British Police: Sitting Ducks For Jihadist Fanatics? – A Guest Blog By Chris Hobbs

This has also been published in Huffington Post

As counter terrorism awareness week commences front line police officers in London and elsewhere are becoming increasingly fearful that they are likely to become victims of savage targeted attacks on the streets of the UK by fanatical Islamist jihadists.

Circulating on the police grapevine are alarming accounts which suggest that both police officers and PCSO’s have been recently subject to ‘hostile reconnaissance’ in the vicinity of police stations when off duty travelling to or from work.

Police have every reason to be anxious: Just last month five men were arrested in conjunction with a plot that featured Shepherds Bush Police Station in West London. Images of two police officers and two PCSO’s were recovered during that investigation.

After initially denying that these arrests were anything to do with an ‘extra vigilance’ warning emailed to UK police officers a short while previously, the Met later unusually provided very specific details of the alleged plot after the men had been charged and had appeared in court.

Newspaper headlines the day after the men were remanded in custody made alarming reading and it became clear that the plot allegedly referred to nearby TA barracks as well as the local police station and its officers.

The tragic events in Quebec and Ottawa that left two Canadian soldiers dead after attacks by ‘lone wolf’ jihadists certainly added to concerns. Just a day after the Ottawa murder two police officers were injured in New York, one seriously, after they and two colleagues had been attacked by another ‘lone wolf’ jihadist brandishing an axe.

The four ‘rookie’ officers, wearing full uniform were, at the time, posing for photographs with tourists. They were also armed and managed to shoot dead their assailant. Inevitably this led to largely unarmed British front line officers asking themselves and each other what the end result would be if such an attack were carried out in the UK. The conclusion was inevitable; at least one dead police officer.

The fact is that not only do UK law enforcement officers have to be concerned with those who have travelled abroad to fight or train and self indoctrinated ‘lone wolves’ but with the disturbing number of extremely dangerous criminals. Many of these individuals are gang members who have converted to this extreme form of Islam whilst serving their prison sentences. Most have, what is termed by police, to have ‘access to firearms’ either directly or via ‘armourers’ that supply firearms ‘on demand’ to the underworld.

There is no doubt that the Met’s counter terrorism command will respond vigorously to the threatening implications of any “hostile reconnaissance” but officers themselves are concerned that other than receiving ‘stay vigilant’ advice they are not being kept fully informed of events in relation to the very real threats to their own safety or being afforded additional protection which might, just might, enable them to survive such an attack.

Despite the threat, officers are still not permitted to carry equipment in the form of extendable batons or CS/pepper sprays to and from duty. Within the Met, several appeals have been made to senior managers over the years but all have been scornfully rejected with a clear implication that officers actually risk arrest if they carry their protective equipment when not on duty.

Rank and file firmly officers believe that those who now wish to ‘carry’ should be given the ‘lawful authority’ to do so. This will apply in particular to those who have to travel to and from work by public transport or have to walk some distance to and from their parked vehicles.

Police critics seem to forget that police officers are sworn constables for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Intervening off duty or being recognised as a police officer by the more nefarious elements that plague our society is a precarious business.

Mobile phones have proved invaluable to the off duty officer but they have their limitations. Dialling 999, waiting for the answer, telling the operator which service is required, listening to the operator repeating the mobile number to the control room receiving the call is amazingly time consuming when all hell is breaking loose or you are the individual being attacked.

The situation has now dramatically moved beyond intervening off duty or even being subjected to intimidation and assault by virtue of being a police officer to a very real threat of being attacked, murdered and possibly even beheaded. Clearly much more needs to be done by the Home Office and those of Chief Officer rank to protect police officers other than a ‘watch yourselves’ statement. This should include permission to carry equipment to and from work and perhaps at other times when off duty.

Single crewing or patrolling is bitterly resented by most front line officers and cutbacks have made this even more prevalent. Those cutbacks have meant that assistance for the single officer in many parts of the country can be some distance away and of course there is also the question of litigious and frivolous complaints.

There is no doubt that at present the UK faces a very real terrorist threat from either organised, well trained groups or ‘lone wolves.’ The view amongst front line officers is therefore simply this; operational single crewing or patrolling should no longer be the ‘default position’ and must only take place under specifically designated circumstances.

With the march of technology, urgent consideration should be given to implementing a reliable GPS system which would enable officers to, if they wish, carry a discreet form of panic button. This would be automatically linked to the nearest police control room and would enable off duty officers to summon ‘urgent assistance’ in any part of the UK. Such buttons have been issued to some social workers and others such as community nurses.

Of course none of these precautions would protect on or off duty officers from an attack from well trained, well equipped terrorists but it might buy them some time in the event of a murderous assault such as that launched on the unsuspecting Lee Rigby.

Some UK police forces offer advice and even courses to companies and local authorities in order that they are able to counter what is termed ‘hostile reconnaissance.’ Surely now there is an urgent need for all police officers to receive counter surveillance/hostile reconnaissance training which would probably be of a single day’s duration.

