Am I A Conspiracy Theorist Or Is There A Conspiracy?

I try not to be too much of a Conspiracy Theorist, but sometimes it’s easy to fall into that mode. But sometimes things happen that just lend themselves to ‘Conspiracy’.

I have thought hard over whether I should even write this blog, but I’ve decided that I should, the truth (Conspiracy or not) is too important to be ignored. My mind is a jumble at the moment so if this blog seems a little more disjointed than normal, please forgive me and bear with it.

Nobody can deny that there is a crisis in the Met at the moment. Bernard Hogan-Who (Bernie the Ostrich) is under fire from all directions. So what is he doing about it? Well one thing he certainly isn’t doing about it is leading his Force out of this crisis with their heads held high. The vast majority of the Met have nothing to be ashamed of and he knows it.

Two of Bernie’s highest profile problems of the moment (I would suggest) both involve Constable James Patrick.

Firstly we have the travesty that was his Discipline Hearing, for a so-called offence of Gross Misconduct that had to be downgraded to Misconduct after a review by an external Force. As you will be aware this centred on James’ blogs that he later consolidated into a book and sold, 100% of the proceeds going to charity.

You will find James’ own full version of the hearing here, and his Notice of Appeal here.

It was alleged that James had failed to register a Business Interest.

Now that the proceedings are over I ask you Met Police, why is it necessary to register a Business Interest if 100% of the proceeds are donated to charity, and the publishing of the book is self-funded? You have found him Guilty. Simply, where is the Business?

The Met alleged that by publishing this book James had damaged Public Confidence in the Met. Where is the evidence for this? If James’ book was so damaging, why did you not instruct him to remove it from sale? You found him Guilty yet you permitted a continuance of the ‘offence’ by not instructing him to remove it from sale.

James was not served a full Disclosure pack because there were documents in existence that weakened the DPS case against him, so they were withheld. James found these documents, one of them clearly states that the Met doesn’t actually have a policy on its officers and staff writing books. I have read it, it exists, yet you still found him Guilty of Misconduct.

The Met claims it does not know the cost of these proceedings as it doesn’t record such information. I don’t believe you Met. Years ago enquiries/investigations/operations were routinely costed if for no other reason than Management Information. Have we taken a step backwards? I simply don’t believe you.

The evidence was reviewed by an external Force, except that external Force has been unable to identify any information regarding that review. Did it even happen, or did the Met just claim that in order to save face?

Then there were the ‘Welfare’ visits. Were they really for his welfare? I don’t know, but I’ve never heard of that happening in the Met, not for someone facing Discipline, phone call from Line Manager maybe, but not visits from an outside Force.  The Met have the resources to go and visit themselves anyway if they really wanted to.

6,000 pages of evidence, 136 submissions by James and a Board in front of a Chief Inspector from an external Force that lasts 10 minutes max. Does that sound like a fair hearing, or does it sounds like a pre-ordained result.

There are other issues around James’ hearing which may or may not come out in the fullness of time, but suffice it to say he is angry and feeling very low and let down right now. He does not wish me to discuss them so I will respect that wish.

The second problem involving James is #CrimeStats.  What on earth is Bernie playing at?  I’m not suggesting that #CrimeStats warrants James receiving immunity from his pre-existing Discipline Issues, but all that has happened just makes it look like James is now being dumped on from an even greater height than before.  Where is the protection that a Whistle-blower should enjoy?  Bernie has admitted that James’ allegations contain a truth that should be heard, so why isn’t he hearing it? Why hasn’t he arranged for someone with loads of Scrambled Egg to sit down with James and take a proper debrief from him?  Have an enquiry by all means but why not include the man that kicked it all off? Answers on a postcard please Bernie.

Now we have the TSG 6.  I’m not going to dwell on that subject for very long, you can find the whole story here if you haven’t already read it.  I defy anyone to read that transcript and not form the opinion that DPS have acted unethically and most probably unlawfully. Their sanctions? Almost none. What kind of a message does that send exactly? Where can the integrity of DPS investigations be found after that little sage?

There are others who Tweet regularly (and they will know who they are) who have told me how they have been stitched up by Professional(?) Standards.  If this is true this must be a VERY worrying development.

Other officers, from other Forces to the Met have received similar, unacceptable treatments at the hands of the Professional(?) Standards Departments, although I fail to see how this could be a joined-up policy across the country.

Then we enter the world of shredding.  Has all this vital information regarding corruption been shredded? I have no idea, but Bernie hasn’t exactly denied it.  Personally I’m reasonably comfortable with the shredding, but I would be VERY uncomfortable if nothing could be found on the servers or the backups either. The Met ceased to rely on bits of paper years ago, but the servers get backed up regularly, as is best practice, so where is the information?

