Is The College Of Policing Selective With Its Communications?

I guess we’re all coming to terms with the College of Policing, and frankly I’m glad that I don’t have to concern myself with it unduly.

We recently (12th March)  heard about their National Scrutiny of Undercover Policing, but in reality that panel had their first meeting in July 2014. Had anybody heard about this controversial panel before March 2015?  Not exactly timely communication from the College.

On 20th March the College published their Interim Review of Leadership which contained a recommendation that Specials could be promoted to Sergeant ( or above) if they met the National Criteria and give Operational Directions to Regular officers. This was not reported by Police Oracle until 10th April, and I for one haven’t seen it reported in the Traditional national Press at all.  Officers who have given up many hours of their own time to study for promotion to Sergeant are understandably not best pleased.

Is this a case of the College not pushing some of the more controversial parts of their Review, or is it the National Media choosing not to report it?

On 31st March they published information that as of April(!) PCSOs would be given new powers.

Changes to the powers of police community support officers (PCSOs) have been outlined in a new booklet going out to forces across England and Wales in April.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 created additional powers for PCSOs and chief officers should decide which they will grant to PCSOs in their force areas.

These include
• seizing property
• to confirm the identity of a charity collector
• issuing fixed penalty notices for parking in a restricted area outside schools; causing unnecessary noise; cycling without lights and carrying a passenger on a cycle.

The same Act has created a number of offences relating specifically to PCSOs, namely;
• assaulting a PCSO in the execution of their duty;
• resisting or wilfully obstructing a PCSO in the execution of their duty
• impersonating, or falsely claiming to be, a PCSO with intent to deceive
• being a PCSO and making a false suggestion that one possesses powers that exceed those designated by the chief officer.

Local Policing lead at the College of Policing, Chief Superintendent Paul Phillips, said:

“Police community support officers help to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour. They make people feel safer in their communities and are closing the gap between crime and the fear of crime.

This is obviously not a College Initiative, it most likely forms part of #MaysMayhem, but the College did choose to publicise it right at the very last minute.  I hadn’t previously heard of this, and if I hadn’t been rummaging around the College website I would probably still be unaware.

So I dare say the government should take a share of the blame for this one, but has anybody seen the ‘booklet’ yet? Had anybody heard of this decision before 31st March?  Once they’d taken the decision to publish, should the College have publicised it sooner?

All I know is that things are pretty rotten in the world of Policing at the moment and I don’t see the College doing a single thing to improve conditions on the Front Line or improve that all-important element MORALE.

Glad I’m out.

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The Reality Behind The Fudge

If you are, or have been, a Police Officer you can stop reading now, you already know it.

If you’re married to, or in a relationship with, a Police Officer, you can stop ready too, you already know it as well.

I was energised by two things this morning. Chronologically they were;

Tony Munday’s excellent post Cuts Have HUMAN Consequences

And a Tweet by @Stella_Coppard;

Tony makes some very valid, and excellent points, and I just want to take a few minutes to remind everyone just what sort of restrictions working for the Police Service comes with, most of which are not remunerated in any way.

You can never guarantee that you’ll come home at the end of your shift, although almost all officers accept that when they sign up it has an impact on families too.

You can never guarantee having those important dates off work, kids birthdays, anniversaries, wife/partner birthdays, etc etc. you can never even be certain of getting Christmas Day off to spend with the family, we had an unofficial system whereby officers with children got the first crack at being off, but nothing was ever guaranteed.

I do believe that things have improved now, but you could never guarantee being able to live wherever you wanted.

Firstly you had to live within a certain distance (I think it was 25 miles) of Central London if you were in the Met, thereby guaranteeing that your choice of accommodation was well and truly within the most expensive areas available. I know the allowances were more than those paid to County Officers, but not enough to fully compensate.

Secondly, even after you’d found the house of your dreams you couldn’t guarantee that you’d ever own it and move in.  Having found the ideal house for my wife and self, we’d made an offer, negotiated a price and all that kind of stuff, then came the bit of asking the Commissioner for permission to live there (yes, really, that used to be how it was) we were declined the All-important permission as the next door neighbour was on bail for Armed Robbery. I wouldn’t particularly have wanted to live next door to an Armed Robber, but it’s one more example of how the Police used to control our lives.

Caution was required in your choice of pub, who you chose as your friends, who your kids made friends with, totally innocent that one, but Big Brother was always watching.

So, next time you hear about the Cuts and how they have Consequences, please remember that apart from their pay packets our brave Police Officers (and other) have already made numerous sacrifices just to do the job they do, and they do it proudly.

