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……………

Why Don’t We Just Scrap The Police Altogether?

Not my idea I must point out, but it really is quite amazing the ideas that our academics and Think Tanks can come up with.

However, I was settled on my sofa, getting comfy waiting for the game with an odd-shaped ball to begin when the phone rang, it was Bronwen again. My word she’s been busy lately.  Apparently she’d overheard a group of academics nattering after a conference.

One of them was whispering that Steve White, chair of the Police Federation for England and Wales, had pointed out that 84 per cent of calls to the police relate to ‘non-crime incidents’. In an article appearing in The Guardian on 7 September Richard Garside, suggests that slashing police budgets provides us with the opportunity to rebalance public policy and roll back police mission creep into almost all areas of public service.

Does this mean what I think it means?  Radically downsize the Police Service, and by doing so, force other public Sector Services to take responsibility for their own areas of concern?

We all know that downsizing the police has been an issue of concern for certain Think Tanks for some time. Last year Professor Tim Hope wrote an article about abolishing the police service altogether. He proposes that we should establish a civil harm-response unit in its place, formed through the merger of police, fire and ambulance services.  Sounds very similar to something that a certain. PCC is proposing.

To quote the good professor, and I sincerely hope that I’m not infringing anybody’s copyright here

To serve the public good, the uniformed police service should merge thoroughly with the community health, ambulance and fire services to become a harm-response service with the delegated task of protecting and offering succour to the victims of crime. Alongside the other public services, the police should promote community safety as a means of promoting public health based upon a genuine public commitment to the well-being of the community, in all its many varied and diverse ways of life. Nor when its services are not required should it intrude upon the privacy and liberty of citizens.

To fulfil their role as a public service, a level of education and training is needed for entry into a profession that can stand alongside other public servants such as nurses, teachers and social workers instead of the in-service indoctrination of impressionable recruits lacking in either higher education or life-experience.

As for the many investigative and regulatory functions performed by the state, including law enforcement, appropriate agencies need to be formed and staffed by their own investigatory officials, with as much, or as little, powers of investigation and arrest as their statutory foundations allow them. Since much of this activity now takes place or is known about in cyberspace, regulatory and policing functions need to be focussed appropriately and competently by suitable agencies, rather than seen as simply another task to be grabbed by a squad of hastily trained police officers.

Finally, the maintenance of public order and safety should also fall within the capability of a civil harm-response service. Those political liberties upon which the police were founded did not sanction paramilitary force, nor do we need it now.

So I really must thank Bronwen for bringing these two shining examples of academia to my attention.  Where would we be without Think Tanks and Acacemics?  No rude answers please.

Reform Is Working (NOT)

Now I know what Theresa May is referring to when she or one of her cohorts trots out the Reform is working, Crime is Down mantra.

Silly old me thought that she meant that the government reforms were working, and we all know that they are not.

No, it seems she was referring to Reform, that well known Think Tank.

Reform have come out with an absolute corker

 

Charlotte Pickles from the Reform Think Tank is of the opinion that Policing is no longer ‘fit for purpose’.

With the benefit of my One Man Think Tank Head on I’ll hazard a guess that might be BECAUSE of government reforms.

So, what little gems does Ms Pickles come up with to pronounce that Policing is no longer fit for purpose?

Currently, in forces around the country, officers are spending hours every shift returning to stations to fill out multiple forms – often duplicating the information they are entering. In some forces, paper forms are being completed, scanned and sent to police staff to input into online data systems. Information that could be accessed online via a mobile device at the site of an incident instead has to be obtained via radio calls to a back office team. The potential productivity gains from modernising these archaic processes are considerable.

Has she never heard of mobile data terminals?  Even in DeadBadgerShire the cops have data terminals in their cars so that they only have to find a convenient layby to submit their crime reports etc, thus eliminating the need to return to base.  As a very unscientific straw poll maybe you could indicate in the “Comments” section whether your Force has, or is in the process of getting, mobile data terminals in cars or hand held?

