Does The Home Secretary, Sorry, Prime Minister, Have Blood On Her Hands?

The answer to this, I think, very much depends on your opinion of Stop and Search. It is controversial, undoubtedly, but is it legitimate? Is it effective? Is it necessary?

Once upon a time, in 2014, Theresa May, as Home Secretary, instructed the Police Service of England and Wales to reduce their use of Stop and Search stating that it was disproportionate towards certain sectors of the community.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

  • Nobody wins when stop and search is misapplied. It is a waste of police time. It is unfair, especially to young black men. It is bad for public confidence in the police.

  • The proposals I have outlined today amount to a comprehensive package of reform. I believe that they should contribute to a significant reduction in the overall use of stop and search, better and more intelligence-led stop and search and improved stop-to-arrest ratios.

  • But I want to make myself absolutely clear: if the numbers do not come down, if stop and search does not become more targeted, if those stop-to-arrest ratios do not improve considerably, the government will return with primary legislation to make these things happen.

No such instruction was issued to Police Scotland, or Police Service of Northern Ireland.

As early as 2013 Mrs May had decided upon a reform of Stop and Search, and most definitely let everybody know her intentions.

She had been ‘informed’ that young black men were seven times more likely to be ‘targeted’ than whites.

Mrs May launched a consultation on her proposals in July 2013 and told MPs she wanted to make sure stop-and-search was used fairly and only when it is needed.

In answer to a couple of points in the last paragraph in the extract above, have the numbers come down?

Have they ever.

The above pretty chart is based on figures obtained by me from the 43 Forces in England and Wales, and may not align with figures quoted by our beloved media.

So, the first answer is an unambiguous YES.

Has the stops-to-arrest ratio improved?

The chart below represents the stops-to-arrest ratio for a rolling 12 month period in London in about 2016

At the beginning of his graph 8.3% of 533,427 people stopped were getting arrested.  This means that 44,274 people stopped were getting arrested.  Fast Forward to 19% of 160,694 people arrested as a result of “better”, “more intelligence led” application of Stop and Search.  It seems like we’re doing SOOOOOOO much better.

In a 12 month period the stops-to-arrest rate has increased from 8.3% to an impressive 19%, by doing fewer Stop/Searches more effectively.

Really?

In reality those figures show that the Met arrested only 30,532 people, almost 33% FEWER. The total number of people paying a visit to Custody Suites across London as a direct result of being Stopped and Searched was about one third less.

In the meantime, Knife Crime in London soared. Once again, don’t be bamboozled by some of the huge figures quoted by our media, they include Knife-Enabled Crime, a Robbery for example where a knife was produced but not used to injure anybody. I am referring to Deaths and Non-Fatal stabbings.

Sadly I don’t have Knife Crime data dating back to 2012 as this is not the post I anticipated writing and events have overtaken me.

 

What can’t speak can’t lie.  Force figures provided under FOIA and replicated without ‘massage’.  As Stop and Search declined over the three years, Knife Crime rose.

In London the pretty chart looks like this

The increase in Knife Crime is very much of the same order as nationally, but the reduction in Stop and Search has been much steeper.

As a faux-academic I am not qualified to proclaim that there is a relationship between decreased Stop and Search and increased Knife Crime, although a) It looks like there might be and b) Every weapon is carried through the streets at some point and the deterrent effect diminishes with reduced Stop and Search.

If you are a regular reader you will know that I strongly support the lawful use of Stop and Search i.e.  complying with the requirements of s1 of PACE and not conducting random searches for the hell of it.  Nothing here changes my view on that, but in my opinion it should be considered as a perfectly valid tactic if used properly againt the surge in Knife Crime.

Ordinarily that would have been the end of it.  Here’s the problem, this is what I think of it, you might like to try this……the end.

Oh no, nothing so simple this time.  Since writing my previous articles on Knife Crime and/or Stop and Search I have found this article in The Spectator.

Written by Alasdair Palmer, a former speech writer at the Home Office, one assumes that he writes with a degree of authority.

