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?

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Is The End Game Finally In Sight?

For months and even years now, ex PC James Patrick fought the law, and the law won.  Whistleblower Extraordinaire, he exposed an undeniable truth, that CrimeStats were being routinely fiddled by a variety of people within the Met, and for a variety of different reasons, no doubt.  Undeniable because 100s and thousands of us KNEW that he was telling the truth because we have lived through it, it was the ‘norm’.

At the end of the day it cost him his livelihood, it cost him his tranquillity, it cost him (in a manner of speaking) his reputation, because he now has a Disciplinary Finding of Guilt, which won’t exactly act as a reference if he ever decided that he wanted to rejoin the Police Service.  In all the ways that matter, though, it has enhanced his personal and professional reputation immensely.

So, after a while Parliament conducted and enquiry/investigation into #CrimeStatsGate which culminated in yesterday’s news headline criticising the Met for its treatment of James.  Bernard Jenkin MP told parliament ex-Met PC James Patrick was the victim of “monstrous injustice” and was “hounded” from his job..  Quite strong words really, don’t you think?  Just because they are uttered with the benefit of Parliamentary Privilege doesn’t make them any less true.

“Mr Patrick had said crime figures had been manipulated and sexual offences were under-reported by 22-25%.”    Errrrmm and how much have reports of Sexual Offences gone up by now?  Surely there can’t be a connection?  Can there?

 

To illustrate the enormity of James’ actions I will reproduce a selection of verbatim quotes from the transcript of PASC’s meeting yesterday;

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): Although I am now a proud member of the Public Administration Committee, I was not a member when the report was done. Does my hon. Friend agree that PC James Patrick’s actions were both courageous and in the public interest, and that he has done a great service to this country in ensuring that this matter is highlighted, as the Committee has done?

Mr Jenkin: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is worth emphasising that under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, PC Patrick should have been afforded some protection. I will come to the position of whistleblowers later in my remarks………………………………….We found strong evidence that the police have under-recorded crime, particularly sexual crime such as rape, in many police areas. There remain wide disparities in no-crime rates—that is, where police decide that a crime did not take place—following reports of rape, for example. In January 2014, Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary, on behalf of the Rape Monitoring Group, released a compendium of statistics on recorded rapes in each force over the previous five years. I invite right hon. and hon. Friends and colleagues to look at the table showing how wide the variation is among different forces across England and Wales in their no-criming of rape. According to the figures, in Lincolnshire, for example, 26% of all reported rapes were no crimed in 2012-13; by contrast, in Merseyside, only 4% were. The national average was 11.9%…………………………….The main reason for misrecording was the continued prevalence of numerical targets………………

Our official police witnesses, most notably the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, were somewhat defensive and seemed unready to acknowledge that their statistics were inherently flawed. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told us that the accuracy of data on rape and sexual offences was

“a lot better than it was, if we took it back five to 10 years.”  [Well that’s alright then]……………..

even the Metropolitan Police Commissioner agrees that

“there is clearly something that PC Patrick raises that we need to get to the bottom of.”

Despite that, I can only describe the treatment of my constituent James Patrick as shameful. By doing his duty and raising the issues, he showed the highest commitment to the core policing values, but as a result he became the victim of the most monstrous injustice. He was in effect hounded out of his job, following a long period of harassment by the Metropolitan police command chain, which, I dare say, used and abused the disciplinary process to get rid of him. It does the police no credit that a whistleblower should be treated in such a way. He was, for example, accused of a conflict of interest for publishing a book about the misuse of police recorded crime statistics, even though the proceeds were paid to a police charity. In an LBC radio programme in December last year, Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said that he would meet PC Patrick. He never did so.

There is much, much more in the PASC document, but I think the above will suffice.  I had never encountered Bernard Jenkin before James’ problems, but in the limited contact I have had with him he strikes me as being one of a rare breed, a decent and honourable politician.  I just hope that I am not proved wrong.

So, Dear Reader, if you’re still with me at this point, just how despicable was James’ treatment at the hands of the Met?  You decide.

This should make you smile James:-  A new entry in Oxford English Dictionary perhaps; INTEGRITY – James Patrick, The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles:

Just a thought

 

The Balance Of Probabilities

Balance of probabilities is the standard of proof required in all civil cases (and Disciplinary Hearings). It basically means that to win you need to convince the judge/Chairperson that your case is 51% likely to be true. i.e. your story only has to be slightly more plausible than the other side’s story.

This can be contrasted with a criminal case where the standard is beyond reasonable doubt, which is very near to 100% certainty before the defendant can be found guilty.

What the hell is he blathering on about? I hear you ask.

Well he’s blathering on about Ex PC James Patrick’s series of ‘Cathartic Blogs’.  James has had a bit of ‘Unfinished Business’ and he’s now taken the opportunity to dump all that baggage, free himself from the shackles, and hopefully move on, rebuilding the lives of himself and his family.

