Come On Cruella – Explain It To Us

Ii have heard many eloquent people highlighting the problems faced by Police and Public alike caused by the government’s reckless policy of repeatedly cutting the Police Budget.

I know that this problem applies to other PublicSectors also, but today I am concentrating solely on the Police.

It is frequently stated within the Police Service that if the reasons for doing something (for example Stop/Search, Kettling, Tasering) are explained to the public in a calm and reasonable manner then they will probably understand and possibly even support the action, or at the very least become less vociferous in their opposition. A calm explanation as to why I was Stop/Searching an apparently innocent person, the grounds and reason behind it, was frequently all that was required to defuse a tense situation and the person quite frequently went off perfectly happy.

So, Theresa May, David Cameron, why don’t you tell us, the Police and Public, just exactly why the cuts that you have already enacted, and the cuts that you have cued up for the next five years are actually ALL NECESSARY.

I have pointed out previously, on more than one occasion, that many of the 43 Forces have already shed more officers than they needed to to attain their 2015 Austerity Target set by HMIC.  Please explain to us calmly, in a language that we can all understand, why this was necessary.

Please explain to us why, when other public services find their budgets ring-fenced, the Police Budget is not.

Why is the Foreign Aid Budget ring-fenced and the Police Budget not?

Please explain to us why we keep hearing the mantra “Crime Is Down” to justify the cuts when overall demand on the Police Service is UP.

So would you please explain to us all quite calmly all of your reasons for decimating what used to be the finest Police Service in the world.  If you try and explain in a non-confrontational manner we might just understand and agree with you, possibly not, but go on try it, what do you have to lose?

The impression amongst the Police Service is that you are on a mission to destroy the Police Service, well you need to remember that the vast majority of the British Public have no connections with the Police Service whatsoever, but they still need for a Police Service to exist to report their crimes, deal with their Anti-Social Behaviour, maintain their public tranquility ( The Queen’s Peace) etc etc.

Demand UP, Establishment DOWN please explain to us why, JUSTIFY IT.


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I Can’t Quite Work It Out

The people have voted, and it seems like they’ve got Camoron for another full term.

I don’t agree with them, but I can see why the Jocks have voted SNP, at least that makes some kind of sense.

The rest of the UK have voted for some strange things

They have voted for a much reduced Police Service with a much hampered ability to respond to our various problems.

They have voted for a much reduced Armed Forces, they are at their lowest strength for decades and getting smaller.

They have voted for an NHS in danger of being dismantled and privatised.  Starved of funding, forced to fail, cue private companies riding in to pick up the pieces and rescue them.

They have voted for a shackled Justice system.

They have voted for a slimline Coastguard Service.

They have voted for Probation, Education and Prison Services to be neutered or privatised.

What do all of the above have in common?  None of them sell anything.  Traditionally they have all been sectors that soak up money without the ability to make a profit. How could they?  Until very recently consecutive governments have accepted that fact and whilst there have been minor cuts and Efficiency Drives along the way, it was always accepted that they were sectors that had to have money pumped into them to make them work with no option of getting a profit out at the end. It has always been that way, and I don’t see how it could be any different to that.  Oh, hang on,……..Privatisation might help.

They have voted for Bankers Bonuses.

They have voted for Outsourcing

I truly hope that the the great British Public do not find the need for the NHS, do not ever need a Police Officer, I hope their kids are properly educated, I hope they never need a Coastguard etc etc, because the shape of this country has changed irrevocably, and it’s what the country has voted for.

I didn’t, my conscience is clear, but very many did. I have heard it described as selfish voting. Who knows?

I leave you with one last thought, Be very careful what you wish for because you might get it.

Have Your Say, Tell Me What You Think–The Results Are In

A while ago I posed the question – Would you be willing to pay a small amount more each month to help safeguard our Public Services? I posted a short online survey for you to tell me your views, and the results are in.

Shown below are the actual responses received, minus names and email address etc, apart from that untouched.