Panic buttons, day courses for 100,000 plus officers plus the end of single crewing ‘by default’ would doubtless have force accountants, already struggling with millions of pounds worth of government cuts, reaching for their valium. In addition the fate of police community support officers would require some major decision making as they are not currently issued with any form of defensive weapon yet are also clearly vulnerable to terrorist attack both on and off duty.

Unarmed officers in London and elsewhere are dependent on their armed colleagues, such as those from the Met’s elite CO19 unit, to come to their assistance in the event of a firearms or terrorist incident.

It took ten minutes for such a unit to arrive at the scene of Lee Rigby’s death during which time unarmed police were ordered not to intervene. CO19 officers themselves are concerned as to their ability to respond to terrorist incidents especially in relation to a multi venue attack. Many Met officers of all ranks believe that the number of Armed Response Vehicles (ARV’s) on the streets of London should be doubled so that at least one ARV would be allocated to each London borough.

Worryingly smaller more rural forces outside London however would take even longer to deploy armed officers and whether inside or outside London, it is doubtful whether unarmed officers would obey orders to ‘stay back’ if one of their colleagues was in the process of being hacked to death and armed assistance was some way off.

The response by Canadian officers and indeed by police officers in most countries of the world to a situation such as that seen in Ottawa, would be far more efficient and effective in terms of sheer numbers of armed officers taking to the streets simply because all carry firearms as a matter of course.

In London and elsewhere, most officers would have to look on helplessly as their armed colleagues did battle with or attempted to hunt down the terrorists. It would simply not be possible to put the numbers of armed officers on to the streets of London or any UK city in a relatively short period of time as the Canadians were able to do.

The view of most UK police officers is still that they would prefer not to be armed yet the death of colleagues or a Mumbai/Nairobi type massacre of British innocents in any of our towns and cities would almost certainly bring about a change in police attitudes.

A major terrorist incident in the United Kingdom would undoubtedly result in a plethora of ‘full and frank’ enquiries. One question that will be asked is how the United Kingdom came to be populated by literally thousands of trained potential Islamist terrorists.

Since the mid 1990’s intelligence has poured in which has clearly shown a constant stream of individuals travelling abroad to countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Syria for the purpose of training or combat. Most foiled terrorist plots in the UK involve at least one individual who has fought or been trained abroad.

Yet ignoring the overwhelming evidence, successive governments have refused to strengthen our ‘chocolate teapot’ border controls. Despite concerns of police, the UK Border Force and the security services, it has, until recently, been a ‘walk in the park’ for individuals and groups involved in illegal terrorist activities abroad.

Increased activity by hard pressed counter terrorist officers at airports has produced some positive results but the absence of meaningful departure controls has still embarrassingly meant that direct travel to Turkey by jihadists or so called jihadi brides has still been possible.

Recently the Met Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, stated that at least five Britons a week were, notwithstanding the extra police activity, leaving the UK to fight in Syria while just days ago it was revealed that Sidhartha Dhar , despite being on bail for terrorist offences, was able to leave the UK presumably for Syria.

Outstanding work by the police and security services has frustrated numerous terrorist plots yet the pressure, compounded by cutbacks and increased demands on the police in terms of current and historic abuse allegations, pornographic child images, internet fraud and even social media harassment, is beginning to tell.

Added to this, despite denials by Chief Constables, is the collapse of community policing which is a direct result of the cutbacks. Popular safer neighbourhood teams have been decimated which, aside from other ramifications, has adversely affected the quantity of information and intelligence that flowed from communities to police in respect of terrorism. Those officers that remain drown in a welter of crime reports, statements, interviews and taskings so that the sight of an officer actually visibly patrolling and speaking to the public has become as rare as a Banksy cartoon on the walls of Scotland Yard!!!

Front line officers have little confidence that in the aftermath of the shambolic police response to the 2011 riots, senior officers and government have the ability to cope with a scenario whereby terrorists go on a multi-venue rampage or undertake murderous attacks on individual police officers or members of the armed forces.

Sadly Ottawa has perhaps brought that inevitable fateful day even closer and if a major terrorist atrocity occurs in the UK before next year’s general election then the government could stand or fall by virtue of its preparedness and response.

Meanwhile Theresa May’s most recent speech in relation to countering terrorism will only have contributed to the animosity that exists between her and front line officers. There was, perhaps not unsurprisingly, no mention of the current jihadist threat to police officers or of measures to ‘protect the protectors.’

If tragedy does befall the police service, officers will be only too well aware that whilst the terrorist may have wielded the knife, fired the gun or detonated the explosive, responsibility will also rest upon the shoulders of those politicians responsible for our shambolic border controls, devastating cutbacks and morale sapping vilification of, for all its faults, the world’s finest police service.

