The Demise of Democracy – Tory Style

The slow death of the Police Service and other Public Services cannot be denied, however that is linked to something equally, or far more, important, the death of Democracy itself.

Those of you who have followed my posts for some time will not need reminding that over a period of time Policing, and other Public Services, have been politicised. On a more discrete level this probably began many years ago but the current incarnation of Conservatives have taken it to a whole new level. No pretence of discretion here, just blatant political interference in full view, with the hope, if not the expectation, that the public will either not notice or can be easily fobbed off.

The coalition government of 2010 saw one Theresa May at the helm of the Home Office. Stories of her, and her department’s incompetence are many and easily found on t’interweb, but I will confine myself to the ones that are most relevant to me and this post.

Unless I’m having a total Saga moment, it all began with the Winsor Independent Reviews of Police Officers’ and Staff Remuneration and Conditions. The two parts of this ‘independent’ report started off Theresa May’s infamous ‘Reforms’ of the Police Service of England and Wales.

One or two things struck me as a tad unorthodox about these reports.

Mr Tom Winsor, ex Rail Regulator, was appointed to this task by Mrs May at the same that his employers, White and Case, were engaged advising G4S in delicate negotiations in relation to privatisation of certain functions within Policing. Worth £200 Million apparently. We have been assured that there was no conflict of interest.

Mr Winsor was assisted in this enterprise by Sir

Edward Crew (an ex Chief Constable) and Professor Richard Disney of Nottingham University.I find it slightly unusual that Sir Edward and Professor Disney both received the appropriate recompense for their labours whilst Mr Winsor did not. Neither Mr Winsor nor his employers, White and Case, claimed the estimated £125,000 fee for Mr Winsor’s work on the reports.No doubt there will be some who don’t find this unusual in business, but I wouldn’t have turned it down.

Moving on from his reviews, and absolutely not connected in any way, we find that Mr Winsor has applied for, and is ultimately described as Theresa May’s ‘Preferred Candidate’, for the post of Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.  The main thing that strikes me as unusual about this is that it always used to be a post awarded to an experienced Chief Constable.  Never before has the post been filled by an ex Rail Regulator.

Fast Forward to 2015 and Tom Winsor becomes Sir Tom Winsor in the Law and Order category of the New Years Honours list, “For Public Service”.

In 2017 the Fire Service was added to his empire when he was appointed as the first ever Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services despite never having served in the Fire Service either.

In the meantime November 2012 saw the first appearance of publicly elected Police and Crime Commissioners to replace Police Authorities.  Most candidates represented a defined Political Party and constituted an absolote political interference in Policing, a profession traditionally viewedd as politically neutral.  However, so Independent candidates were successfully elected and went on to become thorns in the side of Theresa May’s Home Office.

2016 saw the next round of elections for the next full term of PCCs.  However, for these elections the Tory Government had some very unpleasant surprises in store for Independent Candidates.  Despite the Electoral Commission recommending that traditional deposits be done away with, for the PCC elections only, the deposit was increased from £500 to £5,000, a sum guaranteed to deter all but the wealthiest Independent Candidates.

To rub salt into the festering wound the Cabinet Office then decided to withold funding for the candidates to have a ‘free’ mailshot.  Again this greatly disadvantaged Independent Candidates, and smacks of the Tories smothering the opposition into submission.

The final straw, for me at least, was the intervention of Mrs May in the local PCC Elections here in DeadBadgerShire, ordinary members of the puiblic, including people who had never shown any political allegiances before, were bombarded by email purporting to come from Mrs May encouraging voters to vote for their Conservative candidate. Interference in an election? Disadvantaging Independent Candidates? You decide.

In more recent times Theresa May has been found to have been in Contempt of Court, Contempt of Parliament (twice I think) and has now been accused of attempting to get her own way on Brexit by effectively running down the clock in relation to her proposed ‘deal’ on Brexit, again interfering with the Democratic Process for her own ends in my opinion.

There are undoubtedly many similar events in other Public Services and I would welcome their addition in the comments below. Mrs May bangs on about protecting democracy, but her actions suggest the complete opposite.

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You Know You’re Old And Crusty When…….

Someone suggests that you might need Refresher Training for Stop and Search.

