Crikey, Surely The Met Hasn’t Grown A Pair

In 1993 a young lad, Stephen Lawrence, was tragically murdered by a gang of racists.  That much we know and we have known it for a long time.  It seems clear to most that the investigation into that murder was flawed and almost certainly derailed by the corrupt actions of one or two officers. However, I have never experienced a Murder Squad that did not want to solve whatever murder they happened to be investigating, whoever the victim was. Race, gender or Social Standing did not come into it.  There was a body in the morgue and their job is to identify the killer(s) and prosecute them.  I have never experienced anything different to that.

Just less than two years ago (some 20 years after the murder) it was alleged by a former undercover officer that the Met had been involved in ‘spying’ on the Lawrence family.

In the late 1990s it is alleged that (then) DI Richard Walton used undercover officers to facilitate this ‘spying’ in an effort to gain intelligence to help the Met defend itself against allegations that they had failed to properly investigate the initial murder.  The illustrious IPCC mounted an investigation into the involvement of Mr Walton.

After 19 months of rigourous investigation they deemed that there was ‘a case to answer’ against (now) Commander Richard Walton.  19 months. 

When it became clear that Commander Walton was on the verge of retiring, which he is perfectly entitled to do, before neither the IPCC nor the Met had actually instigated disciplinary proceedings then Stephen’s father Neville leapt up demanding that Mr Walton’s retirement be blocked.

To the Met’s eternal credit they declined to follow this course of action.  Commander Ealton has now, I believe, retired after completing his 30 years service.  He says that the IPCC always knew of his retirement plans but still took nearly two years to conduct their investigation.  I’m quite certain that they would be highly critical of an officer who took almost two years to conduct an investigation.

I have met Richard Walton a couple of times when he was a D.I.  He struck me as a decent, conciencious and efficient officer, but @obbsie knows him much better than I do.

The Lawrence murder has proved to be tragedy and a travesty on so many different levels.  There are lessons that we need to learn most definitely, but I’m not happy being branded Institutionally Racist by somebody who doesn’t know me.  That label has been aplied to every single Met officer for years now, and the majority of people outside the Police Service don’t even understand the significance of it.

I have sympathy with the Lawrence family for their loss, the same as I would have sympathy for anybody else in their situation, but this constant witch hunt just has to end.  SOME of the offenders HAVE now been brought to justice. There have been Reviews and Reviews into the Reviews, surely in 2016 it is time to draw a line and build for the future?

Surely there are also lessons to be learnt by the IPCC also?

Farewell Old Friend

Who’s that you might ask?

On Christmas Eve I came upon the news that the Met Police Catering Service was being outsourced, in other words, privatised.

Boris has already sold off Buckingham Gate, the main ‘feeding centre’ in Central London, and canteens-a-plenty are closed or will be closed.

Let’s be honest, in the main, the food was shit, but that is not the issue here.  When sent to another part of London, or held centrally ‘on reserve’ the catering service were the backbone of the Force.  Who else would give you a frozen pork pie, a sandwich, an apple and a cup of hot, grey water at 4 o’clock in the morning, and do it all with a smile?

It’s an important part of Police history and in my opinion just one more nibble at breaking up the Police ‘culture’.  I have lost track of the number of times my serial have been sent for ‘Snacks’ or a full meal and I’ve bumped into Smudge or Smiler who I hadn’t seen for years sometimes.  You were always guaranteed to bump into somebody from your past.  It may just have been a quiet chuckle seeing how far your old muckers had progressed up the greasy pole, but it was fun, equally as important, if not more so, than the actual food and drink we were being provided with.

When we were first sent to Greenham Common the catering was at Newbury Racecourse, far superior to anything the Met could provide, but it was missing that ‘something’.  Eventually the Met Police Catering Service took over at Newbury and normality was restored, crap food but a fantastic atmosphere.

When things happened at short notice, e.g. a riot or similar, it took a while for the catering to roll out, but you could could always rely on a man witha smile and a battered old Tranny van, Teapot One.

Teapot One
Teapot One
So for 3 years, with the possibility of a 2 year extension, you too could tender for the MPS Catering contract.  It may be cheaper, I doubt that it will be as efficient, and it’s almost certain that the ‘Service with a smile’ ethos will be missing.  The knock-on effcts too are not to be underestimated.  What wil all those cardiac surgeons do now with the legendary Met 999 breakfast being consigned to the bin?

As I said at the beginning, it may have been shit but it was our shit.  For all the dodgy meals and frozen snacks I was ever given I wouldn’t have wanted to be without it.

All Boris, Dave and Cruella will succeed in doing is to santise a piece of MPS folklore, and consign it to the history books. Crap as it might have been, privatising it will certainly not be an improvement.

You can’t improve upon perfection. 