But allow me to be mischievous for a minute and take a peek at James’ blogs;

The first one was

Withholding Evidence From Parliament

In this blog James alleges that a Senior Police Officer Suppressed Evidence On Crime Figures
The Commander of the Directorate of Professional Standards refused permission to present Parliament with evidence of the manipulation of police statistics.  Commander Gibson apparently refused James’ request to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee to provide evidence of ‘number fudging’.  Why was that do you think?

Next we have

Use of Temperature in Interviews

in which James relates how  Met Police Using Degrading Interview Techniques:
The Directorate of Professional Standards are using high temperatures and dishonesty to pressurise police officers under investigation.

“In an interview room on the 21st floor, adjacent to the entrance of the male changing rooms, me and my Federation Representative found ourselves in a box room, where the temperature exceeded 28 degrees.”  “The interviewing officers, a Constable and Sergeant from the Directorate of Professional Standards told me that there was a “heating fault which had been reported”, ”  There is a witness to this, the Federation Representative.

“Later in the year, a family member made a Freedom of Information Act request to the Met police, asking what heating faults had been reported and resolved in that room, a month either side of my interview. The Met responded, after an internal review – first having missed the statutory deadline for reply – stating that no heating faults had been reported or recorded during the entire period. This was confirmed a second time, to my legal representatives, in December 2013.”

I have read the relevant Freedom of Information request, and the Met’s response.  James’ account is accurate, they recorded no heating fault despite the assurances of the DPS officers conducting the interview.

#3 goes like this

Deliberately Witheld Disclosure

Police Whistleblower Accused Of Fraud After Discovering Witheld Documents:

Written records of management meetings, which the Met denied had taken place, were discovered and spurious accusations of dishonesty were made by officers involved after the alarm was raised.  The events contained within this blog just left me speechless, a rare occurrence I can assure you.  Did James offer to repay the money at the first opportunity having been asked so to do. Yes!!  Did he commit any wilful, dishonest act in order to bring about this over-payment?  Seemingly not.

#4

‘Pissing Off’ Superiors

Police Officer Put ‘Noses Out Of Joint’ By Exposing Sham Crime Figures:
Crime statistics whistleblower went to Parliament after a meeting in Scotland Yard in which he was told that he risked ‘pissing off’ superiors by continuing to report his concerns about the recording of sexual offences. So James risked pissing off ‘superiors’ by exposing the truth? How does that work then? Surely these so-called ‘superiors’ should be big enough and ugly enough to survive the TRUTH? Wouldn’t you think?

#5

Procurement Fraud

 Metropolitan Police Covered Up Smartwater Procurement Fraud:
Scotland Yard breached its own procurement procedures yet found itself innocent, while senior officers delivered briefings saying they were covering up potential offences by the force.  With James’ consent I have discussed this with a retired Auditor of some note. He/She more or less agrees with James’ take on the situation and points out that at the very least there is a clear Conflict of Interests, and that it is not the first time that the Met has had similar issues.

Finally;

Conflict and Intimidation

Met Police Used Scare Tactics Against Whistleblower And Family:
After he had given evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee about the manipulation of police crime figures, uniformed officers were sent to the family home to ‘rattle their cages’.  Having lodged grievances against one or more members of the DPS staff, James received this text one day “Can you let me know whether you are both ok and that you have received the email I sent you? James R and I have both tried to call you but got no reply. Simon Laurence has asked me to set up a welfare check to your home address if I don’t hear from you shortly”.

  “The Met requested that Essex officers attended my home, stating that they had tried to contact me several times, and were concerned about my welfare as there had been ‘developments’ in my working arrangements which may ‘have caused him some distress’. Uniformed officers, in a marked police vehicle, attended my home at quarter to nine in the evening, while my wife and I were watching television and our children were asleep upstairs”.

My reaction to this is short and blunt.  Please fill the Comments section below with any other instances where an officer facing Disciplinary Proceedings has been ‘fortunate’ enough to receive a Welfare Visit at his Home Address from a neighbouring Force at 9 o’clock in the evening?  Plenty of space available, fill your boots.

So, on the Balance of Probabilities, have the Met been Bang Out Of Order?  Have they pursued a Disciplinary matter diligently, or have they tried to use their power and might to wield the sledgehammer that would crack the walnut?  Don’t forget, Balance of Probabilities, not Beyond A reasonable Doubt.

I find the case proved and order that the Met pays ex PC James Patrick substantial financial compensation.

Court adjourned.

Connect The Met–WTF?

With apologies to Bernard Rix for (almost) nicking his blog title, he’s obviously far more polite than I am.

In the last week two odd things have happened, or at least they seem odd to my warped way of thinking.

