Thursday, 19 July 2012

Simon Harwood Acquitted

PC Simon Harwood - Not Guilty

This afternoon the jury sitting at the trial of Simon Harwood charged with the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson have found him not guilty.

I wrote about this subject last year. I didn't like what I saw but I wasn't there and I hadn't seen all the evidence. Most importantly, was it PC Harwood's actions that caused his death or was Tomlinson a sick man who could have collapsed and died at any time? The medical evidence was still in dispute at the trial.

It is interesting that juries at inquests seem to be quite willing to decide that deaths amount to unlawful killing when there is no prospect of a police office serving time for their decision. When it comes to criminal trials they appear to be a little more cautious. I suspect that if this ever goes to a civil court a jury may be more generous and so no doubt there will still be a settlement for his family.

I have no doubt that Mr Tomlinson's 'loving and caring' family (he was a drunk living in a grubby hostel and barely saw them) will be outraged by the jury's decision. It won't help their compensation case. Some of the media may cover this in editorial tomorrow. I also have no doubt that a small number of commentators will come crawling out from under their stones stating that the police have got away with another unlawful killing.

I said in my previous article that I would let the jury decide. Twelve of your peers have heard all the evidence in detail. They have deliberated for four days and have decided that there is insufficient evidence to convict. That is it. To argue any differently is meaningless.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

G4S Send Comedian to Select Committee

The complete and utter mess that G4S have made of the Olympics contract is still unravelling and the press haven't yet reported just how bad it is. G4S claimed to have recruited all but 3500 staff required to fulfil the contract. It now transpires that thousands of staff they thought had been recruited are no longer available or not interested in working.

G4S spent many months recruiting staff but failed to ensure that they were still available to work. This meant that as Olympic sites were searched and sealed ready for handover to G4S to guard and keep secure, G4S e-mailed staff to attend work and only a percentage of those actually turned up. This has meant that police officers are having to fill those gaps. Officers rest days are being cancelled with no notice.  Officers are being taken away from their core roles, leaving behind dangerously low levels of staff. Even more troops are having to be mobilised to fill some of these gaps.

In my force response teams are running below minimum agreed staffing levels. Investigators, neighbourhood teams and officers from many other departments are being posted to help with the Olympics. If you need the police urgently and dial 999; if you are a victim of crime and you want that crime investigated, pray you don't need to now because there is less likelihood of a police officer being available to answer your 999 call or to investigate your crime than ever before.

The CEO of G4S, Nick Buckles, was summoned to attend the Home Affairs Select Committee where he received the biggest mauling ever seen by the odious Keith Vaz and his cohorts. What shocked everyone was that Buckles agreed to pay compensation, bonuses Etc. His performance was lamentable. If you want to watch a bit you can see it here.

I can now reveal the reason for this poor performance and the empty promises of compensation. G4S didn't in fact send their CEO Nick Buckles to address the Select Committee, they sent the comedian Joe Pasquale.

G4S CEO Nick Buckles
Comedian Joe Pasquale

These little jokes by G4S continue with the news that two of the guards on the Coventry City Stadium are illegal immigrants from Pakistan. A country rather well known for its connections to terrorism.

I think it is fair to say that Dave and Theresa's plan to hand over the British Police Force to G4S has taken a bit of a set back. But don't think that this will stop this arrogant pair.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Home Secretary Resigns (3)

On Monday, our beloved Home Secretary, Theresa May, was asked specifically about G4S having insufficient staff to fulfil its contract for the Olympic Games. This is a transcript of the question and answer.

Gregg McClymont: The Olympics are only 18 days away, but we learned over the weekend that G4S still needs to fill 9,000 security positions. Without those staff, security will surely be compromised. Will the Home Secretary therefore confirm that she has signed off G4S’s recruitment schedule? Will she also give a personal assurance to the House that those 9,000 security staff can be recruited, vetted and trained in the next 18 days?

Mrs May: As the hon. Gentleman may be aware, venue security is being delivered by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, G4S and the military. It is a huge operation to protect more than 100 different venues, and delivering it is a big challenge. The Home Office has put in place a number of assurance processes to ensure that we have effective and robust scrutiny of venue security planning. We have been testing our plans thoroughly and are confident that our partners will deliver a safe and secure games, but we are not complacent and will leave nothing to chance, so we will stay on the case.

So, on Monday, the Home Secretary was 'confident that our partners will deliver a safe and secure games.' As we know, yesterday, Wednesday, she announced that the partners,G4S, have failed to recruit sufficient security staff to fulfil their contract. As a result of this an additional 3,500 troops are going to be deployed to security at the Games. Some of these troops have just got back from Afghanistan and will lose leave with their families. Some of them are being taken away from training to prepare them for their imminent tours of Afghanistan.

