Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Plebgate - The Unpalatable Truth



I have come out of retirement briefly to put down some thoughts about Plebgate. I wrote about this earlier this year and I hate to say it, but I told you so.
The facts are very simple. Andrew Mitchell left Downing Street on the 19th September 2012 and had a hissy fit because a police officer wouldn't let him through the main gate. Mitchell admits being bad tempered and swearing; the only argument is whether or not he used the word pleb. It is an unusual word to use, one that seems unlikely for the police to make up?
Son of an MP, educated at Rugby Public School and Cambridge, and an arrogant member of the ruling classes; who would believe that Mitchell would say such a thing as 'Best you learn your fucking place. You don't run this fucking government ... You're fucking plebs?' If Michael Portillo is to be believed Mitchell has used the pleb word in private before.
An idiot police officer took it upon himself to write to his MP claiming to have witnessed the incident didn't help the situation and simply gave ammunition to Mitchell, his supporters and the anti police brigade.
A bit like Chris Huhne, Mitchell came out fighting for his career and produced video footage from the area, which he claimed proved that the police were lying. The anti police brigade and media were completely suckered. Anything discrediting the police was accepted without question. It was good work by Mitchell's team. People are still posting today that the video evidence proved the police were lying. You can view the video evidence and a detailed critique here.
A year long investigation has concluded that there is no evidence to support any theory of a conspiracy by the police against Mitchell. The CPS, rather weakly, say that there is insufficient evidence to show that the police officer was lying. There is no evidence other than Mr Mitchell's denial. The CPS also say they took into account evidence including “the fact that Mr Mitchells account has varied since the incident”
The biggest issue for me is the biased and edited video footage that was given to Chanel 4. The programme makers have made it clear that they did not edit the footage given to them. The CPS report says that the programme “showed edited footage that was less than clear in a number of regards”. It goes on to say that the unedited video evidence shows that the police officers account could be correct.
So who produced the footage given to Chanel 4, which appears to have been edited to discredit the police and support Mitchell's case? Why aren't the media asking this question?
I see today that Mitchell's case of libel against The Sun is not going well. He submitted his evidence late and has been told that because of this, even if he wins the case, he will have to pay his costs. He has had a year to get his story straight now. Why was it late? Don't be surprised if you see that case dropped before too long. He may say he cannot afford to fund it now he has to pay his costs. I say he won't want to appear in the witness box and face some difficult questions.
No one has come out of this sorry affair without blemish, but when it comes down to it, who do I believe? PC Plod doing his job on the gate or an arrogant, foul mouthed toff who thinks he was born to rule us?

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Rape Debate



You may have missed the recent case in the press regarding rape allegations. A woman made an allegation of rape on the basis that she consented to sex but told the man involved that he mustn't ejaculate inside her. He told her would if he wanted to and did just that. Prosecutors decided that they could not charge him as the man's action could have been spontaneous and the decision beyond the point of no return, so to speak. The woman challenged the prosecutors decision in the High Court and the learned judges have decided that breaking conditions placed on intercourse can amount to rape. They have ordered the prosecution to review its decision.

Rape allegations already cause significant debate and not inconsiderable hysteria. The usual, and sensible, argument of innocent until proven guilty doesn't seem apply to rape allegations. All men accused of rape are guilty and must be convicted, according to some. Some feminists and pressure groups are campaigning for the law to be changed; to reduce the burden of proof in rape cases; to upturn the law so that the defendant must prove that consent was given.

When most people think of rape they think of a woman walking alone down a street and an attacker forcing them into an alleyway or something similar. The truth is that the vast majority of rape allegations involve someone known to the victim. It may be a family member or friend. It is often a man met in a pub or club. The most common scenario is one where a woman meets a man and, after a few drinks, agrees to go somewhere with him and sexual intercourse takes place. The critical point to prove will be, was consent given? It can be very difficult to prove that consent was not given.

I saw another interesting article yesterday. After six months in post as HMIC, Tom Winsor has decided that, in these times of austerity, the police should focus their energies on crime prevention rather than catching offenders. Most of us who have been in the job for a while understand that crime prevention was always the first of Robert Peels nine principles of policing.

Crime prevention is good. I think though that Peel's vision of prevention was having a visible policing presence looking for potential crime and criminals. It was also catching offenders and a justice system that imposed negative consequences. In the case of prolific offenders or serious crime it probably also included incarcerating them, thereby protecting society from their offending. I wrote an article about our ineffective justice system. How the police have withdrawn from the streets. How victims are blamed for offences against them. How the justice system fails to punish offenders and in fact rewards them. I won't go on about it again. You can read it here if you wish.

Mr Winsor's advice simply confirms everything that I said in my article. We can no longer afford to protect the public. All we can do is tell them to get a house alarm, window locks, 5 lever dead locks on the doors. Don't leave valuables on display in, and lock, your cars. Don't walk around in public using expensive phones, iPods, laptops Etc. If you ignore this advice then it is your fault for being so stupid when your property is stolen or you are assaulted.

None of this crime prevention advice will apply to rape victims however. If we dared to tell women what to wear. If we dared to suggest they don't get drunk. If we dare tell them not to get in a taxi with someone they have just met, we will be met by abuse and rage from some quarters. Suggesting that women behave in a particular way to protect themselves is an abuse of their right of freedom to express themselves and men have just got to learn to respect that. If only these freedoms applied to all crimes.

For the record I believe that if any man rapes a woman; whether they are drunk or not; whatever they are wearing and however stupid they may have been; he deserves to have his appendage removed or whatever prison sentence comes to him. I don't believe that woman need to appear in public with nothing more than their eyes showing to enable men to keep control of themselves. But I have seen too many hungover young men arrested and put through the mill because a woman was unsure as to whether or not she had consented to sex the night before.

If we are now saying that women can be raped if men breach conditions of sex then it is even more important that the usual safeguards and protections in place for defendants are kept in place. Reducing the burden of proof or bringing about proof of consent by defendants will bring about injustices just as perverse as guilty rapists going free.

