and intelligence that flowed from communities to police in respect of terrorism. Those officers that remain drown in a welter of crime reports, statements, interviews and taskings so that the sight of an officer actually visibly patrolling and speaking to the public has become as rare as a Banksy cartoon on the walls of Scotland Yard!!!

Front line officers have little confidence that in the aftermath of the shambolic police response to the 2011 riots, senior officers and government have the ability to cope with a scenario whereby terrorists go on a multi-venue rampage or undertake murderous attacks on individual police officers or members of the armed forces.

Sadly Ottawa has perhaps brought that inevitable fateful day even closer and if a major terrorist atrocity occurs in the UK before next year’s general election then the government could stand or fall by virtue of its preparedness and response.

Meanwhile Theresa May’s most recent speech in relation to countering terrorism will only have contributed to the animosity that exists between her and front line officers. There was, perhaps not unsurprisingly, no mention of the current jihadist threat to police officers or of measures to ‘protect the protectors.’

If tragedy does befall the police service, officers will be only too well aware that whilst the terrorist may have wielded the knife, fired the gun or detonated the explosive, responsibility will also rest upon the shoulders of those politicians responsible for our shambolic border controls, devastating cutbacks and morale sapping vilification of, for all its faults, the world’s finest police service.Stay Safe poster

I’ll Have A Pint of Whatever The Home Secretary Is Drinking

Can somebody PLEASE tell an old codger WTF is going on?

In the last couple of months we’ve had (and this is just what my old grey cells can remember)

Theresa May orders police: Stop abusing our terror laws to hack phones and spy on journalists 

“Police are to be stripped of the power to secretly spy on journalists’ phones, striking a major blow for press freedom.”……..”The furore over police hacking journalists’ phones led to widespread calls for urgent reforms to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), which allows officers to request call data from phone companies without needing a judge’s approval.”

Well we all know that RIPA is no more used exclusively to investigate journalists than irt is to tackle terrorism. It is a perfectly useful tool in the Police’s Armoury and the only real issue is that that all requests should be AUTHORISED and PROPORTIONATE, NECESSARY and compatible with Human Rights. It would also help if they were Crime-Related.  But no, Teflon Theresa bows to pressure and jumps on the bandwagon, desperate to be more popular and maybe even get some votes next May.  Nothing too cynical there then.

We have also had;
Theresa May introduces new restrictions on stop and search powers

“Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has unveiled a series of measures which will scale back the way police can stop and search suspects.

Tougher thresholds will mean officers in England and Wales are able to use the most controversial form of stop and search powers much less frequently.”

Once again Stop and Search is a perfectly useful tool but it needs to be used properly and in line with the laws. Officers are always accountable for their Stop and Searches, they have had to provide a copy of the Stop/Search record on request for years now, nothing new there. Get the supervising officers to SUPERVISE and I don’t see the problem, every officer accounts for his/her Stop/Searches (and if they can’t they shouldn’t have done it) and what’s the problem?  Why take away or reduce a valid tool in the battle against Crime?

And now we have had;

Theresa May moves to give police powers to identify internet users

“Police are to get powers to force internet firms to hand over details linked to IP addresses in order to help them help identify criminal suspects online.

The Anti-Terrorism And Security Bill will oblige internet service providers (ISPs) to retain information linking IP (Internet Protocol) addresses to individual users.

The home secretary, Theresa May, said the measure would boost national security – but again complained that Liberal Democrats were blocking further steps.”

So she doesn’t like RIPA because it upsets her friends in the media but this is OK?  Seems far more sensitive and intrusive to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I don’t see anything wrong with RIPA either.

Smacks of a Home Secretary who is lost. Up the proverbial and doesn’t know which way to turn. Vote-seeking. Or maybe simply a Home Secretary who doesn’t know what her view is until she’s told, or simply weak in reality and is blown by the wind. Whoever blows strongest gets her support maybe.

Whichever it is, I simply don’t get it.

The Dishonest Politician’s Guide To The Police

Nope, nothing to do me this one.   This catchy little title is the brainchild of Professor Tim Hope, Professor of Criminology at the University of Salford, which is a place near Manchester if I’m not mistaken.

Following on from TMIC’s (sic) report on #CrimeStats Prof Tim has written a little blogette with the above title, and I must say it is absolutely SPOT ON, I’ll highlight the best bits for you, but for the full effect you can read it here.  It’s not too long and quite an easy read, give it a go.

Having read Uncle Tom’s latest tome Professor Hope has published a five point plan for governments on how to improve their ratings by destroying the legitimacy of the Police;

1. Give the impression that you know how to reduce crime (but don’t be too specific)
2. Pretend that police recorded crime statistics are a true measure of crime and of victims’ needs (but don’t believe this yourself; use your own surveys)
3. Pretend that the police don’t belong to you any more.
4. Start waving a big stick.
5. Don’t bother to upgrade the skills of the rank and file police officer

Once you have achieved 1-5 just sit back and see what happens.