Stop and Search SHOULD be taught in Basic Training and I’d be absolutely amazed if it isn’t, it’s a Bread and Butter tool of Policing, but it does need to be understood and not abused.  It is within the abilities of EVERY Police Recruit to understand what is required before conducting a Stop and Search, plus what needs to be done afterwards to comply with PACE and the Codes of Practice.

So you’re probably not surprised to hear that I was a tad pissed off to find this newspaper headline

Stop-and-search: Police training will challenge ‘unconscious bias’ of officers to cut down on unlawful use of tactic

Hundreds of police officers around the country are to have their prejudices challenged by a training programme that aims to reduce discrimination among those using stop-and-search powers

The new approach has been developed by the College of Policing and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), after the Home Secretary, Theresa May, commissioned a review of the way the police are trained – with “unconscious bias” to be monitored as part of new professional standards.

If I’ve got this right, this new piece of work is going to be led by Nick Glynn from the College of Policing.

Nick Glynn, stop-and-search lead at the College of Policing, said: “This training will explore the impact of stop and search, examine the effect of unconscious bias and ensure officers work within the rules when stopping members of the public.”

OK Nick, I’ll start off with the unpopular line “Who is to say that the bias is unconscious?”  The officer may have perfectly valid reasons to conduct the search that they have just made are or just about to make.  There maybe nothing unconscious in their bias at all but an Intelligence Led or Evidence Led approach has been adopted quite reasonably (and lawfully).

It seems to me that a HUGE assumption has been made that Stop/Searches are conducted with the benefit of ‘unconscious bias’.  Who has decreed this?  Who is it, Nick, that has conducted a scientific analysis of Stop/Searches and found that many of them were carried out as the result of ‘unconscious bias’?  Could you please provide me a link to this important piece of work so that I can study it?

If I was still serving I would be highly insulted to be told that I was going on Refresher Training for Stop/Search, even if I HAD been selected at Random.

If there is a genuine need for ongoing training in Stop/Search then I suggest that there are deeper underlying problems, an experienced officer should be able to initiate a Stop/Search (or not) in their sleep.  If a high number are acting unlawfully then surely this is a Disciplinary as well as a Training Issue.  Today’s generation of Police Officers are, in my submission, highly professional, and this should be well within their abilities.

The ongoing effect of this exercise, I suspect, will be that many officers will cease, or drastically reduce, their Stop/Searches, not because they are invalid or unlawful, but because the officers will be reluctant to be thought of as ‘unconsciously biased’, a term that smacks of ‘Institutional Racism’.  That is probably what the Home Secretary is not-so-secretly hoping for. What IS unlawful or unethical is using Stop/Search and Hit Rates as a Performance Indicator

I am SO glad that I have retired, it is no mystery to me why serving officers would be reluctant to recommend Policing to their families and friends any more, and exercises like this do not help.Last Updated on

It Is NOT All About Crime Home Secretary

How much longer is it going to take you to get it into your stubborn head that Policing is NOT all about Crime?

Crime is Crime, everybody understands what a Crime is, the Police know how to deal with it and what priority they should allocate to it, but try as you may, you will never succeed in convincing folk that it’s as simple as that.

Are you seriously suggesting that the Police Services of England and Wales (PSNI & Police Scotland as well if you like) ONLY deal with Crime and some other Agency such as G4$ or $erco should sweep up everything else that isn’t tagged ‘Crime’?

I was shocked but not a little surprised to see the headlines in the Daily Mirror on Saturday

Shocking figures reveal police have no officers available for thousands of 999 calls

Maybe I shouldn’t have been, it’s been coming for a long time, but the sheer scale of the problem did take me by surprise.  If it had only been the Met and maybe GMP or West Mids I wouldn’t have been surprised at all, but it seems like it’s affecting everyone.

A Freedom of Information request by the Mirror revealed some shocking results.

