in the week that sees the Annual Police Federation Conference in Bournemouth I was reading Chris Hobbs’ powerful letter to Theresa May
After exchanging a bit of banter with Clive Chamberlain it hit me. It has often been quoted that cuts to the Police Service have already amounted to losing the equivalent of Devon&Cornwall, Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent and Wiltshire Forces, 6 Constabularies that would include Bournemouth if it were that simple. Imagine seeing no Police at all around the town of Bournemouth and beyond. 6 Constabularies that will be more by 2020 if nothing is done to stop the cuts.
In years gone by when Forces have been stretched they have had the Plan B of Mutual Aid to fall back on, asking surrounding Forces to supply some PSUs to help out in the short term, normally just a few days.
We have already lost 17,000 warranted officers under the coalition, Cameron’s new Tory government seems certain to continue the threatened cuts into the next 5 years. Horrendous further cuts are only just over the horizon.
So where does that leave Mutual Aid? Your Force can’t cope so you ask your neighbours to pitch in for a few days and help out. Only those neighbours are all suffering the same cuts and might not be able to send Mutual Aid without leaving themselves vulnerable back home.
2011 saw the Met ask for Mutual Aid for the riots in London. It took Mutual Aid of 16,000 to quell the disquiet in London in 2011, we’ve lost 17,000 since then with more horrendous cuts to come. What’s your answer to that Mrs May?
Somebody please tell me, how the hell is Mutual Aid going to work under the Tories?
Ii have heard many eloquent people highlighting the problems faced by Police and Public alike caused by the government’s reckless policy of repeatedly cutting the Police Budget.
I know that this problem applies to other PublicSectors also, but today I am concentrating solely on the Police.
It is frequently stated within the Police Service that if the reasons for doing something (for example Stop/Search, Kettling, Tasering) are explained to the public in a calm and reasonable manner then they will probably understand and possibly even support the action, or at the very least become less vociferous in their opposition. A calm explanation as to why I was Stop/Searching an apparently innocent person, the grounds and reason behind it, was frequently all that was required to defuse a tense situation and the person quite frequently went off perfectly happy.
So, Theresa May, David Cameron, why don’t you tell us, the Police and Public, just exactly why the cuts that you have already enacted, and the cuts that you have cued up for the next five years are actually ALL NECESSARY.
I have pointed out previously, on more than one occasion, that many of the 43 Forces have already shed more officers than they needed to to attain their 2015 Austerity Target set by HMIC. Please explain to us calmly, in a language that we can all understand, why this was necessary.
Please explain to us why, when other public services find their budgets ring-fenced, the Police Budget is not.
Why is the Foreign Aid Budget ring-fenced and the Police Budget not?
Please explain to us why we keep hearing the mantra “Crime Is Down” to justify the cuts when overall demand on the Police Service is UP.
So would you please explain to us all quite calmly all of your reasons for decimating what used to be the finest Police Service in the world. If you try and explain in a non-confrontational manner we might just understand and agree with you, possibly not, but go on try it, what do you have to lose?
The impression amongst the Police Service is that you are on a mission to destroy the Police Service, well you need to remember that the vast majority of the British Public have no connections with the Police Service whatsoever, but they still need for a Police Service to exist to report their crimes, deal with their Anti-Social Behaviour, maintain their public tranquility ( The Queen’s Peace) etc etc.
Demand UP, Establishment DOWN please explain to us why, JUSTIFY IT.
The people voted and it seems that the people voted for five more years of Cuts and Austerity, and that is absolutely the country’s right, if that’s what they want.
However, within 36 hours of the result being confirmed we had civil disorder outside Downing Street.
I am neither condoning nor discouraging civil disorder, but I AM anticipating it.
Are we heading for a new Summer of Discontent? Because if we are, think on this, you and Milky have already disposed of over 17,000 warranted Police Officers since 2010, PCSO and Special Constabulary numbers are also down I believe, as are Police Staff. If this isn’t bad enough you’ve kept your job and are about to embark on 5 more years of cuts leading to the loss of a similar number more.
