Thursday 21 October 2010

Away with the Faries!

I was hobnobbing with some of the Force hierarchy recently. For the record there wasn't an apron or set of antlers in sight. Drink was flowing and one of the ACC's made a few indiscreet comments regarding the other ACPO team. Don't trust the DCC he said. I don't. What he says to officers and what he says and does in the corridors of power are two different things. He also said that the Chief Constable was a very clever academic but 'away with the faries' when it came to the practicalities of providing an effective police Force. An interesting perspective on the senior management team.

So, how is Oberon (King of the Fairies, geddit!) proposing to deal with the CSR. There seems to be relief that we are only going to take a 20% cut in funding rather than 25%. Oberon has sent a letter to all senior managers in the force setting out his vision as to how this money is going to be saved. He is adamant that front line officer numbers will be preserved. This would be good but we have experience of how the figures can be manipulated and front line officers may be redefined if necessary. This is what he proposes. Worth noting as it will come your way too:

1. Less bureaucracy in crime recording. (This means that the police staff that record crime reports over the phone and the police staff and officers that allocate crimes for investigation will be merged and centralised.)

2. A changing culture of value for money. We have got to learn to do even more with less. (Sounds great, but what does it mean? The pot has been squeezed for years. With regard to officers, there is little if anything left.)

3. Further cuts in leadership numbers, administrative support and support services. (This is good but is unlikely to go far enough. The Force has almost trebled its police staff over the last ten years. Senior police staff have been allowed to build empires and grow their salaries and importance to ridiculous levels. To date we have seen nowhere near enough culling of these parasites who cause officers more work than they save. I have previously questioned the value of PCSO's. There are some very good ones, but the majority really deliver very little.)

4. Changes to the pay and rewards for both officers and staff. (This clearly means that the Government pay review has already decided that the rewards that officers receive for short notice shift changes, Bank Holidays and Rest Days will be changed. We may even see salaries for all officers with little or no reward for working extra hours, Bank Holidays and shift changes. This could be a disaster as officers will become unavailable when needed. There will be little incentive for managers to plan ahead and as officers are disrupted more and more for no reward, morale and productivity will fall.)

5. More collaboration with partners and other Forces. (Force collaboration and mergers are inevitable as budgets are cut. Will this provide a more effective service for less or just larger, faceless, depersonalised organisations providing a very basic one. Partners also face cuts and will withdraw services leaving the police with the gaps to fill sorting out the social problems of society that will inevitably come our way. Increased unemployment, cuts in benefits and other fiscal measures will undoubtedly mean increased crime levels and demand. And don't forget the revolving door justice system will get worse as fewer offenders than ever go to prison.)

6. Reduction in Operational Support such as intelligence, crime and incident reports. ICT improvements. (Eight years ago we had seven intelligence units and now we have four. Clearly, this is going to be centralised and reduced to one or two teams. The problem with this is that, as we found with the reductions that have already taken place, local issues such as antisocial behaviour, that are important to residents are lost and the focus becomes the traditional police functions of car crime, drugs and burglary. This is where resources get directed and this will become worse with a centralised function.)

So five out of ten for Oberon. We shall see in due course how it all unfolds.

Does Nick Herbert fill you with confidence? Reforming offenders is absolutely necessary but how is that going to be achieved with 23% cuts in spending in his department?

Thursday 14 October 2010

Does Power Tend to Corrupt?

Chief Superintendent Adrian Harper and Superintendent Johnny Johncox

Sorry about the lack of recent posting. I have been busy with a few other issues and there seemed to be a lack of material to comment upon. This may well change when the Government announces its comprehensive spending review interim report and we get a better idea what damage might be done to the police service.

In July I ran this story about two Surrey senior officers who had been charged with corruption after apparently lying to avoid speeding fines and points. They were acquitted by the Courts but remained suspended from duty pending internal discipline proceedings. Everyone expected them to be sacked; especially as the Deputy Chief Constable was privately telling some people that he was going to personally see to it. Surprising then that this week both officers returned to work. The Force has sent an e-mail to everyone saying that both officers had apologised to the Chief Constable for any embarrassment they had caused and that was it.

A quick reminder that Superintendent Johnny Johncox was on his way to visit his girlfriend when he set of a speed camera. Apparently, he sent a report to his boss, Chief Superintendent Adrian Harper, saying that if he was on call and if he was travelling to HQ for an urgent meeting would he be exempted from the fine and points. Adrian Harper apparently got the report and exempted him. If this is true, Johncox never owned up to the fact that he was not going to HQ. In any case why was he exempted from speeding to attend a meeting?

Chief Superintendent Harper set off a speed camera going from his office at Reigate to Epsom. He told his boss, Assistant Chief Constable Ian Dyson, that he was the on call firearms officer and he was attending a meeting at Epsom. Ian Dyson exempted him from his fine and points. There was no meeting at Epsom that day and he added a meeting planner to his calender after the speeding offence to show to Ian Dyson. He was a regular visitor to Epsom station. He was a hands on manager and well liked by officers. He has been linked to a female officer at Epsom and so was possibly more hands on than he should have been. But whatever the truth, why was he ever exempted by the Assistant Chief Constable to attend a meeting?

Why have these officers returned to work without any discipline case? How many senior officers have been exempted from speeding fines and points to attend meetings by other senior officers? I think the public and the force deserve a full explanation.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Police Bonuses?

The public sector continues to be scrutinised as the spending axe threatens pay, conditions and pensions. The police service is under particular scrutiny and will undoubtedly be hit hard when the interim review on public spending reports next month.

There was an appalling article in the Telegraph the other day hitting out at police bonuses. Readers of the article, not familiar with police pay, could be forgiven for not understanding any of it, other than the overriding authors contention we are getting extra money for nothing.

By way of explanation, let me say that it was the last Government that introduced these different payments. They were not wanted by the police service in general. The Government didn't like all officers being paid the same and introduced two payments to tackle perceived poor performance and to reward front line and specialist skilled policing.

Competence Related Threshold Payments (CTRP) were introduced as part of our salary and were to be paid to around 90% of all officers that qualify. Only those officers at the top of their pay scale qualify, so it is in fact only paid to around 40% of officers The idea was that these performing got a further pay increment and those that were not, did not, and this would encourage poor performers to improve.

Special Priority Payments were introduced to reward those officers that were working on the front line or those that had specialist skills. This was the Governments attempt at introducing pay differentials for officers. The payments are made to 40% of officers and reward those working shifts, for example, and those whose skills need to be retained. The amounts can vary from around £1000 to £2500 per anum.

I understand the aims of the Government when these rewards were introduced. They are part of the police pay package and do not represent new money being paid to officers. To suggest police are getting some extra reward for doing their job is misleading. Some officers effectively got a pay rise and others did not.

