Monday, November 27, 2006

Damned if we do..damned whatever we do..

The report from the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the events of September 2004 when elements within the demonstration (organised by the Countryside Alliance) tried to break through police lines to reach Parliament is apparently due out today.
'Leaked' extracts from the report have caused the 'Political' Editor of the Mail to harrumph in undisguised disgust at the verdict.
The report basically agrees with the Met that the violence was provoked by elements within the 20000 that formed outside Parliament.

In the aftermath, the IPCC flexed its muscles on this one and launched an extensive enquiry.

It resulted in a number of officers facing criminal charges at court. Not one case resulted in a conviction as the various trials have examined the events dispassionately, in the cold light of day and found that the officers had not gone beyond what would reasonably have been expected of them in that situation.
The Met estimate that about 60 officers suffered injury that day trying to police the demonstration.
As with any demonstration that turns to violence its organisers invariably blame the 'policing of the event' and not the actions of those who turned up. The spokespersons for the Countryside Alliance are no different on this matter.

The IPCC, like any other armchair commentator wearing hindsight goggles states that crowd dynamics should be considered.. and tactical options other than 'sheer physical force' should be considered. They even suggest the option of 'water cannon'.....mmmmmn'.

Having found myself over the years, along with thousands of other Met officers, on the receiving end when an apparently 'peaceful democratic demonstration' kicks off I can say that the only way that the Met have gained control is by the use of ' sheer physical force'
To quell ( an old fashioned word but I think it still sums it up) those sections of the demonstration, can require nothing else than the willingness of the officers on the ground to go and engage them and enforce what we are ultimately paid to do.. keep the Queens peace.

Officers from the Met will continue to police large scale demonstrations in this city.
As the Capital it naturally attracts those willing to get the greatest exposure to their cause.
The vast majority pass by peacefully with minimal police interaction.
Demonstrations do not 'go wrong' because of the police .. they go wrong because those within the demonstration chose to make it go wrong.

That is the crowd dynamic that the IPCC should mull over.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

In God we trust... and that E mail.

People unfortunately become victims of crime for a variety of reasons. They may have worked hard and bought items which others (lacking a work ethic) decide they want. They may be targeted because they are vulnerable... or it could be a case of wrong place wrong time.
However there are those who become victims because of basic greed and stupidity.

For instance I answered the phone in the station recently...

"Is that the Police station?"
"Yes it is"
"Can I ask some advice?"
"I have just received a letter saying I have won $200000 in the Swiss Lottery"
"Ok... and for these glad tidings what are you expected to do?"
"I am to send my account details on and they will credit my account with the cash"
"Just rip it up and put it in the bin its a con"
" Are you sure... its a very official looking letter?"
"Ok...have you ever been to Switzerland?"
"Er.. no"
" Have you ever bought a ticket marked Swiss Lottery?"
" Not that I can recall... but I do enter a lot of competitions"
"Trust me its a standard scam.. a lot of these are based in West Africa"
"But the letter is from a Sam Johnson... and isn't that a bit racist officer?"
"Unless the renowned poet and diarist has reincarnated and has turned to crime I suggest its an Alias"
"Eh..? "
"...and I dont intend to be racist but those I have looked at have ended up at a Po Box somewhere in that part of the Continent"
"So you think its not genuine?"
"Yes .. just get rid of it"
"What are the police doing about it?"
"Giving you personal advice over the phone"
"But its a lot of money.. say if its true?"
"It isn't sir.. just remember that old tried and trusted maxim. If its too good to be true.. it probably is.. good day to you.."
As I put the phone down I just knew he was going to do it anyway.

So in a weeks time he will be causing some Station officer somewhere to shake his head in disbelief as he tells his tale of woe regarding his account being cleared out.
You can only do so much.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Poles Apart?

Richard Brunstrom CC of North Wales police has announced that they intend to recruit Polish officers to help serve the growing community of migrant workers who have settled in the region. The thinking is that Polish speaking policemen will help advise and 'cut crime'??? amongst the ever expanding immigrant population.