What are you going to do when the wheel comes off? When the Met has to ask for Mutual Aid like it did in 2011 something has gone terribly pear-shaped. We’ve got even less than that now, more destined to go, where will the Mutual Aid come from. 17,000 officers, as has been pointed out elsewhere, is the equivalent of FOUR entire Police Forces along the South Coast, and you intend to DOUBLE that? Think about it I implore you.
The people have voted, and it seems like they’ve got Camoron for another full term.
I don’t agree with them, but I can see why the Jocks have voted SNP, at least that makes some kind of sense.
The rest of the UK have voted for some strange things
They have voted for a much reduced Police Service with a much hampered ability to respond to our various problems.
They have voted for a much reduced Armed Forces, they are at their lowest strength for decades and getting smaller.
They have voted for an NHS in danger of being dismantled and privatised. Starved of funding, forced to fail, cue private companies riding in to pick up the pieces and rescue them.
They have voted for a shackled Justice system.
They have voted for a slimline Coastguard Service.
They have voted for Probation, Education and Prison Services to be neutered or privatised.
What do all of the above have in common? None of them sell anything. Traditionally they have all been sectors that soak up money without the ability to make a profit. How could they? Until very recently consecutive governments have accepted that fact and whilst there have been minor cuts and Efficiency Drives along the way, it was always accepted that they were sectors that had to have money pumped into them to make them work with no option of getting a profit out at the end. It has always been that way, and I don’t see how it could be any different to that. Oh, hang on,……..Privatisation might help.
They have voted for Bankers Bonuses.
They have voted for Outsourcing
I truly hope that the the great British Public do not find the need for the NHS, do not ever need a Police Officer, I hope their kids are properly educated, I hope they never need a Coastguard etc etc, because the shape of this country has changed irrevocably, and it’s what the country has voted for.
I didn’t, my conscience is clear, but very many did. I have heard it described as selfish voting. Who knows?
I leave you with one last thought, Be very careful what you wish for because you might get it.
A while ago I posed the question – Would you be willing to pay a small amount more each month to help safeguard our Public Services? I posted a short online survey for you to tell me your views, and the results are in.
Shown below are the actual responses received, minus names and email address etc, apart from that untouched.
I’m not certain that the volume of respondents constitutes a statistically significant sample (I’m sure it doesn’t), but most folk who replied would be willing to pay SOMETHING extra on their taxes, NI contributions etc to help keep our Public Services afloat.
Just a shame that the government never thought of asking the question really, they might have got a bigger response.
Would you be willing to pay a small amount more each month to help safeguard our Public Services?
What is the Max amount PER MONTH you would be willing to pay on top of your current taxes?
Well I suppose I need to start with an apology, this story is not about Targets or Crime, just the opposite really, and if any of you are feeling a tad squeamish you might want to turn over to something else.
Some of you may have heard this story, most of you won’t. At least one of you was serving with me at the time in question and presumably heard about it. It wasn’t a well-kept secret.
Back in the 80s I was what used to pass as a Community Bobby, or Home Beat as the Met liked to call them then. One Saturday morning I was called up and asked to return to the nick. The Duty Inspector wanted to talk to me urgently, and No he couldn’t tell me what it was about over the radio.
So I hopped on a bus and got myself back as quickly as I could. It was not good news. It turns out that a colleague of mine from an adjoining Division had gone missing. His wife had come home on Friday night to find a note, together with the remains of a bottle of pills and some empty booze bottles. She’d called an ambulance, he’d been taken to hospital, still alive and had now done a runner from the ward he was on.
The Inspector’s next words will remain with me till the day I die “You’re the only one on duty who knows him, you can deal with the Missing Person Enquiry”.
So began the single darkest investigation of my illustrious career.
First stop the hospital where things were due to get a whole load worse. He’d. Been put on a ward on the 8th floor overnight while the medical & psychiatric staff assessed him and he’d done no more than try to jump out of the window. Two attempts in 24 hours.
By now he’d walked out of the hospital building wearing nothing more than his hospital gown.
