Professional Standards – But My Way

If a certain well known Danish Brewery did Professional Standards Departments they MIGHT align with my version.

I would base it more or less on the model that existed in the Met in the late 90s under Sir Ian Blair.  Heaven only knows what the current model looks like.

I’m not going to go into Resources and Budgets as I don’t understand Resource Allocation Formulae and I’m crap with Budgets, I’d just find a reason to spend it all. So I will leave it for others to establish Budgets and Staffing Levels etc.  However many there are, INTEGRITY is key.

At the lower end of the spectrum I would have a series of Complaints Units covering one or more Boroughs,  equipped and capable of recording all Complaints made in their Area and Investigating simple (as in not complex) Complaints.  They would be empowered to investigate through to completion and issue a formal Result at the end, these results would include Not Proven and Not Guilty.

In the second tier, a centrally based unit capable of receiving Complaints referred upwards from the Area Units if they proved to be more complex than originally assessed. They would be RESPONSIBLE for Investigating all complex Complaints and allegations of Minor Crime. Once again they would be competent to pursue the allegation to the end and issue a Formal Result.

At the top end would be a centrally based, smaller unit, investigating Major Crimes and Corruption. Once again, investigating to the ultimate end and issuing a Formal Result.

Three things would be absolutely VITAL to maintain the confidence of Police and Public alike

  1. No numerical Targets
  2. Definitely no inappropriate use of Professional Standards to silence Whistleblowers or Witnesses.
  3. A corporate willingness to accept that some of the officers subject to an investigation might actually be innocent, and they should not be afraid to find accordingly.  To prove and demonstrate that an officer is Not Guilty should be a matter of pride and is equally important as proving guilt, possibly more so.  In tandem with this would be the innovative practice of pursuing offenders found to have made malicious/vexatious complaints against officers, often in order to aid their defence in a Criminal trial. The Police Service has been absolutely rubbish at doing this for an eternity, and it would do wonders for morale if the practice were to be adopted.

The Public need reassurance that appropriate action is being taken at all levels, but I do believe that don’t, generally speaking, support unfounded witch hunts just for the sake of numbers.

Police Officers, and Public alike, need reassurance that appropriate action is being taken against Corrupt Cops.

To use the full weight of Professional Standards to crush Whistleblowers and the like does no one any credit, and I don’t believe that the Public expect or want that sort of behaviour.

Several examples of seemingly criminal conduct by professional Standards Departments have made their way into the public domain, courtesy of t’internet, in the last couple of years, and cases such as these do immense damage to Public Confidence. Investigations by Professional Standards should be exactly that – PROFESSIONAL. A good, quality investigation, fully complying with the legal requirements of Disclosure (We haven’t forgotten the TSG6 and others) and a balanced, properly compiled file at the end of it, a transparent result that is clear to follow.

I don’t believe that having the IPCC investigate everything is the way forward, as we need the Public and the Police to have confidence in the system, and not convinced that EITHER sector has confidence in the IPCC.  However, there is no reason why Complaints etc can’t be investigated  by another Force, the important factor must surely be that all investigations are proportionate, fair, and ultimately justifiable.  I’m sure we can all quote examples of disproportionate disciplinary investigations, or nvestigations that appeared to have no justification. Take away the mystery, and the practice of using Professional Standards for inappropriate reasons, and I’m sure we’re beginning to arrive at something better.

Finally, the Management Information bit, publish comprehensive data which includes Allegation Withdrawn Not Proven and Not Guilty. Discontinued is not a result we can have faith in.

Possibly a website showing a League Table, OCU by OCU of the various category of investigations to help restore Public Confidence that the Force are taking it seriously.

I’m fully aware that not all of this is doable, but it’s My Model. My idea of how it could operate. The Model can be tweaked for individual Forces with regard to their size, or enlarged if Regions become the order of the day.

I have been retired 13 years now and I’m certain that the Disciplinary process has probably changed in that time, so if I’ve made any horrendous gaffs please let me know and I’ll go hide under the stairs, but nothing will ever improve if nobody ever demands change or suggests ‘improvements’. So these are my suggestions, a Starter For 10.

I can accept that my model may not be perfect. Hopefully it would be an improvement on what we have. Let it be a beginning and provoke discussion and suggestion. At the end of the day, both sides of the fence want the same thing don’t they?  System that is open, fair, consistent, proportionate and accountable.

There’s my Model suggestion, anyone else want to suggest one?

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?