 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Federation RIP

Police Federation of England and Wales


The Chair of the PFEW, Steve Williams, has recently published a report on the Federation website following a meeting he had with the Prime Minister. Mr Williams describes this meeting as constructive. How he can write anything positive about it I do not understand. The Prime Ministers comments sound the death knell for the Federation. Does Mr Williams even understand this you wonder?

Mr Williams raised concerns about compulsory severance. He gave a rather weak and watery reason as to why it shouldn't be introduced. Did he raise the issue that the police have no industrial rights? Did he mention that the Scottish Justice Secretary has clearly stated that the police should be compensated for not having industrial rights?

The poorly organised and flawed ballot on industrial rights held by the Federation in February has given the green light for the Government to introduce compulsory severance and implement any other changes they wish to. This follows on from the beating they have already given the Federation by ignoring almost all their representations regarding the Winsor reforms and cutting police officers pay and pensions. The decision to hold the ballot before the Governments decision on compulsory severance; the lack of support in the top echelons of the Federation for the ballot and the decision that the ballot would be of no effect unless 50% of the electorate voted in favour were crass and short sited.

The Prime Minister then told Mr Williams that Federation Representatives must retain skills in front line policing. The Federation have a significant number of full time representatives. There are 30 national representatives based at the PFEW HQ in Leatherhead. Every Force has at least two local full time representatives. Most have three or more. That is a total of more than 150 full time representatives. These representatives have allowed the Federation to get heavily involved in national issues and represent their members locally in management negotiations and misconduct matters, for example.

Following a campaign in the media, Francis Maude made an announcement last year regarding full time union activists in the civil service. He has stated that they will spend no more than 50% of their time on union activities and they will not get paid time off to attend national events such as Conference. You can read a bit more here if you wish. This has been on the horizon for over a year but the PFEW only appears to have now woken up to the fact that these changes will affect them too.
Implementation of these proposals in the Federation will effectively leave them in a position where they are irrelevant. That appears to be the Governments plan. Officers are already leaving the Federation in significant numbers. When they find no one has time to represent them with regard to complaints or management decisions then they will leave in their droves. The Federation will lose much of its funding and implode into insignificance.

Finally, the Prime Minister told Mr Williams that his officers must behave themselves and be respectful to Government representatives at Conference. If they don't then the Government will no longer come to the party.

The Government have made it pretty clear that they are going to continue walking all over the Federation. The Federation have played almost all their cards by staging the failed ballot in February and unless they come up with an alternative strategy very quickly, the Federation may have to just take it. One avenue that may yet be open to the Federation is Europe. European police forces have the right to take industrial action and it may be that a case can be put to Europe that there is no justification for UK police forces having those rights withheld. This will take years though. I am not sure the Federation will be around to see it implemented. Assuming we are still in Europe, of course!

 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Federation In Meltdown

Steve Williams - Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales
 
 
I spotted this article in The Independent regarding current issues within the Police Federation. I don't normally read that rag; the only thing it is independent of are any views from anyone who isn't a Socialist.
 
I am not sure that the current divisions in the Police Federation concern more power going to the centre. The issues in the Federation centre around The Met, The Constables and the Principal Officers of the Joint Central Committee.The Met accounts for almost a quarter of the membership of the Federation. Constables make up more than 70% of the membership.
 
For decades there has been talk of The Met and Constables declaring UDI and going independent of the National Federation. These tensions invariably increase when the National Federation has been perceived to fail to represent their members effectively. Tensions further increase when senior positions in the National  Federation are not occupied by Metropolitan Officers or Constables.
 
Ian Rennie - General Secretary of the Police Federation of England and Wales
 
 
Paul McKeever was a Metropolitan Police Sergeant and, until his untimely death at the beginning of this year was, in my opinion, one of the finest Chairs of the National Federation we have seen. Paul was very much focused on diplomacy, influence and negotiation. Paul did his best to clamp down on Force Federation officials becoming too vocal over the Plebgate affair, but was ignored by some and this caused significant damage. Paul understood that Plebgate might result in a Government led review of the Federation and he was the architect of the current review. He believed that the Federation submitting to an independent review would obviate any possible Government led review.
 
Following Paul’s resignation, and shortly before his death, Steve Williams, an Inspector from North Wales was elected as the new Chair. His arrival coincided with the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announcing the Governments decisions on the Winsor review. There was no good news for the Federation. Negotiations were seen to have been totally ineffective and Winsor’s recommendations were almost all accepted, resulting in huge losses to police pay and conditions. In a clever move though, May deferred any decision on compulsory severance until July.
 
Under pressure from local Forces the National Federation had been instructed at Conference to hold a ballot  on industrial rights. This was seen as a means of letting the Government know that officers had had enough. The National Federation did not want the ballot and dragged their heels over it. The ballot was eventually arranged for February.
Many people, myself included, believed that the ballot should have been postponed until after the decision on compulsory severance was made. Police officers have always been regarded as servants of The Crown and normal employment law does not apply to them. With the already accepted changes to rights overturned by Winsor, compulsory severance would mean the police being treated almost no differently to any other employee. In that case they should have the same industrial rights.
The ballot went ahead in February. It was poorly organised and advertised. The Fed hierarchy added a self imposed twist. They said the ballot would have no effect unless more than 50% of the electorate voted in favour of industrial rights. The ballot was an inevitable failure. Only 42% of officers voted although 81% of those that did, voted for industrial rights.
The ballot was an own goal for the Federation and gives the Government the green light to impose compulsory severance and any other changes they might wish to. All the new Chair of the Federation, Steve Williams, could say was "it would not be appropriate to undertake a course of action that could potentially change the employment status of more than 133,000 police officers if fewer than half of those officers have voted for us to do so." He seems to have missed the point that the special employment status has already gone.
Will Riches - Chair of the Constables Central Committee
 