He was allegedly informed by one of Theresa May’s Special Advisers that stop and search was  a policy which consistently alienates members of the black community. He was told, allegedly,  that it would help the Home Secretary’s standing with Afro-Caribbeans if she made a statement that was critical of the police’s use of stop and search.

Her statement would include the fact that the Police’s use of Stop and Search was racist and that one was 7 times more likely to be stopped and searched if one was from an ethnic background.  The reality was that the Home Office had conducted research in the reent past and that the statistics produced did not actually support this proposal.

If you want to know if the police are stopping and searching members of particular ethnic groups in a biased and possibly racist way, then what you need to know is who is available to be stopped and searched on the streets at the times that the police are stopping and searching people.……….

The team of Home Office researchers felt it was important to know the ethnic composition of the population available to be stopped and searched in the places and at the times the police were implementing that tactic. So they went out and counted it: they identified the percentage of the street population made up by each ethnic group. They then compared that with the percentage of stop and searches that were made up by each ethnic group. They discovered that, when you looked at who was available to be stopped and searched when the police were actually stopping and searching on the streets, the ethnic bias disappeared.

The Home Office research actually indicated to them that the Police did NOT seemingly target any section of the community in particular, but actually conducted their Stops and Searches in areas of high crime.

Many years later it appears as though that piece of research has been ‘buried’.  Nobody at the Home Office knows about it or can find any trace of it.

Much has been made of Disclosure recently, but it seems that at least one piece of work was totally ignored when Thersa May made her politically inspired diktat on Stop and Search.  SOMEBODY within the Home Office knew the truth (allegedly).  Was it her SPAD?  Did she herself know and choose to ignore this inconvenient piece of research?

My last quote for The Spectator (I hope they don’t mind, all acknowledgemnts given) is this

The special adviser re-wrote the statement in the way he wanted it, with the misleading statistic, and she gave the statement to parliament as he had written it on 2 July 2013. And the rest is history.

At the time in question I am informed that she only had two SPADs, one was female, the other was (allegedly) Nick Timothy.  I presume the female was Fiona Hill.

All of this leaves me with one question really. Does Theresa May have the blood of untold youths on her hands, or is she totally innocent of all blame?

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Knife Crime – A Faux-Academic’s View

I confess, I have never been an ‘academic’, I left school with two A Levels and a Jamboree Bag. In truth, I’m never likely to be an academic either. I have had three jobs since leaving school, and every one of them involved being a practitioner of one kind or another. I’m not intimidated by ‘maffs’ and ‘riffmatic’ though. A set of numbers is just another challenge.

As most of you will know I have a ‘thing’ about Knife Crime and somehow seem to be at odds with some of the more established academics about Knife Crime and its prevention.

So, I wrote to all 43 Forces in an attempt to get a true picture of the scale of the problem across England and Wales. Then I thought, I can draw some pretty graphs and charts too. I won’t feel so left out.

It has to be said I got a colourful variety of responses, some Forces even went overboard and gave me far more data than I had requested. Some gave their results in Calendar Years, and some in Financial years, but at least they gave me something I could work with. One Force that shall remain nameless suggested that I contact the Coroner as they couldn’t tell me how many persons had been killed by knife or bladed object. A small number haven’t yet replied, so where you see value of zero on a graph, they are almost certainly one of those.  In the case of the Met I am still waiting for the figures for the second half of 2017.

With 5 Forces still to provide me with ANYTHING the total number of people killed by knives or other pointed objects in England and Wales was

2015 – 158

2016 – 177

2017 – 173

The total number of people injured by Knives etc (e.g. non-fatal stabbings etc) was

2015 – 9272

2016 – 9922

2017 – 8719

I expect all of these figures to rise, especially the 2017 totals, once I finally get the outstanding data.

Where did all these attacks happen?  Are there any unexpected hotspots?

As a faux-academic I think it’s quite clear that there are only maybe half a dozen or so Forces that have a real problem with Deaths and Injuries by knife etc. However any death is one too many, whoever the victim is, whatever his/her background is and whichever Force it is.  The killing simply has to stop.

One point that I feel I need to expand upon, I have heard figures quoted that are massively bigger than those above.  In the main they refer to knife-enabled crime such as robbery, aggravated burglary, any offence where a knife is produced but not used to cause injury.  We must definitely not forget those crimes but here I am concentrating on deaths and injuries.