That this can be considered at all is, in part, due to this government changing the rules regarding who can apply/be allowed to be a constable in the police .
The rules used to state that you had to be a British citizen before being considered. Now... if you are a citizen of the EEC or EEEC you are also eligible (or Foreign national with unlimited leave to remain)

I was never at ease with this change at all.

The rank of constable is a role developed over centuries.. of citizens who swear allegiance to the Crown/Monarch to uphold the law, keep the Queens Peace...
For those people who have settled here, taken up Citizenship, then they to could apply to be a constable and undertake the role.They have become part of the country... citizens ......and are eligible to police those others who live within these shores.

This notion of deference to the Crown has never settled well with the drip dry Republicans who govern us.
The concept of dropping references to the monarch in the Police Oath has been mooted before for Non UK recruits.
My view is that this change, never particularly trumpeted, is part a gradual move away from the old concepts behind the role to a newer 'Service' modeled in their own image.

I know we have our critics willing to bash the Police at any opportunity but I think by and large we have done well over the decades policing a vast populace of changing, integrating peoples and cultures.

If North Wales logic follows on, are we then to import Rumanians and Bulgarians to police the new influx when their eligibility to arrive comes into play next year?

I am probably too old fashioned... with a view that those who chose to settle here should make efforts to gain some grasp of the language. Also should the essentially simple concept of breaking the adopted societies accepted rules of behaviour mean that a Non Polish constable turns up and brings them in then we have a burgeoning industry of interpreters willing to assist the newcomer to the intricacies of the UK's way of doing things.

A community cohesion coordinator for Wrexham Borough Council states that
'We view plans by North Wales Police for Polish officers... which will help people settle quickly and have a better understanding of our culture.... as a positive move'
What part of the culture in Poland is so different that it cannot fit relatively seamlessly with our own traditions.

The fact that a post such as Community Cohesion Cordinator has been created tells me how far to Hell in a basket we have gone...

Barman....just keep them coming.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Times are hard...

"Times are hard... your afraid to pay the fee... so you find yourself somebody who will do the job for free"

Sorry, I ended up digging out some of my old vinyl stuff over the weekend and came across some old Steely Dan stuff. Sort of summed up my feelings on this post.
(Dirty Work...Cant buy a Thrill..1972..if you were interested )

The Met has announced that its the 175th anniversary of the Special Constabulary. Its aim is to increase its present numbers from 1500 to 4000 by 2008.

This is quite ambitious. There are two problems with maintaining numbers within the Specials.
1. Recruitment.
2. Retainment.

The clear background to those who join the Specials is that it is ' part time' . Unfortunately this can lead to conflicting commitments elsewhere with their full time jobs which pay the everyday bills.
It also has a problem with turnover. There are some who join and enjoy it from the start and attend regularly on fixed dates/ times but the problem is that the 'flexibility' in-built to the hours required can leave those who do attend, when they can, to be struggling to be accepted by the relevant shifts and used to the best advantage.

Specials are a win win option for the Met ( or indeed any other 'Service' ) in that they are a 'relatively' low cost..low maintainance uniformed option, with the bonus that if they do turn up at something that requires positive action (... read arrest...) then as 'sworn' officers they can deal.

Anecdotally the rise and rise of the PCSO has hampered Special recruitment.

It used to be the case that a spell in the Special Constabulary was seen as a good 'inner' if you wished to apply for a full time post.
PCSO's it would appear are now provided with the view that this is the 'staging post' if they looked to join the police.

Given the choice of working part time as a Special for a period ( for all intents and purposes a 'sworn' officer) with a power of arrest and all the grief that brings with it... for travelling/refreshment and footwear allowances...or work full time as a PCSO on over £20000 a year with limited powers.. what would you do?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

If seen please call...