We now have a belligerent, Met Chair of the Constables Committee, Will Riches, combined with frustrations regarding the apparent ineffectiveness of non Met and non Constable rank Principal Officers leading the Federation. The Plebgate review is seen by the militants as further capitulation to the Government who have already run roughshod all over the police.
One thing is for certain. Federation blood is going to be spilt over the carpets at the swanky HQ in Leatherhead, Surrey. Whether that blood is the Chair, Steve Williams, Secretary, Ian Rennie or the aforementioned Will Riches we will have to wait and see.
The main point though is that the Federation need to resolve their squabbles and get their act together and start representing their members. They have failed to achieve almost anything for members in the wake of Winsor and officers are beginning to leave the Federation in their droves. They can no longer afford the membership fees and have seen little return for their investment. If the Federation don't start representing members effectively, and soon, they will find they represent no-one.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Death of Margaret Thatcher


Margaret Thatcher died this morning. As she did with everything, she did it in style, taking her last breath whilst staying at The Ritz.

Much will be said about the life of Margaret Thatcher over the next few weeks. She will be castigated for many things. I didn't agree with everything that she did. It must be remembered that when she took power in 1979 the country was on its knees. She is blamed for destroying industry in this country but the unions had already achieved most of that. Remember British Leyland. We had had the three day week, power cuts and the country being held to ransom. Rubbish was on the streets for weeks. When she left office at the end of 1990 the country was unrecognisable from what it had been 11 years earlier.

Love her or hate her she was one hell of a leader and admired and feared throughout the world. Unlike many of her successors her integrity was unblemished and without question. We will be lucky to see the like of her again.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Gadget Lives On - The iPhone Resolution


Inspector Gadget
 
We may have seen the demise of one Gadget but, for the police, gadgets are still being used to great effect in the fight against crime. Millions of pounds have been spent on new technologies that were supposed to support the police in their operations. Tackling organised crime can be very expensive involving mobile and static surveillance, listening devices, tracking devices. Etc. But in the case of tracking down offenders there is a much simpler method, which is freely available, and sometimes more effective than the latest secret technology.
The iPhone resolution started about 3 months ago when a clever DS from a Metropolitan Force was working on a case of online fraud. The hard work had been done preparing the case and they were ready to arrest the suspect but had no idea where he was. They did however have his mobile phone number.

The DS had been using an App to keep tabs on his teenage sons whereabouts. He decided to try and use this to locate the suspect. He simply asked the fraudster for his location via SMS using a free App. To everyone's surprise, the fraudster fell for it. Within seconds, the application revealed his location. The suspect was in the city and in custody within two hours.

The great thing about using Apps is that they do not need a warrant or RIPA and they can save hundreds of hours of officer’s time. A number of forces have now used them to trace wanted suspects and offenders and the trend is growing fast. Some Apps need to be pre-installed on phones and forces download them onto offender’s phones when they are arrested and in custody. If they subsequently fail to appear or are wanted for another offence they can easily be located. Suspects cannot remove the Apps, which are hidden anyway, without a pass code. The great thing about the App the DS used is that nothing needs to be installed on the suspects phone. It will work if you know the number and they respond to the SMS.

The Apps offer other possibilities too. They may assist tracking down missing people or identifying where drug dealers are operating, for example.

To assist with arresting wanted suspects some police officers are being issued with iPhones with pre installed Apps, including the one used by the DS, which is the Where Are You App plus Google Maps, a Pocket Flash Light, a Police Radio Scanner, a Traffic Alert App, a UK Police Reference, and last but not least for those long stakeouts: A free version of Angry Birds Space.
 
Gadget lives on after all!

 

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Priorities

Another DM style post I am afraid, but I couldn't resist this one.

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to The Treasury
 
 
In an interview with The Telegraph today, Danny Alexander has made it clear that the Welfare budget has been ring fenced and will not be considered for any more cuts in public spending. Consequently, defence and policing are highly likely to have to face even more cuts to their budgets.
 
This is a hugely disappointing decision by the coalition. The welfare, or social protection budget, is by far the largest and arguably the one that can be cut without having any effect on services at all. These charts show where your money is taken from and where the Government spend it.
 
 
 
 

The welfare budget has grown to such an extent that every household in the UK is contributing £8000 per annum towards it. If one in five households are net receivers of benefits then working households actually contribute £10,000.
 
The cuts to policing have already resulted in the loss of more than 16,000 jobs. The number of officers on response has fallen to levels that put officers and the public at risk. Proactive policing is almost extinct. The chances of the police detecting your crime has never been lower. Crime will inevitably rise. The chances of the police being able to tackle the next retail riot are diminishing all the time.
 
But apparently, keeping some benefit claimants in cigarettes and drink is more important. 

 
 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Is This Really What the Police Should be Doing?

Surrey Police Officer's and Staff

Someone in Surrey sent me the above picture and the related article from their monthly force magazine. You may have missed the fact the 1st February was World Hijab Day, but Surrey Police took the opportunity to 'celebrate diversity,' 'respect differences,' 'understand the elements of conducting stop and search' and join in wearing a hijab for the day.

It is easy to be a cynical old dinosaur and criticise events such as this. If the focus had been on policing issues such as searching someone wearing a hijab I could understand, but I am assured that front line officers have had no such input.

Personally, I have always seen the hijab as a sign of the oppression and subjugation of women by men. I have seen women on the television insisting that they wear the hijab through personal choice. I have always felt that being indoctrinated from birth to wear it and to do what you are told hardly amounts to free choice.

I thought perhaps it was time to educate myself on the matter and so I went to the World Hijab Day website to try and find out more. The link takes you to two videos that I have watched. The second one features women wearing the hijab who state they wear it for a number of reasons including 'I want people to judge me by myself, not how I look.' 'It is my choice to wear it.' and 'I wear it because I respect God.'