I’m not certain that the volume of respondents constitutes a statistically significant sample (I’m sure it doesn’t), but most folk who replied would be willing to pay SOMETHING extra on their taxes, NI contributions etc to help keep our Public Services afloat.

Just a shame that the government never thought of asking the question really, they might have got a bigger response.

Would you be willing to pay a small amount more each month to help safeguard our Public Services? Police NHS Armed Forces Education Coastguard What is the Max amount PER MONTH you would be willing to pay on top of your current taxes?
yes yes yes yes yes yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 100
Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes No No £1
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 5
Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes £50
Yes Yes No No Depends which sector No 10
Yes. Already paying extra via CT to POLICE Yes Yes No Yes Yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 100
yes yes yes yes yes yes 10
No No No No No No 0
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 25
no no no no no no 9
yes yes yes yes yes yes £10
yes yes yes yes yes yes 5
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 50
yes yes yes yes yes yes 6
no yes yes yes no no £40
yes yes yes yes yes yes 20
Yes Yes No Yes No Yes 10
yes yes no yes no yes 2
yes yes YES yes yes yes 2
yes yes yes yes no yes 10
no no no no no no 0
Yes Yes def Yes def Yes defs No Yes £5
Yes Yes No Yes No No 5
no no yes no no no 10

What On Earth Has Happened To Professional Standards?

It’s a question I’ve posed before, but I’ve just read a book, The Crocodile Court, which is basically about a West Midlands Police Sergeant who falls foul of the discipline system and what happens after that.  I’ll not spoil it too much in case you want to read it.

Let’s be honest, Professional Standards, or whatever you want to call them, have never been popular in any of their incarnations, but they are a necessary evil.

My point is this, (and once again my experience is restricted to the Met so if any of you ‘Crunchers’ want to tell me how it is in your Force I’d be pleased to hear it), in the good old days, at least up to the beginning of the 2000s, in my opinion and experience, Professional Standards were at least reasonably fair and I’ve known several Complaints Officers who would look hard for an informal resolution rather than go the whole hog.

In Complaints and Discipline, as in Policing in general, it is important to be able prove or disprove any allegation.  No Man’s Land is a result that doesn’t really satisfy anybody.

There are those out there who won’t like this but it is a fact that spurious and vexatious allegations ARE made for a variety of reasons.

If, for example, an allegation of assault or incivility is made against an officer or group of officers and that/those officer(s) vehemently deny the allegation, it is possible that it’s a false allegation.  If it is possible to prove or demonstrate that the allegation is, or is likely to be, false, then why should we not do it?

In the early 90s I was asked by our Complaints Unit to do a Timeline for an allegation of assault made by a group of people against a DC and a DI.  So I read all of the ‘witness’ statements and produced a Timeline that completely covered a very large table, and when I presented my Timeline to the Complaints Unit they had no alternative but to concede that whether these officers had or hadn’t assaulted anybody, the evidence of the ‘witnesses’ could not be relied upon because they clearly weren’t all where they claimed to be in their statements, and could not possibly have seen what they claimed to have seen.  Result – Complaint Discontinued due to lack of evidence.

Fast Forward to 2015 and what do we have now?

Professional Standards Departments who seem to be hell-bent on prosecuting or disciplining officers at the drop of a hat.  It seems to me (my opinion only) that they’re not too interested in finding any evidence which would assist the accused or undermine their own case, or maybe even, just establishing the TRUTH.