The rewards that should, in my opinion, be reviewed are those paid to the Superintending Ranks. They get performance bonuses for meeting targets.  The risk here is that senior officers, who have control of significant resources, are using those resources to get their bonus. You can argue that is the idea, but if the Divisional Commander has met his anti social behaviour target for the year but is failing on burglary, he or she may decide to ignore the continuing public concern regarding anti social behaviour and focus all resources on burglary so that they get their bonus. I guess the coalition Government will decide this is another good reason to have elected police 'commisioners.'

Saturday 24 July 2010

Are These Senior Officers Corrupt?

Two Surrey Police senior officers have stood trial recently for misconduct in public office. The trials were held separately at Winchester Crown Court and there was a ban on reporting. Both officers have been found not guilty and so there has been very little subsequent press coverage. A little bit here.

Superintendent Johnny Johncox was caught by a speed camera and put a report in suggesting that he was attending an important meeting at HQ. His line manager, Chief Superintendent Adrian Harper, exempted him from any fine and points. It turns out, he was actually going to see his girlfriend.

Chief Superintendent Adrian Harper was also caught going through a speed camera. He claimed he was attending an important meeting at Epsom and was late. The person he was supposedly meeting at Epsom had no record of any such meeting and the meeting was put in Mr Harper's electronic diary after the date. Assistant Chief Constable Ian Dyson exempted Mr Harper from any fine and points on the basis that he was attending this important meeting.

A Court has decided that these officers have not committed any criminal offences. They remain suspended from duty and will undoubtedly face internal discipline proceedings. They are likely to be sacked.

Dismissal is a severe punishment, but I find it very intriguing that if we assumed their original excuses for speeding were correct, why were they ever given exemptions? I can assure you that junior officers would not be given an exemption for attending a meeting. It appears that the rules are different when you reach the dizzy heights of the senior officer's dining club. Next time you get done for speeding tell the police you were attending an important meeting. I am sure they will let you off too.

Monday 19 July 2010

Is This How we Should Treat Volunteers?

I have never been the biggest fan of Specials in the police. Most are well meaning but incompetent. Some get off on the uniform and power thing. None are properly trained.

The new Government is focused on volunteering. This is seen as the way forward in all areas of society. It seems likely that in future all recruits to the police will first have to have been a Special for up to two years. I sincerely hope that along with this policy we improve the training for Specials.

I noticed this story on the web. A criminal is being chased, by police, in a stolen car. A Special sergeant is nearby and wants to get involved. Perhaps injudiciously, he does a three point turn in the road. The stolen car ploughs into the side of him seriously injuring the passenger in the police car. The IPCC supervise an investigation and the Special sergeant is prosecuted and fined, with costs, £1300 and banned from driving for 6 months.

If Mrs Miggins was manoeuvring in the road and a stolen car being driven at excessive speed crashed into her would she have been prosecuted? What happened to the driver of the stolen car? Was his punishment as severe as this? I have my doubts.

The loss of this mans licence might have cost him his paid job. If I was this Special sergeant, volunteering my services for free and doing the best I could with the training I had received and I lost my licence for 6 months and had to pay £1300, I think I would tell the police to stick their volunteering.

Saturday 3 July 2010

All Change for Targets?

North Korea Celebrate Winning the World Cup

Like other bloggers, I was pleased to hear Teresa May announce that the Policing Pledge and Public Confidence and Satisfaction targets were going and we would just be measured on crime levels.

I have said before that senior managers will fiddle the figures and focus resources to get quick results rather than work properly and ethically towards achieving real results. For example, in my quite small Force, we have 35 communications officers; and that is after we have just got rid of some following a review. Their job is to take every opportunity, internally and externally, to convince the public that crime is low and we are doing a good job. We also have 57 administrators in CID and another 35 working with the Neighbourhood Teams. Part of their job is to allocate tasks but a large part is to contact victims of crime and disorder and to convince them that we are doing our best to detect their crime, even if we do just detect 22% of them.
Why do we need 35 communications officers and 92 administrators? Because the ACPO team want to increase our levels of public confidence and satisfaction to meet targets and they have introduced a propaganda machine, that the North Koreans would be proud of, in order to achieve it, rather than do the job properly and invest in front line policing.

Our Chief Constable has announced to the Force that we are going to ignore Teresa May's wish to abandon the Policing Pledge and Public Confidence and Satisfaction targets. This is very worrying because, with the budget cuts coming, the next thing I can see the Chief doing is cutting police officers and keeping his propaganda machine. What we should be doing is cutting all these back room police staff roles that actually produce nothing tangible and in fact increase the bureaucracy that infests the police officers role, and concentrate on real policing.

I am all for being measured on levels of crime, but don't measure Forces own levels of recorded crime. We can think of a hundred and one ways to keep those down. Forces should be measured using the British Crime Survey, an independent survey they cannot influence other than by doing the job we should be doing, reducing crime and disorder in the short, medium and long term.

Saturday 19 June 2010

The Drink Drive Debate

Like almost all police officers I have had to deliver death messages. Some stand out, particularly the young and unexpected ones. I remember calling round a ladies house on a Saturday afternoon. She answered the door with two young children running around excitedly as a policeman was on the doorstep. Her and her children's lives fell apart after I told them their husband/father was in the mortuary having just been wiped out by a drunk driver. There are others I recall, such as the parents of the 16 year old boy knocked off his bike and smashed to bits by a drunk driver who could barely stand up.

I haven't become the virtuous non drinking driver and I will have a couple of drinks when I go out but I absolutely support the recent report recommending that the drink drive limit is reduced from 80 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood to 50.

A few years ago now I worked in custody and had the opportunity to test myself on the drink drive machine. I could drink four pints of beer in about an hour and a half before I reached the limit. There is no way that I am safe to drive after four pints and I would have been a severe risk on the road. You lose between 7 and 13 micrograms of alcohol every hour. This means I could actually drink five pints in two hours and possibly pass the test.

Over the years I have stopped and breathalysed dozens of people. I know that many of them have had six or more pints over the course of an evening. Some of these people were blowing under the limit after an evening of six or seven pints. They could not believe they were getting away with it.

I have heard some of the wailing of people done for drink driving. They go to Court and swear they only had two pints and they thought they were OK to drive. Absolute lies and deceit, unless it was two pints of spirits.

Most countries now have a limit of 50 micrograms. We should reduce our limit as soon as possible. We probably should not drink and drive at all but I do not support a zero tolerance policy. A limit of 50 will still allow people to drive after a couple of pints. Some people won't like that but it is a damn site better than the current situation and more likely to become a reality.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Bloody Sunday!

So the Saville report has been published after 12 years and almost £200 million. And after all that it tells us the bleeding obvious, that leaders probably didn't make the best decision in the world deploying paratroopers in Londonderry in 1972.
It shouldn't be missed that the report also states that an IRA sniper was firing a weapon during the protest march and that Martin McGuinness, who was then the number two in Londonderry IRA, was probably carrying a sub machine gun that he fired. He has denied this.

