Mustn’t swear, honestly, but yesterday provided me with a true WTF moment.
Following the recent visit of that nice Mr Trump to the UK, it became obvious via news and Social Media, plus personal observations on the M40, that many Police Officers had been deployed on Mutual Aid to assist with the Policing and Security for the visit. Nosey old me wondered just how many cops had been disrupted by Mutual Aid. It allegedly cost Police Sotland £5 Million for Mr Trump to enjoy a round of golf. Even my local Golf Club isn’t that expensive.
Who co-ordinates Mutual Aid in England and Wales. Answer:- The National Police Co-Ordination Centre, part of the National Police Chiefs Council.
So, I fired them off a Freedom of Information request thus;
1. How many Mutual Aid deployments have there been in England and Wales?
2. For each deployment, which force received the Mutual Aid?
3. How many officers were sent on Mutual Aid?
To be helpful I even added the foillowing rider;
“I specifically DO NOT REQUIRE any details concerning the nature of the deployment”
To be fair I never expected an actual answer, I always anticipated a Refusal. Over the cost limit is normally a good one, or we don’t comment on operational matters for security reasons. Either of those would have done. However, they broke new ground. Yesterday I got my eagerly awaited response
The NPCC does not hold information captured by your request. NPoCC coordinates national assistance only. They do not record all mutual aid, for example, if forces within a region send resources to each other.
A consideration may be to make a request with individual forces. On this occasion, I am unable to assist you.
That was it, in its entirety. Not a single word have I omitted.
So, for the biggest Policing operation for quite a while the NPoCC knew NOTHING about the Mutual Aid. A whoie world of stink was being kicked up about some of the sleeping accommodation. Leaves were cancelled in many Forces. Mutual Aid was certainly provided froom somewhere.
So I ask you, readers of mine, did your Force send Mutual Aid to the Met for Trumpy’s visit? Are you outside of the ‘Region’? Who the hell does monitor Mutual Aid and co-ordinate it if not the National Police Co-Ordination Centre?
To the National Police Chiefs Council I say this, many, many people think that you are nothing more than servants of this government. Certainly not enough opposition has been voiced to the stringent cuts to Policing Levels and Budgets, just “we must work harder or smarter within our new budgets”. We all KNOW that the loss of approx 21,000 Police Officers, and many of them are from the Front Line, can only impact adversley on Law and Order. I suspect that many areas are being Policed at dangerously low levels, particulary in Ruralshire and at night. The first duty of the government is to protect its citizens. They are failing in their duty if their cuts and policies are seeing rises in murders, assaults, Knife Crime etc etc.
“The primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime: the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed. To these ends all the efforts of police must be directed. The protection of life and property, the preservation of public tranquillity, and the absence of crime, will alone prove whether those efforts have been successful and whether the objects for which the police were appointed have been attained.”
Please, NPCC, please tell me how the Police Service of 2018 is fullfilling its Primary Objective?
I may well challenge your response to my FOI request, but far more important than that, PLEASE answer my question above.
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.
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.
It’s old news but slow old me has only just caught up with it.
Our dear friends the NPoCC in the form of @CmdrChrisGreany has issued a paper following on from a study following on from a nonsense.
Apparently/allegedly in the first 3 months of this financialyear Mutual Aid shifts across England and Wales increased by 87%. For anybody interested in the numbers they rose from 1383 to 2576.
For those of you non-Police persons unsure what a Mutual Aid shift is, it’s where your officers are sent to Police in somebody else’s County to help out in a (normally) Public Order scenario, e.g. Strikes, Sporting Event, Civil Disorder. This is nothing new, it has been going on for years, but the size of the increase this year disturbs me.
Only last week we learnt how, admittedly only 2, officers have been sent to Spain to assist with drunken British yobs, now I stumble across this which is much more disturbing.
Am I being thick here?
We are suffering the most brutal onslaught on Policing in living memory from our own bloody government. 17,000+ losses in 5 years with the same to come.
I have to confess that I’m not familiar with the current size of a PSU (Police Support Unit) is but it used to be 1 Inspector, 2 Sergeants and 20 PCs, or 1 Sgt and 10 PCs depending upon the scale of the event and the Aid requested.
Again, possibly I’m being thick and missing the point but that’s a MINIMUM of 1 and 10 missing from your Police Area. Your depleted Police Force is now losing more men and women (temporarily) to another Force, EVEN LESS Police Officers on YOUR street.