  • No police car was available to answer emergency calls in Surrey on more than 1,200 occasions last year.  (This does not mean that no officers attended but it may mean an emergency response was delayed while a unit became available.)
  • Police in Durham were delayed in responding to emergency calls 261 times last year due to resource availability
  • In Sussex, there were 141 emergency incidents last year where the 999 call was flagged as no resource available (NRA)
  • Wiltshire Police said there were five immediate priority calls it was unable to attend in 2014
  • In Essex, a total of 11,040 999 calls were flagged as having no unit to attend in 2014, however, there is no breakdown by call priority. This was 8% of all 999 calls in 2014, with a similar proportion, 1,627, similarly flagged in the first two months of 2015

But let’s be quite clear, I AM IN NO WAY BLAMING THE POLICE for this failing.  The failing falls well and truly with Winsor, May and Camoron, the Unholiest of TrinitiesBy moronically quoting the mantra Crime Is Down and blindly following Winsor’s Independent Review (ha) we have arrived at a situation where resource allocation is completely and utterly skewed away from reality.  Some enlightened PCCs and Chief Constables have seen through the crap and are trying their very best to manage the little they have left to its best effect, or find innovative ways to actually recruit a few more officers that are sorely needed.  If the few can see through the smoke and mirrors, why can’t the rest?  I suppose the answer to part of that question is the tag “Conservative” after some PCC’s names.  There is no way that they are ever going to disagree with the all-powerful Home Secretary.

In 2013 an investigation found that Police Forces then were taking up to 30% longer to answer calls than they were in 2010, that figure MUST have got worse now;

  • In some forces vital minutes have been added to the time it takes for a squad car to arrive at an accident or crime scene
  • Just under a third of the police forces that collect response time information confirmed they reacted more slowly to emergency calls in 2012 than they did in 2010
  • Some police force 999 emergency response times have increased by over 15%, with one force recording an increase of 30%
  • Five police forces have changed their target times since 2010, giving themselves more time to respond to 999 call-outs
  • A 23% increase between 2010 and 2012 in the number of calls not answered by the closest police force, but instead being bounced on to a neighbouring force

THIS IS SIMPLY NOT ACCEPTABLE

So, Mrs May, when exactly are you going to admit that you might just have got this wrong and try to put it right?

Or is the answer that the Public are simply Collateral Damage in your war with the Police?

Either way, it is NOT all about Crime

Police numbers are down, Backroom Staff are down, overall demand for Police is UP.

Even that revered organisation, the College of Policing, has concluded that demand overall is rising;

The College of Policing analysis indicates there are emerging pressures on police resilience – namely decreased levels of police visibility and increasing requests for mutual aid. It also shows that incidents involving people with mental health issues appear to be increasing.

In some forces, public safety and concern for welfare incidents now represent the largest category of recorded incidents.

Demand UP, Numbers DOWN

You do the Maths Home Secretary.

Finally, at the risk of being boring, I can only repeat that the failure of Tom Winsor, and the Home Office, to carry out ANY Risk and/or Impact Assessments on Winsor’s Independent Reviews tells me everything I need to know about your intentions.  Had such assessments actually been commissioned and carried out, we might not be where we are today, hurtling headlong towards Policing disaster.

It is NOT all about Crime.Last Updated on

Gidiot’s Friday Quickie

Osborne does it again, he really does have a total contempt for ‘ordinary’ folk.

George Osborne is to start selling the state’s £32bn stake in Royal Bank of Scotland at a loss, telling a City audience that delay would be bad for the economy, taxpayer and bank.

I know it was Gordon Brown who bought into. RBS and not Gideon, but independent bankers Rothschilds have estimated that if Osborne goes ahead with the sale, at today’s share prices, then he would make a loss of £7.2 Billion on the deal, and this would be good for the economy, taxpayer and bank?

I can see immediately how it would benefit the bank, but a £7.2 Billion loss good for the taxpayer and economy?? In whose world?

Just how many Police Officers, Nurses, Soldiers would £7.2 Billion fund?  How many more officers on your beat? How many Police Stations would be saved from closure?

Just a thought, nice one Gidiot.

Have a good weekend one and all.Last Updated on

Give Bullying The Boot

Let’s be honest bullying of any sort has no place in modern society, I don’t think very many would disagree with that’s.

The irony is that many who vow to stamp out bullying are, in fact, some of the biggest bullies themselves.

I was having an e-chat yesterday with somebody yesterday and we agreed that (as highlighted in Alex Stewart’s article in the press) that many Police Senior Officers were guilty of bullying.   “If you don’t like it you can leave”‘ “Just Fucking Do It” and many more similar examples.  Those attitudes belong in a totally different era, and have absolutely no place in modern day Policing, or indeed, in modern day life.

