Stop And Search, The Work Of The Devil, Right?

I wasn’t intending to write anything at all this morning, but this headline from the Grauniad changed my mind.

Met police criticised for multiple errors in stop and search practice

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

The IOPC made 11 recommendations for the Met, Britain’s biggest force, for reform of its policies. “There is clearly much room for improvement,” it said.

What exactly is this profound statement based on? The answer to that is apparently a mere 5 complaints examined by our friends at the Independent Office for Police Conduct. FIVE, yes 5.

I have absolutely no idea how many complaints the Met receives in a year relating to Stop and Search, never mind how how many get substantiated, but I do know how many Stop/Searches officers from the Met carry out in a year.

To put some context on this alarming revelation from IOPC, let’s look at some other numbers. At this current time there are just under 32,000 (FTE) officers in the Met. These 32,000 officers, between them, carried out a grand total of 303,583 Stop/Searches under all relevant powers in the past 12 months.

32,000 officers have carried out 303,000 Stop/Searches and the IOPC issue their “There is clearly much room for improvement,” statment based on that.

I have no desire to defend unethical or unlawful practices, but really? The IOPC are clearly of the mindset that there are systemic failings at work here. I would say that there are possibly training issues highlighted for a very small number of officers.

To the IOPC I say this. You really do need to up your game. You are making yourselves look petty-minded, vindictive and government puppets. The lurid headlines do nothing but unfairly undermine the confidence of the public in their Police Service, so I will re-write the Guardian’s headline for them, and perhaps you can examine your own policies and when your organisation is 100% without fault and blame you can ask me to examine the situaton again.

Nothing Wrong With 303,578 Stop/Searches in The Met

Addendum

I have just read the IOPC Press Release. Having done so, I’m not at all surprised by their findings

The IOPC recently completed five investigations involving the stop and search of Black men by MPS officers and reviewed the collective evidence gathered to consider disproportionality, legitimacy and how force was used.

If you pick 5 complaints about Stop/Search on black males and your object is to find ‘Disproportionately’ it should come as no surprise if you find it.

So, having studied these FIVE complaints they came up with ELEVEN recommendations

  • taking steps to ensure that their officers better understand how their use of stop and search powers impacts individuals from groups that are disproportionately affected by those powers
  • ensuring there is a structure in place so leaders and supervisors are proactively monitoring and supervising the use of stop and search powers and addressing any concerning trends or patterns/ sharing any identified good practice at; individual, unit or organisational level
  • taking steps to ensure that assumptions, stereotypes and bias (conscious or unconscious) are not informing or affecting officer’s decision making when carrying out stop and searches, especially when using these powers on people from Black communities
  • ensuring officers are not relying on the smell of cannabis alone when deciding to stop and search someone and use grounds based upon multiple objective factors
  • ensuring officers carrying out stop and searches always use the principles of GOWISELY and engage in respectful, meaningful conversations with the persons being stopped
  • ensuring stop and search training incorporates a section on de-escalation, including the roles of supervisors and colleagues in controlling the situation and providing effective challenge
  • ensuring officers exercising stop and search powers are ending the encounters once their suspicion has been allayed, in a manner that minimises impact and dissatisfaction, unless there are further genuine and reasonable grounds for continued suspicion
  • ensuring officers exercising stop and search powers are not using restraint/handcuffs as a matter of routine and are only using these tools when reasonable, proportionate and necessary
  • amending stop and search records to include a question about whether any kind of force has been used. The records should also state where information about the kind of force will be recorded
  • ensuring officers are following APP and MPS policy and switching on their body-worn video camera early enough to capture the entirety of a stop and search interaction
  • supervisors taking a proactive role in monitoring and ensuring compliance with body-worn video APP and MPS policy.