RIP Force Feeding

I’m Sorry, I Didn’t Mean To Do This

Good morning, I was going to leave you all alone this morning, but when I went to bed last night there the first few tweets surfacing about a Public Order situation in Lambeth, South London.

When I woke up this morning and was getting ready to go to Church (well, it might happen) it had only just finished, and video footage was beginning to circulate too.

 

In general support from the public this morning has been fantastic, and I thank you all on behalf of my former colleagues. A particular tweet that caught my eye was this one  

A senior officer from another Force, who I happen to know from his time in the Met, pointed out that the Salvation Army do a good job of providing tea and succour to Firefighters, Police etc in times of disorder etc etc.  I do not, for one moment, want to criticise anything the Salvation Army do in times such as these, but for God’s sake. the once finest Police Service in the world relying on charity to give the trops tea/  Is this what you have reduced us to Home Secretary.  Go home and hang your head in shame. Speaking of the Home Secretary.  If you have viewed the video above, you will be impressed by the Home Secretary’s comments on the subject on this morning’s Andrew Marr show.  Oh, hang on a moment, wrong, she was too busy telling us what a wonderful Home Secretary she is, she obviously forgot to mention the problems overnight. Why should we expect our Police to face the challenges they do, just to be ignored by the government? I don’t know who you are trying to imitate Mrs May, but we’re not buying it. Margaret Thatcher Spitting Image puppet Very well done to everybody involved last night, you deserve our gratitude and appreciation.

Oh Please Theresa, Just Show Some Originality

I was just about to doze off last night when my interest was grabbed by a tweet from @imthenicenurse

 

The Tory madness in question being Theresa May’s latest brilliant bit of thinking published yesterday while we were all looking at newsreel footage of her Majesty.

Reforming the Powers of Police Staff and Volunteers

A Consultation on the way Chief Officers

Designate the Powers and Roles of Police Staff and Volunteers

Madness, total madness, showing an absolute disregard and disrespect for the Police Service and for the rights and expectations of the Public in general and Victims especially.

Even the first two sentences of Cruella’s foreword had me cringeing

The historic office of constable is at the very heart of the policing of England and Wales. Police
officers across the country carry out a wide range of duties, keeping the public safe and
ensuring justice for the most vulnerable members of society.

We know that, it’s just a shame she takes no notice and is intent on preventing the Police from meeting their obligations.

It’s not long before the madness continues

Volunteers also play a vital role in community safety. Since 1831, Special Constables have
taken many of the same risks as full-time police officers, for no reward other than the
satisfaction of playing their part in keeping their communities safe from crime. In recent years,
Police Support Volunteers have also played an important part of policing in such roles as
manning police enquiry desks or giving crime prevention advice. There is more that volunteers
can do. This Government wants to encourage those with skills in particular demand, such as
those with specialist IT or accountancy skills, to get involved and help the police to investigate
cyber or financial crime and, as their experience grows, to enable them to play a greater part in
investigations. These reforms will also help the police to make further progress on the use of
cyber-specials.

Before I go any further I should make it clear that I have no issue with Specials (the people) some of my best friends when I was serving were Specials, and yes, Cruella is quite right in one regard, whilst patrolling our streets they do face the same risks as the Regulars, no question.  I do remember one of our Specials telling me quietly one night (yes he came out regularly to perform a full Night Duty alongside us) “I do enjoy going out on patrol with you guys, but I must be honest, if you turned up at my bus garage and took a bus out without asking to be paid the lads would all be out on strike in an hour”.  Maybe, maybe not, but he knew what he was saying.

I haven’t even worked out where to begin with this lunacy, the scale of it is just mind-blowing.

In no particular order;

With the best will in the world, even an experienced Special will have received far less training than a Regular Officer.

By definition, ALL Specials will have a mere fraction of the experience of even a Probationary Constable.

Specials and Police Volunteers are exactly that, if they don’t want to or can’t come in next Tuesday they won’t.  If they want or need to leave early they will.

In recent weeks/months I have read about Specials being Public Order trained and Bedfordshire apparently has at least one Special Dog Handler.

The big issue with deploying Specials on Specialist Duties like that is that you never guarantee how many of them will pitch up to work until they get there.  I know that’s true of everybody, but anybody who is a ‘Volunteer’ can absolutely please themselves with no obligations whatsoever.

Put yourself in the place of a victim, the reporting officer, PC SMITH takes your details and tells you that Special Constable Jones will be in touch when he/she is next on duty, whenever that may be.  Special Constables, in the main, have other jobs, they do their 40 hours somewhere else each week and pitch up in their spare time, usually evenings and weekends.  Is that really acceptable?  I’m not convinced that is the way we should be treating our victims.