Our Thin Blue Line is thin enough already. We certainly do not need any officer, Front Line or not, to be BULLIED out of the Service. Alex is the latest, not the only, example.  I don’t need to name them but we have seen several examples in the last year or two of CORPORATE BULLYING and are the culprits brought to account for it?…………Silence.

What chance do we stand though when our leaders set us such a terrible example?  It’s almost as though it’s a course of conduct which is condoned at the very top.  Intelligent, educated people resorting to bullying to control the underlings and get their own way.   Governments who change the law because their policies are unlawful.  BULLYING in my humble opinion.

Then there are the unforgettable statements such as

Reform or I will reform you – “The Federation was created by an Act of Parliament and it can be reformed by an Act of Parliament. If you do not change of your own accord, we will impose change on you.”

“So that is my offer to you: more reform to make your lives better, to save police time, and to give you more discretion so that you can get on with the jobs you are trained to do.

You can choose to work with me. Or you can choose to shout from the sidelines. ……..;;”

That is not a choice, that is the Home Secretary BULLYING the Federation to get in line with the agenda.  Like a playground bully “if you don’t do as I say you’ll be sorry”

I know we won’t normally have another election for a few years now, but it is incumbent upon us to let our politicians know that BULLYING has no part to play in our society, no part to play in a democracy. Politicians are supposed to be better than that.

 

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Is Theresa May Completely Out Of Touch With Everybody?

Have her advisers and researchers let her down? Is she poorly briefed?

Maybe she just knows better than everybody else and we have yet to realise that.

Maybe she is rigidly toeing the Party Line and doing & saying just what Mr Camoron tells her to do and say.

One thing that is for certain is that she is hell-bent on taking no notice whatsoever of what the Front Line are telling her.  Apparently we are all just “Scaremongering”. I’m sure you all heard her speech at the PFEW Conference or have read the headlines.  Crime is down and those that say otherwise are just Scaremongering.

So please – for your sake and for the thousands of police officers who work so hard every day – this crying wolf has to stop

 

Today, you’ve said that neighbourhood police officers are an “endangered species”. I have to tell you that this kind of scaremongering does nobody any good – it doesn’t serve you, it doesn’t serve the officers you represent, and it doesn’t serve the public.

 

So that is my offer to you: more reform to make your lives better, to save police time, and to give you more discretion so that you can get on with the jobs you are trained to do.

You can choose to work with me. Or you can choose to shout from the sidelines. What I offer is a positive vision for policing, one in which it is an exciting time to be a police officer, where you have the freedom to get on with your job, where you are rewarded for your skills and hard work, and where policing is fit for the future.

 

So, we’ve established that she’s out of touch with the Police.

IMG_0387.JPG

She said the next phase of her police reform programme would include technological changes such as transforming police cars into police stations and the wider adoption of body-worn video cameras. But it would also include moves to reduce demand on policing at a time when crime is falling.

She accused the Police Federation of scaremongering and repeatedly “crying wolf” over the impact of the previous round of cuts in police funding as part of the government’s austerity programme – and rejected their claims that further cuts would force them to adopt “paramilitary styles of policing” in Britain.

 

The home secretary said that a new policing bill in next week’s Queen’s speech would “allow us to go further and faster with reform freeing up police time and putting policing back in the hands of professionals”.

 

Is that really what is necessary or wanted?  Not wanted by the Police, not considered necessary by the Police and I’m reasonably sure that huge chunks of the Public don’t want it or believe that such swingeing cuts are necessary or good for the Country.

So there you have it, I already think that the Home Secretary has lost touch with the reality of what the people on the ground, the practitioners, are saying.   The only organisation she takes notice of is HMIC apparently, need I say more on that subject?

Is she ignoring everybody or is she being worked by a Puppetmaster?

But Mrs May is an elected Member of Parliament and has Constituency matters to occupy her time as well as being Home Secretary.  Surely she would have her ear to the ground and know what was going on in leafy Maidenhead, wouldn’t she?

The town of Maidenhead has a population of about 80,000 and Wiki describes it thus;

Maidenhead is a large affluent town and unparished area in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, in Berkshire,

Not too shabby.  There are approx 75,000 voters in the constituency.

A few, short days ago I wrote a post challenging the idea that Crime is Down.  I haven’t heard anything from the Home Secretary so I presume she hasn’t read it yet, but I’m sure she will.  So, we’ve now established that she’s out of touch with the various bodies that publish Crime Stats.

