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Why Do I Bother?

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Events from the last week or so have left me wondering “Why do I bother?”

In no particular order, the sort of things that have been vexing me are;

The extraordinary outcome of an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, but that is far from being an isolated incident.  In the past few years there have been several instances where IOPC have prosecuted serving Police Officers for some really quite serious offences only for them to be rapidly acquitted at Court, sometimes because the evidence simply wasn’t there and sometimes because they screwed up Disclosure, and occasionally a combination of the two.

The situation in the Met has got so bad, following some recent cases, one of which is still ongoing, that a recent campaign to recruit more Firearms attracted only 6 applications, and all of them may not be selected/suitable.

Police Firearms officers nationally are very highly trained, exceedingly professional and frequently the first to administer First Aid.  I have been the grateful beneficiary of their skills in the past, providing us with protection whilst conducting operations in ‘hostile’ areas.

Now their morale is totally in the toilet, several have handed in their permits, which I totally understand, and the end losers are the British Public.  No Firearms Officer goes to work of a day hoping that today’s the day he/she will kill somebody.  They would much rather not have to use their weapons at all. never mind fire them.

On top of this, and potentially more serious, is the constant barrage of vilification from certain politicians and media outlets, because some have been arrested for some horrific offences, including murder, kidnap and rape.  Not for one second do I attempt to condone or justify these offences, not at all.  However, they should be looked at in context.  The last time that I worked it out less than 1% of Police Officers had been charged or investigated for such offences.  The equivalent calculation for male Members of Parliament was 13%.  I haven’t seen any stereotyping of male politicians for similar offences.

There have been countless examples of Doctors, Nurses, Teachers and other professions, almost daily.  Yet the Media have not embarked on a campaign to label all Doctors etc as Rapists or Sexual Predators.  No calls to have their computers serized, and trheir Wassap chats analysed.  None.

Once again, none of this can be good for the morale of the vast majority of our fine lads and lasses who still turn up for work each day, determined to give the Public their very best service, and so they do.

2 or 3 years ago a fair percentage of us were banging saucepans, bedpans or whatever to demonstrate our support for the NHS.  Fast Forward to 2024 and the Media have definuigtely turned on the doctors.  My memory is still reasonably good, and I can certainly remember the disastrous #Austerity campaign waged by Cameron and Osborne.  This has left so much of the Public Sector with budgets that have been savaged and their staff members with rates of pay lagging behind terribly.

Understandably (IMO) the doctors, amongst others, excercised their right to strike, and unless it’s all in my imagination, the Media have now turned on them for striking.  In an era that has seen our MPs trouser above-inflation pay rises, I’m right behind the medics.  Along with many others I have had appointments cancelled, experienced extremely long waits for tests at hospital etc, but I don’t mind under the circumstances.

We recently saw Channel 4 air a short series about Professional Standards in Avon and Somerset, and there were some shockers, which were thankfully dealt with.  The stand-out story, but not in a good way, was the rather stroppy female who had been Pava sprayed.  Fortunately the officer’s Body Worn Video footage formed part of the programme, so we were all able to form our own opinion.

Unsurprisingly the female compained about her treatment, and after an initial investigation the officer was exonerated by Professional Standards.  Then the IOPC got involved and, amazingly, their investigation also exonerated the officers.  Then the Chief Constable got involved and after 2 investigations clearing her officers of any wrong doing, she found it appropriate to apologise and reach an undisclosed financial settllement with the stroppy female.

My final gripe for today, is the case of some West Yorkshire officers who were investigated by IOPC over their arrest of a female juvenile.

Our investigation looked at one of the officer’s actions and interactions with the girl on the night to determine whether they were appropriate and proportionate in line with approved police policies and training.

We established that officers were called to Leeds city centre to a disturbance involving the girl and officers made the decision to take her back home, rather than make an arrest.

Once back at the home address, the evidence suggested a potentially homophobic comment was made by the girl, which the officer believed was directed towards her. The evidence identified that the comment made was not as was reported on the short clip which appeared on social media. As a result, the officer took the decision to arrest the girl in relation to this offence.

We concluded that WYP officers at the address on the whole did attempt to de-escalate the situation and the level of force used appeared to have been appropriate in the circumstances.

However, we did find that some of the language used by one of the officers towards the girl was inappropriate and was not conducive to de-escalating the situation.

Our investigation found that the officer did not have a case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct. However, we decided that it would be appropriate for the officer to undertake reflective practice – to reflect and learn from the incident to prevent any issues identified from re-occurring, as their actions fell short of the expectations of the public and the police service as set out in the Code of Ethics.

IOPC Regional Director Emily Barry said: “We understand the video that was circulated at the time attracted considerable public concern and that is why it was important that the circumstances of this incident were subject to an independent investigation so we could fully understand what happened and impartially determine the facts.

“Our investigation looked at the whole picture of the incident and we decided the officer should now work with their supervisor to reflect, learn and improve from what occurred, to prevent this from happening again.

“We also felt that a letter of apology should be sent to the girl and the family in attempt to remedy any dissatisfaction. The force agreed with this suggestion and have written to the family.”

In short, “we’ve investigated, you’ve done nothing wrong, but we think you should apologise and have a Reflective Practice session with your supervisors”

Speaking for myself I’m not comfortable with apologising if I’ve done nothing wrong, which brings me right back to the beginning – why do I bother?

I support the modern Police Service but a cynical person might think that they are being set up to fail.  With everything that’s going on neither the Federation, the PCCs, nor Chief Constables are visibly standing up to it.  It’s probably just as well that my third retirement is imminent.

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1 Comment

  1. Gary Smith

    The rot set in when the police moved from a Force to a Service. Everything is someone else’s fault no one takes any responsibility for their actions but everyone knows their ‘rights’.
    The police should simply get on with the job of catching the bad guys without fear or favour.
    How a Chief Constable can spend public money when there was no finding of fault is beyond me perhaps she needs to grow a backbone.
    As for being a firearms officer in London or elsewhere for that matter I would have handed my ticket in and told them to shove it where the sun don’t shine.
    I can’t think of many jobs where you risk not just injury but potentially losing your job because you had to make a split second decision which later with hindsight was shown to have some flaw in it.

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