Not very long after this a crackly voice on my radio told me that the driver of a passing train had seen the body of a woman by the side of the tracks. About 10 minutes walk away.
It didn’t take long to establish that it wasn’t a woman but my mate, or what was left of him. I called up the Duty Inspector and informed him and he graciously sent a Sergeant to come and supervise me at the scene. He was far too busy to leave the nick.
The Sergeant who pitched up was a good one, but I found I was spending more time stopping him from stepping on the live rail than briefing him about the unfolding tragedy. So I’m afraid I shouted at him, he took in good spirit and we both got on with doing what needed to be done.
It goes without saying he was dead. Mercifully he would have died instantly. I now know what drove him to this terrible deed, and all I will say on the matter is that it was something that he SHOULD have been able to take in his stride and deal with it. It was neither related to the Job nor his marriage. That is all.
Once we’d finished at the scene, for continuity purposes, I had to accompany his remains to the hospital, then the mortuary and ultimately the Post Mortem and Inquest. Offering him what little dignity I could. The Coroner was brilliant and returned an Open Verdict on the grounds that nobody could say he wasn’t pushed, so at least his poor widow was left with the Life Insurance.
So after a day rushing around first trying to establish what had happened, then trying to find my mate and then dealing with the bloody aftermath, what words of comfort did my Duty Inspector have for me when I returned to base?
“Nice job, see you in the morning”
I’m not after your sympathy, these events are safely stowed away in a box and now only come out when I let them. The nightmares have stopped. It certainly wasn’t a typical day in the Met, but neither was it unique. I believe that the Met is slightly more enlightened these days, and hopefully, being the only Cop on duty who knows somebody might be the perfect reason NOT to deal with it.
But I won’t have any haggardy witch telling me that Police work is all about CRIME.
Take the Police Officers out of the above scenario for a minute. Who would have dealt with it?
There isn’t another single agency that would have dealt with the events I have relayed above, and not a single crime was committed or alleged.
That is only one tale from a 30 year career, multiply that by 130,000. Allow for more than one such instance in a career, most officers will have many such tales of trauma to tell. Still no crime involved.
So Cruella, you can do one, do yourself a favour. If you want to get it right and improve your (much) tarnished reputation just trying listening to them that do the Job, they just might know better than you what’s involved, and maybe even, how many are needed to do it.
Or you might just try carrying on with the wrecking ball.
Either way, I won’t be voting for your party, so you can stick that right up your Purdah.
We are the people, the people who know. And because we know we are dangerous. We are a threat. There are tens of thousands of us and we all know, every single one of us.
We know EXACTLY what this government is doing to this, once proud, country. Whether we support the Police, The NHS, the Armed a Forces, the Coastguard Service, Courts, Prisons, Probation, we all KNOW.
120 odd thousand of us can be controlled by the State. Forget bloody Purdah, I’m sick of the word, and it’s dodgy utilisation. I’m talking about the 120 odd thousand Police Officers who are discouraged from speaking out by the out-dated Police Regs. Some have, many ‘signed’ the open letter recently, but many, many more didn’t. ACPO types were riding Social Media actively discouraging serving officers from signing it. But those officers KNOW.
The rest of us, the ‘silent’ majority of retired officers and supportive Members of the Public, get ‘controlled’ in a much quieter, insidious way.
We get ignored.
I am not alone in trying to bring the consequences of #MaysMayhem to the attention of the media. A few of my retired colleagues have tried and I know of at least one MoP who spent what seemed like an entire morning forwarding links and messages to just about the entire UK Media a Industry.
We get ignored.
Freedom of Information requests to the Home Office get Refused more times than not. Police Forces fail to respond within the allotted timescale, and then claim an Exemption more often than not.
We get ignored.
And by being ignored lies the biggest act of Control possible. We don’t exist. We have no voice. We can achieve nothing. Why? Because the State have obviously decided that we will not be bamboozled by them so they simply refuse to Engage.