Once you’re confident that crime is going down long-term, start wondering out loud why we still need all those police officers.

Sit back and wait for the police to start fiddling the figures to make themselves look better, knowing that they have always done this, ever since there were figures to fiddle.

Talk about how the police must also share the pain of austerity cuts, look for efficiencies, etc. like everyone else. Actually abolish all those performance targets and red tape because what police officers really want is to be out there on the front line fighting crime (instead of sheltering from the elements inside a warm, comfortable police station with their workmates).

Selectively shine a torchlight into the affairs of a few police forces in areas where your voters (honest taxpayers) are concentrated; let a few scandals come to light, a few brave whistle-blowers sacrificed (knowing how nastily they treat ‘traitors’, you can then further dramatise the Chiefs’ iniquity at the same time as you leave the whistle-blowers hanging out to dry)

Finally, you’ve left the police without a leg to stand on, so that you can then blame them for their own failings.

Meanwhile, let the real victims of society rot; the inner city poor (who don’t vote) can be left to their own devices; do nothing about the hatred and violence festering away; do not exempt the safeguarding services from the cuts; make it difficult for the police to protect the vulnerable or prosecute those who harm them; and then blame the police for dimming the Blue Lamp in the face of the futility of it all.

Either way, it isn’t YOUR fault, and that’s all that matters….

His very last sentence is one I suspect we would all agree with. Thank you Professor Hope, and thank you also from hundreds if not thousands of my former colleagues for these, your final words on the subject;


For Heaven’s Sake, give us a Royal Commission to sort out this mess

BIO

Tim Hope was appointed to the newly created Chair in Criminology in September 2010. Previously, he worked at the Home Office Research and Planning Unit (latterly as Principal Research Officer), where he also earned a Ph.D. in Sociology through part-time study; and as Senior Consultant, CACI Ltd; Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri-St. Louis, USA; Senior Research Fellow, University of Manchester; and Reader (1994) and Professor of Criminology (1997), Keele University, serving as Head of the Department of Criminology and director of the Keele Community Safety Group.

He has been Director of the ESRC Crime and Social Order Research Programme (1993-1998); honorary research fellow of the Quantitative Criminology Group, Centre for Census and Survey Research, University of Manchester; Visiting Professor, Vauxhall Centre for Criminology, University of Bedfordshire; and Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, University of Edinburgh (2007-2009).

He is Scientific Advisor to the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime, and Editorial Advisor for Safer CommunitiesCriminal Justice Matters and the European Journal of Policing Studies. He has also been an expert consultant to the UK Statistics Commission, the Audit Commission, the National Reassurance and the Neighbourhood Policing programmes, the European Forum for Urban Safety, the Regional Government of Emilia-Romagna (Italy), the Czech Republic, the European Commission evaluation of the European Crime Prevention Network, and given evidence to the parliamentary Science and Technology Committee. He coordinated the Work-package ‘Local public policies of crime prevention’ of the CRIMPREV Co-ordination Action of the European Union Sixth Framework Programme.

He has authored over 100 research publications, (some works appearing in translation) both in the UK and also in the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Poland, and Portugal.

One assumes he knows what he’s talking about then.

The Insidious Culture Of Fear

Fear is a powerful emotion. Let’s be honest, in the main, we tend to take notice of our fears, and for good, sensible reasons.

Large organisations suffer corporate fear too. They tend to have a serious fear of Whistleblowers, and any groups that are trying to assist Whistleblowers. So what do they do about it? They tend to get their retaliation in first and ‘Control’ their workforce with a Culture of Fear.

I have just been watching an article on my telly box, and it was stated, as though it were fact, that ALMOST NO Whistleblowers went on to keep their jobs. Now that’s a frightening statement for a start.

I’m not going to bore you with yet another blog about James, his story is now very well known. Although I do believe that the Met were uncomfortable with the level of support that James enjoyed and went on the offensive.

Instead, I would ask you to spend a few minutes reading the story of Dr Raj Mattu, an NHS Whistleblower, and see what comparisons you can draw from that. Is this a course of conduct that sounds familiar?

This is totally despicable behaviour and sadly just what we have come to expect.

Some of our friends and colleagues in the West of England have already experienced the Culture of Fear, first hand.

There is a Group on Facebook where members who are serving officers are constantly being reminded “don’t forget that DPS monitor this Group, don’t get caught posting something you shouldn’t “. Or “officers are being disciplined for “Liking” inappropriate posts, maybe serving officers should all leave the group rather than get themselves into trouble for ‘Liking’ someone else’s post”.

I’m absolutely certain that even the Mighty Met don’t have the resources to monitor every ‘Like’ and check out who liked it and find out if they are a serving officer, so they get the Culture of Fear to do their job for them.