So how is crime doing in leafy Maidenhead? Down or Up?

Surely Mrs May would know what was happening with Crime in her constituency wouldn’t she? After all, Crime Is Falling.

http://www.ukcrimestats.com/Subdivisions/WMC/65901/ tells us what the crime situation is in the parliamentary Constituency of Maidenhead.

Crime in the Parliamentary Constituency of Maidenhead
Crime in the Parliamentary Constituency of Maidenhead

It gets slightly easier to read if you click on it.

Sadly I can’t extract the whole data table from the website but it it’s clear from the data above that overall, after a dip last year, total crime is now on the increase in Maidenhead.

Graphs of Crime, both with and without Anti-Social Behaviour over the last 12 months show that crime is once again on the increase in Maidenhead, not significantly I grant you, and it peaks and troughs throughout the year, but I see NOTHING in the crime data for Mrs May’s constituency to convince me that CRIME IS DOWN.  You would think that she would know what was going on in her own constituency wouldn’t you?

Crime without ASB Maidenhead

 

Crime including ASB Maidenhead
Crime including ASB Maidenhead

So maybe she’s out of touch with her public as well.

Just to rub salt into her wounds I suppose I should remind us all that she remains only the second serving Home Secretary to have a conviction for Contempt of Court, so I guess she’s out of touch with the judicial system as well.  On the first occasion, in 1991, Kenneth Baker ignored an instruction from a judge in an asylum case and the ruling against him was backed up by five law lords in a landmark judgement.Last Updated on

Come On Cruella – Explain It To Us

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.


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I Can’t Quite Work It Out

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.Last Updated on

Have Your Say, Tell Me What You Think–The Results Are In

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? Police NHS Armed Forces Education Coastguard What is the Max amount PER MONTH you would be willing to pay on top of your current taxes?
yes yes yes yes yes yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 100
Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes No No £1
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 5
Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes £50
Yes Yes No No Depends which sector No 10
Yes. Already paying extra via CT to POLICE Yes Yes No Yes Yes 10
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 100
yes yes yes yes yes yes 10
No No No No No No 0
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 25
no no no no no no 9
yes yes yes yes yes yes £10
yes yes yes yes yes yes 5
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 50
yes yes yes yes yes yes 6
no yes yes yes no no £40
yes yes yes yes yes yes 20
Yes Yes No Yes No Yes 10
yes yes no yes no yes 2
yes yes YES yes yes yes 2
yes yes yes yes no yes 10
no no no no no no 0
Yes Yes def Yes def Yes defs No Yes £5
Yes Yes No Yes No No 5
no no yes no no no 10

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What On Earth Has Happened To Professional Standards?

It’s a question I’ve posed before, but I’ve just read a book, The Crocodile Court, which is basically about a West Midlands Police Sergeant who falls foul of the discipline system and what happens after that.  I’ll not spoil it too much in case you want to read it.

Let’s be honest, Professional Standards, or whatever you want to call them, have never been popular in any of their incarnations, but they are a necessary evil.

My point is this, (and once again my experience is restricted to the Met so if any of you ‘Crunchers’ want to tell me how it is in your Force I’d be pleased to hear it), in the good old days, at least up to the beginning of the 2000s, in my opinion and experience, Professional Standards were at least reasonably fair and I’ve known several Complaints Officers who would look hard for an informal resolution rather than go the whole hog.

In Complaints and Discipline, as in Policing in general, it is important to be able prove or disprove any allegation.  No Man’s Land is a result that doesn’t really satisfy anybody.

There are those out there who won’t like this but it is a fact that spurious and vexatious allegations ARE made for a variety of reasons.

If, for example, an allegation of assault or incivility is made against an officer or group of officers and that/those officer(s) vehemently deny the allegation, it is possible that it’s a false allegation.  If it is possible to prove or demonstrate that the allegation is, or is likely to be, false, then why should we not do it?

In the early 90s I was asked by our Complaints Unit to do a Timeline for an allegation of assault made by a group of people against a DC and a DI.  So I read all of the ‘witness’ statements and produced a Timeline that completely covered a very large table, and when I presented my Timeline to the Complaints Unit they had no alternative but to concede that whether these officers had or hadn’t assaulted anybody, the evidence of the ‘witnesses’ could not be relied upon because they clearly weren’t all where they claimed to be in their statements, and could not possibly have seen what they claimed to have seen.  Result – Complaint Discontinued due to lack of evidence.