When it comes to Crime (and allegations of assault etc against Police Officers are exactly that) the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 tells us exactly what our roles and responsibilities re Disclosure are,

The Code of Practice requires the police to record and retain material obtained in a criminal investigation which may be relevant to the investigation. In particular:

all police officers have a responsibility to record and retain relevant material obtained or generated by them during the course of the investigation. Material may be photographed, video-recorded, captured digitally or otherwise retained in the form of a copy rather than the original, if the original is perishable, or the retention of a copy rather than the original is reasonable in all the circumstances

  • the officer in charge of the investigation has special responsibility to ensure that the duties under the Code of Practice are carried out by all those involved in the investigation, and for ensuring that all reasonable lines of enquiry are pursued, irrespective of whether the resultant evidence is more likely to assist the prosecution or the accused
  • the Code of Practice creates the roles of disclosure officer and deputy disclosure officer, with specific responsibilities for examining material, revealing it to the prosecutor, disclosing it to the accused where appropriate, and certifying to the prosecutor that action has been taken in accordance with the Code of Practice.
  • the disclosure officer is required to create schedules of relevant unused material retained during an investigation and submit them to the prosecutor together with certain categories of material
  • non-sensitive material should be described on form MG6C and sensitive material should be described on form MG6D.

Most of the ‘Time Bombs’ sit within the Unused Material, i.e. material that the Police possess that they do not seek to use during their proceedings.  The most obvious, and recent example might be tha case of the TSG 6 where hours of CCTV were not disclosed to the Defence, CCTV evidence which ultimately helped clear those officers of any wrongdoing.

Their Judgeships feel so strongly about it they have issued a Judicial protocol explicitly for Unused Material.

“Disclosure remains one of the most important – as well as one of the most misunderstood and abused – of the procedures relating to criminal trials. Lord Justice Gross’ review has re-emphasised the need for all those involved to understand the statutory requirements and to undertake their roles with rigour, in a timely manner.”

Even the Attorney General’s Guidelines bangs on about it “The amendments in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 abolished the concept of “primary” and “secondary” disclosure, and introduced an amalgamated test for disclosure of material that “might reasonably be considered capable of undermining the prosecution case or assisting the case for accused“.”.

You can’t just ignore evidence you don’t like.

So what the hell is going on?  I have heard way too many instances in the past year or so where Professional Standards Officers stand accused of playing fast and loose with the requirements of Disclosure and Unused Material.  Why?

I have, occasionally, been described as an Organisational Terrorist (thank you for that SIB), god knows why, maybe it’s to do with the number of times I challenge the establishment and try to tease the truth out.  Now, I’m more in danger of being described as a Conspiracy Theorist.

It can be no coincidence surely that in the last decade or so, the number of occasions where we have heard about alleged abuse of process by Professional Standards offices has increased alarmingly?

Is this mass incompetence?

Is this a positive act to try and reduce the number of serving police officers cheaply?

Is this a vendetta against certain officers.

Is it lack of appropriate training (although I’d be horrified if it was)?

Have ACPO (or whatever they’re called today) had a National Meeting and decided upon a protocol to keep the plebs in their place?

Whatever the answer is, I find it absolutely frightening that this is not just one Force doing things somewhat differently to the others.  This is a Method.

I’m not going to rake them all up again, but in the last year or so we have heard several instances whereby Professional Standards appear to be operating to a different set of rules to everybody else, and if you read The Crocodile Court you’ll be familiar with one more, and the terrible consequences of incompetence.

I’m absolutely certain that if asked we could all name one, if not two or more, cases of DPS/PSD abusing the system and bullying the officer into submission, whatever the reason for that behaviour might be.

So what exactly HAS happened to Professional Standards?

Why has it happened?

Is it just in London or does it happen elsewhere (I know the answer to that one).

Any examples gratefully received.

You Have Only One Target – To Reduce Crime

Well I suppose I need to start with an apology, this story is not about Targets or Crime, just the opposite really, and if any of you are feeling a tad squeamish you might want to turn over to something else.

Some of you may have heard this story, most of you won’t. At least one of you was serving with me at the time in question and presumably heard about it. It wasn’t a well-kept secret.

Back in the 80s I was what used to pass as a Community Bobby, or Home Beat as the Met liked to call them then. One Saturday morning I was called up and asked to return to the nick. The Duty Inspector wanted to talk to me urgently, and No he couldn’t tell me what it was about over the radio.