Paras coming under fire almost certainly started firing back at where they thought the threat was coming from and there was obviously panic in this guerrilla war situation for which they were not trained. It is a tragedy that innocent civilians were killed, but it will also be a travesty if any soldiers are prosecuted.

David Cameron has leapt up and apologised on behalf of the country. The decision makers at the time might owe an apology. Martin McGuinness and his terrorist thugs probably do too; I don't feel I do.

Has this whole twelve year inquiry just been the most expensive counselling session in the history of the world for the victims families? Or does it also appease the IRA and assist the aim of handing over Northern Ireland too?

Sunday 13 June 2010

Has Civilianisation Gone Too Far?

Stop reducing police officer numbers now!

At the National Police Federation Conference in May the Federation produced figures showing how the additional investment in the police service made over the last 10 years has largely been in the form of police staff rather than officers.

Nationally, since 1999 there has been an average 16% increase in police officers. This compares with an average increase of 54% in police staff. Thousands of police staff have been introduced, not only to deal with additional legislative demands and bureaucracy, but also taking on roles that have been traditionally performed by police officers.

Some Forces have taken this change of staff mix to new levels. Surrey Police has been highlighted in this regard, as in 2007 they were the first police force to have more police staff than officers. They have since been followed by Northamptonshire and Wiltshire and others are catching up. In Surrey, since 2000, police officer numbers have decreased 260 from 2100 to 1840. Over the same period, police staff numbers have tripled from 760 to 2300.

These figures are quite astounding. We keep being told that police staff are being introduced as a cheaper alternative to expensive police officers. Like all Forces investment has been made in PCSO's. Surrey has about 240 PCSO's. If we take those away from the 1540 police staff increase that still leaves 1300 police staff replacing 260 police officers. There have been no savings here. Surrey could have increased by around 850 police officers instead of 1300 police staff.

Where are these 1300 additional police staff and what are they doing? I don't think anyone has the answer to that one. What I do know is that we have created whole departments and career paths for police staff. What benefits are they bringing to front line officers or are they simply putting more demands on officers to feed the self perpetuating bureaucratic machine that they belong to?

The Police Federation is advocating that there should be a broad review and evaluation of all these changes in workforce mix. There should be some standardisation of the roles that police staff and police officers perform. Why can one force ‘civilianise’ a role whereas another deems that it is only suitable for a police officer? What value are we getting from this huge increase in police staff? The public want more police officers on the streets.

Forces that have more police staff than officers have no resilience in their response and criminal investigation departments. At times of high demand within the Force or in order to provide mutual aid to other forces neither have the capacity or resilience to provide resources in the medium to long term. Even in the short term the gaps can only be covered by overtime, which the Government is demanding must be cut by 40% with no reduction in performance. Using proactive resources and/or neighbourhoods may be impossible as these officers are not being trained in the secondary skills to provide public order units, search teams etc.

Police officers generally join for a career in the Force. Their initial training is more expensive but that needs to be balanced against the costs of training police staff who have a much higher turnover and require some expensive bespoke training for their roles.

Crime has been falling in England and Wales since 1995, long before this huge increase in police staff. There are serious threats ahead for the police service. There are going to be budget cuts, potentially serious cuts; more unemployment, cuts in benefits and threats of civil unrest are likely over the next few years with rises in crime and disorder a reality combined with a reduction in staff/officers. A staff mix of more staff than officers may not be resilient enough to deal with these potential threats or indeed some other day to day threats and demands and the 2012 Olympics, whose estimated demand is 10 to 15,000 officers per day.

We need to review the current staff mix within those forces leading these changes to ensure that there is sufficient resilience to enable officers to be available for the demands we face. The so called value for money that police staff provide needs to be reassessed when it appears we are pouring money into new police staff posts and we have little idea what additional value they bring.

We need to ensure that we have the right number of sworn officers to enable us to be able to tackle the issues we may face supported by the right mix of police staff. We are at risk of becoming a police service run by police staff where the only contact police officers have with the public is dealing with confrontation.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Police NOT responsible for killings in Cumbria

I think I am getting paranoid. When I heard about the tragic murders in Cumbria and the fact that this shooting spree had gone on for two hours my heart sank. Mainly for the victims and relatives of this attack, but also because I was just waiting for the police to be blamed.

Why hadn't armed police arrived within five minutes and found and dispatched the offender?

So far not a peep of this. Apparently this time this tragedy is not our fault. Give it time and I am sure someone will decide it might be our fault after all. Let's get the IPCC to look at it. (See post below.) I am sure they will have some stupid advice for us.

Regards Inspector Gadgets call to arms on this issue, I am afraid he is sadly mistaken. Arming the police will not prevent incidents such as this occurring occasionally. Arming the police will ensure that betwen rare incidents such as Cumbria and Hungerford, dozens more people, including police officers, will be killed in firearms incidents. Arming the police will alienate us from the public. And if you gave some of my colleagues a gun I would have to resign as I know it is just a question of time before one of the idiots shoots me. Accidentally, I mean.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Police Responsible for Missing Girl Having Sex

Sorry, I have been banging on about this for ages and I am sure you are getting bored with it.

I have written before about all this really useful advice we get from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC.) One minute they criticise us for not investigating a crime and tell us we need to do more and put more resource into that. The next we don't respond to someones call and we need to put more resource into that. So we move resources around in never ending circles to try and comply.

What really annoys me is that mostly it is about ensuring that everyones backside is covered rather than actually providing a better or more effective service.

This story caught my eye. A 15 year old girl is reported missing by her mother and we didn't rush around and take a report immediately. The girl turns up two days later and reveals to her mother that she has been having sex. This now turns out to be our fault as we didn't respond immediately.

To the layman this might sound harsh but every police officer knows the local teenage boys and girls who go missing on a regular basis. Most of them are sexually active, taking drugs and drinking. They go missing week in and week out and know the system very well. They also know they are vulnerable young people and we have to try and find them. Most of them think it is great laugh that the police waste thousands of hours looking for them.

What happens is the parents, children's home or sometimes hospital dial 999 and report them missing. As soon as they have done that their backside is covered and it becomes the responsibility of the police. They no longer have any responsibility for their charge. We go and fill in a huge missing person report and show them as missing on the police computer. We usually ring their mobile and often they answer it and say they are OK but they won't tell us where they are, unless they want a lift home. Our backside still isn't covered, so we phone relatives, visit friends and go round and round in circles until they decide they are ready to go home and ring us up for a lift.

I do feel really sorry for the parents of some of these children. It is really hard for them. For others it is of no surprise or consequence to them and no surprise to us that the kids are off the rails.