The Balance Of Probabilities

Balance of probabilities is the standard of proof required in all civil cases (and Disciplinary Hearings). It basically means that to win you need to convince the judge/Chairperson that your case is 51% likely to be true. i.e. your story only has to be slightly more plausible than the other side’s story.

This can be contrasted with a criminal case where the standard is beyond reasonable doubt, which is very near to 100% certainty before the defendant can be found guilty.

What the hell is he blathering on about? I hear you ask.

Well he’s blathering on about Ex PC James Patrick’s series of ‘Cathartic Blogs’.  James has had a bit of ‘Unfinished Business’ and he’s now taken the opportunity to dump all that baggage, free himself from the shackles, and hopefully move on, rebuilding the lives of himself and his family.

But allow me to be mischievous for a minute and take a peek at James’ blogs;

The first one was

Withholding Evidence From Parliament

In this blog James alleges that a Senior Police Officer Suppressed Evidence On Crime Figures
The Commander of the Directorate of Professional Standards refused permission to present Parliament with evidence of the manipulation of police statistics.  Commander Gibson apparently refused James’ request to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee to provide evidence of ‘number fudging’.  Why was that do you think?

Next we have

Use of Temperature in Interviews

in which James relates how  Met Police Using Degrading Interview Techniques:
The Directorate of Professional Standards are using high temperatures and dishonesty to pressurise police officers under investigation.

“In an interview room on the 21st floor, adjacent to the entrance of the male changing rooms, me and my Federation Representative found ourselves in a box room, where the temperature exceeded 28 degrees.”  “The interviewing officers, a Constable and Sergeant from the Directorate of Professional Standards told me that there was a “heating fault which had been reported”, ”  There is a witness to this, the Federation Representative.

“Later in the year, a family member made a Freedom of Information Act request to the Met police, asking what heating faults had been reported and resolved in that room, a month either side of my interview. The Met responded, after an internal review – first having missed the statutory deadline for reply – stating that no heating faults had been reported or recorded during the entire period. This was confirmed a second time, to my legal representatives, in December 2013.”

I have read the relevant Freedom of Information request, and the Met’s response.  James’ account is accurate, they recorded no heating fault despite the assurances of the DPS officers conducting the interview.

#3 goes like this

Deliberately Witheld Disclosure

Police Whistleblower Accused Of Fraud After Discovering Witheld Documents:

Written records of management meetings, which the Met denied had taken place, were discovered and spurious accusations of dishonesty were made by officers involved after the alarm was raised.  The events contained within this blog just left me speechless, a rare occurrence I can assure you.  Did James offer to repay the money at the first opportunity having been asked so to do. Yes!!  Did he commit any wilful, dishonest act in order to bring about this over-payment?  Seemingly not.

#4

‘Pissing Off’ Superiors

Police Officer Put ‘Noses Out Of Joint’ By Exposing Sham Crime Figures:
Crime statistics whistleblower went to Parliament after a meeting in Scotland Yard in which he was told that he risked ‘pissing off’ superiors by continuing to report his concerns about the recording of sexual offences. So James risked pissing off ‘superiors’ by exposing the truth? How does that work then? Surely these so-called ‘superiors’ should be big enough and ugly enough to survive the TRUTH? Wouldn’t you think?

#5

Procurement Fraud

 Metropolitan Police Covered Up Smartwater Procurement Fraud:
Scotland Yard breached its own procurement procedures yet found itself innocent, while senior officers delivered briefings saying they were covering up potential offences by the force.  With James’ consent I have discussed this with a retired Auditor of some note. He/She more or less agrees with James’ take on the situation and points out that at the very least there is a clear Conflict of Interests, and that it is not the first time that the Met has had similar issues.

Finally;

Conflict and Intimidation

Met Police Used Scare Tactics Against Whistleblower And Family:
After he had given evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee about the manipulation of police crime figures, uniformed officers were sent to the family home to ‘rattle their cages’.  Having lodged grievances against one or more members of the DPS staff, James received this text one day “Can you let me know whether you are both ok and that you have received the email I sent you? James R and I have both tried to call you but got no reply. Simon Laurence has asked me to set up a welfare check to your home address if I don’t hear from you shortly”.

  “The Met requested that Essex officers attended my home, stating that they had tried to contact me several times, and were concerned about my welfare as there had been ‘developments’ in my working arrangements which may ‘have caused him some distress’. Uniformed officers, in a marked police vehicle, attended my home at quarter to nine in the evening, while my wife and I were watching television and our children were asleep upstairs”.

