Fear Not, The “Right People” Have Arrived To Save Us

It’s fair to say that I am vexed.

Last night I tripped over a Twitter conversation concerning one of my favourite organisations, Police Now.

Two of their 2015 intake were promoting the benefits of the Police Now route into Policing, and, in my opinion, did not take kindly to being challenged by crusties like myself and others.  I am not alone in not favouring this route.  I don’t need to reiterate my views here, I expect you can all imagine what they are, but last night’s conversation, taken together with an evaluation of Police Now by MOPAC, just pushed me over the edge.

In fairness, one of the two Police Now ‘recruits’ was far more engaging and willing to answer questions than the other, and DID answer all the questions I put to him.  Fair play for that.

The other was a different kettle of fish entirely, immediately (in my opinion) confrontational and hostile.  Not happy about being challenged at all.  Whilst not seemingly Tweeting from an official Police account he was Tweeting from an account that clearly identified him as a Police Now probationer.

His contributions to the evening’s discussions included;

and

I make no comment whatsoever on the officer’s abilities as I know nothing about him, but some of his Tweets tend to reinforce my concerns and reservations about the whole Police Now scheme;

and

As I said, I have no knowledge of the abilities of this officer, but studying for entry into the CID used to be unheard of during one’s probationary period.  I was too preoccupied studying for my Final Exams to have the capacity to study for CID at the same time.  It certainly was not the norm.

As for Police Now themselves, they seem to be convincing their cohorts that they are so much better than their predecessors.

The Executive Summary of the recent evaluation of Police Now made interesting, and in my view, disturbing, reading.

The final sentence is the most disturbing of all. If this is the view of those in charge of Police Now it runs a serious risk of being highly divisive, and if this rubs off onto their students it won’t be long before the public are offended.

Why do they seem to have this view?  Retired Met DCI and Policing Commentator Peter Kirkham had this to say

In the context the use it, “the right ones” is The Establishment saying “one of us”… They want relatively rich/posh members of The Establishment, with “the right stuff” in policing so The Establishment can control it. THAT is what Police Now & Direct Entry is all about – turning policing into something done by the ruling classes…

My concern is more basic.  If the new Police Now recruits are “Right People”. What does this say about the hundreds of thousands of exceedingly good and competent officers that have served us well since 1829?.  Speaking for myself I am vexed.  I honestly believe that I served the public well during my 30 year career, and added value to the Metropolitan Police Force.  Like our Police Now recruit I, and many of my colleagues, spent some time in hospital during our careers, many suffering career-ending injuries or worse.  Were we the “Wrong People” then?

I’m renowned for not giving a tuppenny toss wether a Police Officer has a degree or not.  I’m not anti-graduate I just think it’s a vocation that you can either do or not, irrespective of what sistifikits you happen to have.  A PhD in Theology?  Does that make a good Police Officer?  Or somebody who’s prepared to just get down and dirty and do it. Serve and Protect the Public.

So do I think Police Now and their cohorts are the future?  No I do not, and more than that, did I say,  I am vexed by them?

I Have Seen The Future – TJF, Very F

TJF, that was one of the very first things I was told when I left the cocoon that was Hendon Training School and appeared at my very first nick.

I suspect that it has been common parlance for generations.

Looking at various Tweets and Facebook posts over the past week.  Thinking about the tragic events of last week, and the response and reaction to them.  It troubles my aged brain.

Before you waste your time telling me, I know, I’m Old School, a Dinosaur even.  However, this does not mean that my opinions are not valid, my ideas out-dated and useless.  Some may be, some might be excellent.  Who knows?  I do still have Freedom of Thought, and this is what I think.

When Theresa May, either of her own volition, or doing the bidding of one David Camoron, set about the destruction, sorry Reform, of the Police Service, myself and others questioned her intentions.  We questioned the intentions and acts of (then) Mr Tom Winsor.  We questioned the intent and activities of certain Think Tanks.  Most unhealthy in my opinion.  Sadly the majority of the public were hoodwinked by it all. Some of Winsor’s ‘facts’ were completely unscientific is the best way to describe them.

