Arm The Police, Or Not?

I am Old School, a Traditionalist, and I make no apology for that. 

In my heart we would be policed in the old-fashioned way, a truncheon, a whistle and a cape. However, in my head I know that is no longer possible.

I detest the idea of arming the Police, it’s not how things should be, not how the British Police operate, but life is not that simple any more.

My head is telling me that ALL Front Line officers should be routinely armed, and a defined percentage of Middle Office and Back Office offices should be trained and authorised.  The world has changed, nothing we can do about that in the short-term.  We are about 21,000 officers short on what we did have in 2010, the population is growing and terrorism has returned to the streets of Britain. Mainly England I agree but certainly not restricted to London alone.  It could strike literally anywhere.

Faced with a knife or machete wielding terrorist or a suicide bomber we must rely on “Can you hang on a minute till the ARV gets here please?”

If the government or NPCC or College of Policing, Police Federation do not want a routinely armed Police Service the only other visble option is to MASSIVELY INCREASE the number of ARVs on our streets, giving all Forces, Boroughs, OCUs sufficient armed officers to provide a meaningful response to any armed situation from hostage-taking, bank robberies through to terrorism in any form.  Not sharing resources like the NPAS fiasco, each Force MUST have its own dedicated resources.  My own Force (where I live in DeadBadgerShire) consists of 3 large counties, I wouldn’t want to dilute our meagre resources further.

The choice is simple to me, we MUST accept that the world has changed and can’t be reversed quickly, if at all. Arm the Police or increase the ARVs.  Either option would benefit hugely from reducing some, or preferably all, of the 21,000 losses incurred by the Tories.

I actually, and honestly, believe that the majority of the British public would support either of these proposals.

Is “Do Nothing” an option?

Enough Is Enough

Since 2010 we have lost approx 20,000 Police Officers from our streets.





The point has  been (fairly) made that those numbers would not have prevented recent terrorist attacks.  This is true.  BUT those numbers give us hugely increased resilience and flexibility to deal with intelligence gathering, monitoring of suspects and dealing with the aftermath of an attack.  Those EXTRA officers I have heard about are not extra at all. They are officers who have had their leaves cancelled or brought in from other boroughs, leaving them depleted.

The majority of our front line officers are unarmed, traditionally so. However the world is changing. Maybe it’s time to turn our backs on tradition and arm all Response Officers? Fortunately that’s not my decision.

It’s time to end the folly known known as Single Crewing, or Single Manning.  All Response Vehicles should be Double Crewed (and Armed) in order to better deal with unexpected and fast-developing incidents such as London Bridge etc.

Chief Officers should stop trying to appease Theresa May and the Home Secretary. Policing is something that requires numbers in order to be done properly and effectively.  Making your officers work 16 hour shifts just to cover up the lack of numbers is despicable. The officers will burn out and the public are being hoodwinked. Just tell the TRUTH. I am a member of the public, and I would much rather be told the reality in my neighbourhood, or Force area, than be fobbed off with lies and illusions.

Theresa May is quite right, enough is enough. I have had enough of these savage cuts to Policing.  The problem is nowhere near as straightforward as Theresa May and her party would have us believe.  They will only ever tell us part of the story. Backfilling and Abstractions are dirty words for them.

Finally, it is appropriate to pay tribute to the Police Officers of London, the other Emergency Services, and assorted Members of the Public who all showed immense bravery last night.  Police Officers are hard-wired to run towards the danger and protect their community.  Theresa May might not like it, but Policing is NOT a job, it is still, just about, a vocation.  Like it or not, politicians cannot continue to treat them like footballs.

There IS a Crisis In Policing and it has been brought about by the policies and prejudices of David Cameron and Theresa May.  It is time for all the psycophants to stand up to her and get this crisis reversed.  It will take years to recruit and train the required number of officers, but you cannot Police on the cheap Mrs May.