Getting on to Stella’s Tweet, she’s not far wrong, and I’m sure she didn’t mean it literally.

We have already lost 16,000 officers across England and Wales since 2010.  At the end of March 2010 we had 144,236 officers in the 43 Forces.by the end of September 2014 that number was down to 127,909 a reduction of 16,327 or 11.3% across the board.

It doesn’t end there, it has been widely forecast/predicted/admitted that the losses haven’t finished and we’re going to lose more.  The final total is quite likely to be in the order of 22,000 or 15.2%

That doesn’t begin to address the losses of civilian support staff.  These have been cut from 79,596 in March 2010 to 63,378 in September 2014, a loss of a further 16,218 posts or 20.3%, already a higher price than the officers, and set to get worse also.  ACPO have predicted that the final losses will likely total 68,000 by the time this coalition has finished.

So we lose 34,000 officers and 34,000 support staff? (as near as dammit)  What does that matter?  The coalition will be out come May and we can stop this nonsense dead in its tracks.

Maybe.

Assuming that Camoron and Co, Gollum and Cruella get their just desserts, and get pitched off into the long grass, all is OK isn’t it?

Well, no, actually.  Hypothetically speaking, even IF we can oust the coalition and stop the cuts, and even IF we magically recruited another 16,000 Police Officers overnight and even IF we could get them all a place in a Training Establishment on Day One, it takes up to 2 years to fully train a Constable.  Direct Entry Superintendents seem to be able to do it quicker, but approx 6 months of Initial Training followed by a further 18 months of Continuation Training, or whatever they call it now, makes 2 years for a fully fledged Constable, and we all know that those IFs aren’t all going to fall neatly into place.

So next time you’re quietly seething at the cuts wishing there was something you can do, there is.  Take half an hour (ish) of your time and write a letter to your local newspaper Angry of Tunbridge Wells type stuff, and make the true issues known. Mainstream media seem to be completely tied by the government and only report what they want to or are told to, but if ONE person wrote to their local paper every day the groundswell would be noticed.  Thanks to Stella and @Cate_a_Moore for the suggestion, it’s a good one, perfectly legal and definitely worth considering.

I see lots of people on Twitter wishing they could do more, slagging off the government policies etc etc, well there is something we can all do, and it doesn’t take much effort.

Whether you support the Police, Fire, NHS, Coastguard or whoever, it’s the same for us all.  Even the dumbest Editor must sit up and take notice when his Newsdesk gets suddenly overwhelmed by letters from Joe Public supporting their Public Services.

I know I write from one perspective because of my background, but it doesn’t actually matter what your background is, if you support our Armed Forces, Emergency Services, NHS etc etc, simply write one letter to show your support.

This will not go away unless we can make it go away.

 

 

Stop and Search, Armed Police and Sophie

I was going to have a quite day today, but Sophie Khan, amongst others, has put paid to that. Said lady has taken time of from Taser Patrol to enter the argument on Armed Police. See her Timeline, I can’t bring myself to even Copy/Paste that level of rubbish.

In the last week I have seen much discontent about a variety of topics in the Media. RIPA, Armed Police and Stop and Search are the three that occupy me most this morning, and my view is simply that there is nothing wrong with ANY of them.

I’m not living on a nice pink, fluffy cloud thinking that all is well in the world, but neither do I want to see perfectly valuable tools in the Police Toolbox blunted or stolen.

Looking at the ludicrous article in The Times about Armed Police attending ‘normal’ incidents, so what? The government has chosen to reduce the number of Police on our streets that are available to respond to the increased demand on them, what are they to do?

Be honest, just for 2 minutes. If you’ve been burgled, had your car stolen off your driveway and your granny has just been mugged and had her pension stole, when you phone the Police and they say “we’ve got nobody to send for then next 2 hours, or we could send you an Armed Officer immediately”, which would you choose? If you tell me you’d rather wait two hours than have an officer with a pistol turn up straight away I’d be tempted not to believe you.

There is NOTHING wrong with Armed Police turning up to deal with your emergency, it’s how they behave when they get there that matters, and they are PROFESSIONALS.

RIPA? I have nothing further to add to yesterday’s post, there’s nothing wrong with the existing legislation it’s the application and supervision that need to be monitored, supervised properly and consistently, each application being properly read at the supervision stage to ensure that it meets the criteria. If it does, what’s the problem? Tying the hands of the Police to suit the baying journos and politicians helps society how?