What can we do about it?  I have written about Knife Crime many times before, and unless anyone comes up with another, better, suggestion, I still see the two ways forward as a) Education and b) Stop and Search, preferbaly in conjunction with each other.  I have read ‘proper’ academics papers that suggest that Stop and Search has no effect on Knife Crime.  I don’t have anywhere near enough pieces of paper to argue with that effectively, but I simply don’t agree.  Any weapon used in the commission of an offence is carried through the streets at some point.  During that time it, and its carrier, are always vulnerable to a Stop and Search if sufficient grounds exist.  I have always maintained that to retain its credibility Stop and Search should be used, but used lawfully and ethically.  I have previously written about the reduction of Stop and Search instigated by Theresa May, and the main post can be found here.

Finally, I have heard it said that ethnic minorities are unfairly targeted by Stop and Search.  I have always maintained that if you test the ‘available population’ that is no longer true.  Last night I happened upon this post in The Spectator which not only appears to support my view, but states that government knew this but had it spun differently.

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Stop & Search – A (Not An) Academic’s Opinion

I am not an academic, never been one and hardly likely to become one now. I have, however, considerable experience in Research and Analysis. In the past few days I have been involved in a, sometimes, acrimonious exchange on Twitter with an ex Think Tank academic, on the thorny subject of Stop and Search.

It all started off when I received this Tweet

and then

Rightly or wrongly I just had to challenge them

Gavin then confirmed his assertions with

This exchange continued backwards and forwards over 2 or 3 days, with neither of us conceding that the other might be right. Gavin came up with an extract from some unidentified document that he had found.

Cheekily followed up with

A further refusal to concede that “we expect…..” may just have a different meaning. The mood of this ‘instruction’ is possibly revealed here

In the midst of it all I asked Gavin if he had ever spent a week with a Front Line Response Team, his response was

The argument continued backwards and forwards for a couple of days, I won’t bore you you with the actual tweets they are on our timelines if you want them. At some point it included “numbers versus percentages”. Academics love things in percentages, I prefer numbers. A good example of this is Stop and Search in the Met. The number of people stopped and searched has dropped off a cliff face. The percentage of those arrested has increased dramatically. Some Academics claim that as a success. The reality is that a larger percentage of a much smaller number means that about 15,000 fewer people are being arrested in the Met as a result of Stop and Search. Not exactly a huge success.

In an attempt to get a more balanced opinion than my own I posed the subject of the 20% Arrest Rate to 2 Facebook Groups for the Metropolitan Police. Most of the replies I received denied that there was such a policy, a small number remembered the policy but claimed that it was ignored as unethical, some claimed that it was misinterpreted and only ever implemented by a small number of Inspectors at Appraisal time. There was one response however that was quite illuminating and I brought it to Gavin’s attention (anonymised obviously)

Gavin’s response?

My final words

I have nothing against Gavin as a person, I have never met him, but in this particular exchange he seems to have formed an opinion regarding Stop and Search in the Met and was particularly unreceptive to any differing view. This is not intended as an anti-Gavin post, just expressing a different interpretation of the same document.

However, not all Academics are so insistent that Stop/Search is bad. I have always taken the view that Stop and Search conducted lawfully is a valuable tool and legitimate tactic in the war against Street Crime. Police Officers are fully aware of the requirements for lawfully conducting a Stop/Search under s1 of PACE, and attempting to fulfil an SMT-defined quota is not one of them. I wonder if all Academics are familiar with them.

Finally, I was reminded of the work of another Academic, Dr Marian FitzGerald, basically her recommendations and conclusions can be summed up thus:

Contribution of saearches [sic] to tackling crime:

▪ Searches contribute to the detection and prevention of crime through arrests, and through the intelligence they produce.

▪ The arrest rates tend to be higher for ‘low discretion’ searches, where officers have received information from a third party.

▪ The report claimed that the power has a general impact on crime prevention, demonstrated by independent statistical analysis. However, this important finding was disputed by the independent analyst contracted to carry out the investigation.