Bloody Civvies

Behind every good cop is a bloody civvie.  The oft-forgotten backbone of the Police Service is the Police Staff, affectionately known as the bloody civvies. Many people don’t realise it but the relationship between officer and civvie can be a very intense one sometimes. At the coal face they frequently work closely together and almost rely on each other equally.  For example, Police Officers have to rely on and respect the skills and judgement of the Control Room staff. Nobody wants to split the traffic in rush hour for 5-10 miles only to find a civil dispute over a hedge at the end of it, or NOT be given the true status of an active ‘Suspects On’ or ‘Officer Requires Assistance” shout. Teamwork.  They are part of ‘The Team’.

What gets forgotten is that the ‘bloody civvies’ have suffered equally, or more, during ‘The Cuts’.

I don’t have the greatest amount of time for the Corp Comms or HR staff. They tend to inhabit their own world, but the Comms Staff, Intel Assistants, Analysts, CID Clerks  (showing my age now) and the like can rightly regard themselves as ‘important’ even ‘indispensable’.

Rightly, much is made of the ever-shrinking number of front line officers. The cuts to the Police Staff make just as much difference but often pass without comment.

Well, I, and others, am commenting.

Nationally the Police Service has lost almost 20,000 Police Support Staff (NOT including PCSOs and Specials) since 2010, and that looks something like this

However, in attempt to minimise Police Officer losses,  the Met has lost proportionately more, NEARLY HALF since 2010, and that looks very much like this

It’s tempting to make a politically incorrect comment at this point, but surely ANYBODY can see that no organisation can lose almost half of its staff and continue to function as though nothing had happened.  This has to be hurting the Met in every area of its business, on top of the Police Officers they have already lost and will continue to lose.

THIS is why there is a #CrisisInPolicing

Come on Mr Khan, London can’t go on like this.  Neither can the rest of England and Wales.  It’s about bloody time that the Mayors, PCCs, Commissioner and Chief Constables joined together, and with one voice, point out to Theresa May and Amber Rudd that #CutsHaveConsequences. Not just boots on the ground, but behind the scenes.  I know of at least one Police Station where the Police Staff have been cut so hard that a warranted Police Officer has had to be taken off the streets to do the job that the redundant civvie had been doing. How mad is that?

Where Has The Police Force Gone?

When I joined the Met in 72 it was a very different animal to what it has become today.  Some of the changes have been an improvement, many, in my opinion, have not.

The first thing I noticed was that the instructors were SCARY, especially that Drill Sergeant, Sid Butcher, who seemed to think that I couldn’t march properly.  He was right of course.  He threatened me all kinds of dire consequences but he succeeded in getting me to closely resemble a march.

Out to Division, my reporting Sergeant was an old sweat from the Palestinian Police with a metal plate in his head.  Never upset him I was told.  I saw what happened to people who upset him, but we just seemed to click, chalk and cheese.  “You’re an enigma son” was the best ‘compliment’ I ever got out of him, but he was good.  All kinds of ‘wickedness’  was waiting for new probationers, including (allegedly) the Station Stamp for WPCs. Yes I did say WPC, I was never renowned for Political Correctness.  I would like to think that I was polite and respectful, but Politically Correct?  Possibly not.

Some of the very first Inspectors I met were brilliant, I won’t repeat some of things they said to me, but it was character building and exactly what every fledgling Police Officer needs to hear, for any number of reasons.  I had a Chief Inspector who delighted in reducing people to tears, but I came to learn that (in his way) he wasn’t a bully.  What he wanted was for the officer to turn round and tell him to F*** Off. No bollockings, no discipline, for that one won his everlasting respect. Old School, right or wrong, it was right for me.

Some of you who knew me then might remember a Welsh Indian Chief Superintendent.  All kinds of crap was rained on him by the lower ranks because he was the worst example of an officer promoted beyond his ability, several times.  I could tell you many tales of life with him at the helm, but most of them you probably wouldn’t believe.