Enough is Enough

It’s Not About The Numbers

OH YES IT IS

Last night Home Secretary Amber Rudd, appearing on BBC Question Time, repeated Theresa May’s mantra “it’s not  about the numbers”. Well, as political campaigning for the General Election resumes today, I will have the temerity to challenge that concept.
You cannot Police this (or any 1st world country) on the cheap.

You cannot defend this country on the cheap, and

You cannot ‘heal’ this country on the cheap.

I will avoid getting involved in the argument about how much our Police Officers, Armed Forces and Healthcare professionals should be paid, that is for others to decide. However, I will say that their skills, professionalism and dedication deserve better than pay freezes, pension ‘reforms’ for members already in their particular scheme, often resulting in members havingto pay  more for a reduced pension and work more years to qualify.  That is not what they signed up for, they formed reasonable expectations for their ‘old age’ and retirement and then all those plans were torn asunder by this and the previous administrations.  At its most simplistic this is disrespectful. 

There must be, hidden away someone, a number.  A number below which we should not go when policing this country.  Surely there is a definitive minimum number of Police Officers that are required to provide an effective Police Service for the UK. Nobody is in a hurry to tell me what that number is.

There must be a minimum number of soldiers, sailors and airmen that are necessary to defend our country against the multitude of modern-day threats, and their deployment in foreign climes.  Anybody know what that number is?

The NHS needs a minimum number of staff to look after our various health needs;

GPs, Nurses, Nursing Assistants, Hospital doctors and Consultants, ever more expensive equipment for radio-therapy etc, secretarial and clerical support, physiotherapists, Speech Therapists etc etc, and their associated buildings.

Even the most efficient health service, operating at 100% efficiency, cannot continue to do so on reduced resources and funding.

This administration, and the previous one, seem to be more concerned in ensuring that the mega-rich pay less taxes.  The bankers that caused this “Austerity” are once more receiving their obscene bonuses.  What is happening to the Public Secor?  Is any of this tair?

The last couple of days have seen soldiers taking to the streets in order to free up armed Police Officers for other duties.  This is most definitely about the numbers.

I’m sorry to keep banging on about it, but when Thersa May and David Cameron set about their infamous ‘Reform’ of policing, incorporating Tom Winsor’s ‘independent’ reviews, NO Risk Assessments or Impact Assessments were undertaken, or the Home Office have lied to me.

As I said earlier, it is not for me to say how much our Emergency and Armed Services should be paid, but I am perfectly entitled to have my say on Public Safety.  I am not trying to say that more numbers would have prevented recent tragedies, but they may have helped, and they would certainly have given us resilience in the aftermath.

So next time you hear a politician state glibly that it’s not about the numbers you’ll know differently.  The Great British Public is being hoodwinked. No party deserves to be elected or re-elected on the basis of untruths and subterfuge.

Yes Folks, It’s Pantomime Season Once More

Oh no it isn’t.

Oh, yes it is.

Last night saw a public meeting, chaired by the Metropolitan Police, to discuss and seek to explain the events leading up to the fatal shooting of a young black man, Jermaine Baker.

Let me be clear, I KNOW no more than anybody else, why would I? However, like others, I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the IPCC handling of events such as this.

After the shooting of Mark Duggan the IOCC quickly made a statement to the public.  It included;

“We do not know in the order the shots were fired (sic). We understand the officer was shot first before the male was shot”

That statement turned out to be inaccurate and there was rioting in the streets.

Fear not, the IPCC have learned from their mistakes in the past, they won’t do that again.

Instead they announced with indecent haste that a ‘homicide’ investigation was under way.  Before you all shout at me, I know that is standard practice, but it’s the wording that seems to have changed.  I don’t recall an emphasis on the word ‘homicide’ and all its negative connotations before.

Then last night we had, what I consider to be, the shocking sight of Cindy Butts, IPCC commissioner,  told a public meeting that the officer who shot the suspect had been arrested and interviewed under criminal caution just that very afternoon. The IPCC declined to say what the officer had been arrested for.
Butts stressed the arrest did not mean the officer would be charged.