Several different Operation names have featured in the press recently, some of which are allegedly marked SECRET.  Who would have access to these SECRET files in order to leak them? Why hasn’t the Met gone stratospheric in an attempt to identify those responsible? Just who DID leak them and why?

Finally, I want to know just how willing this government is to tackle the subject of corruption.  I emailed a certain Mr Vaz recently after corruption became an issue in of the HASC sessions with Bernie.  I proposed to him a viable method for Police Forces around the country to demonstrate to their public the estimated levels of corruption within their Force and what they proposed to do about it.  SILENCE.  I left it a few days and then I tweeted him to ask him if he had received my email.  SILENCE.  I know at least one other ex-police Tweeter has received the same SILENCE from Mr Vaz.  It is simply not good enough, people are trying with the best intentions to solve problems and they’re not being listened to or taken seriously.

Whistle-blowers getting dumped on and corrupt officers going unhindered?  Please tell me that this is not where the Met finds itself today. Please?

I’m sorry this has been a bit of a disconnected rant, I sincerely hope that there is NOT a Conspiracy out there, and these are just the ramblings of an old fool and nothing more serious, but I do think we all deserve some answers, and soon.

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This Is How We Know #CrimeStat Fudging Has Been Going On For Years

I do apologise to you, my reader, but I couldn’t let this go unchallenged any longer.

I very nearly said “Damn” when I saw this.

Mr Tom Winsor, Head Fred at HMIC, said in May 2013, “Police could be fiddling crime figures, watchdog warns”  Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said he wanted to review how all the country’s police forces record crimes amid concerns officers are deliberately changing statistics.

In November last year our own Constable James Patrick, and Dr Roger Patrick (no relation) appeared before Bernard Jenkin MP’s Public Administration Select Committee and told the Committee of their concerns that Police Crime Stats were being ‘fudged’. James was brave indeed and informed the Committee EXACTLY how it was being done, Dr Roger Patrick, broadly speaking, backed up James’ allegations adding his own two pennyworth with definitions and examples of Cuffing, Stitching, Skewing and Nodding.

The other invited witnesses giving evidence that day did nothing to contradict what Messrs Patrick were stating and Committee Members were left suitably aghast that this was going on.

One very high-ranking officer, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM later told the PASC that some of the claims were “worthy of further investigation” but that he needed “to hear more detail”……. “On occasion there might be some inaccuracy but I think on the whole there’s a truth there we need to hear.”

The commissioner said he had not spoken to PC Patrick about his claims but that the Met would in due course.  An internal inquiry, led by deputy commissioner Craig Mackey, has been launched into around 20 claims made by the officer.  “If he has been making these claims for a long time it would have been best they were resolved before now,” Sir Bernard added.

Tom Winsor, who as Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales, is leading an inquiry into crime statistics, told the committee he was in no doubt it would uncover “some fiddling of the figures“.

So far, so good, this much we know.

Then I was browsing t’interweb and I came across an old article in The Torygraph dated 5th December 2009.  Much of the article consisted of allegations about crime stat fudging from the very same Dr Roger Patrick, with his Cuffing, Skewing, Nodding and Stitching.

But it also contained some very damning specifics;

In one case, an offender shot at another man at close range but missed and broke a window behind his target. The offence was recorded as criminal damage rather than attempted murder.

One detective, who declined to be named, said: “Name any crime and I’ll tell you how it can be fiddled.”

Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, which represents front line officers, said: “This research demonstrates that senior officers are directing and controlling widespread manipulation of crime figures. “The public are misled, politicians can claim crime is falling and chief officers are rewarded with performance-related bonuses.”

Denis O’Connor, the [then] Chief Inspector of Constabulary, published an official report into the way police record violent crime and admitted the figures may be skewed by “perverse incentives” around government performance targets.

Dr Patrick found that watchdogs such as Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and the Police Standards Unit had a “general tendency to underplay the scale and nature” of gaming.

He was scathing of HMIC’s failure to tackle the problem, noting there were no examples of chief police officers being publicly criticised by inspectors for this type of crime figure manipulation.

HMIC tended privately to refer examples of widespread gaming to the Home Secretary or the police authority rather than “hold the chief constable to account” because of the risk of political embarrassment, he said.

Dr Patrick concluded that HMIC inspectors should be made accountable to Parliament rather than the Home Office, and suggested they should be drawn from other professions rather than solely from senior police ranks. [well that bit happened]

So there we are, all of this was known and brought to the attention of HMIC in 2009, and only now is their Head Fred pontificating on it and thinking that it might well happen. Professional #epicfail by HMIC? Own Goal?

Call it what you want, I call it disgraceful. I would respectfully suggest that this totally vindicates PC James Patrick and how the hell can senior officers like BHH claim that they were unaware of the scale of the problem? Founder members of the Ostrich Club? How dare any one of them criticise James Patrick and any other officers facing a similar dilemma when this has been know for YEARS.