We will not even scratch the armour of Dodgy Dave, Teflon Theresa or Tiny Tim unless the Media start to take notice, and I’m not too optimistic about that, but if you can get one local paper, local radio station, local TV news interested in the TRUE SCALE OF THE CUTS and what it means IN REAL TERMS we might just stand a chance.
I guess we’re all coming to terms with the College of Policing, and frankly I’m glad that I don’t have to concern myself with it unduly.
We recently (12th March) heard about their National Scrutiny of Undercover Policing, but in reality that panel had their first meeting in July 2014. Had anybody heard about this controversial panel before March 2015? Not exactly timely communication from the College.
On 20th March the College published their Interim Review of Leadership which contained a recommendation that Specials could be promoted to Sergeant ( or above) if they met the National Criteria and give Operational Directions to Regular officers. This was not reported by Police Oracle until 10th April, and I for one haven’t seen it reported in the Traditional national Press at all. Officers who have given up many hours of their own time to study for promotion to Sergeant are understandably not best pleased.
Is this a case of the College not pushing some of the more controversial parts of their Review, or is it the National Media choosing not to report it?
On 31st March they published information that as of April(!) PCSOs would be given new powers.
Changes to the powers of police community support officers (PCSOs) have been outlined in a new booklet going out to forces across England and Wales in April.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 created additional powers for PCSOs and chief officers should decide which they will grant to PCSOs in their force areas.
• seizing property
• to confirm the identity of a charity collector
• issuing fixed penalty notices for parking in a restricted area outside schools; causing unnecessary noise; cycling without lights and carrying a passenger on a cycle.
The same Act has created a number of offences relating specifically to PCSOs, namely;
• assaulting a PCSO in the execution of their duty;
• resisting or wilfully obstructing a PCSO in the execution of their duty
• impersonating, or falsely claiming to be, a PCSO with intent to deceive
• being a PCSO and making a false suggestion that one possesses powers that exceed those designated by the chief officer.
Local Policing lead at the College of Policing, Chief Superintendent Paul Phillips, said:
“Police community support officers help to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour. They make people feel safer in their communities and are closing the gap between crime and the fear of crime.
This is obviously not a College Initiative, it most likely forms part of #MaysMayhem, but the College did choose to publicise it right at the very last minute. I hadn’t previously heard of this, and if I hadn’t been rummaging around the College website I would probably still be unaware.
So I dare say the government should take a share of the blame for this one, but has anybody seen the ‘booklet’ yet? Had anybody heard of this decision before 31st March? Once they’d taken the decision to publish, should the College have publicised it sooner?
All I know is that things are pretty rotten in the world of Policing at the moment and I don’t see the College doing a single thing to improve conditions on the Front Line or improve that all-important element MORALE.
While I sit and ponder my future I found myself thinking about a couple of ‘Improvements’ that Theresa May has made to Policing. My experience and knowledge is really linked to the Met, so if I say something which does not extend to your Force please forgive me, unlike Ms Khan, any unfair generalisations are not intention.
Firstly, the changes restrict the controversial “no suspicion” powers, which allow officers to stop and search members of the public even when they do not suspect a crime has been committed. This refers to s60 Stops, which in my experience were seldom used, and then mainly at Public Disorder, or occasionally sporting events. I’m not sure that is going to make a huge difference, but does shine a light on to Imelda’s way of thinking.
In the second measure forces will have to record the outcome of searches in more detail.
Officers who carry out a stop and search will have to make a note of the outcome– such as whether it led to an arrest, a caution or no further action.
The Home Office has previously reduced the complexity of paperwork required by stop and search after criticisms that it was overly bureaucratic and officers were being tied up with red tape.
Alex Marshall, chief constable of the College of Policing, said: “Stop and search powers are necessary to help us tackle crime and keep people safe but it is clear that they are being misused too often.
“Under this scheme search outcomes will be recorded in more detail so we have a greater understanding of how the powers are being used.
Well, in my humble opinion this is just the College and the rest of AVPO (or whatever they’re called today) rolling over to have their bellies rubbed.