‘Independent’ child abuse inquiries: A question of trust?

A Guest Blog by Chris Hobbs

The issue in relation to possible, systematic child abuse by establishment figures, has, over the last forty years, been like a bad penny which has appeared time and time again only to be buried on each occasion by a surfeit of loose change before making another unwelcome appearance.

When I was a young Met officer in the 80’s, every policeman and woman in London knew of rumours surrounding Cyril Smith and we all waited for something to happen but it never did. As is becoming apparent, Cyril Smith may well be the very large tip of a very large iceberg. The question is whether enquiries announced by the Government will succeed in their objectives or indeed whether establishment figures in the Government actually want every skeleton to be laid bare given the fact that obtaining the decision to hold any form of meaningful enquiry was very much akin to pulling teeth.

What is becoming apparent is that the keys which may help unlocking the truth of any establishment cover up could well be in possession of retired police officers together with those employed by MI5 and indeed other government employees including customs officers and Home Office civil servants.

Already there are clear signs of cracks appearing in the establishment dam: Lancashire Special Branch officer Tony Robinson stated that in 1977 he was compelled to hand over a file containing allegations against Cyril Smith to MI5 referred to by all Special Branch officers as Box 500.

Paul Foulston, a detective with the Thames Valley force, claims that an attempt was made by Special Branch officers to prevent him from interviewing a young man in relation to a murder enquiry. Foulston and a colleague interviewed him anyway and were told of Smith’s sexual activities with young men.

In the 1980’s Don Hale, described as a young campaigning editor in Bury, was handed a file compiled by MEP and well known Labour party figure, Barbara Castle. It allegedly contained the names of 16 “high profile” politicians who supported the aims of the Paedophile Information Exchange. Hale stated that his office was raided by Special Branch officers who confiscated the file and threatened him with ‘jail’ if he printed anything in relation to Barbara Castle’s dossier. Hale also stated that Cyril Smith visited his office the day before informing him that the allegations were ‘poppycock.’

Recently retired former Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll gained legendary status when he led the enquiry which saw two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers, David Norris and Gary Dobson, imprisoned. DCI Driscoll’s reward for ensuring there was some justice for Stephen and Stephen’s family was to be forcibly retired from the Metropolitan Police. Doubtless those who made this decision, which infuriated Doreen Lawrence, would have poured over his personnel file which may well have contained details of his ‘falling out’ with senior officers in the 1990’s

Clive Driscoll’s investigations into possible child abuse within children’s homes in Lambeth during this time revealed the names of suspects who were politicians. Sharing these allegations with senior officers was enough to get him moved off the case. He had little choice but to hand over the relevant file upon his departure which has contributed to the current speculation that this was yet another cover up to protect establishment figures.

Most recently Barry Strevens, Margaret Thatcher’s Special Branch bodyguard for many years, revealed that he privately warned Mrs Thatcher of rumours concerning Sir Peter Morrison, Mrs Thatcher’s trusted aide, and his predilection for young boys. Those rumours originally emanated from a senior Cheshire police officer.

Theresa May and her advisers will be as aware of the above facts as anyone else and these facts, when added to the missing files in the Home Office, can only pour petrol on the bonfire of cover up allegations.

It seems obvious that many of these allegations would have found their way into the domain of the police. Within the Met, Special Branch was regarded as the safe pair of hands, albeit a reluctant one, for sensitive issues; even those which did not strictly fall within their remit. Files, such as those ‘lost’ by the Home office’ could well have come into the possession of Special Branch either as originals or as copies either directly or via MI5. In addition further reports may well have been placed on Special Branch or other police files in relation to relevant allegations, intelligence or even just rumours.

The reputation the Metropolitan Police Special Branch (MPBB) had for ‘not leaking’ was probably behind Margaret Thatcher’s firm assertion that the MPSB’s ‘A’ Squad, which protected leading politicians and other VIP’s, would not be merged with other police units including royalty protection. Barry Strevens was then a popular, highly regarded senior officer within ‘A’ squad.

It may well be that amongst other former ‘A’ squad officers there could well be held details of the indiscretions of politicians they were protecting. It extremely likely that where such indiscretions bordered on legality or which could have resulted in a public scandal they would have been reported by the officers themselves in which case details would have been placed on secret files.

The question is whether police files belonging to any force and containing potentially damaging allegations can be readily detected if indeed they haven’t been destroyed. Derbyshire’s Chief Constable Mick Creedon was able to secure access to a number of sensitive files in relation to his enquiry in respect of MPSB’s undercover policing operations.

However damaging reports in relation to establishment figures could well have been placed in files which themselves were given innocuous titles that would make them difficult to locate. The Met originally seemed to indicate that they are in possession of some files before such admissions disappeared behind a wall of obfuscation.