TASER, briefly, is the same. As long as the officers have received a sufficient level of training, and all the relevant policies and guidelines have been complied with, what on earth is the problem? Are we surrounded by a Nation of Police Officers firing off their TASERs randomly every time they jump out of their cars? Or are they being used only when necessary? Yes, mistakes may occasionally happen, but an honest mistake should be forgiven. Reckless and inappropriate use of TASER is different. Is that really what’s happening out there?

Finally, Stop and Search. It’s quite possible, probable if you prefer, that Stop and Search has been misused and abused by a small number of officers is that a reason to call. For its abolition? I don’t think so. My view is really quite consistent. Train your officers so that they know what they have to do. Monitor the Stop/Search records and make the Supervising Officers SUPERVISE. Every supervisor is a volunteer. They have all applied to be one. It is not compulsory, they take the increased salaries every month, let them earn their corn and bloody supervise at grass roots level. Root out malpractice and develop a body of officers who know the reasons and grounds for Stop/Search, know how to put it in to practice and how to do It without offending the person being Stop/Searched. I always found people to be perfectly reason if they were dealt with respectfully and had things explained to them. The small percentage that will vociferously object to being stopped because they protest their innocence and the Police have only picked on them for whatever reason can be totally silenced by the impending issue of bodycams allied with consistent professionalism. Once again, no reason to scrap the whole system, concentrate on applying the existing system properly

I’m perfectly certain that the vast majority of the Great British public don’t want to see their police hamstrung by being deprived of their ‘tools’. To give in to the baying minority is the weak, lazy option. Strong leadership with effective supervision will solve all these problems without weakening the Police effectiveness. Why on earth are we even bothering to listen to the likes of Sophie Khan and her ilk? (That’s me Blocked then). Even Professional Standards can’t object to that surely?

I’m Glad Our Press Are So Perfect

Well, actually they’re. Not, far from it.

I, for one, am absolutely sick and tired of the British Media constantly playing the Blame Game.

Now that the excitement of yesterday’s fast-moving events is over they have adopted their default stance. Knocking, Sniping, Criticising, Blaming, and pointing out, from their nice warm studios, what exactly could have been done better.

In my opinion, and it is only that, the tragic events in Paris over the past few days were swiftly brought to an end by the French Gendarmes , Special Forces and GIGP. To my mind the authorities excelled themselves with an early identification of the suspects, which I believe was achieved by rapid processing of DNA evidence.

Plain, old-fashioned, balls out bravery was evident everywhere as Gendarmes followed up on leads and sightings, knowing full-well what the end game was likely to be.

Eventually the two Kouachi brothers were located and contained.

Not long after we had the siege at the KosherSupermarket.

It soon became apparent that the two incidents were linked and the Police and Special Forces hatched their plans.

In my opinion they did an excellent job. They didn’t have very much time in which to plan and coordinate between the two scenes. They did not have much previous experience to fall back on, as this scenario, fortunately, does not occur very often.

In the fullness of time we saw the end game unfold live on TV and all I saw was immense bravery by every single person involved.

It was quite obvious that the two operations had been coordinated, but there appears to have been a very slight delay at the Supermarket, POSSIBLY caused by a lack of cooperation from the Media.

Tragically four hostages lost their lives, but TV footage shown on French TV clearly shows their bodies on the floor BEFORE Rapid Entry. Investigations will ultimately confirm it, but it seems very clear that they did not die in the Rescue Operation.

This morning there is no live action for the media to cover, so we are now faced with journalists of several companies picking apart yesterday’s events, looking to see who they can blame for what. The Police and Security Services get a huge chunk of their criticism because these three terrorists had previously come to the notice of the authorities but we’re allowed to roam free and carry out these atrocities unhindered.

The simple answer to that one dear journalists is EVIDENCE. Members of our illustrious media would be absolutely incandescent if we started locking people up without evidence. Surveillance is time-consuming, resource-intensive and expensive. It also provides no absolute guarantees that the events of the past few days could have been prevented.

Maybe it’s possible for whoever ACPO are today to arrange an anti-terrorist exercise and invite representatives of the media to participate. Let them experience at first hand how it feels to contain and confront armed terrorists, have guns aimed at them and discharged, how things evolve in the Command and Control Centre, what it’s like to be in the immediate vicinity of a Flash Bang (Sorry, Stun Grenade), and maybe, eve, explain to journalists that INTELLIGENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE.

I don’t envy or underestimate journalists in war zones, but they do need to play fair with scenarios such as we have just witnessed. If they have all the answers why are they journalists and not Tactical Advisors?