Patterns of searches:

▪ Officers target certain individuals who they perceive to be involved in crime locally.

▪ Officers may use the power of stop and search to disrupt groups of young people.

▪ The use of the power is still perceived as a measure of productivity although searches have not been used as a Performance Indicator since 1997.

▪ Most searches were carried out on young men, around half of which did not live in the local area.

Dr FitzGerald’s research was conducted quite some time ago, and is specific to London, but that in itself does not necessarily render it invalid. The two main factors that have changed since then are;

a) Crime Levels have increased

b) Police numbers have increased since the date of the report but are steadily reducing again.

In conclusion it appears that Academics do not all agree with each other, and some are not willing to listen to opposing views to their own, even when presented with supporting ‘evidence’. However I am still perfectly happy to support Stop and Search as a valid tactic, with the strict proviso that it is conducted lawfully. With the recent explosion of knife-related assaults and murders, robberies etc, it has to be remembered that every one of those knives is carried through the streets at some point. How else do we deter this epidemic without Stop and Search? It’s a serious question, I’m open to all suggestions, I just want the killings to end.

Any item of Academia that appears on my Timeline that reduces the opportunities to prevent the killings is not best received.

ADDENDUM

Whilst I was writing this the following response popped up in one of the Facebook Groups;

Considering S.1 PACE refers to reasonable suspicion I’m surprised that the arrest ratio to “lawful stops” is not higher. How can any organization legislate a specific quota of arrests to stops? So they don’t. In fact with all of the adverse criticism over the years stop and search has been reduced to a trickle……………

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Senior Met Police Officer Awarded Knighthood For Successfully Arresting Fewer People

Like many of you I noticed that Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey had been awarded a Knighthood in the New Years Honours List. Like a few of you I actually thought “what the **** did he get that for?”

Now I know the answer. This morning I stumbled upon this

Met Police Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey has been made a knight for services to policing.

In a citation he is commended for reducing stop and search by 70 per cent while doubling the arrest rate and overseeing a dramatic improvement in the recruitment of officers from ethnic minority backgrounds.

To say that I was shocked is an understatement.

Back in May 2017 I wrote a piece entitled

A Scoop For George Osborne – R.I.P. Stop And Search

The reason I wrote it, at the time, had naff all to do with (Sir) Craig Mackey, but more to do with a set of Stop and Search statistics issued by the Mayor of London’s office. Nobody is going to offer me a Knighthood so I can’t be arsed to bring the stats up to date but I don’t suppose the current stats are very different to those forming the basis of a Knighthood.

If you look at the above graph, the arrest rate has more than doubled from 8.3% to 19%. Brilliant? No?

Well actually no.

At the beginning of his graph 8.3% of 533,427 people stopped were getting arrested.  This means that 44,274 people stopped were getting arrested.  Fast Forward to 19% of 160,694 people arrested as a result of “better”, “more intelligence led” application of Stop and Search.  It seems like we’re doing SOOOOOOO much better. In reality those figures show that the Met arrested only 30,532 people, almost 33% FEWER

I won’t challenge the 70%, I’ll give him that, but I do think the stats above represent a reduction in Stop and Search of about 70% over the rolling 12 month period. However, a doubling of the arrest rate? No, I’m not having that. 33% fewer people were arrested over the identical period. To state that the arrest rate was doubled is just a cynical manipulation of the stats. Surely the Public at Large would rather have more prisoners in the Custody Suite than juggle with percentages. Smoke and Mirrors.

Stop and Search is Dead, RIP Stop and Search .  Theresa May should hang her head in shame, she is personally responsible for this latest trend.  Amber Rudd has done nothing, I think literally nothing. I can’t remember her most significant contribution, and NPCC have done little or nothing to challenge Mrs May or her successor on it.

So, ultimately, the Deputy Commissioner was actually awarded a Knighthood for producing an outcome desired by Mrs May, reducing Stop and Search by 70% and reducing clutter in the Custody Suites at the same time, but do not pretend to have doubled the arrest rates.

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A Scoop For George Osborne – R.I.P. Stop And Search

Following Gideon’s appointment as Editor of the London Evening Standard I thought I would offer him a scoop.  Just to show him there are no hard feelings and to help him on his way to be a successful Editor.