If we look at the number of officers who were just involved in the events mentioned above which are now in the public domain, and then add on others ‘with knowledge’  such as supervisors, the senior officers probably up to Commissioner/Chief Constable level and indeed those who actually handled and minuted the relevant documents and files together with police staff (civilians) responsible for indexing and filing then we already have a significant number of individuals who could provide valuable assistance to any enquiry.

Of course there are probably other relevant documents, files, intelligence reports and even crime book entries that have not come into the public domain all of which will have passed through the hands of police officers and possibly police staff at all levels in a variety of police forces.

The statement by such an esteemed former retired officer as Barry Strevens may well put other present and former officer’s minds at rest, at least to some extent. Barry could hardly have gone any higher in the chain of command with his concerns than to the Prime Minister herself.

‘Officers with knowledge’ however would be indulging in a form of whistleblowing and, those officers whether serving or retired, will be only too well aware that whistleblowing in the police service can be most kindly described as a lottery.

They would have seen former colleagues treated appallingly after they had reported wrongdoing or poor operational decision making and been aware of the dubious elements operating within the Professional Standards Departments of many forces. It is those ‘PSD’s who are the police who investigate the police.

Past and present officers would be considering the worst case scenario if they came forward with information. There would be an appointment with investigating officers probably of DC or DS rank who would have been allocated the task as an action. The resultant statement or report would be passed to a middle ranking or senior officer for consideration. In most cases this would be expedited in the usual way, however there is a not insignificant chance that an ambitious officer looking to enhance his or her CV and climb up the police career ladder, could well closely scrutinise the statement/report in order to see whether the officer, by failing to come forward earlier, may have committed an offence.

This could be one of “conspiracy to pervert the course of justice” or, the once rarely used but now extremely popular “misconduct in public office.” The matter may be pursued by the squad itself or passed to the force PSD. There then could be a ‘career enhancing’ early morning raid where laptops, desk tops, tablets, mobile phones, documents and even a moribund ancient Kodak instamatic lying dormant in the attic would be seized.

Further enquiries including the examination of seized articles would go on for months before the file is passed to the ‘independent’ Crown Prosecution Service where again the file would sit for months. Even if it were considered that the case would have not a snowballs chance in hell of surviving an examination by a jury, that individuals life and indeed that of his family, would be in shreds.

Those outside the police service and other public service employees such as the NHS may well find the above scenario implausible but police whistleblowers such as James Patrick, Dave Mckelvey, Brian Casson and Howard Shaw would beg to differ. Those in any doubt can simply Google the above names in conjunction with ‘police.’

Even the arrest of one serving or retired officer would be hugely advantageous to those in the establishment who have no desire to see any form of enquiry. Those in the process of considering whether to come forward would then see any such action as a pointless and dangerous exercise.

This, of course, leads us into the argument as whether there should be some form of amnesty for those officers ‘with knowledge’ of events, documents or any other form of information which could be relevant. Peter Garsden, president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, said, quite rightly that any amnesty would need to be carefully put together. He pointed out that this couldn’t apply to any police officer who was actually part of a paedophile ring and of course he is absolutely correct.

There would have to be a line in the sand drawn and it can be argued that any amnesty consideration should be applied to those who were ‘with knowledge’ of a cover up rather than those who actually instigated or ordered that cover up or were actively involved in abuse activities themselves. It could well be that few, if indeed any, police officers from either Chief Constable/Commissioner rank down to a ‘lowly’ constable would thus be accountable if those who actually instigated the cover up were at the highest levels of government, the civil service or from elsewhere within the establishment.

Any such instructions would have been passed to Chief Officers either directly or perhaps via MI5 and thence down the ladder to those officers, such as those carrying out the raid on the Bury newspaper, as described above. It is surely by working their way back up that ladder that investigators will establish from where these instructions came, whether from the highest levels of government or perhaps from within the police service itself.

Rank and file police officers back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s had a deep, unconcealed, loathing of paedophiles and any instructions to cover up such activity would have been deeply resented. Those arguing against an amnesty will argue that those officers and other officials should have spoken out or ‘whistleblown’; they will also state that the argument, ‘we were only obeying orders,’ can never be sustainable.

My own analogy would be to liken the plight of the concerned officer to that of a lone, non-swimming’ passenger on the deserted deck of a fast moving ocean liner who suddenly sees another passenger falling overboard.

It would be an utterly pointless exercise for that individual to respond by diving over the side himself in what would be a fruitless attempt to effect a rescue.

Such was the situation faced by police officers in during this period. Any attempt at whistleblowing would possibly have resulted in that individual being prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act and even then there would be no guarantee of the issue in question being exposed. ‘D’ notices could have been employed to thwart any publication or, more likely a discreet phone call to the editor in question. Attempts to raise concerns internally would have been slapped down with dire warnings of disciplinary proceedings and instructions to ‘obey orders.’ That officer’s career would then be permanently tainted or totally ruined.

