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?

Beyond The Reach Of The Law

I told you that this was going to be a busy old week.

I have seen and read much utter crap in recent days about the Police use of RIPA against journalists as a ruse to smoke out their (journalists’) sources.

I can quite easily agree with the comments about ‘Dawn Raids’, I have long since thought they were not always necessary, and I’m absolutely certain that on some occasions it’s a tactic used purely to send a message, under other circumstances they may be vital. A balancing act, but the priority has to be securing the evidence, but Dawn Raids do not need to be the Norm, particularly for historical investigations.

The relationship between Press and Police has always been fragile and not destined to improve any time soon. I fear that this week it has descended to even lower levels with stories from Sean O’Neil (@TimesCrime) and the Beeb’s Danny Shaw (@DannyShawBBC).

Danny asks the question “Do Police Believe They Are Above The Law?”

Let me answer that, “No, I don’t believe that they do, nor are they and neither should they be”

My headline would be “Journalists and Politicians believe they should be above the law”

Let me be clear on this, NOBODY should be above the law or immune from investigation and prosecution.

Each Police Officer swears an oath similar to this;:

I (name) do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady the Queen in the office of Constable, without favour or affection, malice or ill will; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved, and prevent all offences against the persons and properties of Her Majesty’s subjects and that while I continue to hold the said office I will, to the best of my skill and knowledge, discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law.

Nowhere in this oath does it mention journalists and politicians being exempt from investigation.

Each sworn constable is an independent legal official; they are not agents of the police force, PCC or government. Each police officer has personal liability for their actions or inaction.
Sir Richard Mayne’s 9 Principles include this one;
“5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely
impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.”
To the best of my knowledge the modern Police Service still follows these nine principles, which do not seem to include an exemption for Press and Politicians.

RIPA applies to a wide-range of investigations in which private information might be obtained. Cases in which it applies include:

terrorism
crime
public safety
emergency services

In a nutshell, broadly speaking, RIPA can be used by Police Officers investigating a CRIME

EVERY application for an authority under RIPA has to be recorded, submitted via Supervising Officers who will ensure that there are sufficient grounds for the authority to be granted.

RIPA does not give the Police, or any other Authority, powers to go on a ‘Fishing Expedition’ I.e. Let’s have a look at these journalists’ telephone records so that we can work out who their sources are. It MAY give Police powers to examine defined journalists’ telephone records in an attempt to identify who had unlawfully passed information to them. This must be an integral part of a criminal investigation.

The relevant Codes of Practice already contain these words of wisdom;

Collateral intrusion

3.8 Before authorising applications for directed or intrusive surveillance, the authorising officer should also take into account the risk of obtaining private information about persons who are not subjects of the surveillance or property interference activity (collateral intrusion).

3.9 Measures should be taken, wherever practicable, to avoid or minimise unnecessary intrusion into the privacy of those who are not the intended subjects of the surveillance activity. Where such collateral intrusion is unavoidable, the activities may still be authorised, provided this intrusion is considered proportionate to what is sought to be achieved. The same proportionality tests apply to the likelihood of collateral intrusion as to intrusion into the privacy of the intended subject of the surveillance.

3.10 All applications should therefore include an assessment of the risk of collateral intrusion and details of any measures taken to limit this, to enable the authorising officer fully to consider the proportionality of the proposed actions.

If the Police Officers conducting such criminal investigation are prevented from doing so if a journalist or politician are involved, a side-effect of this could possibly be that Police Officers unlawfully selling information to the media would escape detection and prosecution. What would the Press make of that?

A suitable analogy might be the relationship between a Police Officer and a Registered Informant (CHIS). If there were suspicions that they were enjoying a corrupt relationship would it be acceptable to say “we can’t investigate that, there’s an Informant involved. We can’t compromise the identity of the Informant”? I’m pretty sure that The Times and the Beeb would be all over that like a rash.

Surely the sensible approach would be that Police Officers should be allowed to investigate allegations of crime, regardless of who may be involved and if that results in journalists, politicians or Police Officers being arrested then so be it. Of the utmost importance in this process is that such investigations are necessary, proportionate, recorded and authorised at the appropriate level. WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR.

Nobody should be beyond the reach of the law and immune from investigation, but those investigations must be carried out lawfully.

I hope that answers your question Danny.

Why We Are Hurtling Towards Lawlessness, Courtesy of HMG and The Press

Over the last 24 hours I have read, reread and reread again this article in the Daily Fail;

The first thing (but not the most serious by any means) was the bold assertion that the Police had ‘hacked’ the phones of journalists. We all know what is meant by ‘hacking phones’ thanks to various assorted members of the press themselves.

Is this really what the Police are doing?

NO.

The second thing that peeved me was the assertion that RIPA is an Anti-Terrorist law, it is not. I would imagine that Terrorism forms a small percentage of RIPA applications. If you want to know the TRUTH about the sort of things that RIPA covers look here.

What the Police are doing, whether you think it’s right or wrong, is making an application under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) for an itemised phone bill for a specified phone number.

I agree that it is possible to abuse this process, much like any other regulated procedure, politicians expenses for example, but this is clearly wrong and such cases would, in my opinion, form the absolute minority of applications submitted. All applications are written and the original copy is retained for future accountability purposes.

Not one single itemised phone bill can lawfully be supplied by the phone companies without such an application.

So, in attempt to appease the whiter than white journalists, the whiter than white politicians, led by Imelda May, are now proposing to change RIPA meaning that all such applications would need to be authorised by a Judge.

The sheer volume of such requests that are made across the UK every year means that Judges would be bogged down with RIPA applications.

The likely result of that is that most would be rejected, or not even make it to the Judge in the first place.

These applications currently have to be authorised by a senior officer, they have to be proportionate to the gravity of the offence being investigated and have to be ‘targeted’ i.e. they can’t be part of a ‘fishing expedition’.

So, in order to appease the journos, Imelda will be tying one hand behind the back of every officer who is investigating something. Armed Robbers, Drug Dealers, Terrorists even, must be rubbing their hands in glee as it will now be made more difficult to gain evidence or intelligence on their activities and associates.

Surely it would be better to restrict your interference to ensuring rigidly that the requirements of RIPA are complied with, applications correctly compiled, submitted, authorised and retained for accountability.

Why would you weaken the Police Arsenal at a time like this, you’ve already nicked 16,000 of them, why take their powers away as well?

Be careful what you wish for journos, you might just get it.