I then went to the first video and listened to an Imam giving a talk entitled 'Beautiful Lecture for Sisters about Hijab.' I found this quite alarming considering this is, presumably, a moderate Imam who is being put forward as a voice of reason. You have to wonder what others may be saying. He says that to show shape, flesh or hair is a sin. 'Guard your beauty if it is honour that you seek because the people around you are like wolves on the prowl.' Does this mean that it is feared that women showing any shape, flesh or hair will drive men into an uncontrollable frenzy?

The Imam then relates a story about a Muslim man who went to the USA to study. He had to do some group work with a western woman. He was embarrassed and would not talk to her. The women lost her temper with him and stood up and accused him of degrading and oppressing women. He responded that Muslims treat their women with respect. Every woman is a sister, mother, daughter, aunt. Etc. Muslims will go to any lengths to defend their women and their honour. He then went on to say  'Your women are like a joint, a drug. They get passed from man to man. Everyone takes an inhalation until they have had their fill and then it gets passed to the next until everyone is finished. And then they throw it on the ground because it has no more purpose, it is worthless and it gets stepped on.' The western student was so impressed by what she heard that the following week she came to college covered from head to toe.

I have some sympathy with those who criticise the moral values of western society. I am constantly disappointed that equality in this country sometimes means women lowering themselves to the behaviour of the most drunken, debase and debauched men. But is the hijab really the sort of equality we aspire to?

The purpose of this post is not to cause offence to any religious group. I respect your right to believe what you want and wear what you want. In return I expect to be allowed to express my own views freely. What I really am questioning is, what business is it of the police to get involved in this way? By taking part in World Hijab Day do we support the Imams views, clearly available on their website? They seem to contradict other policies. What differences are we celebrating? By all means teach police officers enough about culture and religion so they can carry out their job but it need go no further than that. I would argue that to do so is hypocritical and damaging to the police.

Incidentally,  as per my other recent post 'Is This the End of Free Speech' my views would not be allowed in the police or public sector and would almost certainly result in dismissal.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Betrayal of Trust?

The following article has been submitted by a serving colleague. It reflects the disillusion and rock bottom morale within the police service and the frustration with representatives who are seen to have failed to act to support members or to prevent the end of the service as we know it.
 
 

The Police Federation of England and Wales - Representing Members or Self Interested Fat Cats?

Following recent high profile events like Plebgate, the national industrial rights ballot and the abject failure of the Police Federation to effectively counter Winsor's review, there's a strong argument that the Police Federation of England and Wales is no longer fit for purpose.

That's a view reflected by a growing number of angry, disillusioned and frustrated officers nationwide. It's something the PFEW are waking up to themselves - their recently announced 'root and branch' review recognises the fact.

But, it could be that this inward soul searching will be seen by the membership as being too little, too late - especially as this much vaunted review is anticipated to take a year to unfold and longer to implement if the hierarchy deem that any change is necessary.

On the front line, officers are asking how it is that the organisation responsible for representing them has become so detached from its members. The answer lies in the Federation's national structure, which is a throw back to before the dark ages. By way of highlighting its broken structure, it's well known that the Constables, who comprise around 70% of the membership, suffer a disproportionately minuscule number of votes in any decision making processes undertaken at national level. Neither fair, representative, nor democratic....

It's also an open secret that a handful of centrally located people hold the vast majority of the power, none of them having been elected by the rank and file. They receive generous allowances and 'pension-related honoraria payments' that leave their members with the perception that although everyone is equal, some are more equal than others. The perception from those on the front line is that it must be really difficult to fight for your members when you are not affected by what is happening to them....

But what grates most for members is being ignored, or worse, being treated like children and this is an ongoing issue. When questions are asked, they routinely go unanswered, and the recent ballot is a case in point. Even whilst the ballot was live, it wasn't widely known that a 50% + 1 voting threshold had been arbitrarily imposed, and the reasons behind that decision remain a mystery to this day. It's hard to think of any organisation, trade union, or other public or private body that imposes such restrictions on a supposedly democratic process.

Looking at the voting stats throws up more questions than answers. It looks like more than 50% of officers nationwide registered to vote. That means officers took the time to engage with the process and found a computer to log on to. So, if more than 50% registered, why didn't they all vote? There were HUGE variances in some regions between those who registered and then those who eventually voted. We know FOR A FACT that there were technical issues early on - did this stop the process being effective? We may never know. We do know officers have come forward saying that, having registered, they never received their voting email, despite repeated contact with the electioneers. Given that, prior to the ballot, Federation officials were adamant that everyone who wanted to vote would get the opportunity, their silence now on this issue is baffling. Where is the transparency, scrutiny and accountability?

Several recent national examples show our ballot up for the farce that it was. National elections recently secured jobs for Police Crime Commissioners who gathered as little as 8% of the popular vote. 
The civil service union has just announced that its members are to take strike action based on a ballot that only secured votes from 28% of its members.
 
So just why is it that we were required to achieve a 50.1% turnout? For the same reason, many suspect, that turkeys don't vote for Christmas. Obtaining industrial rights would bring with it the opportunity to join a trade union and that would sound the death knell for the Police Federation. It's hard for the national leadership to counter such cynicism, especially when they seem incapable of communicating with their members even at the most basic level. It took them a year to organise a ballot because they said it 'needed to be credible'. Criticism of the ballot has been as vociferous as it has been widespread, but the most damning verdict was delivered by the Met Fed, who openly described the ballot as 'bizarre', stating they were 'appalled'' at the National Fed's stance. Such criticism is unprecedented and some predict is the opening salvo of a civil war that could tear the organisation apart.
 