For those who may well pour scorn on the above, they should be reminded that even in the enlightened era of the 21st century to this very day, police, NHS and civil service whistleblowers have a torrid time if they attempt to raise concerns either internally or externally. Promises in relation to NHS whistleblowers have proved worthless and it would be a foolish officer indeed who places his faith in new whistleblowing protocols laid down by the College Of Policing. Even if official sanctions are not viable every rank and file police officer is familiar with the term, “doing his (or her) legs.”

The next question those ‘with knowledge’ will be asking themselves is in relation to the veracity of the relevant enquiry which has not got off to a great start with the appointment and then resignation of Baroness Butler-Sloss. They will remember the fate of David Kelly, arguably the most famous whistleblower who allegedly committed suicide after his identity was revealed as the individual who articulated concerns about the Government’s Iraq policy to journalist Andrew Gilligan. They will also remember dubious machinations around the subsequent Hutton enquiry.

The fact that the Chilcott Iraq Enquiry Report is still unpublished due, it would seem, to the joint efforts of both major parties, will again hardly boost the confidence of those ‘with knowledge.’ Even when the final report is it revealed, it is likely to contain omissions which, had Sir John Chilcott had his way, would be published in full. With tragic events unfolding in Iraq, most would view the reports publication in its original entirety as desirable, yet it could be that what is now a humanitarian disaster approaching biblical proportions makes this possibility even more remote.

Even the Leveson enquiry was tainted by claims that the Met had claimed a ‘public interest immunity certificate’ which prevented the disclosure of a report which allegedly contained details of improper behaviour by a very senior officer.

We have already seen that recent child abuse disclosures in relation to political figures have damaged all three parties. All parties will realise however that major political damage will be sustained by whoever is perceived to have actually instigated and orchestrated any cover up. Little wonder that efforts will be made to ensure that a few details as possible will emerge before the next general election.

Concerns of those ‘with knowledge’ will hardly have been allayed by the treatment of  John Vine, the governments ‘Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’ who may now never obtain his deserved knighthood.

John Vine’s role could be described as a permanent enquiry into the shortcomings of the UK Border Agency and UK Border Force. Let’s remember the word independent here, as with the forthcoming enquiry into child abuse.

John Vine’s reports were frequently both thorough and damning and articulated the concerns of front line officers. There seems little doubt that this irritated the Home Office who began manipulating and then actually redacting sections of reports on spurious national security grounds; John Vine of course, would need no lessons from the Home Office on factors that presented a threat national security.

That John Vine’s independent status was undermined and Sir John Chilcott’s report will not be presented as he would have wanted it, can only lead to the conclusion that the announced and already troubled ‘independent’ enquiries could also be interfered with and manipulated especially when it comes to presenting the final report if that report was found to be damaging to political and establishment interests.

What is clear is that the terms of references of any enquiry need to include some form of guarantees for police officers, police staff, MI5 personnel and civil servants whether serving or retired who ‘have knowledge.’

Those individuals, mistrustful of contacting the police or the enquiry direct should also be able to approach an impartial gateway which will secure their interests before contact with police or the enquiry is made. This, as stated above, will not protect those  who have been involved directly in paedophile rings and indeed it is regrettable that the shameful way police forces have treated ‘whistleblowers’ and the discreditable conduct of elements within force PSD’s including the Met’s Department of Professional Standards, makes this necessary.

Those ‘with knowledge’ may regard whistlebowing to the media as the preferred option. The clumsy and failed attempt by the Met to use the Official Secrets Act in 2011 to get the Guardian to reveal sources plus the fallout from the Leveson enquiry may inhibit potential whistleblowers from contacting the mainstream media.

Another option could be the online Exaro investigative news website which has fought a relentless campaign against child abuse cover up with the result that many obstacles placed in its way by officialdom have been overcome. It even managed to secure the support of more than 100 MP’s from all parties which has played no small part in forcing the governments hand in relation to inquiries.

It is clearly prepared to ‘die in a ditch’ over the issue and it is hard to see them ‘giving up’ a bona fide whistleblower in any circumstances.

Even with all suggested safeguards in place however together with the persistent watchfulness of Exaro, there will still be doubts as to the whether the political will exists for such inquiries given the potential damage the results may cause. This in turn will result in there being constant public suspicion that establishment interests will attempt to manipulate both the enquiry and the final report.

Courtesy of Chris Hobbs (retired ex-Met)

May vs Thatcher, A Guest Blog By Chris Hobbs

I don’t often do Guest Blogs, I have, and I do, just not frequently.

Chris sent me this one on Monday before he had seen my own blog on Theresa May, but when I read it (and it’s most certainly different to my normal style of blogging) I couldn’t stop chuckling.  Oh, how I tittered.  It’s more like a little playlet than a blog, would make a fantastic clip on YouTube or Spitting Image.

So, without further ado, here it is, completely like wot he wrote;

Scene. The Home Secretary’s Office in an almost parallel universe that is running about one month behind ours.