Ms Butts told the meeting that no relevant CCTV footage had been identified. Officers were not wearing body cameras, which drew repeated criticism from the meeting and shouts of “Why?”
She told the meeting, which was attended by more than 200 people, of the events leading up to the decision to arrest the officer.

All in all it seems like a statement to the public aimed solely at getting the local population “on side”

It’s almost as if somebody within IPCC Halls decided that after mishandling the Duggan Press Release, “we won’t do that again, and who cares about the rights of the officer.  The Police won’t riot in the streets but the local populace might and we can’t have that can we?”

Elsewhere on Social Media I saw at least one Custody Officer state that in his opinion the arrest of the officer amounted to Unlawful Arrest and Detention due to the apparent lack of necessity under Code G, which states;

A lawful arrest requires two elements:

A person’s involvement or suspected involvement or attempted involvement in the commission of a criminal offence;

AND

Reasonable grounds for believing that the person’s arrest is necessary.
• both elements must be satisfied, and
• it can never be necessary to arrest a person unless there are reasonable grounds to suspect them of committing an offence.

As I said previously, I have no idea what the evidence and necessity amount to but I seriously hope that this officer has not become Collateral Damage in the IPCC’s laughable quest to demonstrate that they are ‘Independent’, a claim that few serving or retired officers believe. 

Surely they would have been better advised to say nothing at all until all the facts have been established.

The Coroner hasn’t delivered a verdict yet.

I sincerely doubt that all the evidence has yet been gathered and assessed.

Contrary to the beliefs of at least one Tweeter last night I have no problem with the the officer being investigated, but he/she is entitled to the same regard for the law as anybody else.  If there is EVIDENCE that the officer knowingly did something wrong then he/she is clearly accountable for that, but sadly, it seems that the IPCC are going to hang him/her out to dry in a feeble attempt to placate the rioting few.

I will not be surprised if officers up and down the country are wueueing up this morning to hand in their Firearms ‘Tickets’, as they can no longer rely on any form of protection when things go wrong, and they will, no firearmsoperation is ever guaranteed to go without hiccup as the reactions of third parties are never KNOWN in advance.

Cindy Butts, I give hou 0/10 for your attempt at a Press Conference last night, must try harder.

Thought For The Day

First and foremost my thoughts are with the victims  of yesterday’s terrible incident at Leytonstone, I hope they can all make a full recovery, and quickly.

Before that however, I had already had a conversation on Twitter following on from this tweet of mine;

My point was, and still is, that we should take a serious look at the policy of Single Crewing.  I absolutely know that times are tough and numbers are down, but times are also changing and I question whether or not single crewing is appropriate in the current era.

Peter Kirkham was of the view that single crewing CAN be appropriate some times.  What we did absolutely agree on though is that IF officers are to be sent out single crewed then a supervising officer (I haven’t given much thought to the appropriate rank yet) should conduct a comprehensive Risk Assessment.   I absolutely know that this is a bureaucratic nightmare and it will change from day to day, but now, more than ever, Officer Safety is paramount.  When the numbers have been so recklessly slashed we can’t afford to lose too many to acts of violence on duty.

When it all goes wrong and a single crewed officer is incapacitated in some way, through violence, then the Police Federation should be proactive and aggressive in challenging the relevant Risk Assessment and properly advising and representing their member. The Police have always claimed to be big on Elf n Safety, now they need to prove it and abide by it, make the officers’ working environment as safe as they can.

As I said previously I’m fiercely in favour of scrapping single crewing and I’m quite aware that the proposal of Risk Assessments will not be popular with some, but Officer Safety is far more important surely?  If the officers get incapacitated in some way they simply can’t do their job.

Returning to London last night, my first thoughts were based around “what if that had been a gun and not a knife?”  If the “terrorist” had been armed with a gun (of any kind) how well would we have dealt with it? Were we ready/prepared for this incident, or worse?  I sat back and read, without joining in, last night, but the debate went on again about routine arming of the Police, and the arguments and counter-arguments went back and forth.

Me, myself and I have never been in favour of routine arming of the British Police, but I think it’s clear to all that times have changed since Dixon of Dock Green.  The world is a much different place.