Records show that the PFEW is sitting on a cash pile of over £20m, but there is scant evidence of this being used to launch an effective campaign to fight the harsh realities of Winsor. Their financial records are a matter of public record and they certainly bear closer examination. How many officers know that in 2011, £1.4m of their money was spent on furnishings? What percentage of officers realise certain fed officials receive honoraria payments and 'elected officer enhancements' to their salaries - bonuses that start at £15K per annum? So how can all of this be justified if you are on the wrong end of a complaint and the fed decide they won't pay to legally represent you because you don't have more than a 50% chance of winning in their opinion? How do such bonuses sit with front line officers having their pay cut in April, with more financial misery to follow?

Officers feel that they are effectively being held hostage because there is no alternative to the Police Federation. To access associated benefits officers HAVE TO pay voluntary subs. They then, at additional cost, get access to health care, insurances and other benefits. 99% of officers join the Fed when they sign up for service. The benefits are competitively priced thanks largely to the Fed's bulk buying power and the fact that when they join most officers are comparatively fit and healthy. To pull out of paying voluntary subs, for example with twenty years service, means members lose access to all the benefits that they have signed up to.

Without the financial support of the Federation, the fear of a malicious complaint putting an officer in court at their own expense is tangible, especially when coupled with the loss of health and life cover, which it is virtually impossible to source competitively elsewhere if you are in your forties of fifties. The fact that despite these pitfalls officers ARE withdrawing their subs should be ringing alarm bells at national HQ. Many believe that if there was ANY competition the Federation would be abandoned by its members and bankrupted virtually overnight. It's a sad indictment that many now see the Federation as a necessary evil, rather than their guardian angel.

Officers are left with what is effectively a two tier representative body. At local level fed reps represent officers, influence management and help those who are doing an impossible job. The work of these reps is often heroic and goes largely uncredited, but the bigger picture has them, and those who rely on them, hamstrung by in-fighting and petty politics, the likes of which means that, at national level, communication is chaotic and the message mixed.

On the one hand we're told individual branch boards won't share their details with each other, which means the National Federation don't know who their members are, yet at the same time officers are being 'mail shot' at home as the Fed desperately attempts to entice officers to take up various offers designed to plug the financial gap created by those leaving.

The most current example of this confusion is the constables branch website (www.policeconstables.org). Just to officially launch it and have a link to it off the main National Federation website proved an onerous task. It was heralded as the voice of the rank and file. A chance for the majority to have their say and to be kept informed and up to date with all matters Fed related. Officers were encouraged to register so the Fed would finally know who their members were and so that they could share questions and ideas on the forums found there. Typically, things started well, but soon descended into farce. Though over 8,000 PCs have registered, the site has yet to trail blaze to any degree. Months and months of questions being posed and left largely unanswered by Fed officials has left the site looking like a post-apocalyptic ghost town. The few posters left (there are a hard core of about ten) are treated with contempt, chastised and threatened with bans. The site is plagued with technical difficulties and its news section is so out of date as to make it a contradiction in terms. The largest ongoing joke is the insistence of Fed officials from within the site that they have 'a plan'. It must be a corker of Baldrick-like cunning because it has been 'a work in progress' for nearly two years and is yet to show itself. The site is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the Police Federation, all wrapped up in one sad, semi-abandoned bundle.

This April's pay packet will bring with it the double-whammy of a pension contribution increase and the reduction in CRTP. It will be a defining moment for officers and the PFEW. Until now officers have largely only lost the opportunity to receive something that was becoming due...we've missed out on future pay rises, or the next stage of an increment rise that was on the cards. From April, for the first time, we will start to see our hard earned money being deducted at source from our pay packets.

Nationally, it isn't something PFEW have prepared officers for. It will come as a shock to many and will affect us all. There will be welfare and financial issues that will need addressing - officers should be in no doubt that this is the start of actual hardship for many. How ironic that at their time of greatest need, officers will be considering withdrawing from the Federation to try and claw back some of the cash that the Federation has allowed the government to snatch from their members.

As a Post Script, it seems PFEW are not beyond being petty either. Having recently withdrawn my subs, I have been denied access to the Constable's website forums, despite the fact that even having withdrawn my voluntary subs I remain a member of the PFEW whilst I continue as a serving police officer. If that doesn't guarantee me access, then the fact that I have paid subs up to my next pay packet does. It's a small thing, but it's also indicative of an organisation perceived by some as rotten to its core. Needless to say, emails surrounding this issue have gone unanswered.

There is little doubt that within the next six months events of seismic proportions will overtake the Police Federation. With voluntary redundancy ratified and live, compulsory severance on the horizon, fitness testing, reductions in pay for restricted officers, the possible introduction of A20 and a new comprehensive spending review imminent, it's beyond time for the national PFEW to clean house, draw a line and start again. Officers need their help and have done for some time.

Sad indeed that whilst I remain proud of being a police officer I am ashamed and embarrassed of the organisation that is supposed to represent and protect us all.

 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The End of Free Speech?

Reverend Brian Ross


You may have read the story that a police chaplain, Reverend Brian Ross, has had to leave his post. He made comments on his blog stating that he was against gay marriage. This is why police bloggers are anonymous. In the politically correct infested world of the police and public sector, having opinions that contradict the Orwellian equality policies means state persecution and dismissal.

Regular readers will know how I hate our current state of Liberalism. This notion that is is bringing about more freedoms and less state control is ludicrous. Liberalism has brought about a society where no one has any responsibility for themselves. Self control and accountability has almost disappeared resulting in erosion of freedoms . Most concerning though is the erosion of freedom of speech.

We now have three political parties who are almost indiscernible. Nu Labour moved the Labour party firmly to the centre, waving goodbye to the loony left. Blair and Brown spent us into massive debts to try and buy votes from their grass roots. Truth is the Labour elite actually hate their supporters as we found when Brown was caught labelling Gillian Duffy as a bigot. Cameron has jumped on the same bandwagon. He believes that to become electable he has to move the Conservative Party to the centre and he despises the traditional Conservative vote. The problem for Cameron is that the intolerant centrists hate him. He is despised as a privately educated toff and will never be accepted by the liberal classes.