 The holder of one of the UK’s great offices of state is sitting at her desk typing on her computer. There is a knock at the door.

Home Secretary: Enter.

Jeremy, a youthful looking civil servant enters.

Home Secretary: Ah Jeremy. I’m working on my speech to the Police Federation tomorrow. I’ve just drafted the nice bits.

Jeremy: Nice bits???

Home Secretary: Yes, you know. Naming dead officers, talking about bravery.

Jeremy: Oh good Home Secretary. You are going to offer an olive branch. The boys and girls have been through a rough time lately….. (Voice tails off as he receives an icy stare from the Home Secretary)

Home Secretary: No Jeremy. After that I want to kick them in the balls, grab a few headlines, teach those plods who’s boss.

Jeremy: But police morale Home Secretary. It’s on the floor already.

Home Secretary: Jeremy, I want a list of every plod transgression that’s hit the headlines over the last few months from Hillsborough to Plebgate and throw in smearing the Lawrence family and oh yes, stop and search is always a good stick to beat them with.

Jeremy: But Home Secretary

Home Secretary: No arguments Jeremy. Ah rigged police crime figures. Add those to the list.

Jeremy: Excuse me Home Secretary, you’ve already included the fact that crime is down in your speech and that’s surely based on those rigged crime figures.

Home Secretary: Jeremy, Jeremy. I’ll just keep them a few paragraphs apart. The British public will never notice and every newspaper has got it in for the old bill so they won’t bother printing anything.

Jeremy: But….

Home Secretary: No buts Jeremy. Tell me what’s the name of that latest lot we’ve just got up and running, you know that organisation that’s even more secretive than MI5.

Jeremy: Oh yes Home Secretary. The National Crime Agency who were set up to be more effective that the Serious Organised Crime Agency who were set up to be more effective than the National Criminal Intelligence Service.

Home Secretary: I want them to obtain the full identities of all those behind those troublesome police blogs. If they’re serving officers get them sacked and if they’re retired, shut them down and get their pensions stopped. There’s no point in emasculating the federation if that lot continue their sedition.

Jeremy: (puzzled) Sedition? Forgive me Home Secretary, haven’t we got other problems. You must have seen that report I left on your desk which shows cocaine and heroin seizures at ports are down by 76%. Customs officers are complaining that they are kept on passport controls stamping passports.

Home Secretary: Now now Jeremy, there’s no such thing as customs officers. They are all now one effective, efficient and flexible UK Border Force in nice uniforms that make them look more like police officers than police officers. And I have the perfect statement ready if this gets out.

Jeremy: Yes Home Secretary.

Home Secretary: We simply say that seizures are down because our border controls have become so effective that the drugs networks have given up. Oh Jeremy, can you get me another bottle of water. I don’t want to drink any of that stuff which comes out of the taps that’s contaminated with cocaine.

Jeremy leaves returning with a bottle of Evian.

Home Secretary: Anyway Jeremy, you know the maxim of government. If your department is in trouble create a separate firestorm that attracts everyone’s attention and diverts them from other er….little difficulties. So an attack on the Police Federation followed up perhaps by a spat with a Cabinet rival …..

Jeremy: Isn’t that what General Galtieri did with the Falklands; (mutters) that worked well.

Home Secretary: Pardon Jeremy.

Jeremy: That must have been hell Home Secretary, the war that is.

Home Secretary: Quite so. But such strong leadership from a great leader; the one and only Iron Lady. (Looks wistfully at a photo of Margaret Thatcher that adorns her desk). None of this hug a husky or I’m greener than you rubbish. Strong leadership Jeremy, to stop this UKIP nonsense.

Jeremy: But Home Secretary, Mrs Thatcher loved the police. She used to make the DPG officers tea and invite them in for a chat. She got very upset whenever a police officer died in the line of duty.

Home Secretary: Even great leaders have faults Jeremy. She thought the miners were the enemy but little did she know it was the police.

The Home Secretary goes back to her computer while Jeremy shakes his head sadly and leaves.

After spending five minutes typing, she leans back in her chair and rehearses some of her speech;

Home Secretary:(loudly) That’s why, if there is anybody in this hall who doubts that our model of policing is at risk, if there is anybody who underestimates the damage recent events and revelations have done to the relationship between the public and the police, if anybody here questions the need for the police to change, I am here to tell you that it’s time to face up to reality. (pauses, yawns, leans back in her chair, shuts her eyes and dozes off).

Home Secretary; Snores, snorts and opens her eyes staring at the blank wall opposite her which is becoming shrouded in mist.

Emerging through the wall into the mist is a translucent, wispy ghostly image of what appears to be a female. As the figure floats across the room towards the Home Secretary’s desk, the form becomes clearer and the image can be seen sporting a royal blue outfit and hat and carrying a large handbag.

Home Secretary:(gasps) Margaret. Margaret Thatcher. How wonderful.