Likewise the gains from ensuring the interoperability not just of cross-force systems, but of cross-criminal justice systems. The inefficiencies in the transfer of information between police and the Crown Prosecution Service is of particular frustration for forces.

Add to this the potential of face and voice recognition technology, predicative analytics and electronic monitoring tags and technology becomes not just a time saver, but a crime-fighting tool.

There’s a lot of psycho-babble buzzword bingo words in there, some of her suggestions are not the responsibility of the Police (e.g. Tag Monitoring), so the Police should not be branded not fit for purpose on that score, whatever her point is, Intelligence Units are being CLOSED in some Forces because of the cutbacks so Predictive Analytics are hardly likely to come into play there, again, blame the government.   Face and Voice recognition technology?  Limited use surely, hardly part of Front Line policing.

The police service remains largely built around traditional, but declining, crime types. Complex and serious crime accounts for an increasing proportion of police demand. This coupled with a shifting ‘frontline’ – one that is increasing off the streets and behind closed doors – means that forces need to reshape their workforce. The ‘sacred cow’ of neighbourhood policing must be challenged, as must the focus on officer numbers. A new operating model is needed.

So, off you go chaps and chappesses, go challenge your sacred cow of Neighbourhood Policing, I’m sure that Joe Public will love you for it.  It has taken generations for the Police Service to stop dictating to the public what sort of service it will get and consult on what they actually want, and Ms Pickles comes along and tell us to challenge it.  Any members of the public NOT want Neighbourhood Policing, speak now before reform get their way.

There is no doubt that the coming years are going to be extremely challenging for the police service. There is also little doubt that the current model of policing is unsustainable. It is also true to say, however, that cuts or not, the current model is no longer fit for purpose. To meet changing demand the police service must reform, and in doing so there is significant scope for further efficiency gains.

There you have it, significant scope for further efficiency gains, it must be true, a Think Tank tells us it is true.  Time to tell your Senior Management that you are being inefficient and need a new Policing Model, that will hardly make you unpopular at all.

So who exactly is Charlotte Pickles and what are her qualifications for telling us that our Police Service is not fit for purpose?

The Reform website tells us this about her;

Charlotte joined Reform as Senior Research Director in August 2014. She has a particular focus on welfare reform, criminal justice and cross-cutting issues.

Prior to Reform Charlotte worked in a variety of roles covering working-age welfare and pension reform, criminal justice, poverty and social exclusion, and service delivery. She spent two years as Expert Adviser to Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, helping to design and deliver the Government’s welfare agenda. Before that she was Policy Director at the Centre for Social Justice where she authored several publications, including a major report on street gangs.

Charlotte also spent time advising a major police force on their approach to young people and youth crime. Most recently she worked as a management consultant in the public sector practice of a global consultancy firm.

Anybody who spent two years as Expert Advisor to IDS can’t be all bad, can they?

Compulsory Severance Rears Its Very Ugly Head

This subject raised its head above the parapet a couple of weeks ago, but seems to have been largely missed, scraping under the radar, fortunately for some.

Our friendly Think Tank REFORM has published a report entitled “How To Run A Country, Crime and Policing”.  Is it just me that thinks this is incredibly arrogant of them?  One of the more controversial ideas from said Think Tank is to implement ‘Sir’ Winsor’s proposals and ‘get rid of officers’ when it would be of benefit to the Force.

HMIC records that forces have voiced concerns about the dangers of a “static and ageing workforce”, noting that constraints on recruitment mean they are not “able to become representative of the communities they serve or to keep pace with a changing society.”

i.e.  We’ll flag this up but we’ll blame someone else for the original idea.

