I Hate You Butler

Last updated on October 7th, 2023 at 04:40 pm

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I Hate You Butler, or more accurately, we hate you Police, seems to be the Battle Cry of any modern day Conservative government.

I’m happy to be corrected, but governments and Home Secretaries in particular, seemed to be relatively supportive in the past, regardless of which party they belonged to.  I remember Labour’s Merlynn Rees being particularly ‘human’ and supportive, but that’s a whole separate blog.

I will make an exception for Jacqui Smith, she certainly bucked the trend.

However, in the main, I don’t recall the relationship between Policing and the Home Office as being too problematical.

And then the world of Policing changed forever.

Damian Green

In November 2008 the Metropolitan Police conducted an unprecedented search of a serving politician’s office at the House of Commons. Conservative Minister Damian Green had his office searched and his computer seized. Green was arrested by the Metropolitan Police at his constituency home on 27 November 2008 on suspicion of “aiding and abetting misconduct in public office” and “conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office”. The documents were reported to include information politically embarrassing to the then-Labour Government.  A junior Home Office civil servant, Christopher Galley, (a ‘whistleblower’) subsequently admitted leaking four “embarrassing” documents to Green and was sacked.

From that day forward the Conservative Party began to show, what I would describe as, a pure hatred of the Police Service in general and the Metropolitan Police in particular.

The General Election of 2010

The General Election of 2010 saw the Conservative Party (sort of) return to power at Westminster, although they had to form a Coalition Government with the Lib Dems.  But that was enough for Camoron, who installed Theresa May as Home Secretary and the carnage began.

Theresa May as Home Secretary

It didn’t take Theresa May very long to begin the decimation of Policing as we knew it.  She whistled up a solicitor from a London Firm, a former Rail Regulator with zero experience of Policing, Tom Winsor, to conduct a review of the Police Service and assist her with her and Camoron’s ‘Reforms’ of Policing.

Between them they carried out their reforms, although I wouldn’t use that word.  Reform, in my experience, normally means improving something.  Please correct me if I’m wrong but I can’t think of a single thing that came out of the Winsor Reviews that improved anything in the world of Policing, or for the General Public.

In my humble opinion the two worst things that came out of this ‘Reform’ (but there are definitely others) are the savage reduction in numbers of warranted Police Officers, and the changes to the Police Pension Scheme.

Police numbers were slashed, over a period of years, to such an extent that any form of proactivity was a thing of the past.  Hugely successful squads such as Burglary Squads and Robbery Squads, who had built up an immense knowledge of local trends and suspects, had to be disbanded in order to feed the ‘Front Line’.  Yet one more example of knowledge and experience being totally disregarded, and where are we now?  Now we have politicians (and the public, quite rightly) complaining that their burglaries and thefts, even assaults, just aren’t being investigated.   Phone us up and we’ll give you  crime reference number for your insurance claim seems to have been the post-May mantra.

I have never seen changes to a pension scheme more barbaric than the ones that May, Winsor and co concocted.  Traditionally, changes to the Police Pension scheme, once approved, would only apply to new members of the scheme.  No longer so.  Existing members of the scheme found themselves having to work longer for their pensions, and received less when they retired.  To introduce these changes against the will of the members the government would have to change the law, to make an unlawful policy lawful.  So they did.

#Plebgate

In 2012 we had the #Plebgate scandal where Conservative government Minister Andrew Mitchell, Chief Whip at the time, cycled up to the gates of Downing Street, when he is told by police he must dismount before passing through the gates. A brief row followed, in which Mitchell allegedly told the police: “Best you learn your fucking place” before calling them “fucking plebs”  In November 2014 Mitchell lost his High Court libel battle over the incident that had been dragged out over the course of two years. The judge ruled that Mitchell had likely used the word “pleb”, leaving the former Chief Whip with a legal bill of more than £1m and his reputation in tatters.

Tom Winsor

On 7 June 2012, the Home Office announced that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, MP, had selected Winsor as her preferred candidate to replace Sir Denis O’Connor as HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales. On 26 June 2012, Winsor appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons for a pre-appointment hearing. The Committee supported his appointment, and he was recommended formally to the Prime Minister and the Queen for appointment as HM Chief Inspector. Royal approval was given on 3 July 2012.

