Deep Joy, Kick The Cops Time Is Here Again

Last week we had the keenly awaited report from Uncle Tom’s Flock of Sheep regarding Integrity and Corruption within the Police Service. It clearly didn’t say what a lot of people wanted it to say as it led to some really slanted reporting by the Media. As I pointed out last week, it included nuggets like “Police are committed to tackling Corruption”, “Corruption is not endemic within the Police” and “122 out of 125 previous recommendations have been adopted”. Instead we had headlines such as “Police told to review 2, 000 cases of alleged Corruption”, “Police need to do more to tackle Corruption” and “Hundreds of suspected corrupt police officers evade justice by RETIRING”

I guess Investigation Finds Police Acting With Integrity isn’t much of a headline.

Today we get the IPCC’s version of the situation and are treated to headlines like “Police Complaints at Record High” and “IPCC: Obviously The Figures Are Worrying”. Dame Anne Owers, chair of the IPCC, said that the figures were “obviously worrying”, and also cited concerns that some complaints were not being properly dealt with.

Let me make it clear, I’m not in favour of Complaints being ‘whitewashed’. I don’t believe or pretend that all Police Officers are faultless and all complaints are malicious. Professional Standards Departments are one of the few departments not to have had their budgets slashed. It is incumbent upon them to establish the Guilt or Innocence of all officers who have allegations made against them. Guilt or Innocence.

Apparently there were nearly 35,000 complaints made in 2013/14, some 35% up on the previous year. 35,000 complaints relating to a workforce of 128,000 (ish). One in four assuming that no officer received more than one complaint. Is that so very awful? Not brilliant or desirable, but we’re talking Complaints now, not Corruption. More than one allegation can be included in a complaint “case” and the police watchdog said some of the increase was due to the broadening of the definition of a complaint.

The highest number of complaints were regarding police neglect or failure in duty, followed by complaints about police being rude or intolerant. Neglect or Failure in Duty? At a time when the Police have never been under such immense pressure, increased demands upon Police resources combined with a planned and deliberate reduction in manpower levels. Is that such a great surprise? Less cops, more work to be done. Is it any great surprise that Failure in Duty should be the greatest cause for complaint?

IPCC. The I stands for INDEPENDENT.

How “Independent” is it to state that the increased number of complaints is “Alarming”. Would/Should an Independent Authority not look beyond the headlines for a possible or probable cause? Maybe it’s just too easy to kick the cops and ignore the reasons?

Now for the bits hidden away at the end of the IPCC report and beneath the headlines in the Press.

The 35,000 complaints made resulted in almost 62,000 allegations being made against Police a Officers and Police Staff. Of these 62,000 allegations, less than half of them warranted an Investigation. Of those, less than 4,000 were upheld.

When Society encourages more reporting of anything, unsurprisingly the number (in this case, recorded Complaints) goes up, but less than 4,000 of the 62,000 were substantiated.

So what’s the headline now?

Less Than 4% of Cops Break The Rules

Doesn’t have quite the same impact does it?

Time to stop the witch hunts, report complaints and discipline in a fair and balanced way and establish the TRUTH. I’m sure that’s want the Police and Public both want to hear.

Stop this constant kicking and just be fair and honest.

Incidentally, the figures used in the IPCC Report are very confusing. There are numerous tables at the end, the numbers contained within each table do not seem to tally with each other and no explanation offered. If I have missed something there please do put me right, I’d hate to have misinterpreted the data.

#CutsHaveConsequences

Stop And Search To Be Replaced By Slap n Tickle?

I might not be the world’s greatest expert on the finer points of PACE but I do like to think that I know a little bit about practical coppering, and I don’t mean bending the rules.

After the recent Mark Duggan Inquest it may come as no surprise to hear that our beloved Home Secretary, or Cruella as I prefer to call her, is once again considering ‘tinkering’ (can I say that?) with Stop and Search Powers.

As you sit with your coffee and donut reading this, every single Police Officer that is on duty in England and Wales, and probably Scotland and Northern Ireland also, is fully accountable for everything they do.  Believe it or not Mr Winsor they are highly trained, and, yes, literate, professionals. Professionals that have had a huge amount of money invested in them, training them to be fit for purpose.

Every time there is a furore concerning Stop and Search the government of the day tries to appease the disaffected population by promising to do something about those naughty Police Officers and their over-zealous use of Stop and Search.

Well, I don’t expect turkeys to vote for Christmas, but neither do I expect my politicians to tell me that I can’t eat turkey at Christmas, or any other time of year, if I want to.

The guidelines about when a Police Officer can Stop and Search someone are contained within Code Of Practice A of PACE, which you can read here if you’re suitably bored.

The Met has gone even further and produced its own lovely colour coded document entitled

Territorial Policing – Patrol OCU
Principles for Stops & Searches
Standard Operating Procedures
Don’t worry though, it’s only 44 pages and you can find it here
So, by the time you’ve finished learning those two documents you are fully prepared to go out in the big, wide world and conduct your own Stops and Searches, knowing exactly what you legally require to conduct them lawfully.

What the hell is wrong with that? The officers are accountable for it. I am in NO WAY suggesting that officers do or should Stop/Search with impunity, but why oh why would you want to set the them ONE Target – Reduce Crime, and then start tying their hands behind their backs when violent crime and crimes against property are on the rise again (#Crimestats permitting).