There would appear to be some controversy over the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP) publishing images of a group of individuals who have failed to comply with supervision under the Sex Offenders Register.
Their crimes were such that on their release they were placed on the Register. It would appear that those who are tasked to supervise them cant find them. They are obliged for instance to inform police within a set time of any changes of whereabouts,change of address etc..

CEOP have released the images on the web to try and track them down.

According to the news an ACPO spokesperson has said that "..our concern is that this could drive sex offenders away from supervision and into hiding.... "

Mmmm.. I thought that this is what they had already done (without prompting) and that's why CEOP were trying to locate them.

NACRO ( National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders ) seem to think the actions of CEOP to be reasonable in the circumstances.

Apparently a spokesperson from the Probation Union stated that this could lead to 'vigilante action'.

There have been instances of 'vigilante action' in the past around this subject, but they are rare.

However those who do end up leading the 'baying mob' to an address on the whiff of a rumour tend to be illiterates with too much time (and booze) in/on their hands.

So until this issue blows over ( day or two) it might be worthwhile that those involved in paediatrics, pedicurists, pedalo hire firm owners and pedometer stockists take a peek out of the front window nets now and again.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Er..Sarge can I have a word..?

It would appear that a briefcase containing 'fake bombs' has been left inadvertently on a train by a City of London police officer. They were part of a presentation designed to inform the public about terrorist methods ( this presentation now seems to include an ad hoc piece on unattended packages)

To dispel any conspiracy theories re 'stolen to order'
1.They are fake and therefore of no real danger to the public.
2.Terrorists know how to make real bombs so a case full of fakes is not really much use to them.

To look on the positive side, we are always extolling the travelling public to be on the lookout for unattended items on our transport system. It would seem some individual has taken it one step further and gone beyond telling a member of staff and/or police and taken the item to a place of safety themselves.. (likely after checking it for a laptop, cash, cards, mobile phone and then dumping it)

A spokesman on the internal enquiry said that changes had been made to minimise the risks of similar incidents.
This will likely take the form of a half day course on 'keeping your briefcase with you'

'We take incidents of this nature very seriously' said the spokes man.. as compared to the usual reports of lost specs, umbrellas and false teeth.

I have some sympathy for the officer concerned. I once, some time ago, lost an ESD whilst on a tour of duty.The grief and paperwork involved in that were bad enough... this is probably a tad stickier...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sorry seems to be the hardest word....

Apologies Sir Elton but the Home Secretary seems to have taken your words to heart.

State opening of Parliament and the usual rehash/ reheat/retread of Bills ( some of which will never see the light of day...or in some unrecognizable form).

I went through the summary of points on the BBC website and much of it seems like stuff the Queen has turned out over the last few years

The spin from the Mail is that the Home Secretary is considering a number of 'low level offences' ..this use of low level is actually what much of the tax paying public have to put up with (such as petty theft and crime dam etc) such that offenders could be dealt with by a 'supervised 'sorry' from the offender to victim..

Details are sketchy as yet but this sounds much like a 'fast track' version of the assorted 'Restorative justice' programmes dotted about today...

'Sorry' is a word we use so least those of us who have moved beyond a baleful glare and/or an indistinct grunt.
I am not a particularly religious fact the last time I said 'Oh my god' was when stores at my nick E mailed me my latest property list.....however..

True probably only best reserved for that time when you face your particular God when asked about your life..

My view is that this has possibilities but only if 'sorry' from the accused goes beyond an embarrassed, smirking, shuffle facing the victim.

How about they walk up and down the High Street with boards over their shoulders front and back for a couple of hours..
They might bear the words....'Sorry... I really am obnoxious with a foul mouth..its nothing to do with my Attention Deficit Disorder'.. or 'Sorry... I am a little thief.Its nothing to do with poverty or drugs its just that I have no respect for other peoples property'

Ok.. these might have a larger than average board than the usual 'Pizza.. 200 yards. All you can eat' or 'Joes Golf Shop next corner... 20% discount but ...heh... thats justice..