My first two years were hard. No sitting at the Drivers’ Table in the Canteen (yes, we had a good one), day duty invariably meant School Crossings, Shoplifters, Reserve Room duties, but most importantly learning one’s craft.  Fast cars and glamorous postings were for after the magical 2 year period, where if you passed, you were trusted with all manner of important jobs, Driving Courses, Specialist postings, looking down on Probationers and “Wind Ups”.  Instead of being the butt of Wind Ups one was allowed to participate at other Probationers’ expense.  But it was fun but the Job most definitely got done first, that was always the main priority.  Nowadays there’s seldom time to down a pork pie never mind have fun between assignments.  If we handed 6 jobs over to the following shift there was a shit-storm to follow, unforgivable.  Nowadays I can imagine dozens of jobs being handed over to the next shift.  Too many calls and not enough cops.

I had a serious wobble at about the 15 years and told my Inspector that I wasn’t coming in to work and he could do whatever he ******* pleased about that.  Don his name was.  He was brilliant, he appeared at my house, alone, and sorted me out in the best possible way.  He got me to see that it was ‘just’ a wobble and what could we do about it?  A change of direction within my career, a hilarious application to work at Buckingham Palace that didn’t go very well, and I was back on track again, different role, different responsibilities and fully re-energised.  After that point I never looked back.  If I ever meet up with Don again I shall surely buy him a large pint or two.  I owe him a lot.

We had our Gene Hunts, Jack Reagans, a few Jack Frosts and even fewer Barnabys.  Dixon of Dock Green existed but he really wasn’t very well.  Did I like working for Hunt and Reagan?  You bet I did.  I knew exactly where all the lines were drawn, I knew what was expected of me, and I knew what I had to deliver and how to deliver it. In the 90s I was introduced to the newest breed of DIs and DCIs.  Not for me I’m afraid, and those people were destined to be the Senior Management Team of the future.

It was about the same time that the Met started universally going down the pan.  PCs started calling their Sergeants John (or whatever their given name was), things became too pink and fluffy.  Having been given an assignment some officers were heard to say “I’d rather not do that, can’t you give it to somebody else?”, ‘bosses’ would surround themselves with their friends rather than take who they were offered, or choose the best people for the job, Chumocracy had arrived in the Met and it made me uncomfortable, calls would go unanswered and (Once) I even witnessed officers finishing their meal rather than turn out for an Urgent Assistance call.

Slowly and almost imperceptibly, the really senior officers changed from being proper cops to academics and weasels.  Not all, but very many.

From the late 80s to the present time the Met has tragically gone from being the envy of the world to (almost) a laughing stock.  Who do I blame for that?  May, Camoron and Winsor most definitely.  Hogan-Who must shoulder a large part of the blame too.  Too late speaking up in his last month before retirement,  the Winsor ‘reforms’ was the time when any true leaders needed to be heard.  I certainly didn’t need to turn the volume down there.

I do need to get my glasses out.  Where exactly has the Metropolitan Police Force gone and what is this thing that has replaced it? How did that happen?

Taser in London – The Numbers

A month or so ago there was heated discussion on Twatter and Farcebook about Taser Usage in London vs Ethnicity and there were differing opinions proffered.

I asked the Met two simple questions;

For the previous rolling 12 month period

How many times have Tasers been drawn, but specifically NOT used?

On those occasions when Taser was drawn but NOT used, what is the Ethnic Breakdown of the “suspects” i.e. The people threatened with Taser usage?

and

For the period July 2015 to June 2016 could you please give me a breakdown by ethnicity of persons actually subjected to Taser usage, i.e. Fired, Arced or a Drive Stun?

Their ressponse to the first can be found here

 

taser-drawn-not-used

But I decided I wanted to kjnow more, hence the second question.

The response to that one is finally in, and here, in a series of simplifed graphs, it is.

taser-drawn-2015-2016

taser-aimed-2015-2016

 

taser-fired-2015-2016

taser-red-dot-2015-2016

taser-arced-2015-2016

taser-angled-stun-2015-2016

taser-drive-stun-2015-2016

The question being so hotly debated was one of racial bias in ‘Taserings’.  Well, the info for a 12 month period in London is there.