“WAIT!” I hear, being cried from Duties Offices across the UK. “It isn’t like that, we’re only sending officers who are on their Rest Days” Maybe that’s true, I doubt it, but it might be. If it is true those officers are entitled to recompense either by being paid overtime in real money, or given a day off in lieu at some other time, another day when they won’t be available to patrol YOUR streets. If they are paid overtime, even if that overtime is reclaimed from the Host Force, someone’s budget is suffering. Why is it suffering? #Simples. Not enough cops available to meet the demand on Policing. As simple as that. Why aren’t there enough?
Ask Mrs Bloody May or Uncle Tom Winsor. They started all this off, let them tell us why.
Before anybody remoinds me that the majority of these deployments might not actually be to another Force but merely to another town or city within your Force artea, the basic principle still holds true.. It represents an overall loss to the Policing of your streets, in one way or another.
Welcome one and all to this, the final chapter of MY Miners’ Strike.
As we start I’m still suspended from Driving Duties, Mutual Aid has ceased and I am waiting to hear my fate.
The beginning of the end is a visit to my Duty Inspector’s office. He informed me that I was to be prosecuted for an offence of Driving Without Due Care And Attention and that he was in possession of the Summons which he duly served on me. That hurt. Not just because I was being prosecuted, but because it was Christmas Eve (it could have waited till after Christmas) and every other motorist gets their summons in the post. For some reason Personal Service was deemed more appropriate for me.
I have to say that once I got down to trying to sort things out after Christmas, the Federation were not brilliant. However they did agree with my suggestion that I could choose my own solicitor and they would pay the bill. A bit of a cop out but it actually suited me well.
I took myself off to the office of one of the local solicitors that I had frequently battled with at the local Magistrates Court (no CPS in the early days, we prosecuted our own cases, Traffic and Minor Crime). Once I showed him the summons and relayed my version of events he initially thought that it was some kind of sick joke.
Eventually I was served the prosecution pack of statements and the Accident Investigator’s report. What I saw and read made me feel like laughing, but it didn’t quite come out that way.
It was quite clear that the Police, when taking the other driver’s statement, had asked her what speed she was driving at at the time of the collision. She had stated that she was travelling at a speed of 60mph, coincidentally the speed limit for that piece of road. She claimed that she had first seen me when she was “2 car lengths away” from my car.
The Accident Investigator’s report pointed out that xxx yards to the left (I’m sorry, I forget the distance) was a bend but at 60mph the Porsche would have been clearly visible to me, had I looked left.
My solicitor engaged the services of Professor somebody or other, who apparently was an expert in Accident Investigation and Reconstruction. His conclusions were completely at odds with the conclusions of the Nottinghamshire Traffic Officer’s report.
In April I was informed that there would be a Pre Trial Review. My solicitor spoke to the Clerk of the Court and asked what that was all about. He was informed that all interested parties got together and went over the evidence, presumably in an attempt to get an early Guilty Plea. So he asked the Clerk “Does that mean you might find there’s No Case To Answer?” “Oh no” said the Clerk “There’s no chance of that”. “In that case we’re not coming” responded my brief “see you at the trial”.
I wasn’t sure that answer was in my best interests, but I trusted him.
On the appointed day we jumped on a train and set off for Mansfield. I was not feeling happy.
Before the trial even got underway two things happened that made me feel a little better.
Firstly the Chairman of the Bench decided that he would close the Court to Press and Public. We hadn’t requested that, it was an unexpected bonus.
Secondly I was informed that the Chairman of the Bench was a Chartered Mechanical Engineer, so whatever was going to happen that day he would at least have understood all the formulae that were going to be bandied about.
The one thing that didn’t please me was learning that a whole day had been set aside for the trial. I accept that I have never been a Traffic Officer but I had never encountered a full day’s trial for a Without Due Care.
The trial got underway with the other driver giving her evidence first. It seems she had dropped her children off at school and was thinking about her shopping list (honestly). The rest of it was pretty much in line with her statement that I had already read.
The Accident Investigator gave his evidence next. Pretty predictable and unremarkable, I had already read his conclusions. My solicitor only asked him one question in cross examination “What are your qualifications officer?”