I don’t pretend to have the answer, there are many out there far better qualified than I to contribute to that debate, but I am qualified to say that it is a debate that we should have.  The Police, the Public and the government all have a view and a part to play in this debate, and, just for once, it’s a debate we should have gloves off without any side trying to score cheap points off another side.  The subject is far too serious for that.

I suspect that the government already have sizeable stockpiles of weapons ready for the day when the public finally revolt, but regardless of that, cost should not be a factor here, keeping Britain safe should be the most important factor by far, Party Politics can wait outside the door.

Best wishes to all, and a speedy recovery to some.

Oh, by the way, I have no idea what Sophie Khan thinks of last night’s tasering as I’m still blocked by both her accounts.

Is It Time To Arm The British Police?

The question is really aimed at my former colleagues but please feel free to join in whoever you are.

The world has changed after Paris 2015. First Charlie Ebdo and the accompanying attacks at the beginning of the year. Then, tragically, Friday the 13th.

The events unfolding within the Bataclan Theatre must have been horrific and unthinkable when relayed to the Gendarmes by the survivors that managed to escape.  Faced with horrendous consequences for not doing anything the French launched s rapid strike on the theatre in a desperate attempt to rescue what they could from an unthinkable situation.  I can only imagine imagine how the cops on the street and their leaders must have felt, and they had very little time in which to act, it seems that theatre-goers were being murdered one by one.

How would we have dealt with a similar scenario?  It does seem increasingly likely that we might have to, someday, somewhere.

We have Armed Police available, every Force (I believe) now fields a number of Armed Police in ARVs routinely, 24 hours per day.  These men and women are fantastically well trained and superbly equipped, they will put their lives on the line at a moment’s notice in an attempt to resolve whatever problem they are faced with.  I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that our armed cops would have done their very best to resolve the ‘Bataclan’ scenario if they were faced with it.  Their courage and professionalism is right up there with the very best, no question.

The biggest problem, as I see it, is that even if you can find a senior officer with the balls to use the assets at his/her disposal, how long would it take to muster SUFFICIENT resources at the scene to be effective.

In this respect the French had it easy, their Gendarmes are routinely armed, and there seemed to be plenty of them available.  An ‘elite’ unit was on scene very quickly.

In the UK we have a Chancellor intent on slashing budgets, a Prime Minister who gives every impression of an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand and a Home Secretary and her entourage who seem to be intent on destroying the very fabric of British a Policing, and by extension our ability to mount an effective First Line response.

Systems are in place across the country to move suitably equipped and trained Police Officers to wherever they are needed.  The system is tried and tested and it works.  Where it is weak is when that help is needed NOW.  We can move cops from Manchester to London for example, but the two main issues are a) it takes time, and b) in the initial stages it leaves behind a void, which, initially, represents a vulnerability to a secondary attack.

The victims trapped in a nightclub being shot one by one, wouldn’t be terribly reassured to be told “help is on way, it will be here in 2 or 3 hours”. They needed appropriate help IMMEDIATELY.

As a cop I never wanted to be armed.  I never for one moment wanted ‘my’ Met to be paramilitary, routinely armed to the teeth and visible everywhere.

However, two things have changed since I was serving

1). The face of International Terrorism has changed.  9/11 happened in the dying months of my career. 7/7 after I had retired.  The events in Paris and elsewhere now getting more frequent and moving closer to home.

2). The face of Policing has changed since I retired.  The Home Secretary’s ‘Reforms’ have made it slmost inevitable that we could not mount an Immediate Response consisting of anything other than Cannon Fodder.  Mrs May has insisted on ruthlessly cutting budgets and resources.  In response PCCs have sold off Police Stations by the score.  The necessary resources are fewer and further away.

DeadBadgerShire actually consists of 3 large, rural counties.  To be honest I don’t actually know how many ARVs are available to the Force at any given moment, but even with the advantage of blue lights and sirens it would take a while to get them all together to mount an Initial Response.  Even in London they would encounter similar problems.

