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?

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,

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?

This One’s For Regie

So we’ve had James Patrick, Mental Health Cop, The Real (or Fake) British Cop, Sgt Gary Watts and now Newquay Sarge.

Newquay Sarge

Newquay Sarge

What the hell has he done wrong?

He has been disciplined by his Force, Devon and Cornwall, and labelled ‘incompetent’

‘Sarge’ has more than 4,500 followers on Twitter—including councillors, locals, and many journalists.

He also writes a popular blog on policing in the resort. Yet his comments barely registered until somebody in his police force took offence and insisted on starting an investigation.  Why, oh why, would somebody do that.
Here’s an open invitation to you all:-
  • Can you give me one example of an ‘Inappropriate Tweet’ by the Sarge?
  • Can you give me one example of a ‘Drunken tweet’ by the Sarge?
  • Can you give me one example of a Tweet by the Sarge that was ill-conceived?
  • Can you give me one example of an unprofessional Tweet?
  • Can you give me one example of Sarge failing to engage with his ‘audience’?
  • Finally, can you give me one reason why ANYBODY would want to report Sarge to Professional Standards and kick off a Disciplinary?

Thought not.

In his blog he says “It has not been an easy journey,  I have made mistakes, the force have made mistakes. But we are constantly learning how to use this medium,  it is scary for many of our senior officers. They do not control this medium, and in many cases have no understanding of it. That breeds suspicion,  and with suspicion comes resistance.”……..”There has not been one complaint raised by any member of the public, every complaint was from within the organisation.”

Doesn’t that just say it all?

Sarge said his most recent discipline investigation by Devon and Cornwall Police’s Professional Standards Department has found that due to “ongoing issues” with his Twitter account, he would be placed on Unsatisfactory Performance Procedures – meaning he cannot be assessed as being “competent” in his role.

“This has another impact: because I am ‘not yet competent’ I lose my entitlement to competency payments,” said Mr Butler. “This is being phased out (by December 2015) but I will lose a few hundred pounds”  So there we already have a financial penalty, for what? Tweeting, that’s what.

Another example of Professional Standards using the Iron Glove to control what they cannot control.

Sarge thinks that  some senior officers working for Devon and Cornwall Police find the social network medium “scary” and believe it will “tarnish the image of the police.”

Then, just to show what a true, humble gent the Sarge really is he had this to say “I know many will be outraged and blame the police but don’t, this is all new and we have to protect the reputation of the police,” he said.“They do not control this medium, and in many cases have no understanding of it. That breeds suspicion, and with suspicion comes resistance,” he said.“I will probably face further questions and will get into more trouble for writing this blog,” he said.  “They will argue I am bringing the force into disrepute.”   Oh no Sarge, they don’t need your help with that, looks like they;’re doing fine bythemsleves.

 

Come on Mr Sawyer, you always had a reputation for being fair.  How about you use the Chief Constable’s prerogative and intervene in this nonsense, or tell us all what it’s all about so that we can make our minds up whether D&C are being unfair or not.

In my humble opinion Newquay Sarge is an excellent ambassador for his Force, and Corporate Accounts ion SM.  What say you folks?

And why not vote for Regie in the Annual Twitter Awards? http://t.co/aaoof2CGB9

regie

stand by regie

regie teddy

banana regietwitter onHand for regie

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.

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.

Posted from WordPress for Android

Social Media Is Not Without Its Risks

The dust hasn’t even settled on the James Patrick situation.  We haven’t heard the last of that yet

Now we have another absolute travesty of justice (justice?) or so it would seem.

It seems as though the wrong man has been sacked for being a Twitter user.

I’m not familiar with either of the Account Holders, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

If the blog STOP STIGMA is to be believed, an Avon and Somerset Police Officer has been sacked for being Twitter User @TheBritishCop.

I don’t know the true identity of either person, nor if they are even known to each other, but I suspect not.

The full story, together with various links, can be found on the above blog.  The main problem, however, is that the Professional Standards Department of Avon and Somerset Police have allegedly conducted a disciplinary hearing and ignored the fact that the officer was not the correct one.

The head of A&S Professional Standards has allegedly been in communication with @TheBritishCop (who maintains that he is NEITHER this officer, nor even a member of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, but has for some reason omitted this vital piece of information from the disciplinary files.

If this is true then this is clearly an unacceptable situation.  Professional Standards Departments should behave in exactly that manner – PROFESSIONALLY.  They do nothing for the confidence of public or their officers if they, themselves, deviate from the straight and narrow.

Then today I find myself contacted by an officer from the Western bit of the UK who tells me that he’s under investigation AGAIN for his use of Twitter.  I have no idea what the specific issue is there but it’s making a bit of a nonsense of Police use of Twitter & other Social Media.  To be effective (in my opinion) a Twitter/SM account needs to be balanced between humourous and professional. If it’s too dry and stuffy people will disengage, but neither should it be discreditable in any way.

The Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police recently made much of his Force being awarded a Gold Award by Investors in People.  How does that fit with (allegedly) sacking the wrong person.  Sacking has huge repercussions for the person being sacked, even when it’s the right person.  Imagine the effect if/when it’s the wrong person.

I implore Avon and Somerset to either justify their actions and convince us that they’ve actually disciplined and sacked the right person, or re-examine this case as a matter of urgency.  One way or the other it can’t be left hanging there, and public confidence needs to be restored before too much damage is caused. It’s out there, there’s nothing you can do about that.

Finally, I do think there’s a moral obligation on @TheBritishCop to put this right, but I also understand how he/she probably fears the same fate awaits him/her if reported to his/her Force, assuming he/she really is a cop.