What do you think?

 

Put Up Or Shut Up (Sir)

I am indebted to one of our number for bringing the following article to my attention

Met police ‘routinely discriminate against black people,’ Scotland Yard diversity chief warns

Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa has openly claimed that the Metropolitan Police routinely discriminates against ‘black people’.

Police are routinely discriminating against black people in stop and search operations in London as part of a misguided performance culture

Routinely is defined thus;

  • As part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason
  • Frequently and without proper consideration of the consequences

I am shocked.  To think that this behaviour is going on every day unchallenged shocks me to my very core.  It is unprofessional, unethical and undoubtedly unlawful.  Mr Olisa says that the discrimination was unwitting and driven by performance rather than racism but had led to a negative stereotyping of black people.  “Driven by performance”?  Still unethical etc etc.

Ch Supt Olisa, one of Scotland Yard’s most senior black officers, said police were more likely to stop a car with young black men on the chance of finding drugs than stop a car full of white men in suits, though they could also be in possession of cocaine.  This is possibly true but, let’s remind ourselves what s1 (3) of Police and Criminal Evidence Act has to say on it

This section does not give a constable power to search a person or vehicle or anything in or on a vehicle unless he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that he will find stolen or prohibited articles


More likely to stop a car full of young black men than white men wearing suits?  Possibly, probably BUT whoever they stop they have to have REASONABLE GROUNDS.

Reasonable Grounds are explained thus

Reasonable grounds for suspicion is the legal test which a police officer must satisfy before they can stop and detain individuals or vehicles to search them under powers such as section 1 of PACE (to find stolen or prohibited articles) and section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (to find controlled drugs). This test must be applied to the particular circumstances in each case and is in two parts:

(i) Firstly, the officer must have formed a genuine suspicion in their own mind that they will find the object for which the search power being exercised allows them to search ; and

(ii)  Secondly , the suspicion that the object will be found must be reasonable . This means that there must be an objective basis for that suspicion based on facts, information and/or intelligence which are relevant to the likelihood that the object in question will be found, so that a reasonable person would be entitled to reach the same conclusion based on the same facts and information and/or intelligence.

So, Mr Olisa, you are stating or implying, that Metropolitan Police Officers are routinely breaching these legal standards in pursuit of Performance Indicators (which should have been scrapped years ago).

My challenge to you, Chief Superintendent Olisa, is to find these officers, identify them, identify and specify the nature of their wrong-doing or breach of PACE, or their racism.  ANY officer falling short of the required standards should be retrained, disciplined or maybe even prosecuted if appropriate,   I don’t have a problem with any of that.  I do have a problem with senior officers making scattergun allegations without producing a single shred of evidence.

The morale of the Police Service everywhere, not just the Metropolis, is at rock bottom.  Much of that is due to DPS/PSD/IPCC witch hunts and officers being forced to fear their own shadows.

If an officer complies with the legal requirements for Stop and Search he/she should NOT hesitate to use his/her powers immediately, effectively and professionally.

Mr Olisa continued

The cop on the ground is just doing it because of what he or she thinks is right, they are not doing it because they are racist.

But when you look at the accumulated data you see massive disproportionality. I think that’s where we get lost.

Could it possibly be that the accumulated data might mean something other than your interpretation?  We have had these discussions and arguments before, and the Police Service needs to stop shying away from them.  As a white, hetreosexual male I wouldn’t be in any way offended if statistics showed that white, heterosexual males committed the majority of crimes, or were more likely to get stopped and searched than any other sector of society.

This is another example of need.  Need for the Police Service to keep accurate, robust records and stand by them, whatever they show.

We didn’t seem to have half these problems when we were a Police Force.