Finally, getting to my headline at long last, it’s not even an original idea.  It seems our revered Home Secretary has cribbed it off the Ministry of Defence, who are busy culling Regular Armed Forces personnel and replacing them with Territorials and Reservists.  Again, I’m knocking them, they are undoubtedly good at what they do, but they are not full-time dedicated Serviceman ready to go at a moment’s notice.

It isn’t working in the Armed Services and I don’t see how it can work effectively in the Police Service.

I voted in the Mirror Poll last night and 96% of those who had voted, had voted NO, Volunteers should not be used instead of professional Police Officers.

So, people of England and Wales, your illustrious Home Secretary is proposing cutting the level of Regular Police Officers to levels not seen since the 1970s and augmenting the numbers of unpaid Specials and Police Volunteers.  I’d be interested to see if she can find 20,000 new Specials and Volunteers with enough spare time on their hands to fill the gaps.  Oh, and all this is being proposed at the same time that the Met is considering ditching virtually all of their PCSOs in order to save money because of Home Office Budget cuts.

The Lunatics have most definitely taken over the asylum.  Enjoy.

.

Anyone For A Class Action?

I saw a very welcome headline yesterday;

Police force threatens to sue Theresa May over funding plans

“What a fantastic idea” I thought.

The article, if true, gives an intriguing insight into the inequality of Cuts and Funding by Central Government. The Met seems set to suffer an unbelievable level of cuts (up to 43%) while some rural Forces seem set to receive an increase in funding. If the Met were truly to suffer a 43% cutback in funding next year I really can’t work out in what shape it might survive, if at all.

Following on from the theme of yesterday’s post, what a fantastic opportunity.  If all of the other Police a Forces in England and Wales joined together with West Midlands Pilice and launched a Class Action against the Home Secretary she would be forced to justify her policy in the Courts. Who knows, she might even pick up a second conviction for Contempt of Court, two would definitely be a first and put her in a class of her own.

Sadly, I can’t realistically expect the Tory PCCs to support the idea, but it’s certainly one that appeals to me.

Who Would Be A Cunning Linguist?

Anybody who wants to join the Met apparently.

As from 20th July 2015 anyone considering joining the Met as a Constabule needs to be able to speak one or more of the following languages in addition to Eengleesh;

• Yoruba (Nigeria)
• Hebrew
• Arabic
• Hindi
• Punjabi
• Italian
• German
• Turkish
• Greek
• Spanish
• Polish
• Portuguese
• Sinhali (Sri Lanka)
• Bengali

 

No place there for Fronglais.

I can see how this might increase the number of BME applicants of Asian origin, but as for anybody else?  Who knows.

I shall probably be chastised as racist but when I lived in France I had to talk to the Gendarmes in French.. When I went to an official meeting and handed a leaflet it was in French, if I wanted it in English it was my responsibility to take it away and get it translated at my expense.

How many perfectly competent applicants from BME backgrounds, who would otherwise be an asset to the Met, be put off applying because they don’t speak one of the approved languages as well as English?

An applicant from Greece now, who can speak Greek and English, would now have priority over somebody who is born and bred in this country but can only speak English and Russian for example.

Looking at the article as it is wrote, it seems to me that the indigenous Englishman is well and truly disadvantaged, and that I, along with thousands of others, would no longer be eligible to apply.

I do apologise for two posts in one day, but this one has just kettled my swede as my eldest would say.

Never mind all of the other attributes one might be able to bring to the Met, being a Cunning Linguist is far more important at the moment.

Until, the next stupid policy.

Goodnight all.

No Water Cannon For You Boris

So now Boris knows what it’s like to be a Police Officer without having to go through the training. Buy yourself a couple of Water Cannon cheap on eBay or wherever and attract the hostile attention of a lady who clearly doesn’t want to risk getting her shoes splashed.

Last year, as you will remember, Boris splashed out £218,000 of Londerners’ hard earned cash on 3 second hand water cannon.

  
A little premature maybe as he did not have any kind of authorisation to use them, but knowing how Boris and his Special Aviser, Rabbi Glibs work, he may well have bought them anyway in an attempt to pressure Cruella into sanctioning their use.

Well, she didn’t. Yesterday she informed Parliament that she would NOT be licensing the use of water cannon on mainland Britain.

What is so different across the water in Northern Ireland I’m not sure.

May told MPs that her decision followed exhaustive medical and scientific tests that led her to conclude that the German cannon had the potential to cause serious injuries including spinal fractures, there were doubts over their usefulness in fast-moving riots and they were likely to damage the British tradition of policing by consent.

So if I have this right, rioters can chuck pretty much anything at Police Officers (and they have in the past) with the potential to cause serious harm to Police or Public, but we may not use water cannon because they might harm the rioters.