So, George, here it is.

Stop and Search in England and Wales is moribund, it is defunct, it is extinct, it is deceased IT IS DEAD.  A bit like a well-known parrot really.

How do I know it’s dead?

Well, we all know that the previous Home Secretary decreed that the Police should use it less.  That was in 2014 I believe.

Theresa May announces reform of police stop-and-search powers

“I want to make myself absolutely clear: if the numbers do not come down, if stop and search does not become more targeted, if those stop-to-arrest ratios do not improve considerably, the government will return with primary legislation to make those things happen,” May told the Commons.

“Nobody wins when stop and search is misapplied. It is a waste of police time. It is unfair, especially to young, black men. It is bad for public confidence in the police,” she told MPs.

Well, she’s had her way, numbers have certainly come down.  Boy have they come down. Stats published by the Mayor of London imply that more people are currently being arrested as a result of improved Stop/Search application.  This is not so, a higher percentage are being arrested this is true, but this is a higher percentage of a much smaller number, resulting in fewer people being arrested in reality.  The stats are just being portrayed in a skewed manner, leading the public into thinking that things are better. And crime has NOT gone down.

For an example of what I mean, look at the Mayor’s graph of Stop/Search vs Arrest Rate, it certainly looks as though things have improved:-


At the beginning of his graph 8.3% of 533,427 people stopped were getting arrested.  This means that 44,274 people stopped were getting arrested.  Fast Forward to 19% of 160,694 people arrested as a result of “better”, “more intelligence led” application of Stop and Search.  It seems like we’re doing SOOOOOOO much better. In reality those figures show that the Met arrested only 30,532 people, almost 33% FEWER.

Is that really an improvement set against the explosion of knife crime and gun crime in the capital?

Stop and Search (correctly and lawfully conducted) is a major tool in the fight against Weapons, Drugs and Property Crime. Yet, the former Home Secretary says “cut it out chaps, it’s alienating people”.  What is she doing now?  Oh yes……..

Finally, don’t just take my word for it, below are the real figures over a 5 year period for England and Wales, plus a couple of the more dramatic examples of individual Forces.  All “official” stats.

I dare you to publish an article based upon this reality George, you can have first dibs, but don’t sulk if somebody else runs with it.

Stop and Search is Dead, RIP Stop and Search .  Theresa May should hang her head in shame, she is personally responsible for this latest trend.  Amber Rudd has done nothing, I think literally nothing. I can’t remember her most significant contribution, and NPCC have done little or nothing to challenge Mrs May or her successor on it.

Irrespective of whatever Mrs May says;

A Police Officer can search you if he or she has reasonable grounds to suspect that they’re likely to find;

• Drugs;

• Weapons;

• Stolen property;

• Items which could be used to commit burglary, theft or deception;

• Certain types of firework;

• Evidence of game and wildlife offences;

• Alcohol at or on route to a designated sporting event;

• Items made, adapted or intended to damage or destroy property;

• Articles connected with terrorism.

Crucially the officer has to have “reasonable grounds”. If those grounds are present then no politician, not even the Prime Minister or Home Secretary,  should deter an officer from excercising a lawful power “without fear or favour”, but it is essential that the “reasonable grounds” are present.

Finally, if any of you would like to know what your local Force is doing with Stop and Search  just ask and I will attach them to this post in response as and when I am able.

There you are George, I’m sure you can put together a half-decent article based on this.

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Knife Crime Vs Stop & Search, Some Numbers (London Edition)

In a few days time I should have a set of figures telling us exactly what the size of the Knife Crime problem is across England and Wales.  While I’m waiting for the last few miscreants to remember to send me some data, or protest that they don’t have a Knife Crime problem, I thought I would plunder the Mayor of London’s Data Store and draw some pretty pictures of the scale of weapons generally in our capital.

As the data goes back to 2008 I thought “why not nick it all?” look at the long term situation and how it might have changed.  The categories covered everything from Dog Bites to Murder but I just concentrated on my current hobby horse and guns while I was at it.