Mrs May said in her statement to the House of Commons that the requirement for extra troops 'had only crystallised in the last 24 hours.'

This seems to be totally contradicted by Defence Minister, Mr Hammond, who later told the defence select committee that the deployment request had come "as no great surprise". He told MPs it became clear that some extra servicemen would be needed two weeks ago when the beginning of the lock-down at the park started.

The buck stops with the Home Secretary regarding this shambles. She is ultimately responsible for ensuring the Games security is properly in place. It is clear that she has failed to monitor and address the failings of G4S to fulfil their contract. She appears to have misled Parliament last Monday.

Questions need to be asked regarding the award of contracts to G4S. There are a number of other large security companies. Why were all the eggs put in one basket in this case? And why are so many contracts generally being awarded to G4S? This partnership is getting so close, it smells.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

We Are All In This Together (2).....Not

PC Ian Dibell

Today an off duty Police Officer was shot dead. It appears that PC Ian Dibell intervened in an incident between two other men, one of whom was armed with a firearm. He put himself in harms way and it cost him his life. My thoughts are with this brave mans family.

Meanwhile, MP's have had their pension contributions increased by 1.85%. MP's have the most generous of all public sector pension and a review body recommended that their contributions be increased by 2.4%. They didn't like that and so they appointed another body who recommended 1.85%. There have still been howls of protest regarding this increase. Some MP's believe that this increase will prevent poor people from entering Parliament. £66K and all those expenses are apparently just not enough to live on. Call me Dave has been silent on the matter. Last year he said that MP's should face the same changes to their pension contributions as all other public sector workers. The Treasury wanted a 3.2% increase in all contributions.

Back in the real world of austerity, the Home Secretary appointed the 'independent' former rail regulator, and future HMCIC, Tom Winsor to privatise and totally screw up the police service. Winsor recommended increases in contributions to the police pension schemes of up to 4%. The Home Secretary hasn't thrown out these recommendations and appointed another 'independent' review. She has accepted the recommendations almost in totality.

In five years time there won't be many police officers left to get in harms way. I don't believe that G4S security guards will do it.

Saturday, 7 July 2012


How true!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

It's All Going to Go Pete Tong

Tom Winsor, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary

Well, inevitably, Tom Winsor will be the next Chief HMIC. I think the only surprise was that the Home Affairs Select Committee, chaired by the labour, expense fiddling, MP, Keith Vaz supported the nomination. Watch out for Mr Vaz in the Honours list before too long.

The incumbent Chief HMIC, Sir Denis O'Connor, was to have retired on the 31st July but has been persuaded to stay on until October, after the Olympics. The Policing Minister, Nick Herbert, felt Mr Winsor was 'head and shoulders' above the competition and that he saw no reason why the Chief HMIC need have been a senior police officer. It seems that confidence in Mr Winsor doesn't quite extend as far as all that.

Retiring senior officers are sometime a little more candid than usual. Sir Denis has told his successor that police morale is low and he needs to use the goodwill of officers. Unfortunately, I don't think that Mr Winsor will understand or even care about that. I have said before that this is very important. The police are the only effective part of the criminal justice system and the only part that gives a damn about justice. Lose this and you will see crime going through the roof.

The Policing Minister, Nick Herbert, has also stated that Winsor is not about privatisation. I have already suggested this is rot. Winsor changes the role of constable from that of crown servant to that of any other employee, who can be made redundant. The building blocks that Winsor 2 puts in place will allow Chief Constables to shed thousands of police officer roles and hand over those roles to private security. This is exactly how the CEO of G4S sees it.

The Government have played a blinder on the communications front. Years of undermining the police and portraying them as lazy, thick, overpaid thugs with huge gold plated pensions has been soaked up by the stupid reporters and editors of the Daily Mail Etc. When are the press going to wake up and realise that G4S security guards will be patrolling the streets in a couple of years? G4S will be investigating your crimes.
G4S will be answering your 999 calls and G4S security will be responding to most of those calls.

The IPCC understand this. They are worried that privatisation of the police will leave them with almost nothing to investigate. The newish chair of the IPCC, Dame Anne Owers, wants her organisations powers extended to include all private companies carrying out the functions of the police.

After the riots last August we read that troops were being trained to help deal with future disorder. Now we hear that troop numbers are being cut by 20% and there may not be enough soldiers left to cover our strategic military commitments, never mind assisting the police with rioters.

In a few years time, police officers will comprise a small paramilitary force used to tackle violent offenders and public order incidents. Whether those numbers will be sufficient to tackle disorder on the scale we saw last year and whether troops will be available to support those police is not very likely. One thing I do know is that if it all goes wrong, it won't be Tom Winsor's fault. It won't be Nick Herbert's fault and it won't be Theresa May's fault.