In theory we can call on the Army, but they are also being systematically reduced, many are already deployed abroad somewhere,  and where will the next attack on UK soil be?  It doesn’t have to be London, there are plenty of international airports to choose from for example.

So what do we want?  Is it time to complete the change in British Policing and, at the very least, train all of our Front Line cops, even if they are not routinely armed they will be trained and available to be armed.  Do we put firearms and trained officers in ALL of our Response Vehicles, locked in the boot etc until needed? Or do we go the way of our Continental Cousins and just arm all of our Cops on the streets 24 hours a day?

I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but I’m quite happy to provoke a debate.  Cop, Ex Cop, Member of Public, what is your view.

All that I think I know is that in the modern world Islamic State and Dixon of Dock Green probably can’t co-exist.

What think you?

Was It April Fools Day Yesterday?

I was absolutely stunned at the amount of total bolleaux in the British Press yesterday in relation to Policing.

It was so bad that I actually find it difficult to put it in an order of “badness”.

a) We have the two bold headlines in The Independent;

Black people still far more likely to be stopped and searched by Police than other ethnic groups

and

Stop and Search – Can transparency end this ABUSE of Police Powers

The first article even goes on to point out that a black person is SEVENTEEN times more likely to be stopped and searched in Dorset than a white person. What this lazy, biased piece of journalism doesn’t tell you is that according to the last National Census Dorset is a predominantly white county.  97.9% of Dorset residents describe themselves as ‘white’.

When I was a-coppering I was encouraged to stop and challenge anybody or anything that looked “out of place”! are The Independent encouraging our Police Officers to abandon their duty and ignore something that doesn’t look right because of the person’s ethnicity? Really?

I have said it many times before, EVERY Stop/Search has to have sufficient GROUNDS.  What analysis of the GROUNDS was conducted by The Independent?   None I’m guessing, lazy, provocative journalism, generalisation of the worst kind.

Every Stop/Search record has to be SUPERVISED.  What analysis of the supervision was conducted by the Independent?  None I’m guessing.

EVERYBODY who is Stop/Searched is entitled under PACE to request a hard copy of the Stop/Search record from the Police Station.  Did the Independent conduct any research/analysis of how many hard copies were requested and supplied?  Probably not would be my guess.

Independent – Please give me your responses to the 3 questions above, you are quick enough to allege that Police are ABUSING (your word) their powers, presumably you have the evidence to substantiate it.  To make matters worse, other newspapers have picked up on your story and run with it.

The Grauniad represented your article like this

Stop and search is a disgrace across the UK – not just in our cities

Stop siding with the government and take up the cause of Law and Order.   Stop and Search is NOT a disgrace across the country, pure statistics prove nothing.  Do some actual work and look at the story behind your lurid headlines BEFORE you publish.

b)  we have the BBC’s decision to produce a ‘Documentary Drama’ about the ‘shooting of Mark Duggan’.

BBC to make drama documentary about the Mark Duggan shooting

The film, Lawfully Killed, will tell story of the Tottenham man who was shot by a police marksman in 2011, triggering riots.  Exactly, the events (not helped by the IPCC it should be added) did indeed lead to riots.  What possible good can come from making this film?  The wounds are not yet healed but the BBC think it is appropriate to pour salt in large measure into those wounds?  We have had the investigations, we have had the inquest it was established that Duggan was lawfully killed by an authorised Police marksman.  Where is the story?  What are you trying to achieve?

c) The Grauniads 3rd contribution to mayhem and mischief this week was

British police to patrol Magaluf and Ibiza

Although to be fair to the Grauniad, on this occasion they WERE only reporting the news and seem to have done so reasonably accurately even if they did withhold one vital piece of the story.

Twitter was awash with incredulity yesterday at this bizarre headline.  However both West Midlands Police and NPCC have confirmed that it is a true story.

 

Neither DCC Thompson nor NPCC responded when it was pointed out that the cost of this exercise was not the issue, but the fact that officers were even being considered for deployment abroad in the face of the savage cuts already imposed by the Home Secretary.