Hardly a kick in the gonads of Policing at all.

n 2013, Winsor was criticised for attending the National Police Memorial Day Service in a uniform similarly styled to that of a standard police uniform, as he has never served in the police force himself. Numerous online petitions started asking for him to be reprimanded. Winsor said he had worn the uniform as a mark of respect.

I hate you butler

Winsor answered the criticism by explaining that the uniform he wore was not a police officer’s uniform, and was in fact the uniform of the Chief Inspector of Constabulary. He told the Home Affairs Select Committee that far from wearing a uniform to which he was not entitled, he wore the uniform to which only he (as holder of that office at the time) was entitled. Well, I didn’t know that.

In the 2015 New Years Honours List, it was announced Winsor was to be knighted; he received his knighthood from HM The Queen on 19 March 2015, at Buckingham Palace. Another kick in the gonads for over-worked Police Officers?  What’s your view?

Independent Office for Police Conduct

Independent?  I would certainly challenge the use of that word.  Independent of the Police they most certainly (and quite rightly) are, but not truly Independent as I would understand it.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is a non-departmental public body in England and Wales which was introduced by the Home Office on 8 January 2018.  The Home Secretary at that time was Amber Rudd, not quite as disastrous as Theresa May, but close maybe.

The IOPC is answerable, in theory, to the Home Secretary, but to be honest I haven’t seen too many instances of actual supervision by the Home Sec or anybody else.

Taken from their website, this part of the IOPC ‘Mission Statement’ if you will made me properly laugh out loud, but not in a good way.

We feel privileged to be the custodians of the police complaints system. We value the trust of the public and police and commit to being just and fair in uncovering the truth. We recognise that a just outcome relies on being unbiased and transparent in getting to the truth of what happened.

You only have to use your favourite Internet Search Engine to find numerous examples where the IOPC have been criticised by Trial Judges, lawyers etc.  Most frequently, as I recall, for failings regarding Disclosure.  The IOPC are subject to PACE, RIPA and all other laws that regulate the way into which Police investigate criminal allegations.  Failing to Disclose ALL of the evidence (which may favour the Defence) is normally designed to weaken the Defence by preventing the whole truth being revealed.

They have also been criticised for the length of many of their investigations, frequently many, many years.

I hate you butler
irony overload

A length of time that if it had been a Police Investigation would attract criticism from IOPC for the length of time being taken.  It would appear that the IOPC are generally unaware of hypocrisy and irony.

Fast-forward a few years

The Here And Now

Currently my two main concerns involve a combination of Home Office, IOPC and National Police Chiefs Council.

Firstly, without referencing any specific investigations which might be ongoing, there seems to be a pattern emerging that IOPC will investigate an allegation, or incident, and hit the officers with a Gross Misconduct investigation and, for example, potential offences under the Road Traffic Act etc.

I have no issue whatsoever with PCs who have been found to have done something wrong, being dealt with appropriately, none whatsoever.  However, there used to be a policy, be-it official or informal, that an officer would not be subjected to both criminal proceedings and disciplinary action, unless a criminal conviction warranted their dismissal.  It was commonly referred to as having two bites of the cherry.

Well it seems to me that IOPC wants multiple bites of the cherry.  Even when they finally decide that there has been no criminal conduct, or disciplinary misconduct, they can’t just exonerate the officer(s) concerned, there is always “something we could have done better”, “lessons to be learnt” and the inevitable apology when Police haven’t actually done wrong.  Do the IOPC ever apologise to the officer(s) when they lose at Court or in the Disciplinary Hearing?  I very much doubt it.

My final gripe of the week is the latest campaign by the Home Office and NPCC to

I hate you butler
Home Officer Poster

change the rules again so that that they can dismiss more Police Officers.

They have devised between them a system to enable a higher dismissal rate as a knee-jerk reaction.

A few years ago, in the spirit of Openness and Fairness the system was changed and Legally Qualified INDEPENDENT Chairs would preside over the Hearings, presumably to ensure a fair outcome.

As I said previously I have no problem with officers being sacked but manipulating the system to ensure that more are sacked is all kinds of wrong to me.  Senior Officers are not known for their knowledge of or adherence to Employment  Law or we wouldn’t see so many ETs.