So REFORM have actually published this recommendation in their report

Recommendation

The Government should implement Sir Tom Winsor’s 2013 recommendation that compulsory severance be introduced for all police officers, giving chief constables the flexibility to create a modern workforce that best meets demand. In conjunction with the College of Policing, the Government should also consider how to increase the number of Direct Entry superintendents, to achieve the goal of diversifying the experience and talent base within the police service as quickly as possible. The College of Policing should work with the Metropolitan Police Service to evaluate Police Now and, if it proves successful, support its roll out nationally.

There are numerous other Recommendations, each one telling the College of Policing and NPCC what they should be doing, and then at the end of a mere 13 pages we get their conclusions;

Conclusion

The Coalition Government made considerable progress towards delivering a more transparent, accountable and efficient police service. The scope and need for further reform is, however, considerable. Police reform in this Parliament must focus on building a police service that is smaller, smarter and more flexible, and one that is part of an integrated public service response to communities at risk of high harm crime. This will require a much better understanding of police demand, both in terms of crime and non-crime incidences and the day to day allocation of police time. It will mean prioritising increases in productivity and capability as well as integration with other local services. This means shifting the debate from ‘how many forces should we have?’ to ‘how can we best meet changing demand?’ Delivering these reforms will lead to better outcomes for citizens

Policy Exchange – The Sequel (Other Think Tanks Are Available)

There I was, Saturday night, trying to find something to take my mind off the travesty that is Eurovision, when I came upon this tweet from Clive Chamberlain

BLOCKED? By Policy Exchange for asking a perfectly valid question? That’s just not cricket. It reminded me that I had previously written a post about Policy Exchange which I knew included where SOME of its funds come from, so I sent him the link. That inspired a series of tweets with various people joining in, and some quite useful information coming out of them. It also made me realise that it was in 2012 that I last had a prod at them. Time for an update methinks. It also got me very wound up about the ethics of Policy Exchange, and those who associate with them, but going back to who funds them; I took another, up to date, look at their website, who funds them, and what do they do? “Policy Exchange is the UK’s leading think tank. As an educational charity our mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas which deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy. The authority and credibility of our research is our greatest asset. Our research is independent and evidence-based and we share our ideas with policy makers from all sides of the political spectrum. Our research is strictly empirical and we do not take commissions. This allows us to be completely independent and make workable policy recommendations. There are numerous examples of where our policy ideas have been taken forward by government. Below are just a few examples

Directly elected police commissioners [I shall be returning to this later in my post]
The pupil premium
Free Schools

Our research predominantly falls under three main themes
Jobs and Growth
Poverty and Social Mobility
Public Services”

So, not much has changed from their website 2 years ago; Charity, Independent, Don’t Take Commissions, blah blah blah. Another part of their website allows access to their official accounts, the most recent posted being 2012-2013. Under income it identifies three types of income; Unrestricted Income, Designated Income and Restricted Income.

Unrestricted Funds – these are available for use at the discretion of the Trustees in the furtherance of the charitable objectives of the Charity.

Designated Funds. – If part of an Unrestricted Fund is earmarked for a particular project it may be designated as a separate fund …….blah blah blah

Restricted Funds – are funds subject to specific restricted conditions imposed by donors of those funds, such as donations given to the charity for specific research programmes and/or projects.

Am I being thick here, or does the definition of Restricted Funds mean the same as Taking A Commission, which they state they don’t do? Any explanations gratefully received. Much has been said about their charitable status, I for one don’t think it’s apropriate, and I’m by no means alone in that.

And their declared income for the year 2012-13?

Unrestricted Funds – £367,982

Designated Funds – £126,000

Restricted Funds – £1,490,473

So unless I’m very much mistaken the vast majority of their income is in the form of Restricted Funds, but they don’t do Commissions. How does that work? Am I wrong? Please correct me if I am.

Peter Kirkham played a blinder recently with this one.