There is no doubt that Stop and Search is Intrusive, no doubt whatsoever! but unless someone has rewritten PACE while I’ve been asleep it has always contained the following;
1 Power of constable to stop and search persons, vehicles etc.
(1) A constable may exercise any power conferred by this section—
(a) in any place to which at the time when he proposes to exercise the power the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission; or
(b)in any other place to which people have ready access at the time when he proposes to exercise the power but which is not a dwelling.
(2) Subject to subsection (3) to (5) below, a constable—
(a) may search—
(i) any person or vehicle;
(ii) anything which is in or on a vehicle,
for stolen or prohibited articles [F1, any article to which subsection (8A) below applies or any firework to which subsection (8B) below applies; and
(b) may detain a person or vehicle for the purpose of such a search.
(3) This section does not give a constable power to search a person or vehicle or anything in or on a vehicle unless he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that he will find stolen or prohibited articles [F2, any article to which subsection (8A) below applies or any firework to which subsection (8B) below applies
2 Provisions relating to search under section 1 and other powers.
(1) A constable who detains a person or vehicle in the exercise—
(a) of the power conferred by section 1 above; or
(b) of any other power—
(i) to search a person without first arresting him; or
(ii) to search a vehicle without making an arrest,
need not conduct a search if it appears to him subsequently—
(i) that no search is required; or
(ii) that a search is impracticable.
3 Duty to make records concerning searches.
(1) Where a constable has carried out a search in the exercise of any such power as is mentioned in section 2(1) above, other than a search—
(a) under section 6 below; or
(b)under section 27(2) of the M1Aviation Security Act 1982, he shall make a record of it in writing unless it is not practicable to do so.
(a) a constable is required by subsection (1) above to make a record of a search; but
(b )it is not practicable to make the record on the spot,
he shall make it as soon as practicable after the completion of the search.
(3) The record of a search of a person shall include a note of his name, if the constable knows it, but a constable may not detain a person to find out his name.
(4) If a constable does not know the name of a person whom he has searched, the record of the search shall include a note otherwise describing that person.
(5) The record of a search of a vehicle shall include a note describing the vehicle.
(6) The record of a search of a person or a vehicle—
(a) shall state—
(i) the object of the search;
(ii) the grounds for making it;
(iii) the date and time when it was made;
(iv) the place where it was made;
(v) whether anything, and if so what, was found;
(vi) whether any, and if so what, injury to a person or damage to property appears to the constable to have resulted from the search; and
(b) shall identify the constable making it.
(7) If a constable who conducted a search of a person made a record of it, the person who was searched shall be entitled to a copy of the record if he asks for one before the end of the period specified in subsection (9) below.
(a) the owner of a vehicle which has been searched or the person who was in charge of the vehicle at the time when it was searched asked for a copy of the record of the search before the end of the period specified in subsection (9) below; and
(b) the constable who conducted the search made a record of it,
the person who made the request shall be entitled to a copy.
There’s a whole load more to PACE than that, but in my submission, that is our first Undeniable Truth, Stop and Search under s1 PACE is already regulated sufficiently by statute and if the perception is that this power is being abused then this is surely a Supervision or Training issue, not something for Politicians to meddle in.
My second concern, to the best of my knowledge, only concerns the Met, but if the same practice has happened in the County Forces please let me know, as we would all need t know.
When I last worked on a Borough, I worked in an Intelligence Unit, and it was an important part of my job to produce briefings 5 days out of 7 for the 3 main shifts, Early, Lates and Nights. These briefings would contain details of recent crimes of note, any Crime Patterns that had been identified by the Analyst, names and/or descriptions of any suspects for those crimes including photos if applicable, and recommendations for where any ‘spare’ officers could be posted to Prevent or Detect Crime (I know there aren’t any Spare officers any more). It was on the basis of these briefings that many s1 Stop and Searches may have been conducted in ‘Hotspot’ areas.
Word has now reached my ears that these Intelligence Units at Divisional and Borough level have gone, been Winsor’d, labelled as Back Office functions and dissolved. There is a Service Intelligence Unit staffed by some faceless warriors in Central London, but how effective can they be at preparing meaningful and timely briefings for troops in Croydon, or Barnet?