It didn’t start in 2009, it’s been going on for decades. It isn’t helped by successive Home Secretaries introducing different Counting Rules, political interference at its worst and most irresponsible.

Even former Commissioner Lord Stevens has now weighed in to the debate.

Giving evidence to the Commons’ home affairs select committee, Lord Stevens said: “Ever since I’ve been in police service there has been a fiddling of figures. I remember being a detective constable where we used to write off crimes.”

Asked by Keith Vaz MP, the committee chairman, if it was still going on, Lord Stevens replied: “Of course it is. In certain forces.”

There’s the evidence, been going on for years, and it’s an absolute bloody disgrace that HMIC sit in judgement but appear at face value to have completely ignored Dr Patrick’s 2009 findings. Surely an enquiry into figures can’t take 5 years can it?

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Ethics

Good morning folks,

I woke up this morning to a right little Twitter Shit-Storm about Ethics. I’m sure you’ve seen it, how can you have missed it?

I’m sure it’s reported everywhere this morning but our favourite news agency Pravda, sorry, I meant the BBC, have chosen to report it under the headline

‘Cut police pensions’ to punish misconduct, MPs say

“Police officers who commit serious misconduct should have their pensions docked, a group of MPs has said.

The Home Affairs Select Committee also called for a new code of ethics for all officers in England and Wales.

Its report comes after the “plebgate” affair and a series of allegations about the conduct of undercover police.”

So what’s actually NEW about this?  The old Police Authorities always had the power to take away part of an officer’s pension if he/she was convicted of a serious crime, I presume that PCCs have retained this power, I have seen nothing to the contrary.  Last time I looked British Justice still worked on the ‘Innocent till proven Guilty’ principle, although sometimes I wonder with the way certain sections of the media report things.

“But the committee said it had learned of numerous cases where police officers facing corruption allegations had retired to avoid disciplinary proceedings and had suffered no financial penalty.

It cited the example of Sir Norman Bettison, former chief constable of West Yorkshire, who stepped down while facing a disciplinary investigation for gross misconduct charges relating to the Hillsborough disaster.”

This is true, I’m sure that we can all repeat stories of officers who have resigned in order to avoid disciplinary proceedings, but this is somewhat different.  If an officer is facing allegations of corruption as stated above, the mere fact that they have conveniently resigned does not make them immune from criminal investigation and subsequent prosecution. Many Police Forces allow officers under criminal investigation to resign so that they appear in the dock as “Ex Policed Officer Smith” and not “Serving Police Officer Smith”.  Personally I don’t have a problem with this practice per se as it helps to maintain the image of the Police Service, but it is important that the investigation/prosecution is continued to retain the integrity of the process.

I remain to be convinced that we need a new Code of Ethics, I’m pretty certain that existing policies and procedures are quite capable of dealing with almost any issue if applied correctly and consistently.

As for the allegations about the conduct of undercover officers, they are just that, allegations. Trial by Media has taken place and all 43 Police Forces have been convicted.  If these allegations turn out to be true then I would fully support any action that is taken to bring those responsible to book.  IF they are true there are several people out there who know the truth, let them come forward and we should be big enough and ugly enough to deal with it and take it on the chin, deal with honestly and move forward to retain the respect and admiration that the Police Service in the United Kingdom deserves, and it DOES deserve it.  The SIO must know the truth.  Other Undercover Officers presumably know the truth, there should be a Decision Log in existence somewhere recording the decision and why it was taken.  A costly enquiry will/should uncover the truth anyway, so let those people who know the truth come forward and put us out of our misery.  All I want to hear is the truth, good, bad or indifferent. Is that too much to expect?

As for MPs demanding Ethics from anybody, that’s just laughable.  Ethically bankrupt, I don’t need to go any further than one word – Expenses.  I have no desire to repeat all of the details that we know so well anyway, but I will share one thing with you.  This morning I reversed my own decision, and once again put on my #FOI Cloak and submitted the following request to IPSA and the Met Police

“Since 2008 what is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been
investigated for mis-claiming Parliamentary Expenses?

What is the TOTAL number that have been prosecuted?

What is the TOTAL number of MPs who have been asked to pay back
expenses previously claimed but not prosecuted?”

If IPSA doesn’t duck the issue and refuse to answer this should enable us to quantify the Ethics of MPs.  We know how many MPs make up the House of Commons, if I actually get an answer we can calculate the percentage that is Unethical.

No profession is perfect and I’m not blind or stupid enough to think that the all Police Officers are perfect. But I am arrogant enough to think that those that MAKE the laws of this land should be prosecuted if they BREAK the laws of this land, in EVERY instance.