On this occasion we didn't rush around that night and take a report. We did so the next morning and we went round in circles trying to find the girl. She pitches up at home two days later and tells her mother she has been having sex. She won't make a statement to support a prosecution so there is nothing we can do about it, but the mother wants to blame someone and so it is now our fault as we didn't go and take a report straight away. So if we cannot answer your call for help when you are being beaten senseless and robbed it might be because we are wasting time rushing around immediately to take a report of another regular missing person as our backside needs to be covered. You can always complain to the IPCC and I am sure they will come up with more words of wisdom.

For the record I am not confusing those regular missing children with genuine missing children who are seriously vulnerable and at risk. We can spot those and deal with them appropriately.

Sunday 23 May 2010

Police Hang Woman in Phone Box

Which one of you lot is feeling suicidal?

I have written before about the advice that often comes from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC.) Invariably they give advice that would be useful in an ideal world where resources are infinite. I have said before that we are not perfect and the people we deal with have high expectations. Occasionally we make mistakes and we should apologise when we do so. The sooner the better.

The IPCC look at complaints and whether it is about response, custody or investigation, invariably the advice is that we must do more. So some of our limited resources are moved around the board from one area to another until the next complaint when they get moved again.

This story caught my eye. A drunken woman with a number of issues rang the police to demand we attended to help her gain access to her sisters flat. She later rang again and during this call she said I will 'top myself' if the police did not attend. The operator missed that comment and that was a failing for which we should apologise. The article focuses on the missed comment but the advice from the IPCC made clear that the police should attend immediately any incident where someone has threatened to kill themselves.

What the IPCC decided was that the call was initially correctly graded as a 2. That means that we should attend within an hour. But as soon as the lady mentioned topping herself, it should have been graded 1 and we should have attended immediately. De facto, the police once again are responsible for killing this woman.

My problem with this is that every day the police get hundreds of calls from people under the influence of drink, drugs, mentally ill or just plain attention seeking. Operators talk to these individuals and make a judgement call as to how vulnerable they really believe they are and allocate resources appropriately. Very occasionally we may get it wrong.

If we now follow the guidance of the IPCC, (and God help you if you don't) every time anyone mentions suicide we have to rush to attend. There are consequences for this policy. Firstly, when you need urgent help from the police you may not get it because we are rushing around attending calls from those people crying wolf threatening their lives again. Secondly, most people these days call from a mobile. If we don't really think they are vulnerable, how many hours do we spend trying to locate someone? Thirdly, when the police attend what do they do? They will speak to the person and make a judgement call, just like the operator did. But one of these callers may still go on to kill themselves when the police have left. The IPCC will investigate and advice will be given that we must always attend and we must always call an ambulance, as they are the medical professionals. The ambulance crew will attend and make a judgement call, and so on and so on.

Public services cannot be held responsible for every aspect of peoples lives. We don't live in a society with infinite resources and we cannot stop everyone from harming themselves. We always need to act reasonably but we are not responsible for every problem in society. People and families need to take more responsibility for themselves.

Thursday 13 May 2010

My Values Are All Wrong

As it has warmed up a little bit recently I decided to leave the confines of the office and accompany some of my team who were executing a search warrant.

The warrant was at the home of a family that are well known to us. It is a five bedroom council house occupied by mum, dad and five children. There are actually eight children but the eldest is in prison and the next two are being looked after by other relatives as the parents cannot cope with them. The remaining five are aged between 2 and 12. Neither mum or dad have worked for at least 15 years and live on benefits.

We had information that to supplement his benefits, dad deals cannabis and cocaine, largely to local teenagers. Apart from the serious risks to the users, this is undermining our reputation in the community, hence the search.

On arrival, the back door is open and we go in. There isn't a carpet anywhere. The house is filthy and absolutely stinks. There are two piles of dog faeces in the house and a recent pool of wee. The kitchen is disgusting with dirty dishes all over the place and stale food. The kids are sleeping on mattresses with a blanket or sleeping bag. Not a sheet in sight. Police officers will not think this is anything unusual and I have been in far worse houses.

Dad gets arrested with a bit of cannabis. There is not enough to consider a charge of dealing. But hopefully the message will get through to him.

I have mentioned before that I attend a regular meeting with partners where we discuss those young people that are causing problems in the community. Usually those committing crime and anti social behaviour. Two of the children of this family were on the next agenda. I felt it was appropriate to mention that we had executed a drugs warrant at the address and the state of the house. The Local Authority were very interested as they have been trying to get into the house to inspect it for over a year. Children's Services and the Youth Offending Team took a different view.

I was rebuked for judging people by my own values. Apparently, living in a filthy slum doesn't make them bad people or parents and if they choose to live like that we should not criticise their choice of lifestyle. Because I choose to live in a clean environment and wash up regularly and clean up dog poo immediately that does not make me a better person than them.

I pointed out that if the family chose to live in a filthy mess and their children were model citizens who were not being arrested almost daily and involved in local anti social behaviour. If the children attended school regularly and the parents were not drug dealing but set a good example they might have a point.

No I was told. They have just chosen a different lifestyle with different values and I must learn to understand and respect this. I was losing it at this point. They haven't chosen a lifestyle. They are lazy, idle people who have decided that a life of benefits and banging out children beats working. Setting boundaries and being a role model are vital facets of parenting. What are they teaching their children? Perhaps if these parents washed their children's clothes, they wouldn't smell and they would attend school as there would be less risk of them being ostracised by other children. Perhaps if the parents introduced a bit of order and discipline and put them to bed instead of allowing them to run around all night until they dropped they might stop committing offences and get some education and the chance of a job and a future.

I was stared at as if I was some right wing bigot for whom there was no hope. I was obviously never going to see this light that they have found. After a further brief conversation these services decided that the 'work' they were doing with this family was perfectly adequate and they didn't need to be doing any more. They are always 'working' with families. This usually means seeing them once every week or two and having a nice chat.

I hope to God that the new Government addresses the liberal (small l) cesspit that has been allowed to take over all levels of the criminal justice system and we get back to some common sense and reality as soon as possible.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Neighbourhood Priorities

Good idea or just a pillock?

I have said before that I have worked in Neighbourhood Policing for many years and I am a big fan of local officers tackling the problem people and places and making neighbourhoods safer and nicer places to live and work in.

My teams clearly understand that I want the bad people arrested or prosecuted. I want them off the streets or towing the line on an ASBO or whatever it takes.

I get fed up, and quite frankly embarrassed, when I see some of the gimmicks that neighbourhood teams sometimes dream up to get a bit of publicity. Or is it someone trying to make a name for themselves when they put in for their promotion board?

Do you remember this stunt, where officers in East London were offering to follow people home from the cash point if they were worried about getting mugged. My question at the time was, if you have a mugging problem, what are you doing to catch the offenders? Why can't the neighbourhood teams be out visible deterring these offences anyway. If you don't have a mugging problem all you are doing is raising the fear of crime.