So Mr OIisa, we come back to the beginning, Put Up Or Shut Up.  Produce the evidence and act on it, and I, and many others will support you.  Until then STOP denigrating the reputation of what used to be the finest Police Force in the world, and further demoralising the good, honest, front line cops who are struggling against the odds to do their job to the best of their ability.  That’s why they joined.  That’s why anybody should join the Police, NOT to be part of a measured percentage.

UPDATE

Since writing the above, Mr Olisa has issued a rebuttal/explanation, which can be found here.

However, however much he swerves and wriggles, the Grauniad carried an almost identical article in June and I have not yet seen a rebuttal of that one.

London Knife Crime – The Facts

I don’t know about you but I was getting quite depressed hearing all the stories in the media about stabbings in Greater London, so I asked the Met two simple questions, which they answered (that was a surprise);

1. How many black males under the age of 20 have been killed or injured by knife crime in the first 3 months of 2016?

2. How many white males under the age of 20 have been killed or injured by knife crime in the first 3 months of 2016?

The Met cheekily granted themselves a small extension, but to be fair they did supply with some data, which is easy to digest.

The answer to question 1 was 2 fatalities and 113 injuries, of which 77 were Moderate to Serious.

The answer to qurestion 2 was 0 fatalities and 51 injuries of which 28 were Moderate to Serious.

Knife Crime 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

They then went further than I had asked them to and broke the figures down even more for me, apologies for the corruption in the image, that wass how I was sent it.

Knife Crime 2

It is reasonably self-evident where the problem lies, what can’t speak can’t fudge.

What does scream loudly from the page is that in the first 3 months of this year 166 young people were injured by Knife Crime in London.

166 young lives affected in some way by knives and violence.

2 young people never went home.

I know that London isn’t mirrored everywhere in the UK but surely it is indicative of just what is hapopening on our streets?

How do we tackle Knife Crime?  How can we reduce these awful figures?

 

  1.  EDUCATION – teach the young of the dangers of carrying knives, what they can do, what knioves can do to them.
  2.  Stop and Search – most, if not all, knives are carried through the streets at some point, and most, if not all, of the above offences were committed in the street.
  3. I can’t actually think of a #3, perhaps you could fill me in.

 

 

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

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.

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

Metropolitan Police – A Force In Crisis?

As a former Met officer I never in my wildest dreams thought I would see the day when the Met was anything less than the finest Force in the world.  However the last week has made me question that.

We have long had the unresolved problems within DPS which I and others have commented on before.

Boris and his tame Apocalyptic Horseman have sold off the family silver in order to offset the worst excesses of Cruella’s Cuts.  That can’t do much for the confidence and morale of the Met as a whole.

Last week we had the BBC reporting that Bernie Hogan-Who was admitting that claims that the Met is still Institutionally Racist have some merit.  That one is always good for the confidence and self-esteem too.

Next we hear that the Met is participating in a warts and all, fly on the wall, TV documentary.  They always go well, and we have already had a ‘leak’ that Bernie fluffed his lines and got the caution wrong when cautioning his prisoner (no comment).

This self, same documentary also informs us apparently that Bernie thinks that British Society is Institutionally Racist now.

Following on closely is news that the majority of the Met have No Confidence in the Senior Management.  Neither do they think that they are serving the Public as well as they might, but that could easily be down to May’s Mayhem.

 

I can quite see why the troops wouldn’t have much confidence in Bernie and his gang.

Saturday the Times carried an article stating that Bernie wanted to pay off the older white officers, and offer them some kind of incentive to retire. Apparently this is another mind-boggling brainwave that has its origins in this documentary.

Finally, I heard from Delbert who works in the New Scotland Yard restaurant (yes, canteen) that nearly 300 support staff have been put on notice that their jobs are ‘At Risk’ and that less than 50% of them will ultimately keep their existing jobs, the remainder hoping to pick up some other vacancy in the raffle.

So, I ask you, is the Met in crisis?

It sure seems like it to me.