This takes me back to the story of Reverend Brian Ross. Our liberal society has become so intolerant that anyone whose views differ from theirs are abused and treated as sub human. Pink News actually did a very balanced story regarding Reverend Ross. But if you look at the comments it is a different matter. 'Good riddance.' 'Bigot.' 'Bollocks.'

I don't agree with gay marriage. I don't believe the Government has the right to change the Oxford English Dictionary definition. I have no religious shackles and I believe that the churches opinions on the matter are largely unhelpful. I believe that a marriage is between a man and a woman with the ambition of producing children. I don't have a problem with gays or gay relationships. I support civil partnerships. I am of the view that as gay relationships cannot produce children without the involvement of a third party then they are different and cannot be a marriage. I don't care if gay couples relationships are blessed in church or anywhere else. I don't care what their relationship is called but it is not a marriage. There are good reasons why that difference should be maintained.

Some people will say that my views make me a homophobic bigot. I am genuinely bewildered by this. The sad thing is that if I publicly stated those views as a serving police officer I would likely be sacked.

This is a very dangerous path. To me it seems no different to Nazi Germany. We all know the old story where they came for the Communists and the Jews first, and everyone else did nothing because they were neither of these things. Then there was nobody left to protest.

Liberalism, rather than creating a country of understanding and respect has created a country of blandness and intolerance. Characters with opinions outside of liberal tolerances are eradicated from the public sector and vilified elsewhere. The police are questioning people for opinions that allegedly cause others alarm or distress. People have been prosecuted for their 'non conformist' opinions. The situation is getting worse all the time. How long will it be before people are sent to re-education camps, imprisoned, tortured or executed for their non liberal views?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Mark Duggan - Murdered by the Met?

Kevin Hutchinson-Foster
 
Kevin Hutchinson-Foster has been sentenced today to 11 years in jail for drugs and firearms offences. He was convicted of supplying the gun to Mark Duggan, which he was in possession of, when shot dead by police.

When I first wrote about this story the riots that followed Duggans death were just starting. Some sections of the 'community' in Tottenham and London decided that the police shouldn't go around executing an innocent, unarmed, law abiding, family man. Other parts of the country saw this as an opportunity to take part in the retail riots, thinking that our ineffective justice system would allow them to get away with it.

Hutchinson-Fosters trial has brought out almost all the evidence that will be heard at Duggan's inquest. The jury decided that one gun toting drug dealer gave a gun to another gun toting drug dealer. We can only speculate what Duggan intended to do with the gun. The Trident officers investigating Duggan clearly believed he intended to cause harm to, or murder, the man he believed to be responsible for the death of his cousin. Quite rightly, knowing that he had taken possession of the gun, they ordered the firearms team in to arrest him. The police officer that shot Duggan stated that he had the gun in his hand and raised it towards the officer who then shot him.

Duggan, The Family Man, With Two of His Friends Who are Serving Life for Shooting People

Unfortunately there are still a few misguided souls around who still believe that Duggan was this completely innocent family man who was executed by the police in retaliation for the murder of Keith Blakelock.



 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Greed is The Inventor of Injustice as Well as The Current Enforcer

Debbie Simpson - Thanks, I'll have that 10% pay rise


If you are interested, the post title is a quote from Julian Casablancas.

Some of you may be aware that the new Police and Crime Commissioners have the power to grant Chief Constables pay rises of up to 10% above the rates their post received last October. This was one of the recommendations from Tom Winsor. The idea was that to attract the best leaders you may have to pay more.

Another of Winsor's recommendations was, of course, to reduce the starting pay of new recruits by £4000 or 20%. He wants to improve the standard of new recruits but apparently you can do that by reducing pay in the case of the 'grunts' at the lower echelons.

Debbie Simpson has just been appointed Chief Constable of Dorset. She was already doing the job in an acting capacity. She wasn't going anywhere else. She would have been happy with her £133K salary and a five year contract.

Martyn Underhill, the PCC for Dorset, has decided to give her the full 10% pay increase that is within his power, bringing her salary up to £146K. His decision has been questioned by the Panel that monitors his work and he has defended his decision claiming he needed to offer the extra money to get the right quality applicants.

Our Chief Officers are clambering all over each other to climb the greasy pole and do not need any more incentives. As for good leaders, it is our Chief Officers who are responsible for chasing pointless targets and ignoring real crime and criminals. It is our Chief Officers who sold their integrity to the media chasing spin and good news stories. It is our Chief Officers who have failed to show leadership while the Government and Winsor pulls apart and destroys the police service, the only part of our justice system of any effect.

At a time when almost everyone is suffering from increased costs of living and falling pay, and police officers in particular are having their salaries and pensions decimated what sort of example is this? Martyn Underhill is an idiot who clearly has no political or moral sense at all. If Debbie Simpson has any decency or any real leadership skills she will refuse the pay increase. I won't hold my breath though.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

How The Courts Protect Officers



There are a number of blogs out there highlighting the failure of the justice system to punish criminals and I won't make a habit of joining them. This case though just highlights how our justice system fails to protect anyone including those charged with upholding the law.

Two police officers intervened when five thugs were threatening a doorman. The thugs turned on the police and assaulted them both causing significant injuries. Three of the five were convicted of affray and one of assault after a week long trial.

Philip Rawlings was sentenced to 46 weeks in prison suspended for 2 years. David Rawlings and Michael Pulford were sentenced to 36 weeks in prison suspended for 2 years.

This is what the sentencing guidelines have to say regarding the offence of affray.

'Custody is the starting point in their sentencing decision but there is power to reduce the sentence by up to 1/3 for an early guilty plea, which may mean that custody can be avoided by the offender co-operating at the earliest stages. As an alternative to custody, the sentence may be a community punishment e.g. community service, which is served in the community.'
These three didn't plead guilty and because the attack was on police officers there were aggravating factors that should have meant an immediate prison sentence.