Gross Misconduct takes many forms, and occasionally this might involve a long-serving officer of impeccable antecedents who, in the heat of the moment, makes a bad decision.  Who of us have never made a bad decision at work, under pressure. The new system has too much potential for witch hunts etc.

Today the Policing Minister released a letter to all Chief Constables on this very subject.

However, if as I suspect, this will come to pass I would expect to see a Senior officer who has been suspended for 3 years on a salary of >£100k, and a Middle Manager with a Criminal Conviction and having been placed on the Sex Offenders Register was sacked and then unsacked, despite losing in the Court of Appeal against the Conviction.

My Conclusion

And it is just that, my own conclusion based on what I have seen and read.

Taken as a whole I feel that the above events constitute a course of conduct best described as hatred of the Police, and a kind of revenge for the events surrounding Damian Green.

But I could be entirely wrong.

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5 thoughts on “I Hate You Butler”

  1. I agree that the catalyst was Damian Green. However whilst contempt is one explanation there is another. Green showed that serving politicians were vulnerable to police investigation, especially by the Met. Scroll forward to the scale of domestic corruption that exists in the UK. The proactive squads and economic crime units were the worst hit in the years running up to date. These were best placed units to investigate the current corruption. The hatred of police that you describe so well is rational and explicable without speculating if there is personal or classist animosity.

    1. An excellent point that I hadn’t considered before, but certainly wouldn’t disagree with. Put like that it makes perfect sense, and would certainly damage the government if it took off

  2. Another bang on the money article, I’m agreeing with you as the starting place was the incident with Damian Green.

    Having served from the late 70’s til 2010 and been in Close Protection with Ministers from 89-99 I did see attitudes change. When I first started in Protection there was an old school of Tory who appreciated the risks to themselves and appreciated the work the police did to protect them.

    As younger Ministers came through they were introduced and almost conditioned to respect the service they were being given. There seemed to be a general support of the Police.

    Then with the landslide win of New Labour we were suddenly confronted by Ministers totally suspicious of their protection teams as they had files on them completed by Special Branch. They in turn started to realise that their relationship with the police had to be consistent. When asked by Jack Straw what was the most important thing to police officers I told him that Pensions were the key and not to muck about and change things. He seemed to listen at the time but as things went on and they were running out of other peoples money cuts inevitably came.

    After being tenured I had my own “Don’t you know who I am moment with a junior labour minister at the gates of Downing St and I called him out on it, luckily there was enough respect left for him to back down. Sadly the longer in power they felt the need to control the service.

    Luckily for me I was able to retire in 2010 when the Cameron era started and the writing was on the wall. The connection between Government and Police had broken down and the agenda of Sheehy was brought to bear with May taking her orders from Cameron directly. That man is responsible for many of our problems in general.

    I’ve watched from the sidelines to see the once mighty Met cut down in size and efficiency by bean counters and Ministers happy to show “savings”. They are only financial savings as the quality of life and safety many people felt have disappeared when control of crime has come at a cost.

    I fear for the officers serving now that include my nephew who will struggle to complete their service contracts, won’t receive a suitable or adequate pension to survive on. I’m hoping there will be a Royal Commission which might be able to undo some of the most damaging things done to policing but won’t hold my breath.

    While we see officers doing their job being victimised as a result of incidents like in Wales without support or management standing by their officers we will see officers quite rightly not risking themselves or their job when things are not even borderline. Once officers give an inch the criminal element will take a mile. Sadly we will lose even more control of the streets.

    With management, given excessive powers in my view, we will see some injustice against officers in a bid to keep detractors at bay.This needs a balance which may be that officers should be able to take civil action for malicious complaints or decisions. If they had the thought in the back of their minds that they will be judged on the amount of evidence and balance of probability rather than criminal levels, tribunals may be fairer.

    1. Sadly I’m not sure there is a solution in the short term. Government and NPCC have got the Front Line completely where they want. Then we have the Home Secretary banging on about impartiality when it was her party that introduce politically aligned PCCs. I don’t envy those currently serving at all.

  3. I absolutly agree. It is my fear that Police Officers will cease to be proactive because of the risks involved. I have posted a consideration, not work to rule, but work with great caution and avoide any engagement that is risk of reflecting critisisim.

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