@Alanw47@cate_a_moore@stivevans “a charity cannot exist for…securing/opposing change in law/policy/decisions” https://t.co/i34Dr0RYcF — Peter Kirkham (@Peter_Kirkham) May 24, 2015

The full quotation is “However, a charity cannot exist for a political purpose, which is any purpose directed at furthering the interests of any political party, or securing or opposing a change in the law, policy or decisions either in this country or abroad

What the hell else does Policy Exchange exist for except to influence government policy? Even if you call that ‘advice’ it’s still a political purpose, is it not? So why on earth is it allowed the benefits of Charitable Status’?  Their accounts contain the following stated ‘Object Of The Charity’ “The non-partisan advancement of education in the economic, social and political sciences and their effect on public policy and the policy making process in the UK and the promotion and publication of objective research

The next thing to irk me came out of that. With Charitable Status comes immunity to Freedom of Information Act requests. If Think Takes like Policy Exchange (other Think Tanks are available sadly) have immunity from FOI (a piece of legislation that Cameron doesn’t really like any way, and the Home Office’s attitude towards it is dire, woeful) why oh why is Mrs May pushing for it to be extended to cover the Police Federation. Us mortals have had to come to terms with the FOI over the last 15 years, and as a piece of legislation it’s not too bad, it’s the way it’s implemented by various authorities that stinks.

Lest we forget Inspector Raymond Fowler reminded us all of this

Finally, you’ll be pleased to hear, I got to scrutinising the Met’s Hospitality Registers. You must bear in mind that I did only look at the Met’s registers, it would take me a week to look at them all, but the entries I found will no doubt be repeated in a Constabulary near you.

In January 2014 Inspector Cranmer, bless him, head of the Taser Unit, turned down the offer of a lunch with a Cruise company, but did declare that he had accepted a cup of coffee and ONE biscuit.

In March 2014 Sir Bernie Hogan-Who declared a working lunch with Sir John Major

In June 2014 BHH declared that he had accepted a dinner invitation with Wiliam Hague as a Networking opportunity to end sexual violence in conflict zones.

In June 2014 Betsy Stanko, Assistant Director Corporate Development, declared that she had accepted a dinner invitation from Policy Exchange, in order to meet some visitors from USA and Nick Herbert.

In July 2014 BHH declared that he had accepted a dinner invitation from Lord Wasserman [I shall return to this in a minute]

In October 2014 BHH declined a dinner invitation from the Centre For social Justice due to previous diary commitments.

In November 2014 BHH declared that he accepted a Working Lunch with Lord Mandelson.

In November 2014 BHH declined an invitation from Policy Exchange to the Colin Crampton Memorial Awards Event due to Diary Commitments.

In November 2014 AC was invited by Dean Godson, Director, Policy Exchange, to attend the Colin Crampton Memorial Awards Event. He declined the invitation to the event but accepted the invitation to dinner.

In December 2014 AC Rowley declared that he had declined an invitation from Dean Godson, Policy Exchange as he was ‘Unable to Attend’.

In January 2015 BHH declined an invitation from Reform to attend the International Crime and Policing Conference, reason not shown.

I also noted that at least one senior member of Police Staff is declining ALL invitations from the Chemistry Club, no idea what the story is there but good on him.
Reform Think Tank continue to show just how independent they can be with these two tweets last week

 

Returning to Police and Crime Commissioners and Lord Wasserman as I promised to, Policy Exchange claim to have come up with the idea of them. The BBC gives Lord Wasserman the credit for being the mastermind. They can’t both be right. Was Lord Wasserman connected with Policy Exchange in some way at some time? If so what is Bernard Hogan-Who doing having dinner with him? I was always told that politics and Policing should not mix, but BHH seems to manage it.

Finally, a quick look at the some of the Trustees of this Charity;

Additionally Edward Heathcoat Amory is/was a journalist for the Daily Mail, and at least one if not more is a non-executive director at Dept of Education.

Charitable Status? And all that means. It’s about time someone with enough resources challenged that status, it gives charities a bad name.