My reaction to this is short and blunt.  Please fill the Comments section below with any other instances where an officer facing Disciplinary Proceedings has been ‘fortunate’ enough to receive a Welfare Visit at his Home Address from a neighbouring Force at 9 o’clock in the evening?  Plenty of space available, fill your boots.

So, on the Balance of Probabilities, have the Met been Bang Out Of Order?  Have they pursued a Disciplinary matter diligently, or have they tried to use their power and might to wield the sledgehammer that would crack the walnut?  Don’t forget, Balance of Probabilities, not Beyond A reasonable Doubt.

I find the case proved and order that the Met pays ex PC James Patrick substantial financial compensation.

Court adjourned.

Without brave whistleblowers, Ali Dizaei would be running the Met police

I almost never have any time for Richard Littlejohn, so this is probably a first for me, and maybe for you.This is an old article from the Daily Fail dating back to December 2012, prophetic in parts, and probably not too inaccurate.

If you really must read the whole article you can find it here, but the potted highlights include:-

“Of course it was ‘disproportionate’. [The arrest of a Police Officer under #Plebgate] Disproportionate is what Hyphen-Howe does these days, ever since he became Commissioner.”

“On Merseyside, he was the ‘Hail Fellow Well Met’ chief constable, always happy to share a drink and a meal with reporters. After arriving at the Yard, he now sees himself as a true and perfect knight in shining riot gear”

“Seasoned crime correspondents have received menacing phone calls from anti-corruption officers demanding to know where they got their information. The Met even used the Official Secrets Act in an attempt to force a Guardian reporter to disclose her sources.”

“Within the Yard, officers speak of a reign of terror as the professional standards unit, under Deputy Assistant Commissioner Pat Gallan…….”

Gallan is a ferociously ambitious, former Merseyside colleague of Hyphen-Howe, said to fancy her chances of becoming the first black, female Met Commissioner. The aim is to stop any information getting out, except through rigorously  controlled official channels.”

“A Met constable, PC James Patrick, [December 2012 don’t forget] is also being investigated for gross misconduct for criticising police practice and reforms in a book based on his Twitter postings.

Compare and contrast his treatment with the book published by bent copper Ali Dizaei, which was serialised in The Times and featured as Radio 4’s Book Of The Week. [Book of the Week? FFS]

Far from being disciplined, Dizaei was subsequently promoted, even though his book was fiercely critical of the Met and he was forced to pay libel damages to two senior officers.”

I apologise for the lazy copy/paste style blog but on this occasion Littlejohn says everything that we’ve been saying, so why paraphrase it?

Littlejohn has encapsulated everything that is wrong with the Met at the moment. Normally I would actively avoid him and his articles, but on this occasion seems he has been practicing with tea leaves etc.

One thing I will agree on is that the Met and NSY are not happy places to be right now, and, yes, Ali Dizaei could easily have ended up as Commish.

Corruption In The Met

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

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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?

RetiredAndAngry’s Whistle-Blowing Policy

I sat down this morning to watch the video of the Greater London Policing and Crime Committee meeting from 13th May and to read the transcript of same meeting.

I very soon thought I was watching an episode of The Muppet Show.

There was somebody there impersonating the Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolis.  He couldn’t have been a real policeman because he kept using posh twatty words like Inculcate;

“I think our procedure, and I accept you do not have this but when you get it you will see that actually by rewarding them, is to effectively inculcate them and to provide some support around them in terms of the process around it. In terms of bringing things forward and raising issues, that is one of those things that we constantly say. The rewarding as well is about being very clear on where the values of the organisation are, so being very clear with people about doing the right thing, the courage and integrity you need to step forward and say things that are wrong in your place of business. The reward per se, we have looked at things like, and I know some people talked about, “Do you commend everyone who blows the whistle?” It feels a bit like a gimmick, I have to say, that sort of thing. “

 

Roger Evans AM: I am surprised that you think that commending people for it is a gimmick. I suppose it would be if you commended everyone. If you commended people where they had found something really serious that you are pleased to have been told and been able to put right–

Craig Mackey (Deputy Police Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Absolutely, yes.

Roger Evans AM:– that seems to me to be entirely appropriate.

Craig Mackey (Deputy Police Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Yes.

Roger Evans AM: Does it happen? Do you have any examples?

Craig Mackey (Deputy Police Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): No. At times people get rewarded and thanked for raising issues and other times they do not.

And then we have absolute pearls like this;

“I can think of some examples where the support has been right, they have raised an issue about their supervisor and the supervisor has gone, or moved, so they have been absolutely right in terms of that approach. I welcome views if  colleagues think there is a way of rewarding people for whistleblowing, or incentivising it.”