As we all know, Sir Bernie Hogan-Who ordered a reduction in Stop and Search in London after the 2011 riots in order to try to build trust between the police and London’s communities.  Did that work?  We shall see.

Knife and Gun Crime between 2008 and 2016 looks like this.Reasonably constant over 8-9 years, not a huge increase but certainly hasn’t gone down much.

Contrast this with Stop and Search over the same period.

That has MOST DEFINITELY gone down

Because we can, why don’t we have a look at staffing levels within the Met over that period.

Police Officers down a little bit, but noticeable drops in Specials, PCSOs and Police Staff.

Finally, total recorded crime, how much has that reduced?

A slight dip around 2012-2013 but most definitely on the way back up would you say?

Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well.

Back soon with England and Wales Knife Crime figures.  I bet you can hardly wait.

 

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Reform Is Down, Crime Is Working

Well, honestly, it makes much more sense than the Crime Is Down, Reform Is Working mantra that we’re used to getting rammed down our throats doesn’t it?

On the matter of “REFORM” my view is clear, I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll have to say it again, but ‘Reform’ is simply NOT working, and it is not working on so many levels.

The Oxford Dictionary defines Reform:-

Make changes in (something, especially an institution or practice) in order to improve it.

Please tell me in which areas the Police Service has been improved because I’m struggling to think of one this morning.  Which other Public Service has been improved by Tory Reforms?  Again I’m struggling.  NHS, Fire & Rescue Service, Coastguard, Education, Justice have all been hugely improved by the Tories since 2010.  Armed Forces?  Don’t get me going on that one, suffice to say I don’t believe that successive governments have invested sufficiently in the Armed Forces.

There are some things in life that the government (of any hue) simply has to afford.

For as long as I can remember we have been subjected to politician after politician, PCC after PCC telling us that Crime Is Down.

Is it?

The government’s current favourite, the Crime Survey for England and Wales has this to say about Police Recorded Crime

The police recorded 4.5 million offences in the year ending March 2016, an annual rise of 8%. However, this series is not considered a reliable indicator of trends in crime; most of the latest rise is thought to be due to improved crime recording practices and processes leading to a greater proportion of reports of crime being recorded in the last year than in the previous year.

So, Front Line Police say that Crime Is Up, but we don’t like that so we’ll go with the CSEW version

Latest estimates from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), the best measure of crime trends for the population and offences it covers, showed a 6% fall in the number of incidents against adults for the survey year ending March 2016 (6.3 million, compared with 6.8 million in the previous survey year).

So, let me get this straight, the CSEW figures show that crime is at a level approx 50% higher than Police Recorded Crime but because it shows a small dip, and Police Stats can’t be trusted, the CSEW version suits their soundbites better.

How does “Crime is down but it’s much higher than the Police think it is” sound?

My final Gripe Of The Day is violent crime in London and the Police & Government response to it.

The charts below relate to the last 12 months, see what you think

KNIFE CRIME


GUN CRIME


STOP AND SEARCH


In response to such awful gun and knife crime figures, what do we do?  We reduce Stop and Search by about 70% is what we do.

The blue line looks better, we’ve improved our arrest rate from 8.3% to 19%, well done everyone.  By my lack of a degree reckoning 8.3% of 533 thousand is about 44,000.  Whereas 19% of 160 thousand is about 30,000.  Not looking so impressive now is it?  Contrary to how the chart looks, arrests are actually DOWN by about HALF.

What do the government have to say about that?  Absolutely NOTHING.  They have a vision for how the Police Service should look and what it should do and they’re not going to deviate from that, and heaven forbid that should actually listen to the practitioners.

So, YES, Reform IS Down and Crime IS Working, particularly gun and knife crime.  How on earth can they just sit quietly and ignore all those shattered or damaged lives?

This tweet just about says it all for me

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300

This is Sparta.

If only, but it is about numbers, so if you don’t like numbers you’d best leave now.

Firstly, the 300, but actually it’s closer to 500.

Gideon’s announcement said that the government would now protect the Police, a complete U Turn, brought about, in no small way I’m sure, by his and Camoron’s desire not to have a Paris style incident on their watch.  I watched his entire speech, wondering how big the number would be, 10%, 25% or even 40%?  Then it became apparent that the number was ZERO.