Monday, November 13, 2006



One plot.....if found please return to the Home Office Queen Annes Gate SW1.

According to an article in The Mail nearly 200 prisoners were suing the Home office for stopping them taking drugs in jail. They claimed that the 'cold turkey' withdrawal treatment they were forced to go through amounted to 'torture'.

The Prison Service was also accused of 'trespass' and 'clinical negligence' and breaches of...blah blah blah sections of the Human Rights Act.

Instead of dealing with this head on in the High Court, the Home Office would appear to have settled out of court.

Compensation levels are to be finalized soon!

God knows what the lawyers who brought this earned out of it.

Time for a very large whisky in my evening cocoa tonight.

There's panic on the Bridge

There would appear to some some consternation amongst those chosen to steer the good ship Britain.
They are getting very indignant about the team investigating the 'readies for robes' saga.
The enquiry led by Met AC John Yates have been talking to those from the engine room upwards.
Apparently a 'senior' No 10 official said ' we are extremely angry at the way the police are behaving. We thought the enquiry would be over quickly'.
For that I can only read ' here's a brush... there's the carpet.... get on with it'
It would also appear that they are upset about apparent 'leaks' to the press allegedly attributed to police sources.They even accuse the police of 'smearing' them by this method.
This can only be the supreme irony of an administration routinely dealing in such 'arts'.
I am sure that the enquiry will continue to its conclusion.
However,what happens to the file (like any other) after it is handed to the CPS is another matter

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Green...its the new Blue.

The BBC. site ran an article entitled 'Police need to cut down flights'.

The commissioner was challenged by a Green party member regarding the amount the police spent on Air travel WITHIN the UK last year. Apparently its 8.2 million.This amounts to 6,000 tonnes of CO2 emitted during the flights.
Now unless each entire flight was completely occupied by Old Bill (though if the offer was made then I am sure we could make up the numbers) then the emissions going from A to B each time are not really down to us in particular.
However Mr Blair was apparently impressed by the logic and will take it away and look into it.

The figures, if correct, are interesting in that there were apparently 169 official flights on short haul. If this costs 8 and a bit million then that's about 50000 a flight.
I don't know who is responsible for booking air transport but they should shop around more.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Who's chasing who?

Apparently deaths in accidents involving police vehicles rose again last year to a record 48. This is a 5 fold increase since 1997 according to an article in the Mail.

The IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) have produced figures to show that 32 people died during high speed pursuits, twice the number recorded two years ago.

Stats are stats and 48 deaths are 48 too many, but the stats do not reflect the calls that police deal with day by day, month by month, year by year across the country.

Is it that police are trying to deal with sections of society emboldened over the years by our hamstrung approach to dealing with them? Or are they suggesting that response officers are shown a couple of episodes of the 'Dukes of Hazard' and given a set of car keys and told to get on with it.

Kevin Clinton of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents gives his ten pence worth.
He is quoted as saying that
"pursuits pose very high risks to the public and the risk often outweighs the need to conduct a high speed pursuit. Sometimes officers seem to get caught up in the excitement of the chase and lose their sense of judgment"

Again this sort of debate makes no mention of the 'amoral, thieving drunk/drugged uninsured unskilled driver of the car in front and its occupants'

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nostalgia is a thing of the past.

I hear that the borough of Enfield are to have a new base on an industrial estate. It will provide a centralized hub for patrol officers and operational vehicles. A number of other units may relocate. Apparently the previous stations on the borough will remain open to the public.

This is likely to be the start of a number of boroughs doing the same.

I am sure there are carefully worked out business plans, cost/benefit analysis and efficiency gains to argue that this is the way forward.

But I think that this unemotional business approach goes against the grain for most police officers.

I think we are, in the main, traditionalist at heart and identify with the 'nick' we work from.

The solid brick built building with the old blue light outside.

The older ones stand rock solid in the middle of the communities they police.