Now we have PCSO Vince Preston out on a BMX bike. He claims young people are more likely to talk to him and interact with him on a BMX rather than a normal bike. Vince, you don't know what you are talking about. I don't know who dreamt up this idea and you may just be the stooge for someone else's stupidity. You are not supposed to be regressing and becoming one of the youths that rides round on one of these things. You are supposed to be part of the police service and have the respect of the people you police. Riding around on a BMX just makes you open to ridicule and gains nothing.

Sorry to sound so negative but I wish we would just stick to the basics. In my experience the public just want us to be visible and enforce the law. That is our job, using discretion where appropriate. It is not to keep inventing ways of avoiding doing just that.

Thursday 22 April 2010

UK - A Dumping Ground for Foreign Criminals?

Lord Justice Moses one of the judges who allowed 2 Tamils to remain in UK as they threatened to kill themselves if deported
'The decision defies all common sense' Immigration Minister Phil Woolas. Tough words but you have been in power 13 years. Let's have some action!

Is it me or am I reading more and more stories about illegal immigrants committing serious crimes in our country? Some are undoubtedly thrown out but many others are allowed to stay here. Our judicial system seems to be the only one in the world that takes any notice of the Human Rights Act and it appears that some seriously dangerous offenders are being allowed to stay here in case we breach their rights or they might suffer further punishment if they are returned from whence they came.

I don't think this was being considered by the authors of the legislation, or this. And this man should have have some of his body parts removed for his crimes. If you come from a culture where committing offences carries severe penalties why should you be allowed to come here and commit those offences and not be returned home to face the consequences? And if you want to kill yourself because you have been sent home is that our concern? We won't deport any illegal immigrants if they all try that little wheeze.

This country is going mad.

Sunday 11 April 2010

Town Centre Violence

I have just spent the weekend supporting the regular response officers. Every weekend officers from departments all over the county work a Friday and Saturday night to help deal with the additional calls that largely come about because of excessive drinking. It is fair to say that some of my colleagues don't like this and try to avoid it. Personally, I feel we all need to do our bit and help out.

I worked shifts in a town centre for many years and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a constant battle between the licensed premises and the police. We had our irresponsible pubs who allowed underage drinkers and drunkenness and they got visited every Friday and Saturday. I made it clear to the licensees that if they were not prepared to act responsibly I would control their premises and they would be prosecuted if they didn't start acting responsibly. I saw a number of licensees off as they didn't listen to the advice.

Most licensees are managers or tenants and are under pressure to meet targets. I can see why it is tempting to sell to kids, drunks etc. I supported extended opening hours and I hoped that this might mean we adopted a more Continental approach to drinking. Outside our town centres, this has happened to a large extent. Successful pubs have turned to selling food to survive. Those that don't make this transition are closing in their droves as the recession, smoking ban and drinking (at home) habits change.

This weekend I patrolled the town centre and visited a number of our large modern pubs. I was sad to see that here the mentality still seems to be, pack as many people in as you can, sell as much drink as you can and let the police pick up the pieces. If you visit these large town centre pubs during the week you will see tables and chairs laid out, but on Fridays and Saturdays the pubs clear away all the tables and chairs and play loud music. You end up with hundreds of drinkers stood around. They cannot have a conversation because the music is too loud and so they just drink. There are nowhere near enough staff working to monitor who is drunk and shouldn't have any more.

The results of all this are that I saw people throwing up in the street, there were four fights in pubs, five fights over taxi's and dozens of drunken idiots wandering around shouting and swearing. We also found one young woman semi conscious in a car park because she was so drunk and who required to go to hospital. Young woman in this state are so vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse. There were 18 arrests on Friday and 13 on Saturday linked to drunken behaviour.

I am generally against introducing more and more legislation to control behaviour. We have seen too much of this over the last 20 years. It occurs to me though that where town centre drunkenness is problematic an area could be declared as such and all licensees required to serve alcohol only to people sat at tables. This might get us back to the situation we want to be in. People sat in pubs having conversation rather than standing around drinking and listening to deafening music. Drinks would be more expensive as less would be sold, but profit margins maintained.

Friday 2 April 2010

More of the Same

This is Mark Johnson reformed offender and drug user. He clearly still needs a lot of help.

I have written quite a bit recently about sentencing, consequences and boundaries. This article in the Guardian caught my eye and I thought I cannot let it go without making some comment.

I am sure some of you will be thinking what the hell does he expect from the Guardian. This article is just so woolly and full of inaccuracies I couldn't ignore it.

'However much we sympathise, the fury of those who have been affected by crime should not find its way into government policy.' Says Mark Johnson reformed offender and drug user.

'Switch on the TV or open a newspaper and you will be confronted by a victim of crime.'

Not on my telly or in my papers you won't. Occasionally victims of child killings gain a lot of coverage such as the parents of Sarah Payne and Jamie Bulger. Generally, victims of crime have no voice and no influence at all with regard to the sentencing of offenders.

'Everyone can empathise with their pain, and we expect them to make angry, ill-considered demands for retribution. But their fury should not dominate the news agenda – or, worse, find its way into government policy.'

You cannot empathise with a parent whose child has been murdered. You might sympathise but you clearly cannot empathise. Angry victims do sometimes make demands for retribution but I cannot think of one example where a victims demands have resulted in draconian sentences. Public outrage may have influenced sentencing in some high profile cases but not the demands of victims.

'But when children's commissioner Maggie Atkinson recently suggested that 10-year-olds who commit crimes should not be treated as adults, and that they need a more therapeutic approach than pure containment, the justice ministry was tight-lipped and the public apparently apoplectic.
Atkinson is a professional who is paid to analyse what is happening to our children. We should listen to her and the other experts whose views are based on science, not raw emotion. She has seen that our penal system is designed to protect the public and has no real investment in changing people. So when victim support groups get incandescent at the cost of keeping young offenders in secure units, I agree with them. Some £200,000 a year is too much to spend if public protection is the only outcome and the child receives no intensive rehabilitation.'

I don't recall the public outcry this woman apparently caused. Most people thought you don't know what you are talking about and ignored her. Why should we listen to these supposed experts? Most young people, not all, who commit offences come from backgrounds where they need help. I think we are all agreed on that. What the author and Atkinson don't seem to understand is that as well as help they need boundaries and consequences. Until the so called experts ruining our rehabilitation and justice systems realise this, nothing will change.

'It is a public misconception that prisons are places where offenders go to change. In fact, HM Inspectorate of Prisons has found that more than 70% of young male offenders want to change, but 42% said jail did not provide them with the help or tools to do so.'

There is no misconception that prisons are where offenders go to change. We all know that prisons are places where offenders learn other offending skills and are likely to re-offend on release. I want prisons to be places where offenders are helped and educated or trained and early release depends on achievement. 42% of offenders didn't feel prison helped them. Now there is a shock! Not! I am only surprised it wasn't higher.