So I hopped on a bus and got myself back as quickly as I could. It was not good news.  It turns out that a colleague of mine from an adjoining Division had gone missing. His wife had come home on Friday night to find a note, together with the remains of a bottle of pills and some empty booze bottles.  She’d called an ambulance, he’d been taken to hospital, still alive and had now done a runner from the ward he was on.

The Inspector’s next words will remain with me till the day I die “You’re the only one on duty who knows him, you can deal with the Missing Person Enquiry”.

So began the single darkest investigation of my illustrious career.

First stop the hospital where things were due to get a whole load worse.  He’d. Been put on a ward on the 8th floor overnight while the medical & psychiatric staff assessed him and he’d done no more than try to jump out of the window. Two attempts in 24 hours.

By now he’d walked out of the hospital building wearing nothing more than his hospital gown.

Not very long after this a crackly voice on my radio told me that the driver of a passing train had seen the body of a woman by the side of the tracks. About 10 minutes walk away.

It didn’t take long to establish that it wasn’t a woman but my mate, or what was left of him. I called up the Duty Inspector and informed him and he graciously sent a Sergeant to come and supervise me at the scene. He was far too busy to leave the nick.

The Sergeant who pitched up was a good one, but I found I was spending more time stopping him from stepping on the live rail than briefing him about the unfolding tragedy. So I’m afraid I shouted at him, he took in good spirit and we both got on with doing what needed to be done.

It goes without saying he was dead. Mercifully he would have died instantly. I now know what drove him to this terrible deed, and all I will say on the matter is that it was something that he SHOULD have been able to take in his stride and deal with it. It was neither related to the Job nor his marriage. That is all.

Once we’d finished at the scene, for continuity purposes, I had to accompany his remains to the hospital, then the mortuary and ultimately the Post Mortem and Inquest.  Offering him what little dignity I could.  The Coroner was brilliant and returned an Open Verdict on the grounds that nobody could say he wasn’t pushed, so at least his poor widow was left with the Life Insurance.

So after a day rushing around first trying to establish what had happened, then trying to find my mate and then dealing with the bloody aftermath, what words of comfort did my Duty Inspector have for me when I returned to base?

“Nice job, see you in the morning”

I’m not after your sympathy, these events are safely stowed away in a box and now only come out when I let them.  The nightmares have stopped. It certainly wasn’t a typical day in the Met, but neither was it unique.  I believe that the Met is slightly more enlightened these days, and hopefully, being the only Cop on duty who knows somebody might be the perfect reason NOT to deal with it.

But I won’t have any haggardy witch telling me that Police work is all about CRIME.

Take the Police Officers out of the above scenario for a minute.  Who would have dealt with it?

NOBODY

There isn’t another single agency that would have dealt with the events I have relayed above, and not a single crime was committed or alleged.

That is only one tale from a 30 year career, multiply that by 130,000.  Allow for more than one such instance in a career, most officers will have many such tales of trauma to tell.  Still no crime involved.

So Cruella, you can do one, do yourself a favour.  If you want to get it right and improve your (much) tarnished reputation just trying listening to them that do the Job, they just might know better than you what’s involved, and maybe even, how many are needed to do it.

Or you might just try carrying on with the wrecking ball.

Either way, I won’t be voting for your party, so you can stick that right up your Purdah.

wreathRIP Colleague

Many know who you were

 

So Were Regan And Hunt Really So Bad?

In the last few weeks I’ve thought a lot about the poor old Met.  What has happened to it over the years? Where is it going? Why is it going there?

When I joined mid 72 I heard a lot, and I mean a lot, of tales about the bosses of the previous few years “going out to collect the rent”. Thankfully I never encountered it myself, and I’m still not sure, all these years later, what I would have done if I had.  I absolutely know what I SHOULD have done, but life is not that simple for a young lad who wants to get in and see his 30.  The closest I ever got to a boss being on the take was a Chief Superintendent who “took delivery” of a 56 pound bag of Curry Powder, I kid you not.