Mrs T: (sharply) Prime Minister to you. I’ve always said just like the US Presidents we former Prime Ministers should retain our titles.

Home Secretary: Yes Prime Minister.

Another shadowy figure smartly dressed in a three piece pinstripe suit emerges from the mist and stands just behind Mrs Thatcher. It becomes clear that he is distinguished educated man.

Home Secretary: Who’s this Marg….er Prime Minister?

Mrs T; This is Lord Edmund-Davies who, back in 1978, under a Labour yes Labour government reviewed police pay and conditions which we all, yes all, Labour and Conservative, accepted. You have just trashed that beyond all recognition. (Turns to the distinguished figure)

Mrs T: Thank you Herbert. You can go back to writing the History of Wales now and I look forward to reading it.

Edmund-Davies; My pleasure Prime Minister. (Turns away and then turns back) Just try and talk some sense into this Muppet.

Distinguished figure turns and vanishes into the mist.

Mrs T: So Home Secretary, you’ve managed to turn an entire police force against my Conservative party and in four years have completely destroyed their morale.

Home Secretary: Well, the corruption, the deaths in police custody, the racism, the mistakes.

Mrs T: (icily). Do you know how many 999 calls police deal with a year.

Home Secretary: No Prime Minister.

Mrs T: More than four million and of those one million are real, nasty emergencies.

Home Secretary: I didn’t realise.

Mrs T: So isn’t it inevitable Home Secretary that amongst those one million calls there are going be a few cock ups, excuse the phrase, and very occasionally will not be dealt with well by those few poor performing police officers or even by good officers rushing from call to call who make mistakes because of the pressure they’re under. .

Home Secretary: Well yes.

Mrs T; And do you accept that most of those one million calls are dealt with capably and professionally.

Home Secretary: Yes Prime Minister but I’m only trying to improve….

Mrs T: If you were, you’d be offering a lot more carrot and much less stick. There are those who are saying you are trying to emulate me.

(Leans across table and puts her face menacingly within inches of the Home Secretary’s now pale features).

Mrs T; Love me or hate me, and I can see why people may hate me, there will only ever be one me. Do you understand?

Home Secretary: Yes Prime Minister.

Mrs T: Look at this (stands away from the desk and points to the blank wall as a picture slowly emerges). This is London four years from now.

Picture forms of Parliament Square. A riot is in progress. Police are being pelted with missiles and petrol bombs as they struggle to keep the rioters out of the square. The picture changes to the House of Commons which shows Parliament is in session. The scene reverts back to outside and police lines are broken. Police retreat to the railings outside Parliament as rioters swarm into the square.

Mrs T: Just look at what happens now.

Police lines now have their backs against the railings and they desperately use their shields to fend off a hail of missiles. Groups of rioters armed with staves repeatedly rush the police line, deliver a series of blows and retreat. Numerous officers are going down injured are being helped towards Westminster Bridge where lines of police carriers and ambulances are waiting. The scene switches to the House of Commons chamber where the Home Secretary can be seen talking to the house. It is not clear what post she holds but she is on the front bench.

Home Secretary: What am I? Have I made it?

Mrs T: Watch carefully.

The scene is back outside and the shot closes in on two police officers crouching behind their shields. Their conversation can just about be heard.

PC 1: I’m beginning to think I’d rather be doing something else Reginald. We are even less popular than Millwall supporters as far as that lot(points behind him to Parliament with non shield holding hand) are concerned.

PC 2: I couldn’t agree more Rodney. I was quite happy as manager of the Gravesend Branch of Tesco’s but they told me I’d be a Chief Superintendent in two years if I transferred.

PC 1: If we were defending something worth defending then I wouldn’t (pauses as concrete slab hits his shield) mind but defending this corrupt shower who all hate us (voice tails off).

PC 1: Reginald, there’s looting in Brixton and the EDL are marching in that direction. If we stay here we’ll have to baton charge and then we’ll all be accused by that lot in there of police brutality.

PC 2: Rodney, lets bugger off and look after Brixton. Pass the word along.

Camera pans out and the message can be seen being passed from officer to officer to both the right and left of the police lines. Officers begin moving slowly behind their shields to their right towards Westminster Bridge. A couple of Chief Superintendents make a half hearted attempt to stop them. The scene again focuses on the two police officers.

PC 1. Hey up. Listen to that. (PC2 leans towards his Radio)

Police Radio; (in a voice displaying a distinct lack of enthusiasm) All units from GT. Remain where you are. Repeat all units outside Parliament remain where you are.

PC1; That’s old Jason who use to work with us. He’s as pissed off as we all are.

Scene pans out to show police still moving towards Westminster Bridge then zooms in on the two officers.

PC1; (ear inclined to radio) Wait for it, wait for it.

Police Radio: All units from Gold Commander. All units from Gold Commander. You are to remain exactly where you are. Repeat you are to remain exactly where you are. This is a direct order. You vill oops sorry, will obey this order,

PC2: Who’s that?