Fiddling While Policing Burns
Fiddling While Policing Burns

Two officers for 2 weeks does not cost a fortune and will allegedly be funded in total by the Foreign Office (we shall see shall we) but the residents of West Midlands undoubtedly expect their Police to be policing the West Midlands. In an age when the public seldom see a warranted Police Officer patrolling, how do they feel about two of them patrolling the streets and beaches of Ibiza and Magaluf?

None too happy I suspect, but once again, that doesn’t seem to matter.

I must adjust my calendar, it does seem clear that yesterday was April Fools Day and we are all invited to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

 

mad hatter

 

Call Yourself Professional? You’re A Disgrace

The Armed Police of England and Wales regard themselves as ‘professional’.  They undergo hours/days/weeks/months of training, and for what?

Figures recently released show that during 14,864 operations in 2013-14 the actually fired their weapons only TWICE.

What are we paying you for?  Not to stand around not shooting people, that’s for sure.

This means that firearms were only fired in 0.013 per cent of armed police operations during this period. In 2014, only one person was killed by police in England and Wales.

Maybe you should take a lesson from our friends, the Americans;

503 people in the USA have been killed by police using firearms in the first six months of this year – and in the first 24 days of 2015, American police killed more people than police in England and Wales have killed in 24 years.  Now that’s more like it.

Now you’ve been given Tasers you’ve gone soft, you obviously don’t think you have to shoot people any more.

Call yourselves professional?  You’re a disgrace to the Police FORCE (the clue is in the name).

Well done Armed Police everywhere, you’ve once again shown the world how it should and can be done.  We all owe you a lot and we should be immensely thankful that you exist, yours is not an easy specialism.

I thank you.

What Price A Firearms ‘Ticket’?

PC Tony Lloyd has had his day in Court. He has been tried by 12 good men and true and found Not Guilty of Murder.

He was faced with the totally unenviable decision, pull the trigger or not?  He chose to pull the trigger and the rest, as they say, is history.  Would you?  Would I?  I don’t know, fortunately I was never an AFO so I find it difficult to put myself in Tony Long’s position on that fateful day.  I have, however, worked numerous times with Firearms Officers in attendance to bail me out and I would like to think that at least one of them would have pulled the trigger if it had been necessary, rather than fanny about with “shall I?, shan’t I?” during which delay I, or one of my colleagues, might have been shot instead.

It is a totally unenviable position we put our AFOs in.  We ask them to do something, knowing that ultimately one of them might need to pull their trigger, and then comedown on them like a ton of bricks when they do.

We have had two high-profile deaths recently at the hands of Armed Police, and in neither case am I aware of firm, rigorous support from the management when the ‘unthinkable’ happened. Only it shouldn’t be ‘unthinkable’ because that is what we train them for, we KNOW it might happen and that, and the aftermath, should be in our operational plans.

Tony Long pulled the trigger and set off a chain events that would rattle around for ages.

Ten years it took to reach yesterday’s verdict!! TEN YEARS.

If I had taken 10 years to get a case to Court, regardless of the verdict, I would be roundly criticised for not doing my job efficiently and effectively and leaving some poor criminal with this hanging over their heads for so long.  And it would be right to criticise me for that.  It should NEVER have taken 10 years to reach this verdict, or any other.  There was no delay whatsoever identifying the person who pulled the trigger, that much was clear, so why did it take so long?  10 years of his life that Tony Long will never get back.

It is perfectly correct that any shooting by Police be investigated, but 10 years? This is not America, we don’t tend to shoot many people in a year, so there is no reason whatsoever why the combined mighty of the IPCC & CPS needed 10 years to mount an investigation and prosecution.

After the cases of Mark Duggan and Azelle Rodney I’m surprised ANYBODY wants to be an AFO any more.

They’re highly trained, they’re professional. Mistakes WILL be made occasionally (VERY occasionally) and that is tragic, but not necessary criminal.  Why treat AFOs like criminals as the default position.?

Rant over. Have a good weekend.