I have written before about how certain operations and enquiries most definitely DID get binned after a diktat from a faceless senior officer.  I thought then, and I still think now, that was WRONG,  Nowadays I would use the word UNFORGIVEABLE.  There is no place in the Police Service for officers of ANY RANK who actively assist in covering up the crimes of others, especially when those others are politicians.

On the other side of the coin were the likes of Jack Tegan and Gene Hunt. Two characters quite accurately portrayed in my opinion. I worked for DIs and DCIs who just like the.  I am absolutely certain that any of my ex Met readers could name at least two or three from that era.

They were certainly a challenge to work for, sometimes fun, sometimes bloody awful, but their whole raison d’être was to bang up villains.  I can remember vividly, as a young buck on the Crime Squad being told on a Monday morning “off you go to Court lad, get some warrants and we’ll keep a few on their toes this week”. PACE saw the end of Search Warrants for “Diverse Stolen Goods”.

Maybe I should make it clear that I’m not talking about ‘fitting up’ anybody, rather than make the evidence fit the charge, these were bosses who would make the charge fit the evidence.  If you were a bit short on evidence for what you’d nicked somebody for these were bosses who would look at the evidence you DID have and maybe advise a slightly different charge to the one you might have been thinking of.

No Fitting Up, no Gilding the Lily, no Verbals just good, practical coppering to avoid having to kick chummy out the front door or, worse, offer him a lift home, because your evidence was a bit short. Charge him something else instead that you DID have evidence for.  I get the impression that PACE and the CPS aren’t overly keen on those tactics any more. The only people now that are subject to Fitting Up and Gilding The Lily seem to be cops, and I certainly don’t approve of that practice thank you.

So when I think about child abuse enquiries being kicked into the long grass, and Regan & Hunt and their unorthodox methods (they didn’t so much break the rules as play by different rules), given the choice I would take Regan and Hunt every day.

Villains got charged and sentenced in those days, they also had RESPECT.

I have no desire to be associated with any guv’nor that says “stop that enquiry now, the Yard says so”. Any senior Officer or, worse, politician, that interferes and halts or disrupts any investigation has sold their soul to the Devil, and I don’t want to work for them.

I joined the job to nick criminals, and by and large, that’s what I did. Never had the inclination to be a Rat.

Take No Notice It’s Just Me Sounding Off

It’s one of those days today, you know, one of those days when you just want to shout out loud and get ‘stuff’ off your chest. Well today is one of those days, so if you can’t be arsed to stay and read it that’s fine be me, hopefully I’ll see you another day soon.

Today’s issue is nothing new, it’s ‘The Cuts’.  I have written extensively on another site about Government Wastage and tried to put together in one place many of the instances where this government, and the previous one, has wasted BILLIONS of pounds. Enough money has been wasted to bolster many of our Public Services for quite some time.  I won’t waste your time going over them again you can read them elsewhere if you really want to.

I earned my Spurs in a Police FORCE that did not want for funding.  I have no problem whatsoever with ‘Efficiency Drives’, in current times it is more important than ever to be as ‘efficient’ as we can be. However, the simple formula is this; it costs £xxxxxxxxx per annum to Police London, Liverpool, Manchester, Yorkshire, DeadBadgerShire etc. that is a fact. If you reduce their funding, in its simplest terms, that means that SOMETHING WONT GET DONE.

I’ll talk about Policing because that’s the world I know, but the comments apply equally to the NHS, Armed Forces, Education etc etc.

Policing is not a retail industry, they don’t sell anything to make money, there are no shares to sell to generate extra income.  It always used to be, before the wonderful days of ‘Devolved Budgeting’, that the Home Office (or Police Authority) allocated an amount of money each year to Police the area. In London, if that pot of money ran out the Commissioner could ask for more from the Home Office (don’t laugh, it’s true).