If any given section of the community complains about the voracious use of Stop and Search it is absolutely pointless, nay counter-productive, for our politicians to try and appease that section of the community by curbing Police use of Stop and Search.  What they should be doing is assuring ALL SECTIONS OF THE COMMUNITY EQUALLY that Police Stop and Search powers will be used appropriately, proportionately and lawfully, as and when, and where, they are needed.  The officers conducting these Stop/Searches are individually accountable, and in the event that a s60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 order is issued then an officer of higher rank has to be in a position to justify this decision, in addition to the officer conducting the Stop/Search.

The illustrious IPCC have outlined their position on Stop/Search here.  It should be noted that they are not saying “Don’t do it”.

I have discussed Stop/Search with several people over the last 48 hours and we almost unanimously agree that if the actions are lawful and reasonable most people will be happy with Police actions if the reasons are adequately explained to them.  One of my Twitter friends described his experiences of Stop and Search as “either ending with a handshake or an arrest” which I think tells a success story. If no arrest was made the person stopped went off relatively happy with Police action once it was explained or they got nicked.  What is wrong with that?

Before I leave this thorny subject, there is one more element to it that should be discussed.  Is it appropriate to use Stop/Search as a Performance Indicator?

When I first joined the Met in the early 70s there was a book, Book 90 (Pre PACE) that contained hand written details of all Stops. Those that had resulted in an arrest were entered in red.  This became one of the best-read books in the nick.  Firstly because your mates wanted to know who was where in the very unofficial League Table and the Management wanted to know who was doing what when it came to AQR (Appraisal) time.  The end result of this was, end of month, the Phone Book came out, or a trip through the local cemetery, collecting names for ‘Stops’ to keep the Chief Superintendent happy.

Was this right? Probably not, but it hurt no-one.

I have been hearing tales this week of Stop/Searches being used as a modern day Performance Indicator and compared against those for neighbouring Boroughs/OCUs.  Can this be right? Most definitely not, and I’m sure the ECHR (and HASC/PASC) would have something to say if they heard about that practice.  Code A states the grounds for Stop/Search and last time I read it I found no reference to Performance Indicator.  Any Stop/Search carried out to keep the Chief Superintendent happy at your appraisal is almost certainly unlawful, unprofessional and far more likely to antagonise the local populace than a targeted Stop/Search in an area of high crime followed by a suitable explanation and apology for the inconvenience.  Yes, that’s right, I said Apology.  Modern day Police Officers should not be reluctant to apologise for inconveniencing a member of the public.  If their actions are reasonable, properly explained and an apology offered, I’m reasonably certain that most law-abiding citizens will walk off more than happy, reassured that you’re actually doing something about crime in their area.

When I went through Henditz to do my Initial Training it included repeated use of the mantra “Never apologise, you’re not sorry”.  Well we don’t live in such macho times any more, we’re much more pink and fluffy.  Apology is good, as long as it’s genuine and appropriate.

If the non law-abiding citizens are less than happy with your actions will I get excited about that?  No. Treat them with the respect they deserve, offer them the same explanation and apology and if they’re still not happy I really don’t see why our politicians should be pandering to them and offering to ‘curb’ the use of Stop and Search like what Cruella has suggested.

Finally, I give you this, Stop & Search to be replaced by Slap n’ Tickle, I’m pretty sure it’s a spoof, but in this day and age who knows?

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People in Glass Houses – Remember That

People in Glass Houses really shouldn’t.

I wasn’t going to write about this sorry saga, I’m sure numerous other people will have done so already, but it got the better of me.

This is, of course, the story of the now infamous meeting between 3 Police Federation Representatives and foul-mouthed Andrew Mitchell MP.

As a direct result of this meeting West Mercia Police conducted a disciplinary investigation into the conduct of the three Federation reps.  It has been stated that West Mercia Police referred the investigation to the IPCC, who declined to investigate it, but made a decision to ‘Supervise’ the West Mercia disciplinary investigation.  To the best of my knowledge that is exactly what happened.

After conducting what I assume was a thorough investigation into the conduct of the 3 officers West Mercia Police announced that there was no evidence of Misconduct or Gross Misconduct on the part of the 3 Fed Reps.  That really should have been the end of it, but oh no, Deborah Glass, Deputy Chair of the IPCC and IPCC Commissioner for the LONDON area, decided that wasn’t good enough.

For some really obscure reason she has publicly stated that the West Mercia investigation, whilst carried out to her apparent satisfaction appears to have reached the wrong findings. She says that three Police Federation officials may have given a “deliberately misleading” account of a meeting with the Conservative MP, who has always denied calling officers in Downing Street “plebs.” and ”the evidence indicates an issue of honesty and integrity.”. Her organisation, the IPCC Supervised this enquiry from start to finish, and now she comes out and says something like that.  The I in IPCC stands for Independent, Really?

It truly doesn’t say much for the credibility and ability of the IPCC if she can go all loose cannon on us and come out with a statement like that which surely reflects as much on the IPCC as it does West Mercia Police.

Then, our revered Home Secretary, Theresa May, bundled into the arguement saying things like “she felt that disciplinary proceedings should have been taken against the Police Federation officers.” and “the IPCC’s report “made troubling reading”.

At the end of the day Andrew Mitchell has NEVER made a complainst against any Police Officers in relation to this matter.

Despite claims to the contrary, whilst he has been vociferous in denying what he was attributed as saying, he has not yet publicly stated what he DID say, although he maintains that he has a clear memory of what he said.

I can only conclude that this is another chapter in the ongoing war between the Government and the Police. The IPCC have chosen their side and stand alongside Andrew Mitchell and Theresa May.

As @OldBill_43 put it yesterday “I have had court cases resulting in acquittals. Would it be OK to issue press releases stating how convinced I am of their guilt?”

If this is British Justice at it’s best, Guity when found Innocent, then I fear for the future of our country.