I know they can be a warren of corridors and offices with a couple of Portakabins in the pokey back yard ( and probably breach who knows what bits of new legislation ) but they have housed generations of coppers doing earlies, lates and nights and I think that tradition carries through with those who work there.
I have found that the best atmosphere and morale were with these Teams working from these police stations.
We deliver a service...a very important one.... but we are not DHL... and I think we are further losing touch with the people we police if we disappear into an bleak impersonal estate.

I hope I see my days out working from a police station and not a business park.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lets try and focus.

Whilst on my travels a little while back, I ended up in the canteen/restaurant area of one of our Divisional HQ's and found myself sitting at the next table to a couple of quite senior officers. They were chatting away as they do about targets and the vagaries of statistics on Divisional 'basket of crime' figures, when one of them announced that 'we are aiming to be 'customer driven'. This caused me to pause over my sausage and egg roll as I had this notion that the finances had become that bad that the victims of crime were expected to call at the station and pick US up and take us to the scene of the crime/incident.

But no..... what I think he was talking about is now firmly entrenched in the notion of Citizen Focused policing.

There is a definition..'its a way of working in which an in depth understanding of the needs , experience and expectations of individuals and local communities is routinely reflected in decision making, service delivery and practice'.

Citizen focused policing is very much the baby of the Diversity and Citizen Focus Directorate.

The Met has a Directorate for pretty much everything these days.

There is quite a lot at the Directorates web site but I dutifully ploughed through it. There are some nice charts, diagrams and list of aims etc..

It is all very worthy stuff.. and it would appear, on this little number, that there are more 'stakeholders' than a Peter Cushing film compilation.

However I can but think that your average Citizen would really want us to Focus on three main things....keeping the streets safe....detecting and solving crime.... and arresting offenders.

I cannot knock the aims of this approach but it tiptoes around our core roles rather than actually talking about them.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


There has been a considerable amount of coverage in the Media regarding the incident in which a man was shot by a member of a Met Police firearms team in Kent during an armed robbery. It has emerged that an officer connected to the incident in Stockwell last year was involved.

The first I became aware of it was when I glanced at a newspaper headline and the first few lines stated that the ' de Menezes family are 'outraged' (or similar wording) at hearing this'.

I think this was a day/two days after the incident.

The first question that came to me was 'How did this officers name come to public knowledge so quickly?'

A man has died during an incident in which firearms are involved. The fatal shot coming from a Police firearms officer. These are early days in an investigation which will have been immediately referred to the IPCC.
Certainly no Met press release would be specific as to detail at this point. In fact the Met have issued a statement saying that they only confirmed that the same officer was involved in response to 'specific media enquiries'.
So who put it out there?
I may be wrong but my money is on the 'agenda driven' hand of elements within the IPCC.

The IPCC (or in full the Independent Police Complaints Commission) took over from the former Police Complaints Authority on the 1st April 2004. The logic being that it 'changed the perception of police investigating police'. The Met wanted to be seen as being 'open and transparent'. This is, in itself, not an issue.
However it was expected that the IPCC would be 'fair and impartial'.
In the two years plus that the IPCC have been in existence I have my doubts as to how some within the organization view the 'fair and impartial' side of things.
On occasions it produces more 'leaks' than a Welsh country market.
I wonder whether the fact that the IPCC as set up on the 1st April should have given officers a clue as to where we were going with it.
I have a lot of admiration for officers who carry a gun within the Police today. It is a thankless task.In a society (where gun use by criminals is on a continual rise) they are faced with the dilemma that should they ever be placed in the situation that requires them to pull the trigger and it takes a life then they face months/years of drawn out investigation.
I hope this latest trial by media dwindles away and the actual facts of the incident are reviewed assessed and decided upon in as reasonable a time as possible.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Head above the parapet.

Having for some time now, lurked,posted and like most others been inspired by Coppersblog and other excellent Police bloggers I have overcome my self induced lethargy to offer my own rambling views on Metropolitan Life and stuff..