James Patrick abandoned his Employment Tribunal.  That in itself isn’t odd, but the circumstances surrounding it are.  As far as I am aware (serving officers or Police Staff please correct me if I’m wrong) the Metropolitan Police Mission Statement still adheres to the

Mission, Vision and Values of the Metropolitan Police Service policy

i.e.

we will strive to:

  • treat everyone fairly;
  • be open and honest;
  • work in partnership; and
  • change to improve. “

There’s only four items in that list, how difficult can it be to stick to them?

Ask James.

  • Treat everyone fairly – Do you think James feels that he’s been treated fairly?  I can think of many, many other people who don’t think that they’ve been treated fairly.  Whatever else Grandma B and others think of my blogs I have always championed Truth and Fairness.  I can’t say that I’ve seen an awful lot of ‘Fairness’ going around within the Met hierarchy, but I have heard many complaints of bullying, oppression, corrupt/unlawful practices.

 

  • To be Open and Honest – Ask James, has the Met been open and honest with him?  Ask anyone who regularly makes Freedom of Information requests of the Met.  I certainly haven’t encountered much Openness and Honesty.  It seems like they go to almost any lengths to avoid answering the most mundane, and reasonable, questions, and then trip over and contradict themselves, which they wouldn’t do if they’d simpley answered questions truthfully and comprehensively in the beginning.

 

  • Work in Partnership – I don’t know a huge amount about the Met’s Partnerships but one immediately springs to mind; the Trident Independent Advisory Group.  They worked with the Met for 10 years to build community trust, prevent and reduce gun crime and to ensure police adequately investigate shootings when they happen.  Then in February last year the Metropolitan Police barred former members of Trident Independent Advisory Group (IAG) without giving them any notice. The Trident Independent Advisory Group was replaced without consultation with community members who had long held police accountable. That’s working in Partnership is it?

 

  • Change To Improve – Well I can’t say I’ve seen much of that going on, there have been muttering in dark corridors and musty rooms about the need to improve, but things change very slowly at the Met, I have likened it elsewhere to trying to do an Emergency Stop in an Oil Tanker at sea.

Briefly may I return to ‘Treat Everyone Fairly”?  The absolutely perverse findings of the Misconduct Hearing against James, and the equally perverse appeal findings?  Were they ‘Fair’ by the definition of an ordinary person?

Since James submitted his Open Letter entitled Closure, I have reason to believe that he has been contacted by a Supervisory Officer within the Met offering to send the Essex Police round for a ‘Welfare Visit’ to check that he’s OK and isn’t in need of anything.  Are they ****ing serious?  It was visits from Essex Police at the instigation of the Met that added to James’ stress in the first place, and he doesn’t even work for them any more, they saw to that.   Not very ‘Open and Honest’ either really.

The second thing that struck me as odd was the advert in the press recently for a “Commissioner’s Chief of Staff”.  What is that all about?  “This critical high-profile role reports directly to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). With connections across government and the criminal justice sector, you’ll be one of the most visible and influential members of the Met.  “

This is then followed by loads of psychobabble such as “

We’re looking for a credible leader with expert knowledge of government, the GLA and Mayor’s Office and today’s policing challenges. You’ll be capable of managing the Commissioner’s Private Office team and a budget of £1.8m.

You’ll also be able to deal with the media; manage stakeholders; build partnerships; and handle conflict thanks to your impressive track record in external relations management. Highly articulate, with excellent negotiation skills, you’ll be politically astute and able to navigate a complex policing landscape.”

The advert is subtitled

Connect the Met

but notably the one thing it fails to mention anywhere is;

“The successful applicant will be responsible for the daunting task of repairing the massive Disconnect between the Met’s SMT and ordinary hard-working Bobbies and Police Staff”

I’ve read it several times now, and even for almost £100k I can’t find that mentioned anywhere.

Austerity?  What Austerity.  Those of you in the Met (or living/working in the Metropolis) suffering cutbacks to your frontline Police Services may well want to ask Bernie or Boris or Steve (or maybe even Apocalyptic Mr Gibbs) how this appointment works in such dire times, which are seemingly destined to continue for a few more years yet, with a new raft of cutbacks poised to be implemented from 2015.

As I said in the beginning, apologies to Bernard, but I do think the two blogs are quite easy to tell apart.

Will the last one out please turn off the lights.

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.

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A Thought-Provoking View on Theresa May’s Speech to The Police Federation.

OK, I admit it, I’m biased, I know the author of this article personally, but I still think it’s a valid dissection of Theresa May’s vitriolic address to the Police Federation this year.

Ex DS Chris Hobbs has written a new article on Theresa May’s speech, and you can find the full article here.

Highlights of Chris’ article include;

a)  She would know only too well the results of a recent survey carried out by the University of the West of England which shows police morale to be on the floor with nearly 50% of officers stating that they would move jobs if the opportunity presented itself. She would know that police staff surveys amongst virtually every force in the UK shows widespread disillusionment that should send alarm bells ringing throughout the Home Office.