PC1: That’s Flashman, the Commissioner’s hatchet man. You know, the Assistant Commissioner who goes around shouting, swearing and sacking Borough Chief Superintendents who don’t bring their crime figures down.

PC2: Which is why everyone lower down the ladder is still fiddling them. Am I not correct Rodney?

PC1: You are Reginald. At least this’ll put paid to his chances of a knighthood.

As the officers withdraw, the missiles stop and the mob begins cheering. Hundreds of police congregate on Westminster Bridge and form up behind their carriers. The carriers reverse and slowly cross Westminster Bridge protecting the officers retreating behind them.

Home Secretary: My God. They’re deserting us. They can’t. We’re their leaders.

Mrs T: They obviously have a greater regard for the people of London than for politicians who have rubbished them for years. The worm has turned after you shot their morale to pieces.

Back outside Parliament the rioters are swarming over the fence while others are battering their way through the doors. The view switches to the House of Commons chamber. The Home Secretary is still speaking but stops as shouting can be heard from outside the chamber. Suddenly behind the speaker’s chair masked youths appear pushing their way inside the chamber before pausing as if to take in their surroundings. For a moment everything seems frozen in time as MP’s stare in horror at the mob. Suddenly there is a roar from the rioters who swarm into the chamber. The Home Secretary can be seen screaming and placing her hands across her face as if to shut out the sight of the rioters rushing towards her.

The scene fades.

At her desk the Home Secretary awakes with a start as Jeremy enters.

Jeremy; Home Secretary are you OK? You’ve gone very pale.

Home Secretary; (in a trembling voice) I’m fine Jeremy.

Jeremy; I have that list of transgressions Home Secretary.

Home Secretary: No need for that now Jeremy. Tell me is there a police officer on duty outside today?

Jeremy; I believe there is a DPG officer stationed outside.

Home Secretary walks across to the window, opens it and leans out shouting.

Home Secretary: Officer, officer. Yes you. Would you like to pop up here for a cup of tea?

Jeremy watches as the Home Secretary turns away from the window and returns to her desk now looking a little pink.

Jeremy: Home Secretary?

Home Secretary: He told me to piss off.

Jeremy: Ah

Home Secretary: No matter. Leave me now Jeremy. It’s time to rewrite my speech.

Scene: The Police Federation Conference.

The Home Secretary makes her way on to the stage to a smattering of half hearted applause. She begins:

Home Secretary: I stand before you knowing how easy it would be and indeed what a cheap shot it would be, to denigrate you all by listing all the blips that have been alleged and in many cases just alleged, over the last few months. But I know that is just a very tiny fraction of the truly outstanding work that is carried out by you and your colleagues on a daily basis. I am truly proud that every day you and your colleagues undertake thousands of daunting tasks on behalf of your public and are rarely found wanting.

There is murmur of surprise from the delegates who can be seen looking at each other somewhat bewildered. Older officers remove their hearing aids and tap them vigorously.

Fifteen minutes later:

The speech is drawing to a close and the atmosphere has lightened to the despair of the various TV news producers.

Home Secretary: And I promise you this. I want to sit down with you all, with all the rank and file. I want to listen and I want to learn. I want to hear the truth from the sharp end, from the front line. If anyone attempts to impede me from hearing the truth from you then believe me the consequences will be grave. I will set up mechanisms in consultation with yourselves to ensure the protection of sharp end officers from those who may not wish to hear the truth or who may wish to cover up poor operational decisions or wrongdoing. On this you have my word.

Pauses.

Finally may I, on behalf of the British public pay tribute to you and your colleagues who do such a magnificent job with professionalism, restraint, kindness and compassion. I salute you all.

She steps to the front of the rostrum and begins applauding the delegates. There is a stunned silence and then a roar of approval as the delegates leap to their feet and begin cheering her to the echo.

Scene: The Pearly Gates.

Mrs Thatcher stands just outside looking down at the scenes at the Federation conference. Husband Denis waits just inside the gates a few yards away from St Peter.

Denis: Everything alright old girl?

Mrs Thatcher: (turns around) It seems to be Denis, thank goodness.

Denis: Excellent. Fancy a nice cup of tea.

Mrs Thatcher: (entering the gates with a smile and a nod to St Peter). I think a snifter or two after that Denis don’t you.

Denis: Oh rather.

Mrs Thatcher: Sadly the job may well be a lot harder in the other universe Denis. I’m afraid that woman has already made that speech. Even I might not be able to fix that.

Denis: Damn that bloody woman.

Mrs T: My goodness Denis, I made some awful mistakes but destroying the police is just beyond belief. (pauses for thought) If she doesn’t change, I’ll make sure that she’s got as much chance of passing through these Pearly Gates as the Argies had of holding on to the Falklands.

Slips her arm through Denis’s and the two walk off towards a spectacular sunset.