Don’t be fooled by that though.  A lot of damage has already been done and there is at least some in the pipelines already in motion and presumably can’t be stopped.

I haven’t had all the results in yet but at least 500 Police Stations and/or Front Counters have been closed down, with many of those having been sold off.  500 is an incredible number and make no mistake Gideon’s change of heart will not bring them back, probably NEVER.  He has stopped the cuts and that’s as far as he’ll go, no reversals.

With just about two thirds of the results in, there have been almost 500 Police Stations and/or Front Counters closed in the last 5 years, with a further 100 earmarked for closure in the coming 5 years, although it remains to be seen what their fate is after Wednesday’s announcement, although I suspect that the closures will go ahead.

On those figures it’s not unreasonable to assume that nationally around 600 Police Stations and Front Counters will have closed with a further 130 or so due to close.  That is a staggering amount in my book.  Don’t be fooled into thinking “it’s just a building” the repercussions are many and varied.  Extra time, distance and cost in transporting prisoners to Custody.  Extra time and distance before Officers arrive at their patrol destination.  The inconvenience to members of the public wishing to report a crime, hand in or claim an item of Lost Property, chat to a friendly Neighbourhood Officer about whatever their problem is.  The clsoure of Front Counters is, I find, a tad ageist, it disproportionately disadvantages the more elderly of our population.  Those more infirm, unwilling or incapable of travelling the extra distance.  In my own area it’s a half hour drive to get to the nearest Police Station still open.  Two buses and about 2 hours each way from my own home.  Move things further away, make them more difficult to access, demand reduces, Reform is Working,  QED.

I hear people, mainly politicians and journalists,  saying that the Police Service should modernise, and, within limits, so it should, but we also have to take into account the needs and abilities of the public we serve.  I’m not sure that the government have done that so far.

I have consciously ignored the myriad of ‘surgeries’ that have cropped up at Tesco or Costa Coffee, they offer the chance for a ‘cosy chat’ but are hardly an appropriate choice for going to report the latest outbreak of Domestic Violence or dispute with a neighbout.  Very little in the way of confidentialty.

Finally today, I shall bamboozle with some Home Office figures, hopefully clarifying Theresa May’s spin on Stop and Search.  I’ll try to keep it brief.  I’m only going to refer to s1 PACE stops or we’d be here all day.

In 2013/14 there were 900,129 Stop Searches, in 2014/15 there were 539,788, shortfall of 360,341 or 40%.  Stop and Search down 40% in a year, a good thing?  Mrs May thinks so.

Of those Stops, in 2013/14 there were subsequently 108,161 arrests which went down to 74,680 in 2014/15, a reduction of 33,481 or 44%

The bottom line is that in 2013/14, 12% of Stop/Searches led to an arrest, whereas in 2014/15 that figure has risen to 14%

Aren’t we good?  We’ve cut back on Stops and Searches and increased our Strike Rate by 2%.  That’s what Mrs May would have you believe.  The reality is that we have decreased our use of Stop and Search and as a result of that there are 33,481 fewer prisoners sitting in Custody.

Little wonder then that knife crime, and others, are on the rise.  Much less risk of being caught carrying a weapon, drugs or stolen property now, and we can thank Cruella and her Stop Search Crusade for that.

I thank you.

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Stop And Search – A Different Truth

I am indebted to @kathryn_gale for tweeting a photo on Monday.  Without her tweet I would most definitely have missed it, as the Daily Fail is not high on my reading list.

 The article contains what I consider to be a bombshell allegation that Theresa May may have told the odd Melton Mowbray whilst participating in her favourite sport of Police Bashing recently.

As you can see in the article, it is alleged that she was advised how to present her article on Stop and Search in order to best make the Police look bad, and improve her own standing within the Afro Caribbean community.

Unfortunately she didn’t reckon for her OLD speechwriter, Alasdair Palmer, who thought he could smell smoking rodent, did some digging and remembered an old piece of research by the Home Office, some years ago, that concluded something quite different.