Whether it was done malevolently, or with the best of intentions by former colleagues, the insidious Culture of Fear is alive and well in the Met.

It’s not my intention to encourage you all to ignore it as such, but to be aware of the tactics, acknowledge them and conduct yourselves accordingly. I also think that it’s about time that the Fed and other relevant professional bodies tackled the management that is encouraging, and using, this Culture of Fear,

A Good Day To Bury Bad News……You Were Warned

So, some rebadged twat has won a By Election somewhere in rural England, Big Deal.

The real news of today is this

One in six police jobs expected to go after election, say senior officers

or

Police cuts: Tories to axe another 34,000 cops and police staff..

Yes, today’s big news is that this ragtag government are proposing to slash ANOTHER 34,000 posts, Police and Civilian, in 2015.  It would take total police job losses to 68,000 since the Coalition came to power.

Chief Constable Douglas Paxton, ACPO lead on finances and resources, said: “The Home Office have advised us to make an assumption that the police service will face further funding cuts, and we should assume a cut of 5% in real terms per year – or a further 20% over four more years.

The bit that I hadn’t seen coming was this;

The expectation that police will face a 20 per cent cut in funding is based on grant reductions recommended by the police watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

So, HMIC have a hand in this?  Have HMIC become politicised?  Maybe they should be rebranded TMIC or Theresa May’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.  Either way, that man Winsor seems to be at it again.

The Met has already sold off the family silver, it can’t be sold off again.  Other Forces around the country have sold off or closed Police Stations, moved into Tesco (other supermarkets are also available), made redundancies, cut officer numbers.   Where are these cuts going to come from?  Front Line services just HAVE TO BE affected this time round, no option. Many Forces have already exceeded their 2015 Austerity targets, maybe they knew this was coming and that’s why they did it? Who knows? But something stinks in the State of Maidenhead.

Even if you’re not a serving officer dear reader, these cuts will affect you, make no mistake.

I simply cannot envisage how the 43 Forces of England and Wales can absorb these proposals and survive as we know them.  Maybe this is just another way of a tired, weary, unimaginative coalition bullying us in the direction of a National Police Service, or, heaven forbid, G4$ and $erco et al (other private companies are also available and no doubt waiting).

HMIC No Crime The Whistleblowers’ Allegations

Yesterday saw the publication of the HMIC report into allegations that Police Forces across England and Wales have been systematically under-recording crimes.

They conclude that Police Forces have failed to record about 800,000 crimes a year, including 25% of Sex Crimes. An astounding figure, no wonder Crime is down across the UK.

The chief inspector of HMIC, nice Mr Winsor, said that a national crime recording rate of 81% was inexcusably poor: “This is not about numbers and dry statistics – it is about victims and the protection of the public.”

The investigation was based on reviewing 10,267 reports of crime by the public and 3,240 “no-crime” decisions as well as surveying the views of 17,000 police officers and staff.

The report rejects claims that the practice of under-recording is due to “fiddled figures” or dishonest manipulation, saying that although the staff survey and interviews with whistleblowers produced many such allegations, no one came forward with firm evidence.

The report says “that the police must record an incident as a crime when a victim reports circumstances that amount to an offence as defined by the law and there is no credible evidence to the contrary.”

Is this paragraph not at odds with the previous one? Despite surveying 17,000 officers and staff there was no “evidence” so it didn’t happen.

Apparently every allegation of Crime should be ‘Crime’d’. Surely every allegation should be recorded and No Crime’d if that is appropriate after investigation. Maybe Uncle Tom is showing his lack of relevant experience, I don’t believe that he could be that naive. Or maybe we’re simply taking a step back into the past and there will no initial investigation at the scene, just Crime Reporting with a follow-on investigation by the suits?

The inspectors say that a number of police forces accepted that “undue performance pressures had adversely affected crime recording in the past, and the culture of chasing targets as ends in themselves had distorted crime-recording decisions”.

If an allegation of Attempted Burglary is classified as Criminal Damage but contains a Point of Entry within the body of the Crime Report, this has probably been fiddled.

If an allegation of Grievous Bodily Harm has been recorded as Actual Bodily Harm or Common Assault but contains the fact that injuries were “Serious” then this has probably/possibly been fiddled. Need I go on?

I have mentioned this before, but when I last worked on Division (1999) the Met routinely ran an Ethical Audit (a small programme designed to hunt down anomalies such as these) on the CRIS database and bring the results to the attention of the relevant DCI. Does this no longer happen?

There are numerous people who could have told Uncle Tom what was happening and how it is done, but he seems to have chosen not to hear their voices.

Are we to assume then that there are 800,000 genuine “mistakes” across the country, every year, when crimes are recorded? 25% of Sexual Offence crimes contain genuine errors resulting in them being incorrectly recorded.

Or have HMIC just, ironically, classified the Whistleblowers’ allegations as No Crime in contradiction to their own guidelines?