Chief Police Officers were either hoodwinked also (unlikely) or were working to a totally different agenda.  Almost none of them came out into the open and stood up for the Front Line.

What does that matter?  So we’ve trimmed down the excesses of the Police Service.  That must be a good thing surely?  The Canteen Culture has effectively been smashed by the simple act of closing and selling off the canteens.

  • Approx 21,000 (or so) Police Officers have been lost since 2010.  The government can assure you if they want that the Front Line has been protected, but where do you think these 21,000 have come from?  Almost entirely Constables and Sergeants, who are, incidentally, very important to the Front Line.
  • Approximately 18,000 Police Staff too.  It got do bad that a certain Police Station in DeadBadgerShire had to put a PC into an office job because the last remaining civvie had been moved or dispensed with.  How crazy is that?
  • Over 600 Police Stations sold off or closed to the public.

And now we get to the worst of my vexations, for I am surely vexed;

  • Policing Degrees (or equivalent) as a pre-requisite to join the Police Service as a Probationary Constable.
  • Direct Entry Superintendents

  • Direct Entry Inspectors
  • Direct Entry to Detective for Specials
  • Politically aligned Police and Crime Commissioners
  • Appointment of a civilian Commissioner for the Met.  She MAY have BEEN a Police Officer, and I’m not disputing that she is suitable, but the precedent has been set. Stand by for more.
  • Proposals for Direct Entry as Chief Constable
  • Police Now and their willingness to assist and support officers seeking alternative employment outside the Police Service after a handful of years, and their infamous ‘Healthy Churn’
  • College of Policing, there are just so many things there that I can’t bring myself to begin.
  • The PoliceFederation – I’m not totally convinced that they’ve been very good at identifying the threats and playing the Long Game.
  • An increase for the budget of HMIC
  • An increase for the budget of IPCC

Where does this bring us?

The Perfect Storm.  Everything is now in place to support the government’s dismantling (some prefer the term destruction) of the Police Service as we knew it.  The Front Line will doubtless cease regarding it as a Job For Life (I much prefer Vocation).  Five years then offski, take the experience learnt into the Private Sector for more money, better prospects, a company car and  weekends at home.


So there we have it, TJF – Very F, very possibly Terminally F.  And it is most certainly NOT the fault of the officers wueueing up to buy a sandwich in a supermarket, a coffee in Starbucks or Costa, or the officers taking too long to get through their lists of outstanding calls.  The substance and appearance of the modern day Police Service has changed substantially, and with crime and demands on the PolicecService rising steadily, is it really a good idea to cull 40,000+ posts?

I think we can all see where this started. Even a Dinosaur.

POLICE REFORM 2017

The Chickens Have Come Home To Roost

Following on from this week’s tragic events, the pressures on the Metropolitan Police have possibly never been greater since WWII.  I don’t mean that to sound dramatic, but I happen to believe that it’s true.

Quite rightly, the Met has increased Policing levels in London in order to reassure residents and visitors alike, and in an attempt to deter any further terrorist activity in the aftermath of the events at Westminster.

In the main this has been achieved by use of extended tours of duty often ending at 2 or 3 am.  Numerous officers are apparently finding themselves dismissed from duty and unable to find public transport to get home.  This has apparently led to officers sleeping on the floors of their Police Stations so that they will be available for duty the following day.

This is less than desirable for any number of reasons.  In the last 12 hours I have seen appeals circulating on Twitter and Facebook seeking reasonably priced (or free) hotel rooms for officers to get their heads down for a few hours.  To be fair, I don’t know how successful those appeals have been.

Apart from accommodation, those hundreds or thousands of extra officers drafted in to Central London need feeding.  There was a time when the Met was RESILIENT, Self-Sufficient.  It had an enormous feeding centre at Buckingham Gate, capable of feeding officers 24/7/365.  SOLD OFF by the (previous) Mayor of London.

Accommodation?  The Central London Section Houses may just possibly have had some empty rooms, or a room large enough to take some camp beds.  SOLD OFF.