Does Mackey really think it’s as simple as moving a supervisor who’s been complained about?  What chuffing planet are you on?  Not the same one as me obviously.

Well, that looks like a bloody good, consistent policy then.

The full encounter can be found here, it’s a great read.

Which brings me on to the title of today’s piece.

RetiredAndAngry’s Whistle-Blowing Policy is this

I promote a system that encourages people to bring to the notice of their senior management or appropriate body  all examples of wrong-doing or malpractice without fear of repercussions.  I actively discourage the Blame Culture that pervades so many organisations.  Whistle-Bl;owing is not necessarily about dropping someone in the mire, it is about identifying something that is going wrong and getting it put right.  That does not necessitate any kind of witch-hunt either against the whistle-blower or the individual(s) identified in the Disclosure (if appropriate), it just involves Getting It Right, and Doing It Right.

Is that so very difficult to comprehend Mr Mackey?

Stating The Bleeding Obvious

What is it that’s so bleeding obvious?

That the Met has lost its way.  Never before have I known it to flounder and flap around like a fish out of water as they are at the moment under their current leadership, Sir Bernard Hogan-Who and his team of muppets.  Even in the disappointing times under McNee (The Rubber Hammer) they were a more positive organisation than they are today.

Take the case of James Patrick. I’m not going to bore the pants off you by repeating everything, and James is currently waiting his Employment Tribunal, but just look at what’s already in the public domain about his treatment by the Met and the disciplinary matters that have arisen.

He was subject to Gross Misconduct proceedings, a review by an outside Force decreed this constituted no more than Misconduct. A process that hung over his head for 18 months or more was concluded in a hearing lasting no more than 10 minutes, you can read James’ views of this elsewhere.

James decided that be had no alternative but to resign, then whilst serving his ‘notice’ was served with further discipline papers alleging Gross Misconduct once more. James has now the left the Met, as you know, but has the disciplinary process been staid? No it has not. James now runs the risk of facing a disciplinary hearing after his resignation, possibly in his absence, and be added to CoP’s list of Struck-Off officers, with all the consequences of that. This seems to me to be driven by spite and revenge. The Met clearly don’t know how to handle a man like James, but is this any way for an ethical organisation to behave?

Take the case of the TSG6 as highlighted by Tessa Munt MP recently. She was covered by Parliamentary Privilege when she made her revelations but they were absolutely staggering, accusing senior members of the Met of criminal acts, and, once again, highly questionable behaviour by Directorate of Professional Standards officers. You can read the transcript or watch the video elsewhere. Is this any way for an ethical organisation to behave?

Call me picky but I can’t think of a single Freedom of Information request that I have submitted (in relation to James) where the Met has actually told me anything. On at least one occasion I truly believe that the Met has LIED to me.

Another FOI is delayed while they consider the Health and Safety implications of supplying me with a set of Minutes of a meeting.

In relation to another I have asked for a redacted copy of a letter sent to James by DPS. They have refused this request on the grounds of Personal Data. The only Personal Data this letter could contain is someone’s name, i.e. the author of the letter.

This from an organisation that has had a policy for over 10 years that officers will display their first name and surname on their uniform or name badge.

So Personal Data under the terms of the Data Protection Act doesn’t really float does it?

Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords have expressed their disapproval of James’ treatment at the hands of the Met. Is this any way for an ethical organisation to behave?

The Met briefed Counsel to oppose James at the first hearing of his Employment Tribunal, specifically to oppose Interim Relief, which, if granted, would have ensured a basic income continued up until his ET was settled one way of the other.  A few thousand pounds. The Met spends millions on defending actions, paying compensation for something or other.  There was a time when the Met would pay up without even questioning what it was for, but thankfully those days are over at least.  All in all it has the smell of VINDICTIVE about the whole sorry saga..   Is this the way an ethical organisation should behave?

I find myself with three questions;

  1. Are the Senior Management of the Met and the officers of Directorate of professional Standards so out of control that they can treat their ‘underlings’ in this manner with impunity?
  2. Is this merely blind panic as they find themselves in a situation they don’t know how to deal with and haven’t got the balls to admit it?
  3. What on earth would happen if a PC/PS/DC/DS etc treated a member of the public, or even the criminal fraternity, with such venom and apparently a total lack of regard for Disclosure and the law in general?

 

It wouldn’t be a pat on the back and a quiet retirement I assure you, but then I’m stating the bleeding obvious again.

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