Our ineffective justice system will argue that the three received a prison sentence but the court chose to suspend it. A suspended sentence means no penalty. A suspended sentence means if you commit another offence within the 2 year period of its suspension you might have to serve the sentence.

Many years ago I was sucker punched in the cells by an offender. I had a black eye and four stitches in my eyebrow as a result. The offender pleaded guilty to ABH and was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment suspended for two years. A year later he was charged and convicted with ABH. He was fined £150 for that assault and the suspended sentence was not invoked.

Our justice system is so focused on reducing the prison population in order to save money it is of no deterrent effect at all. It is rewarding offenders and failing to protect the vast majority who uphold and obey the law.

Monday, 4 February 2013

For Huhne The Bell Tolls


Lying May 2011


Well, Chris Huhne has finally pleaded guilty to Perverting The Course of Justice. I am sure you are all aware that his car went through a speed camera back in 2003. He was driving but didn't want the conviction so he persuaded his wife, Vicky Pryce, to say she was driving and she took the penalty points on her licence.

 Lying Again Feb 2012


In 2010 Huhne dumped his wife and moved in with his mistress. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and all that. Before too long a police investigation was under way and Huhne denied the offence. The CPS then announced that he was to be prosecuted and Huhne expressed his dismay at the decision but stated that he was looking forward to proving his innocence at the forthcoming trial. Today he pleaded guilty to the offence and has finally resigned as an MP.

 

Admission but no remorse or apology Feb 2013
 
I don't know if any of you saw the Politics Show yesterday morning but if you did you would have seen The Police Federation defending their stance regards their handling of the Andrew Mitchell Plebgate affair. You would have also seen David Davis MP talking about Mitchell being 'fitted up' by the police and talking as if he was completely innocent of all allegations. No acknowledgement that Mitchell admitted swearing at the police. The only argument is, did he use the word pleb during his tirade? You can watch a totally biased version of events tonight at 1930 on Dispatches - Plebs, Lies and Videotape.
 
Interestingly, Davis added in his interview that Cameron had failed to fully support Mitchell as he didn't want a fight with the police. (He is already destroying the police.) He added that Cameron's attitude to the Federation might now be very different and there may be some changes coming. (Wake up Federation.)
 
The media are squirming regards the Leveson Inquiry, worried that the freedom of the press is being gagged by politicians. There is no doubt that MP's would like less intrusion from the media. Why? Some commentators are suggesting that the way the media are treating politicians is preventing people from entering politics.
 
In the past we had politicians who were real statesmen. Their integrity was unquestionable. What we now have running this country is a bunch of self interested lightweights who continually provide the media with the ammunition to undermine them. I remember Edwina Curry discussing the expenses scandal. She said that it would never have happened when Margaret Thatcher was running the country. 'She would have had our guts for garters.'
 
Our current bunch of, often dishonest, politicians are largely unfit to manage this country. In this time of austerity they are still discussing giving themselves a 30% pay rise. Following the disgraceful expenses scandal, where many MP's collars should have been felt, but were not, MP's are now claiming more in expenses than they were before the scandal was exposed. The only difference now is that the taxpayer is paying hundreds of thousands of pounds for the new bureaucratic, 'independent' monitoring of those expenses. To allow these politicians any control over the media is a dangerous move.
 
 

Monday, 28 January 2013

More on Failing Justice



A report has just been released by the Centre for Crime Prevention which provides some interesting statistics supporting the notion that our justice system is failing to tackle persistent offenders. A notion that many police bloggers have been singing from the rooftop for years.

For example, their report highlights that in 2011/12, 65% of offenders who had 10 or more previous convictions and who were convicted of a serious offence, received a non custodial sentence. That was 91,032 offenders who should probably have been jailed that were not.

Worse still, for the same period, if we look at offenders with 15 or more previous convictions, 63% of them received a non custodial sentence. That was 68,100 offenders.

Some may try and argue that crime is reducing and so non custodial sentences are working. Other figures show this to be complete nonsense and supports the view of myself and many other bloggers that the number of persistent offenders is an ever growing problem who treat the criminal justice system with contempt.

In 2006/07 there were 81,204 offenders with 15 or more previous convictions. By 2011/12 this had risen to 108,119. For the same period the number of offenders with at least 10 previous convictions rose from 112,956 to 140,196.

In other figures, the Home Office has admitted that the police are now fighting more than 7500 criminal gangs consisting of more than 30,000 offenders. This figure is a tenfold increase on the estimated figures of ten years ago.

Part of this problem has been brought about by immigration policy. A significant part of the problem is the ever growing 'underclass' whom I have previously discussed at length. The most significant part of the problem is the complete failure of our justice system to deal with persistent offenders effectively. They just keep on offending. The police are obviously catching thousands of them every year but they walk out the door of the court to carry on offending.

One of David Cameron's advisers, MP Claire Perry, made comments in an interview with the Spectator recently mentioning the problem of 'feckless heterosexuals' having lots of children and dads not being involved in their lives. (Her comment is near the bottom of the link in the third to last paragraph in italics) These days you have to be a brave politician to even say such a thing. Unfortunately, we just seem to have become too liberal to actually address the problem.
 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Home Secretary, Chief Officers and Recruits

New Recruits - Are We Being Shortchanged?


I have said my bit about recruits salaries being cut and the Government somehow trying to sell the notion that this will improve the standard of recruits. Let there be no doubt that this is the Tories punishment of the police for perceived misdemeanours and will pave the way for privatisation of policing in the future.

Our wonderful Home Secretary, whose trademark seems to be a pair of Jimmy Choos, has enabled the new Police and Crime Commissioners to pay additional money to Chief Officers; up to 18% pay increases. Believe me, our Chief Officers do not need this carrot. They are already trampling over each other and sticking knives in each others back in order to clamber up the ladder. 'Kittens' now seems to have backtracked on her original view that the police did not need foreign police chiefs brought in to sort us out. She has decided to try and introduce legislation to allow foreigners to become Chief Officers.