'Calm, scientific voices are telling us that when children commit crime they have not made a moral choice. They have gone too far because the mechanism that holds back their healthier peers doesn't work for them for psychological and physiological reasons.'

'Hating and containing them is easy. Both are easy vote-catchers. But these are sick children. Our object should be to care for them so that they can change and get well. Hatred is an expensive waste of public money.'

For God's sake! With this sort of view influencing and changing our justice system there is no hope. So the child that beats another has no problem with their moral code of conduct they are just sick and we should just accept this and help them. I say again, until these people understand that help has to go hand in hand with strict boundaries and consequences we will continue to see more and more violence and offending by young people. Sometimes that help and the boundaries and consequences will have to take place in custody for the protection of the public, not because of hatred and cost.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

The Rape Debate

When Baroness Stern reported on her five month review regarding rape allegations I was moved to wade in with a response but held back to consider further. Having done so, I will now try and give a more measured response. I don't quite see it in the terms that Ellie Bloggs does but nor do I consider myself a chauvinistic ignoramus.

There is no doubt that rape is a very serious offence and has enormous ramifications for and effects upon victims. It is quite right that we treat all rape allegations seriously and proportionate resources are given to the investigation, the victim is treated appropriately and offenders are pursued rigorously. I have no doubt that we have failed to do this in a small number of cases and that more can be done to address this.

It is always difficult to gain convictions as the question of consent is always the issue. The focus on rape appears to be centred around the low conviction rate. I do not accept that we regularly disbelieve those that make rape allegations. I am pleased to hear that more focus is now being placed on how we deal with victims regardless of charging.

If all allegations consisted of a woman walking down the street and a man grabbing her, dragging her into some woods, battering and raping her and she scratches his face, his DNA is recovered from her nails; a conviction is very likely. Likewise, an offender that is a serial date rapist can be caught by using evidence from a number of victims that they met and dated and were raped. Unfortunately most allegations not so straightforward and generally reflect the lack of moral fibre in this country.

I think I can best describe this by outlining the last three rape allegations that have occurred in my area. The last one came from a young woman of 20 who met a 17 year old boy in a pub. They had been drinking and had been acquainted for an hour when they went outside into the pub car park to have consensual sex. The young woman wanted the boy to use a condom but he didn't have one and they had sex without. She then reported the rape. I fully understand that at any point this woman can say no and she was quite sensible insisting that he wore a condom. The problem is that what jury is going to convict a 17 year old boy of rape in these circumstances?

The second case was a University student who got very drunk at a University function and woke up in bed with another student in the morning. She believed that she had had sex with him but could not remember. She reported this two days later. The boy was arrested and claimed consensual sex had taken place. He was by no means a sexual predator and was in fact pretty meek and mild.

The third case was an estranged husband and wife. The husband would come round the house to visit the children and then the couple regularly had a drink and smoked cannabis. They also regularly had sex. On one occasion the woman claimed that she was raped as they had had sex and she had not consented to it on that occasion. The husband was arrested and claimed they had had consensual sex with his wife at least 20 times since he had left the marital home and he had never had sex with her against her will.

None of these cases resulted in a charge. I believe that in every case a thorough and proportionate investigation took place and in every case the woman's allegation was accepted and that she was treated appropriately as a victim. I would ask though, have we really failed any of these women? Should any of these men have been charged with rape in these circumstances? In my experience these types of allegation are the majority and extremely difficult to deal with. We generally do a pretty good job even though a charge has not been preferred.

I am very concerned that there is growing pressure to reduce the standard of proof required to convict more suspects of rape allegations. I hope this does not happen as I believe it will result in wrongful convictions. We need to ensure that we always do our utmost to convict rapists but we need to be careful not to allow the low conviction rate to result in changes to the law that might see innocent people being imprisoned.

Saturday 13 March 2010

Equality in the Police

This weeks Police Review asks the question, are women getting a fair deal in the promotion stakes? It is a fair question when 30% of recruits are now women but women in the senior ranks account for less than 10% of officers. The main conclusion of the article was to suggest that the police service needs to provide more flexible working for women officers. I think it is far more complex than that and not a situation peculiar to the police.

There are still far more applications from men to join the police than women but there are also far more potential recruits than jobs. The police could recruit 50% or more women but this would inevitably involve unlawful positive discrimination. South Wales is currently recruiting 54% and I question how they are lawfully achieving this. The fact is that the role is more attractive to men than women and I don't think this has anything to do with promotion prospects.

The police service has become introspective more than any other public service with regard to equality and ensuring fairness for all. Quite rightly, part time working was introduced in 1992 and flexible working and career breaks soon followed, giving men and women the opportunity to continue working while bringing up a family.

When I review officers flexible working requests, inevitably, they want to work from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 6 pm because that is what suits them and their child care. Little consideration seems to be given to the fact that policing is a 24/7 operation and our peak demands are evenings, particularly weekends. We cannot accommodate 10% or more of officers working Monday to Friday, day shifts when there is little demand at these times. I would also suggest that this is hardly fair on the remaining officers who have to work more anti social hours and who have less support when they are working. Flexible working needs to reflect this and if you want to remain operationally fit and ensure your career is not stalled, flexible working needs to include some evening and weekend work.

If you want a part time job at a supermarket they will tell you that there are jobs available after 4 pm when the store is busy with people shopping after school and work, and at weekends. If you cannot work those hours you won't get a job.

In my own Force we have recently had two female Chief Superintendents and an ACC. In every case these women have been supported by husbands whose own career has had to take a back seat while they have supported their wives and helped deal with many of the childcare issues so their wives can work the hours required to progress their careers to senior management.

The police service needs to ensure that women have the same opportunities as men in their careers and that part time and flexible working and career breaks are available to encourage women to stay in and return to work. That really is the end of their responsibility. The key to having more senior female officers is not allowing more women to work 9 to 5 in a busy operational 24/7 organisation, or to take career breaks and expect to return in exactly the same position as a colleague who has been working. The key surely is that more women who want families and also to achieve careers in senior management need to be having discussions at home with husbands or partners and asking for that support for their career and not allowing it to take a back seat while bringing up the family and supporting their partners. Unless you want family or nanny's to bring up your children, one or both parents needs to do this and it will inevitably curtail some career opportunities in almost any business.
You cannot both have your cake and eat it!

Sunday 7 March 2010

Reflecting on Sentencing

I received a letter recently from a victim of crime. We had contacted her to tell her that the young lad that had broken into her car had been charged and was off to Court. The victim was a Muslim woman and when I first read her letter I found it quite amusing and rather ridiculous. After further consideration I then thought it wasn't so ridiculous and wouldn't it be better if sentencing reflected her view on crime and the focus on public humiliation. I have copied her letter below.

Dear Sir,

thank you for telling me that the man that stole from my car has been caught. I would like to have his full name, his address and information on any crime he has committed before. I would also like the name and address of any of his family that are criminal.