Finally, is it just a coincidence that this shit-storm broke today, when the other attention-grabbing headline was this one

David Cameron ‘warned he cannot stop pay rise for MPs’

Apparently our politicians think that they deserve a pay rise of up to 32%, although, in fairness, this is likely to be pegged at a mere 15%.

#AllInThisTogether or #SnoutsInTheTrough? You decide.

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What Dave’s Government REALLY thinks of the Police

Yesterday Gideon revealed to the world his 2013 Spending Review. I’ll keep it brief, I won’t go through it item by item, we’d all lose the will to live.  The Headline Figure for me was that “Police Budget will be cut by less than 6%”.  We’ve heard since that the actual figure will be 4.9%.  This on top of the 20% already announced and being suffered by many.  Where exactly will these savings come from in a resource that’s already been cut to the bone and beyond?

In his response to Gideon’s speech Ed Balls informed us that Police and Crime Commissioners are costing the country more than the Police Authorities that they replaced.  This is something that I had long-since suspected but had not heard quoted before.  So I did some digging.

More than a third of police and crime commissioners are already costing the public more than the police authorities they were elected to replace last November, according to parliamentary research.

The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee says six months after their election, 17 out of the 41 PCCs have set budgets higher than the police authorities they replaced. The largest increase so far is a rise of 133% in Hampshire where the police authority budget of £1.5m last year has risen to £3.5m this year.

The report noted large differences in the size of staff and the additional roles created.

The report said the PCCs were reporting their costs in different ways, which made direct comparisons difficult.

It also noted significant differences in the size of the PCC offices – the Greater Manchester PCC employs 45 people while Northumbria PCC employs four.

Keith Vaz, the Home Affairs Committee chairman, said the survey showed a national register for PCCs was vital for local accountability despite the idea having been rejected by the home secretary, Theresa May.

He said there was an urgent need to guard against “maverick decision-making” by PCCs, citing the examples of the suspension of the Lincolnshire chief constable, controversial appointments such as the “youth PCC” in Kent, and commissioners with second, third and even fourth jobs.

So much for budget cuts eh?

And if this isn’t bad enough, on the very same day that Gideon outlined his 4.9% slash of Police Budgets it was announced (quite separately obviously) that HS2, the High Speed rail link that seemingly nobody but the coalition actually wants, is likely to cost £10 BILLION MORE than previously estimated.

What could you do with £10 Billion?  How many cuts would be necessary with £10 Billion?  How many cuts could be saved if PCCs were not so expensive?  It’s relatively small amounts of money but it’s the principle that counts. We are all in this together after all.

I have blogged before on government wastage. Just go over to the Big Picture and search on ‘wastage’ if you want to read the articles, I won’t bore you here.

But at least we know what  the government really thinks of the Police, Armed Forces, NHS etc etc.  A bloody train line is more important.

Enjoy your cornflakes, rant over for now.

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My 2nd 15 Minutes of Fame

Or Two Minutes and 50 Seconds to be precise.

This was the length of time that Theresa May devoted to answering our questions at yesterday’s Home Affairs Select Committee meeting.

I had had the temerity to submit the following question to the Committee  “Given that Police Pensions must change and evolve, why are these changes being forced upon existing members?  If all proposed changes were restricted to future members of the scheme much hostility and opposition could surely be avoided.” and I must thank Mr @Keith_VazMP for giving me the opportunity to do so.

I received such a bland acknowledgement of my question that I assumed it had been ignored.  Until yesterday that is when I started to get Tweets from folk on here asking if that was me that had just been mentioned at #HASC. Bloody Hell I thought.

My congratulations go to @MentalHealthCop as he seems to have received an answer to his question but Theresa May did not seem to answer the question that I had actually asked, but rather adopted the usual politician’s stance of answering the question she would have preferred to have been asked.

So maybe I should have a stab at answering it for her.  She has had her opportunity after all.

Given that Police Pensions must change and evolve, why are these changes being forced upon existing members?

The first reason may be that the government are greedy and can’t wait for the increased pension contributions of new recruits on £19k per annum to filter through and swell the coffers. They seem to want results now and not in the future. I suspect that they knew full well that rates of pay for new recruits were going to fall dramatically when Mr Winsor drew up his plans against us (sounds a bit War of the Worlds ish)

The second reason may possibly be that new recruits are not joining the new, improved Police Pension Scheme as they don’t see it as an attractive proposition, hence the increased money coming in would not be sufficient for government’s needs if restricted to new recruits.   I don’t know this for a fact, it is just supposition. Maybe some of our Fed colleagues can respond and let me know the situation.

So there we are, my second appearance on the evil telly box, even if this was only by proxy. I was going to keep it to myself but was prompted by one or more of you out there, so here it is. You know who you are.

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