Fast Forward to 2015 and what do we have now?

Professional Standards Departments who seem to be hell-bent on prosecuting or disciplining officers at the drop of a hat.  It seems to me (my opinion only) that they’re not too interested in finding any evidence which would assist the accused or undermine their own case, or maybe even, just establishing the TRUTH.

When it comes to Crime (and allegations of assault etc against Police Officers are exactly that) the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 tells us exactly what our roles and responsibilities re Disclosure are,

The Code of Practice requires the police to record and retain material obtained in a criminal investigation which may be relevant to the investigation. In particular:

all police officers have a responsibility to record and retain relevant material obtained or generated by them during the course of the investigation. Material may be photographed, video-recorded, captured digitally or otherwise retained in the form of a copy rather than the original, if the original is perishable, or the retention of a copy rather than the original is reasonable in all the circumstances

  • the officer in charge of the investigation has special responsibility to ensure that the duties under the Code of Practice are carried out by all those involved in the investigation, and for ensuring that all reasonable lines of enquiry are pursued, irrespective of whether the resultant evidence is more likely to assist the prosecution or the accused
  • the Code of Practice creates the roles of disclosure officer and deputy disclosure officer, with specific responsibilities for examining material, revealing it to the prosecutor, disclosing it to the accused where appropriate, and certifying to the prosecutor that action has been taken in accordance with the Code of Practice.
  • the disclosure officer is required to create schedules of relevant unused material retained during an investigation and submit them to the prosecutor together with certain categories of material
  • non-sensitive material should be described on form MG6C and sensitive material should be described on form MG6D.

Most of the ‘Time Bombs’ sit within the Unused Material, i.e. material that the Police possess that they do not seek to use during their proceedings.  The most obvious, and recent example might be tha case of the TSG 6 where hours of CCTV were not disclosed to the Defence, CCTV evidence which ultimately helped clear those officers of any wrongdoing.

Their Judgeships feel so strongly about it they have issued a Judicial protocol explicitly for Unused Material.

“Disclosure remains one of the most important – as well as one of the most misunderstood and abused – of the procedures relating to criminal trials. Lord Justice Gross’ review has re-emphasised the need for all those involved to understand the statutory requirements and to undertake their roles with rigour, in a timely manner.”

Even the Attorney General’s Guidelines bangs on about it “The amendments in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 abolished the concept of “primary” and “secondary” disclosure, and introduced an amalgamated test for disclosure of material that “might reasonably be considered capable of undermining the prosecution case or assisting the case for accused“.”.

You can’t just ignore evidence you don’t like.

So what the hell is going on?  I have heard way too many instances in the past year or so where Professional Standards Officers stand accused of playing fast and loose with the requirements of Disclosure and Unused Material.  Why?

I have, occasionally, been described as an Organisational Terrorist (thank you for that SIB), god knows why, maybe it’s to do with the number of times I challenge the establishment and try to tease the truth out.  Now, I’m more in danger of being described as a Conspiracy Theorist.

It can be no coincidence surely that in the last decade or so, the number of occasions where we have heard about alleged abuse of process by Professional Standards offices has increased alarmingly?

Is this mass incompetence?

Is this a positive act to try and reduce the number of serving police officers cheaply?

Is this a vendetta against certain officers.

Is it lack of appropriate training (although I’d be horrified if it was)?

Have ACPO (or whatever they’re called today) had a National Meeting and decided upon a protocol to keep the plebs in their place?

Whatever the answer is, I find it absolutely frightening that this is not just one Force doing things somewhat differently to the others.  This is a Method.

I’m not going to rake them all up again, but in the last year or so we have heard several instances whereby Professional Standards appear to be operating to a different set of rules to everybody else, and if you read The Crocodile Court you’ll be familiar with one more, and the terrible consequences of incompetence.

I’m absolutely certain that if asked we could all name one, if not two or more, cases of DPS/PSD abusing the system and bullying the officer into submission, whatever the reason for that behaviour might be.

So what exactly HAS happened to Professional Standards?

Why has it happened?

Is it just in London or does it happen elsewhere (I know the answer to that one).

Any examples gratefully received.Last Updated on