Yet despite that, like a cowardly street corner thug, she ‘stuck the boot in’ to a world renowned police service which is already on its knees.

b) It wasn’t as if the Police Federation were short of ammunition. Met police whistleblower James Patrick’s book, ‘The Rest is Silence’ forensically dissected the dubious machinations around police reform to reveal dubious practices involving conflicts of interest bordering on corruption. Sadly James’s careful research became lost in the crime figures furore that surrounded the book and his appalling treatment as a police whistleblower.

c)  From Hillsborough to Plebgate, Theresa May did not miss a trick in turning the knife in the already gaping police wounds yet, of course this ignores the fact that of the 132,000 serving officers and indeed a similar number of retired officers, only a tiny fraction of those not even numbering three figures, would be involved in the ‘transgressions’ mentioned almost jubilantly by the Home Secretary.

She accuses the police or more specifically Special Branch’s undercover SDS (Special Demonstration Squad) of ‘smearing’ the Lawrence family when the only evidence appears to some from one former disgruntled undercover officer. Of course, in the aftermath of Stephen’s death, the police had to ensure that the tragedy was not exploited by violent extremist groups and to the Lawrence family’s everlasting credit they rebuffed all advances from groups that espoused violence.

d)  Thrown into this diatribe of contempt almost inevitably was stop and search. Previously Theresa May used the term “absolutely disgraceful” when referring to the issue yet neither she, the Inspectorate of Constabulary or other critics seem to have considered the fact that front line police in inner city areas have an aversion to dealing with young people who had their whole lives in front of them, lying dead or dying having been shot or stabbed.

There are many others, I suggest you read the full article for yourselves, agree or disagree, I believe it will make you think.

I didn’t watch Cruella’s speech  live, my blood pressure wasn’t up to it and Angry Towers would have been in real need of a new TV if I had have done.  But I did watch it that afternoon, and to my simplistic view two things stood out loud and clear.

1)  This was a Home Secretary taking the opportunity of addressing the Federation to berate the entire Police Service of England and Wales for every single alleged outrage since Hillsborough, at least, and possibly earlier.  Some of the officers alleged to have done wrong at Hillsborough weren’t even Federated Ranks, SuperNintendos or ACPO.

2) The venom with which her speech was delivered.

Theresa-May-addresses-the-011   May1

Granted these two photos don’t show off her good looks to their best advantage, but do they look like someone giving a clear, well-balanced, objective speech to an attentive and supportive audience?

Apart from the onslaught at 1) above, I don’t think I can take much exception to the CONTENT of her speech but the delivery was absolutely awful, unprofessional and personal.  Well, actually, that’s not true.  Reform is working……..Is it?  Nick Herbert MP would beg to differ when he tried to rustle up some Police Officers to stop a rave in the middle of the night and there were none to send.

Crime is falling………Is it/  How can you tell, crime stats have been discredited across across England and Wales and we are still awaiting HMIC’s definitive report later this year and a new, improved model for counting them.

An Inspectorate more independent of Government……..don’t make me laugh.

More powers and resources for the Independent Police Complaints Commission…….yeah, of course, they need them don’t they.

Direct entry to inject into the senior ranks different perspectives, fresh thinking and new talent…………Brilliant idea, when will the first one go sickj with a Nervous Breakdown (or worse)?

Our reforms have been crucial in helping you to cut crime even as we have cut spending.

If we hadn’t introduced police and crime commissioners and established the College of Policing, we wouldn’t have been able to break the unaccountable ACPO monopoly at the head of policing in this country. By introducing PCCs we have made police leaders more responsive to the people they serve, and by establishing the College we are improving the professionalism of policing and giving your members a direct say in its future………Hang on, I’ll think of something to say when I stop laughing.

If we hadn’t reformed the way the inspectorate works……..Is this the Inspectorate she has just said is more independent of government?   Oh, I give up.

My quill has gone on strike, my blood pressure is rising, and the monitor is in danger of needing replacement.

If you haven’t yet read Chris’ thought–provoking article, may I recommend it to you now?

I thank you.

The End of a Chapter

As you all know I have been banging the drum and asking you all to donate for James Patrick.

Good news – he has now received all the monies donated so far, and has found some employment to help towards his legal costs for his Employment Tribunal, which is due for hearing in September I believe.

James has publicly thanked his donors via Twitter and he sends his thanks to all of you who don’t Twat, or whatever it’s called.  Accordingly he has asked me to stop fundraising on his behalf, so that is exactly what I am doing.

Onwards and upwards, good luck with your Tribunal, your work with COPACC and your new venture into the world of novella writing.  This chapter has ended, let’s see what the next one holds.

It’s been fun, I’ll have a sleep now, and maybe get a new quill.