Firstly Mrs May, you and the clown formerly known as Tom Winsor, have reduced the numbers of Police Officers on our streets by 17,000+, and we seem highly likely to lose a further 17,000 in the next few years. You are decimating our stocks of Police Dogs and Police a Horses, both useful in Public a Order situations, so how exactly do you anticipate we will stop the rioting?  Get Hogan-Who to stand on a plinth, tell them they’re all being very naughty and will they all go home or they will get shouted at?

Water Cannon have the potential to cause serious injury?  Agreed, but so does an asp. You could kill someone with an asp. How does that work then, injure a rioter?  Oh no, but crack on and kick the crap out of our officers by all means.

Finally (for now) every single person stood in front of the business end of a water cannon is a volunteer.  When the nasty Policeman tells them to disperse and go home, maybe they should do just that.  Whatever happens after that is under their own control.  They have the ability to p*** off and go away any time like, if the choose not to heed the warnings why should I care?

This is just one more example of you, Home Secretary, displaying your absolute hatred of the Police. An emotion you have displayed in public previously.  If you don’t like the Police and don’t want anything to do with them, simply bog off and let someone else have a crack at being Home Sec, we won’t mind one bit, can’t get any worse after all.

I won’t trouble you, Mrs May, by asking to see a copy of your Risk Assessment for this decision, as if previous policies are anything to go by, you won’t have done one.

Disappointingly, in my personal opinion, the Met Federation had this to say;

 “We don’t want or need water cannon, especially the ones bought by MOPAC [Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime]. 

“They’re old and in need of repair, can’t be used in a dynamic situation and they need to be attached to a mains water supply.  “There has been a training cost implication within the Met on top of the purchase and refit costs – such an unnecessary waste of money.

“In the current period of austerity, the police service needs to commit the reducing budgets available to it to support the provision of policing in terms of officer numbers.”

 

I am so glad I don’t have to put up with this crap.

  

The Met Are Getting Better – They Very Nearly Answered My Request

In fact they probably think they have answered me, albeit late as usual.

It was just over a month ago, I was getting  absolutely pee’d off listening to all the garbage about the ethnic makeup of the Police Service.  As the largest Force in England and Wales I picked on the Met and asked them what percentage of applicants  in the past two years had been of an Ethnic Minority.  I had anticipated demonstrating how many, or how few, applicants came from Ethnic Minority backgrounds.

What I got back was the percentage of Recruits that were of an Ethnic Minority, not what I had asked for, but better than a Refusal like I normally get.

In 2013 there were a total of 2,343 Recruits in the Met, of which 368 were of a BME (Black & Minority Ethnic) origin.  This makes a percentage of 15.7% of Recruits were from an Ethnic Minority.

In 2014 these numbers had risen slightly to 3,140 Recruits of which 508 (16.2%) were from an Ethnic Minority.

Two things about this surprised me, firstly, the National Average for Ethnic Minority Police Officers was 5.0% in 2013 and 5.2% in 2014, so the Met seem to be making progress towards recruiting more BME officers.

The second thing was the sheer volume of recruits that the Met are taking in these times of Austerity. With losses to be made they must be losing one hell of a lot of experienced officers to make way for these recruits and still cull their workforce.  As I stipulated Police Officers in my request, and their response refers to Police Officers, I assume that I have to trust their figures.

Impressive.

 

UPDATE

It seems that in 2014 the Met had 7% more BME officers (total) than in 2013 and in 2013 had 2% LESS than in 2012, 2015 figures not yet available. So it seems that their campaign MIGHT be working, but we await long-term results

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.

News From The Support Staff

Crisis?  What Crisis?

This morning’s blog post provoked a reaction.  A reaction I wasn’t exactly expecting, and a reaction that isn’t in any way good news.

I have to confess, I take a share of the blame myself here,  we do tend to concentrate on the Front Line, the ever-shrinking Police Services around the country, and we may be a little bit guilty of forgetting the Police Staff, the Support Staff, the Bloody Civvies without whose help nothing would ever get done.

Well my quill was barely back in its pouch this morning when I received an e-mail from one of those loyal Bloody Civvies who works in the Met.  Naturally enough they’ve no desire to be identified for obvious reasons, but basically their story is this;

It’s like Miley Cyrus says, they came at us like a wrecking ball. 289 CJU staff to be reduced to 129 replaced by iPads sending case papers to court digitally. We all have to apply  for our own jobs pitted against our peers.
The 156 unlucky ones will end up in re deployment with little chance of getting out.

That is reality for the a certain section of Support Staff in the Met TODAY.  Not threats for the future, NOW.

How exactly is the Front Line meant to continue persecuting, sorry, prosecuting the criminal fraternity with the CJU Staff being slashed by more than half?

How many departments within the Met is this being repeated in?

How many other Forces are suffering the same?

Bottom line, how much efficiency is being affected by draconian cuts?

Cruella, Call-Me-Dave do you even CARE?

We do.