The man should be made to write a letter of apology for what he does and if he cannot write I will help him but he must pay me.

The man should be made to sweep my street and he should wear a sign to say that he is a thief so that anyone is warned he is a thief and to watch him. He must wear the sign always out of his house until 6 months when he does not steal.

The man must pay to fix my car and any money he has should be taken from him until he has paid. He must not drink or smoke.

Mrs A

I do not want to open a debate on Sharia Law and I do not accept that it has a place in our society, but I think there are many aspects of the above view I would support. We have moved some way towards it with community punishment, but offenders are given specific tasks that avoid public humiliation. I think a more public penalty would not only serve as a deterent to young offenders but also allow the public and victims to see justice being done.

About fifteen years ago I saw a group of about ten young people doing community service. They were all in the town centre on a Saturday morning scraping chewing gum off the pavements. They all had their heads down cringing with embarrassment. I thought it was great. It only happened the once. The liberals I so love, in charge of community service, heard about it and instructed it must never happen again as we should not be humiliating these poor offenders.

Back to our car thief, he was a 16 year old lad on benefits and was subject of a supervision order. This means he had already been arrested and put into the justice system at least twice (Police Caution and Court Appearance.) For his latest offences, three charges of theft from vehicles he was fined £100 and his supervision order was to continue for its remaining 3 months. He was ordered to pay the fine at £4 per week.

I believe the victims proposed penalty would have had far more effect.

Monday 22 February 2010

Egon Von Bulow

A question for readers of this Blog.

In 1974 two police officers, PC's John Schofield and Ray Fullalove were on a night shift patrolling Caterham, Surrey in their car. They were later joined by their sergeant Jim Findlay. In the early hours of the morning, they saw a man walking down the road carrying a holdall. This was unusual and they stopped to speak to the man.

Without any warning, as Ray Fullalove, the front seat passenger got out of the car, he was shot in the stomach with a handgun by the man. The man then walked to the drivers side of the car and shot John Schofield as he was still sat in the driving seat. Jim Findlay got out of the rear of the car and was also shot. The man ran off persued by Jim Findlay but he escaped. John Schofield died of his wounds. The other two officers survived.

A week later Egon Von Bulow was arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 with a recommendation that he served at least 20 years.

Since 1975 Von Bulow has protested his innocence. He has never engaged in any rehabilitation while in prison. He has never shown any remorse for his crimes. His latest psychiatric assessment described him as suffering from a severe personality disorder.

Despite this, he is still being released from prison. Over the last few years he has been allowed out for periods of time to reside in Probation Hostels and to integrate him back into society. The proposal now is to release him permanently under licence.

There are those that believe that anyone who murders a police officer should die in gaol. Others would be willing to tolerate their release after 35 years if there was some reassurance that he was rehabilitated, expressed remorse and was no longer a threat to society.

I fail to see how a man who committed this cold blooded murder and attempted murders and is still suffering from severe personality disorder, is safe to be released and he should remain in custody. What are your views?

Murder of Gurmail Singh

This is the man who stood up to some of the feral yobs we have been discussing recently and got beaten to death for his trouble.

Anyone like to take a bet with me that when these yobs get caught (and they will very soon) they will be well known to Childrens Services, Youth Offending Team etc. who will have been 'working' with them and their families for some years.

If only they had been told no a few years ago, Mr Singh might still be alive.

Sunday 14 February 2010


I have touched on this subject before and it links very much to the Edlington case and other similar cases.

I am convinced that the major factor in the breakdown of our society and recidivism rates in this country is the woolly liberals, (small l) who cannot seem to grasp the fact that poor behaviour MUST result in negative consequences. If you have not read the Winston Smith Blog, I commend it to you. The blog vividly portrays life in children’s services and young peoples care homes. This in one area where the liberals have been allowed to take over, unimpeded by the press and public opinion. Once you have read a few of Winston Smith’s accounts, ask yourself; is it any wonder that two thirds of children in the social care system are involved in drugs, have serious criminal records and nearly half of those end up in prison?

The liberals have almost taken over the education system and likewise we have a huge swathe of young people in various ineffective projects outside of school or in school dragging it down to the detriment of those that wish to learn. The present Government has great difficulty understanding the differences and the perceived inequalities of private and state education. We are constantly being told that it is unfair that some can pay to get a better education than others. The reason most people send their children to private school is to get them away from the poor influences that infest the state sector and lower the educational achievement of most pupils. Private schools do not tolerate poor behaviour and address it far more effectively than the state sector. The liberals have ensured that there are only ineffective consequences in the state sector and so this spiral continues.

The liberals have taken over a large section of law and order and the same applies here. The murderous James Moore received numerous Court Orders and I know from my own experience that he will have had lots of nice chats about his behaviour and how he needs to change. But not one of those chats would have said you must not do this or if you do something bad will happen. That would be far too oppressive and so his poor behaviour NEVER resulted in negative consequences and he went on to murder an innocent young boy.

I am a great believer in the Supernanny school of life. If you have ever watched one of those programmes you will have seen that there are badly behaved children and there are always reasons why. Usually it is because the parents are ineffective. There are often other factors involved that need to be addressed. The first thing that Supernanny does is set the rules. If the rules are broken there are negative consequences. The work to address parenting or other issues then starts but always, always, the rules are set first and if they are broken there are consequences.

I am not suggesting that children or offenders are flogged or imprisoned at the drop of a hat. I totally accept that work needs to take place to address the problems of the individual or family but this must always follow the negative consequences. If we ignore consequences we are wasting our time with the good work and reinforcing a society where people feel they can behave as they wish regardless of others.

We have got to win back this argument and ensure that the woolly liberals infesting education, children’s services, the Youth Offending Team and Probation are thrown out or re-educated. Their behaviour is also appalling and they need to understand that consequences exist and apply to them also. We are all guilty of allowing this to happen.

Monday 8 February 2010

Thank God!

I wrote last month about that charlatan Ali Dizaei and hoped to God he would at last be seen for what he is. The trouble with jury's is, you never know which way they may go, especially when the likes of Michael Mansfield are throwing up smokescreens of epic proportions. I hope he was working on a no win, no fee basis.

I hope his conviction marks a turning point where there will be less use of the race card and spineless managers will grow a backbone and stand up to egotistical, bullying, incompetent thugs like Dizaei.

I am disappointed to hear that some of the Black Police Association are still maintaining that Dizaei was a victim of a race hate campaign. I am pleased to hear that others have acknowledged that he is a crook and disgrace to the BPA.

This is a good day for British justice. Make the most of it, it does not happen very often!

Saturday 6 February 2010

Does Civilianisation Really Save Money?