It seems he had completed Part One of the Accident Investigator’s Course, but was due to do Part Two soon. “Thank you Officer”
At this point the Chairman of the Bench decided to leap in with a question. ” Officer, you have told us about the Skid Tests and Acceleration Tests that you conducted using your Ford Granada. Was that vehicle fitted with NCT tyres?” “I don’t know Sir, the same sort of tyres as they put on Vauxhall Astras”.
“Thank you Officer”
A Fine Example of an NCT Tyre
Then it was my turn. Pretty routine, I knew the story backwards, and I had given evidence literally hundreds of times, though not normally as The Defendant.
Next, and finally, came my star witness, the Prof.
He started off by introducing his own qualifications. BSc, MSc, PhD, 12 years experience reconstructing accidents and consultancy work for the Home Office. I was beginning to feel better.
He then played his trump card. He went over his Accident Reconstruction, based on data supplied by the Reporting Officers, and informed the Court that in his expert opinion the Porsche had initially been traveling at 113.7mph prior to the application of the brakes. At this speed it would most definitely have been out of view around the bend when I commenced my manoeuvre.
No questions in cross-examination and no questions from the Bench.
The Bench retired.
Then they sent out for tea and biscuits.
After only 20 minutes they returned. I stood to hear my fate.
Then it got even better. The Chairman asked me who was responsible for my Costs. After hearing that the Federation were paying he looked a little crestfallen. Had I been responsible for my own costs he was going to make an Order requiring Nottinghamshire Constabulary to pay them, but as the Fed were paying he let it lie.
The lady Porsche driver walked across the Court, shook my hand and congratulated me, and not sarcastically. I asked her if the Met had yet paid her out for her Porsche. “I don’t actually know, but I’ve ordered a new one anyway”. “I’m glad it all worked out well for you”. I have a vague memory that she may have been the wife of somebody on the Police Authority, but I’m far from certain about that bit.
Then la pièce de résistance, the Nottinghamshire Sergeant who’d started all this off showed me his Prosecution File. It contained a Minute from the Chief Constable no less, saying that any Met Officer coming to notice during the Miners’ Strike was to be prosecuted, end of.
I floated back to London on a Happy Cloud.
After a few days I decided to phone the relevant Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard to tell him that I had been acquitted and to ask to be reinstated to Driving Duties. “We all know what happens at Court son, the Innocent are convicted and the Guilty go free”. Followed by “you can be reinstated but the accident will be To Count”. i.e. he was still going to record it as my fault, regardless of the Court decision.
Never again did I put my own personal Driving Licence at jeopardy for the benefit of the Met. Captain Slow would have been proud of me, I was probably the Met’s slowest Response Driver, but no way was I going through that again. Nobody cared that I could have been Disqualified, and for what?
Welcome to my last ever tour of duty on the Miners’ Strike. This week finds me still suspended from driving, sat in the back of a Transit Minibus as one of the crew, in Ripon, North Yorkshire, of all places. The furthest north I had ever been at that time.
It was a really boring week to be honest, the highlights were testing the sense of humour of our North Yorkshire Constabulary Traffic officers who escorted our convoy of Transits wherever we went.
They finally lost the plot when we reached a roundabout that we had been round dozens of times before and did a pre-arranged bomb burst onto all of the roads exiting the roundabout. The ensuing panic and disapproval from the North Yorkshire officers made us chuckle even more, but they never did see the funny side of it.
The only other event of any note was a drinking completion in the NAAFI between the Met and GMP, which I believe was declared an honourable draw after nobody agreed to lie down.
Friday came, our last ever day up north. Punctuated only by short spells on a a totally calm picket line, until early afternoon when we were relieved and dismissed for the long drive back to London.
As we were being escorted back to the M1 by North Yorkshire our driver thought it would be a hoot to overtake the escorting vehicle. On a dual carriageway. The Traffic Cops were not impressed, pulled us over and reported our driver for Dangerous Driving (it wasn’t).
The perfect end to our last week. No Further Action was rightly taken against our driver who will probably never want to visit Yorkshire ever again.
End of the chapter, and almost the end of the saga.
And this is as good a time as any to remember and acknowledge an Inspector called Don. One of the finest Inspectors I ever knew, one of that rare breed that inspired his troops and they followed him anywhere. This automatically made him unpopular with the management.
If you’re reading this Don, please get in touch, I owe you a lot.