By studying the ethnic composition of ‘the streets’ when Stop/Search was being carried out, rather than the ethnic composition of the town/city generally, they concluded this;

“Overall, across the five sites, the findings of this research did not suggest any general pattern of bias against people from minority ethnic groups either as a wholeor for particular groups
:● white people tended to be stopped or searched at a higher rate to the available population
;● Asian people tended to be under-represented in those stopped or searched (with some exceptions); and
● black people have a more mixed experience, sometimes under-represented in stops and searches and sometimes over-represented.”

The fact that this is old research does not mean that it is not currently relevant.  I am unaware whether there has been any further research updating the subject, but I’m guessing not, and I have sent a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office asking for copies of any research and/or analysis on this subject in the last 5 years. So if Mrs May has based her speech on something else we should all be able to see that work soon, or not.

I assume that “Home Office research reveals that white people are more likely to be Stop/Searched by Police” does not make such a compelling headline so this particular piece of work has been sidelined, but you can find all 109 pages of it here.  In reality, the Executive Summary will probably satisfy your needs though.

All this leaves me with the thought that a cynical person might think that the Home Secretary has not only bashed the Police unjustly, kicking up a storm as she went, but possibly even misled Parliament, which I’m led to believe is not a good thing to do.

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You Know You’re Old And Crusty When…….

Someone suggests that you might need Refresher Training for Stop and Search.

Stop and Search SHOULD be taught in Basic Training and I’d be absolutely amazed if it isn’t, it’s a Bread and Butter tool of Policing, but it does need to be understood and not abused.  It is within the abilities of EVERY Police Recruit to understand what is required before conducting a Stop and Search, plus what needs to be done afterwards to comply with PACE and the Codes of Practice.

So you’re probably not surprised to hear that I was a tad pissed off to find this newspaper headline

Stop-and-search: Police training will challenge ‘unconscious bias’ of officers to cut down on unlawful use of tactic

Hundreds of police officers around the country are to have their prejudices challenged by a training programme that aims to reduce discrimination among those using stop-and-search powers

The new approach has been developed by the College of Policing and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), after the Home Secretary, Theresa May, commissioned a review of the way the police are trained – with “unconscious bias” to be monitored as part of new professional standards.

If I’ve got this right, this new piece of work is going to be led by Nick Glynn from the College of Policing.

Nick Glynn, stop-and-search lead at the College of Policing, said: “This training will explore the impact of stop and search, examine the effect of unconscious bias and ensure officers work within the rules when stopping members of the public.”

OK Nick, I’ll start off with the unpopular line “Who is to say that the bias is unconscious?”  The officer may have perfectly valid reasons to conduct the search that they have just made are or just about to make.  There maybe nothing unconscious in their bias at all but an Intelligence Led or Evidence Led approach has been adopted quite reasonably (and lawfully).

It seems to me that a HUGE assumption has been made that Stop/Searches are conducted with the benefit of ‘unconscious bias’.  Who has decreed this?  Who is it, Nick, that has conducted a scientific analysis of Stop/Searches and found that many of them were carried out as the result of ‘unconscious bias’?  Could you please provide me a link to this important piece of work so that I can study it?

If I was still serving I would be highly insulted to be told that I was going on Refresher Training for Stop/Search, even if I HAD been selected at Random.

If there is a genuine need for ongoing training in Stop/Search then I suggest that there are deeper underlying problems, an experienced officer should be able to initiate a Stop/Search (or not) in their sleep.  If a high number are acting unlawfully then surely this is a Disciplinary as well as a Training Issue.  Today’s generation of Police Officers are, in my submission, highly professional, and this should be well within their abilities.

The ongoing effect of this exercise, I suspect, will be that many officers will cease, or drastically reduce, their Stop/Searches, not because they are invalid or unlawful, but because the officers will be reluctant to be thought of as ‘unconsciously biased’, a term that smacks of ‘Institutional Racism’.  That is probably what the Home Secretary is not-so-secretly hoping for. What IS unlawful or unethical is using Stop/Search and Hit Rates as a Performance Indicator

I am SO glad that I have retired, it is no mystery to me why serving officers would be reluctant to recommend Policing to their families and friends any more, and exercises like this do not help.

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