The idea of the likes of Bill Bratton riding in on their charger and sorting out our criminal justice mess is a joke. When Bill took over as Police Chief in New York he recruited 5000 extra officers. He made sure the recruits were of a better calibre than those previously employed. He adopted a no nonsense approach to crime and stamped on organised crime and anti social behaviour. The difference is that here we are cutting police officer numbers, the American justice system supports that approach and the public supported the crackdown on anti social behaviour too.

When Bill Bratton has been here for a few months and realised that the British Justice system is just a revolving door for criminals: When he has been vilified in the press for bringing about the arrests of 'nice' middle class drunks and the offspring of hacks, you will see him heading back across the Atlantic with an almighty sideswipe at the Government. It could be a massive own goal for 'Kittens.'

There are some serious problems within the police service that have largely been brought about by the politicisation of police. Persistent Government tinkering and Police Chiefs falling all over themselves to bow to their whims has resulted in the situation we find ourselves.

We had 13 years of 'Nu Labour' who soaked up and embraced every piece of liberal advice and legislation emanating from Europe. The coalition Government have simply continued in the same vein.

Recruitment standards have been consistently lowered to meet politically correct quotas. We no longer have the authoritative figures required to deter, tackle and investigate crime in the manner that is required and expected by the public. Some officers are calling to be armed and bleat about the dangers of being single crewed. Hardly surprising when you need two or three officers to achieve what one used to be able to and when yobs treat the police with contempt knowing there is nothing the police can do and the justice system will completely fail to support them.

The office of constable is not overpaid but it is now filled with people who do not have the presence and, sometimes, other qualities required to fulfil the role. The introduction of PCSO's waters down the role of police officers and provides just another tier to be ridiculed by yobs and offenders. Tom Winsors notion of simply increasing academic qualifications will not change this. There are enough graduates in the job now. Almost all Chief Officers have degrees and they are apparently not good enough. Policing is all about common sense and academics are notoriously lacking in that department. These views will be seen as sexism, ageism, racism and many other ism's by the politically correct brigade and something that belongs in the past. Having retired, at least I can now express those views.

Chief Officers with Oxbridge degrees, like Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, instead of fighting the corner for our policing are happy tell politicians it can all be done for less and with second rate staff. Keen to make a name for himself and climb the greasy pole he happily draws up plans to sell all our police stations and move officers into shopping centres or coffee shops. Behind the scenes, huge investments were made in 'communications' to try and sell lies to the public via the media and inappropriate relationships were built with the press, seriously affecting the reputation of the police.

Morale in the police has never been lower. Joining the police used to be a vocation. With cuts in officer numbers, political interference at all levels, managers dancing to politicians tunes, a target culture, a completely ineffective justice system and now, huge reductions in pay and pensions, the vast majority of officers have given up. They attend the 'office' on time and leave on time. Senior officers fail to grasp the meaning or outcome of this change.

The crass and spiteful way in which this Government are treating the police appears to be revenge for a few high profile police failures and actions against the likes of  Andrew Mitchell. Their obsession with privatisation bringing about a cheaper more effective police is flawed. The police service needs improving, not destroying.

 

Friday, 18 January 2013

Paul McKeever Dies

Paul McKeever
 
It has just been announced that the Chairman of the Police Federation, Paul McKeever, has died unexpectedly. He was taken into hospital and it is believed he died of an embolism.

I knew Paul and he was a real gentleman and probably the best Chair the Federation has had. The Federation can be seen by some as ineffective but within the constraints of having no industrial rights Paul worked extremely hard to fight for the police service and was a great politician. Here he is in action at the 2011 Conference.




Paul was due to retire in two weeks time. His retirement was unexpected. His wife is ill and needed his attention at home. This is a tragedy. RIP Paul and thank you for everything you did for policing in this country.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Jobs For The Boys

Northampton PCC - Adam Simmonds


Our new Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) have been settling into their roles. Their first tasks are to produce a Policing  and Crime Plan and sort out the budget for the next financial year. Chief Constables are looking forward to the plans and reminding the PCC's that they will only be able to achieve as much as allowed by the budget the PCC's provide.

Most PCC's have woken up to the fact that their role is not part time and they have their hands full. They have inherited the staff previously employed by the Police Authorities but for many this is not enough. Obviously, they all need Deputies. The legislation allows PCC's to appoint a deputy (The Police Reform & Social Responsibility Act 2011 provides, under Section 18(1), that a Police & Crime Commissioner may appoint a person to be Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner. The Act also states that the Deputy will be a member of the Commissioner’s staff but, unlike other members of staff, he or she need not be appointed on merit and will not be politically restricted.)

So almost anyone can be appointed Deputy PCC. In most counties this means that the PCC's have appointed one of their mates as Deputy without any form of advertising or selection process. In what other role can you simply appoint someone to a £50K plus job without going through such a process?
 
Some PCC's have taken their role to new levels. Rather than just take responsibility for the governance  of policing services in their area they want to take on the whole justice system and micro manage every area of it.  For example, Northamptonshire PCC, Adam Simmonds standing for the Conservatives, is proposing to increase his staff by 17 posts. He started out by appointing four Assistant Commissioners, one of whom was his election agent and the other three Conservative activists. All above board and compliant with discrimination law, I am sure.  At the same time, (you couldn't make it up) he also wrote to every member of the police force advising them that there was no money and jobs may be lost. Others are at it too.

The actions of the PCC are monitored by a Police and Crime Panel. In Northamptonshire, Conservative Councillors were elected as Chair and Deputy Chair of the Panel. So much for keeping politics out of the police. The whole thing is a farce.

Meanwhile, in my old force they had a class of recruits lined up to start training in March. They decided to write to all these recruits and inform them that their start date was now put back to April and they would now start on the newly reduced, Winsor, salary of £19,000 per annum. Half of them declined the offer and so the course has been cancelled.