Althea Loderick.........................Mark Rowley

Mark Rowley, Chief Constable of Surrey has recently taken over as the ACPO Lead for Futures. This appears to be fitting as Surrey like to believe they lead the way with regard to innovation and changing the way we police this country. Together with Althea Loderick of the National Police Improvement Agency a report has been produced suggesting that police Forces throughout the country should reduce the number of officers by around 28,000 and replace these officers with cheaper police staff. Mr Rowley believes that all forces should aim for a 50/50 balance of police officers and police staff. Surrey has more police staff than police officers!

At the same time the Home Office have announced that they want to see a £70 million reduction in the police overtime bill. The police may have to face cuts as the public spending axe starts swinging, but is this a sensible way to do it?

Mark Rowley joined Surrey Police in 2000. Referring to Police Authority reports, at this time Surrey had 2100 police officers and 760 police staff. Looking at the latest Police Authority report Surrey has 1845 police officers and 2335 police staff. So, over the last ten years Surrey has lost 255 police officers and gained 1575 police staff. Now, I don't have a Cambridge degree like Mr Rowley, but my 'O' level maths tells me that 1575 police staff cost an awful lot more than 255 police officers.

Mr Rowley would undoubtedly point out that Surrey has invested in new police staff such as PCSO's, Contact Centre staff etc. Being very generous this is still less than 500 staff. So even allowing for this 255 police officers have been replaced by over 1000 police staff. Police staff cost around two thirds of a police officer not a quarter and so Mr Rowley's argument does not hold up. If all Forces follow the Surrey model spending will increase.

In my own Force I have seen police staff replace police officers for the last 25 years. Initially this is on a one for one basis. Invariably though, I have then seen the police staff doubled or even whole departments spring up with supervisors and deputy supervisors etc. doing the job one or two police officers used to do. Why is this? My own view is that most of the 'desk jobs' were carried out by the longer serving officers. They knew the job and organisation inside out, knew how everything worked and were incredibly efficient. A member of police staff was brought in, they didn't know the organisation or how to get things done. Nor were they prepared to fore go breaks and work on if required. Invariably they went under with the workload and more staff had to be put in.

Another factor that seems to have escaped this report is that some long serving police officers have picked up injuries, disabilities or illnesses and are unable to undertake fully operational duties. Placing them in key roles that help the organisation function has been beneficial to the efficient running of the Force. Many Forces, including my own have 'civilianised' all these roles. The average Force has about 8% of officers who cannot perform fully operational duties. Forces are now at a loss as to what they are going to do with these officers. This is a tragic waste and is costing Forces dearly. They must either employ these officers effectively or ill health retire them, which will be very expensive.

Finally, if you pare your police officers to the bone you have no resilience in the force. When a number of unexpected murders occur or you have to police a number of critical incidents such as the flooding and foot and mouth outbreak in 2007, where do you draw in your extra police officers from? There will be none left.

Regarding overtime, I am sure that with prudence and budgeting some overtime spending can be cut. What people need to realise though is that most overtime is spent on proactive policing. Reductions in overtime spending will see a reduction in performance.

My message to Mark Rowley and Althea Loderick is this. Our job is policing. The focus should be on police officers. It cannot be right that we need one member of staff for every police officer. This is like saying the National Health Service needs a member of support staff for every doctor and nurse. Try reducing your police staff and increasing your police officer numbers back to 2100 Mr Rowley. That is how you will save money and get more policing done.

Edlington has repeated itself.

James Moore Murderer ..................Joseph Lappin Victim

When I wrote the below article I was not aware of this story. Another feral yob subject of an ASBO and arrested dozens of times and put before the Courts. This murderous little bastard was repeatedly let off with warnings and ineffective supervision orders. It would appear that he was repeatedly treated with amazing leniency because he allegedly helped care for his brother who has cerebal palsy.

Do we really believe that this murdering piece of scum helped look after his brother? I cannot see how anyone with any such compassion can stick a knife in another human being.

Thanks to the total ineffectiveness of our courts a young man, who appears to be a completely decent and law abiding citizen, is dead.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Edlington; A One Off or a Sign of Our Society?

I am sure most of you will have read the story of the two boys from Edlington who almost killed two others in the most horrific circumstances. The politicians assure us that despite the similarities with the Jamie Bulger case this is not reflective of our society. I disagree.

I have said before that I regularly attend partnership meetings with other agencies such as Social Services, Youth Offending Team, Education etc. where we discuss those young people that are causing concern in the community, usually by committing crime.

One child we discussed for five years was an 11 year old boy who became one of the youngest in the country to be made subject of an ASBO. He had also been excluded from school. He lived with his mother, who had no job. She spent her time sat at home drinking and smoking cannabis, which she shared with her son. The boy roamed the streets all hours and hung around with older boys committing offences, including harassing their neighbours. If any neighbours complained to the police the mother would be round their house threatening them.

Mother and son were regularly arrested for their behaviour but they threatened and intimidated witnesses and cases were dropped as witnesses refused to go to Court. We had intelligence that the boy was out committing knife point robberies and there were robberies in the area. The victims, who were also young people, either did not report the offences or refused to attend court as they were frightened for their future safety.

I wanted the family thrown out of their provided home and the boy put into care. I was scoffed at. The Housing Trust, Social Services and Youth Offending Team were only interested in convictions. Allegations and information that someone was committing offences counted for nothing in their eyes. It is pure luck that this boy did not become the murderous thug of the Bulger and Edlington cases. I suspect there are hundreds of similar cases waiting to become one.

This boy would have been far better off away from his mother in a decent loving home but there seems to be an over riding mentality in services that should be there to protect young people to leave them with their inadequate parents no matter what. Making excuses, doing nothing and hoping nothing major happens until they reach 18 when they can wash their hands of them seems to be the way they operate.

At the risk of getting into politics, what has gone wrong with our society that we are creating monsters like this? On the one hand we have the well educated and highly rewarded echelon with their huge salaries and bonuses. Is anyone really worth that much? And these people largely seem to be self interested gluttons rather than the philanthropists of the recent past.

On the other hand we have a significant part of our society that seems to be obsessed with celebrities and the idea that you can become somebody and rich just by appearing on television rather than working at school and getting a job and making something of your life. Your worth should depend on who you are not how much you are worth or how renowned.

The benefits system undermines the family. We have a responsibility to look after people, whether one-parent families or broken families, but we have created a society where broken families are the norm and living on benefits is a way of life rather than a safety net.

Banging out children should not mean a passport to a house and an all expenses paid lifestyle. The safety net needs to be there, but it needs to be tough to deter abuse of the system. The whole system should be designed to encourage the family unit. Families have to make choices; I reject the idea that you can have a career and bring up children. Most people cannot afford nannies and why have children if you want them brought up by the nanny and private education. For most of us, the mother or father needs to be at home while the other provides. The idea that you can have a career and children needs to be rethought for most people. Why bother having children if you are not going to bring them up with the love and time they need?

Incidentally, I hear the boys that murdered Jamie Bulger have been set up with new identities and lives in Australia. Have I missed something? I didn't think the Antipodes was a penal colony any longer.