Time spent chatting with the old ‘Collator’ was seldom wasted for a good Thief-Taker, chats in a cosy over office over a brew were often productive, and, within limits, to be encouraged. Even the next generation following on from Collators had crowds of enthusiastic young bucks picking brains in the quest for their next ‘body’. I don’t see anything wrong with that, as long as the privilege isn’t abused, but again, Post May/Winsor there probably isn’t the time left for such luxuries.
So, in the era of Smaller, Smarter Policing, how exactly are we supposed to function more Smartly when May and Winsor have taken away our Intelligence Units. If this is not true PLEASE let me know, it’s important to me to know.
Intelligence-Led Policing With No Intelligence Unit – that would work every time. Bloody good job Crime Is Down is all I can say.
Our Second Undeniable Truth? The absence of Intelligence Units at a local level adversely impacts upon our ability to fight crime in an efficient and timely manner?
As we have seen above before a Stop/Search be conducted there has to be Suspicion and Grounds. I’ve scoured PACE thoroughly but I can’t find performance Indicators listed as suitable grounds to conduct a Stop/Search.
Stop/Search is clearly a very emotive subject and if there are abuses of the powers then these need to be addressed, but NOT by watering down the powers, of course Turkeys are not going to vote for Christmas but I truly believe that if Mr or Mrs Average is subjected to a Stop/Search by an officer who was polite, explained their actions and complied with the provisions above, then they would neither Complain nor Need to Complain. Do we need to pay undue heed to the Turkeys complaining that Christmas is coming and they don’t want to be slaughtered?
My 3rd and last Undeniable Truth is that Numerical targets have no place in Stop/Search in particular, and quite possibly Front Line Policing in general, it breeds bad habits. Any Stop/Search conducted in pursuit of such Targets is, at best, Unethical, and at most, arguably Unlawful.
That is EXACTLY the reaction to my survey, and its results.
I have received a few comments, both public and private, from my readers, and I’ve been amazed, and occasionally humbled, by the support I have had from some of my non-Police readers, the main protagonists will know who you are and I sincerely thank you.
I have forwarded a copy of the results to the Home Office, HMIC, various politicians, Boris and his Deputy, the Association of PCCs, various offices of the Police Federation inc Head Office, an assortment of journalists, newspapers and News Channels, Trade Unions, Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
Many on that list are not subject to the ‘rules’ of Purdah (See Cate Moore’s excellent piece Purdah (she wrote)). Almost all are at Liberty to communicate with me privately.
Everybody on that list, when ‘off duty’ is a citizen, and as such will require and depend upon the Police at some time. It is no use waiting until it’s too late, the time to speak out is NOW. One of our colleagues is currently busy pointing out that cuts to Policing form no part of any party’s pre-election agenda.
Indeed, the reverse is true. Some people following a Slash and Burn Policy are only too quick to blame the Police when things go ‘wrong’. Who was it who tried to short-cut the system in an attempt to get a ‘Rave’ closed down, then complain when it wasn’t?
@DCCGilesYork @KatyBourne@Sussexpcc Can u help? MT @prbod illegal rave continuing at Devils Dyke & disturbing peace of South Downs villages
We are in a period of Purdah, it’s Easter Weekend but the facts speak for themselves. Much less than half of the people who read my original blog completed the survey for me. As at now, approx 500 people have viewed the results of the survey. It has been forwarded to the list above and what was the result of all that?
If nothing else Journalists and Newsdesks do not sleep. If they felt that there was a newsworthy story to be followed they would be all over it, Bank Holiday or not. So what do I read into their SILENCE? They clearly think that there’s no story there. I can be Twatted, emailed, comment left on blog – SILENCE.
The number of people here, and on Twatter, who regularly engage can definitely be measured in double figures. From the rest – SILENCE.
The solution seems simple, stop banging head on brick wall, and stop annoying folk.
Camoron, May, Hogan-Who, Milky Bar Kid et al can all relax.