I have no idea what steps the Met hierarchy are taking to secure feeding and accommodation for their fine troops, but I suspect the answer is “not a lot”.  I have seen at least one well onown name suggesting Westminster Hall as a suitable location.  Yes, it would be a magnificent gesture by Parliament to allow its use, but in reality that venue is not available 24/7/365, it has a life of its own. 

I know events such as these, fortunately, don’t happen every day or week, but the Met has lost its legendary resilience, instead officers (or people acting for them) going cap in hand looking for a cheap bed for the night.  Is that really what we want for our chaps and chapesses?

I’m not naive, I know the clock can’t be magically turned back, but surely the events of the last few days have tragically highlighted the folly behind some of the savage cuts?  There has to be some wriggle room to sensibly restore some of the worst excesses of the cuts and go some way towards restoring the resilience and operational self-sufficiency, not only of the Met, but all the Police Forces.

Or are the chickens here to stay?

I Can Translate Policy Exchange-ese Into English (Sometimes)

I saw a Tweet from Policy Exchange yesterday. To say that it irked me somewhat is putting it mildly.

 

https://twitter.com/Policy_Exchange/status/840932683790323712

policy exchange diversity

So, Police Constables and Sergeants are in the bottom 10 diverse occupations with a diversity rating of 0.11 (later).

I asked them what the diversity rating was for Inspectors and above;

They replied;

I couldn’t resist helping them out;

At this point Ian Wiggett asked them a very good question;

 

Their reply was superb;


So I looked at the quoted report, and believe you me, I didn’t get beyond “Index of Pluralism“.  WTF is one of those?  So I decided to make it easier for Policy Exchange to understand, good old fashioned percentages, including those too small to be measured;

So, really the problem, if one exists, is with Chief Officers, and not with the lower or middle ranks at all.

Oh, and incidentally, politicians and Think Tank staff don’t seem to figure anywhere in the 200+ occupations listed in the report.

Are Police Constables and Sergeants a concern?  No more so in my view than any other rank, and far less than Chief Officers.  Maybe Policy Exchange should start at the top instead of engaging in even more Frontline Kicking, so favoured by our illustrious government.

Where Has The Police Force Gone?

When I joined the Met in 72 it was a very different animal to what it has become today.  Some of the changes have been an improvement, many, in my opinion, have not.

The first thing I noticed was that the instructors were SCARY, especially that Drill Sergeant, Sid Butcher, who seemed to think that I couldn’t march properly.  He was right of course.  He threatened me all kinds of dire consequences but he succeeded in getting me to closely resemble a march.

Out to Division, my reporting Sergeant was an old sweat from the Palestinian Police with a metal plate in his head.  Never upset him I was told.  I saw what happened to people who upset him, but we just seemed to click, chalk and cheese.  “You’re an enigma son” was the best ‘compliment’ I ever got out of him, but he was good.  All kinds of ‘wickedness’  was waiting for new probationers, including (allegedly) the Station Stamp for WPCs. Yes I did say WPC, I was never renowned for Political Correctness.  I would like to think that I was polite and respectful, but Politically Correct?  Possibly not.

Some of the very first Inspectors I met were brilliant, I won’t repeat some of things they said to me, but it was character building and exactly what every fledgling Police Officer needs to hear, for any number of reasons.  I had a Chief Inspector who delighted in reducing people to tears, but I came to learn that (in his way) he wasn’t a bully.  What he wanted was for the officer to turn round and tell him to F*** Off. No bollockings, no discipline, for that one won his everlasting respect. Old School, right or wrong, it was right for me.

Some of you who knew me then might remember a Welsh Indian Chief Superintendent.  All kinds of crap was rained on him by the lower ranks because he was the worst example of an officer promoted beyond his ability, several times.  I could tell you many tales of life with him at the helm, but most of them you probably wouldn’t believe.

My first two years were hard. No sitting at the Drivers’ Table in the Canteen (yes, we had a good one), day duty invariably meant School Crossings, Shoplifters, Reserve Room duties, but most importantly learning one’s craft.  Fast cars and glamorous postings were for after the magical 2 year period, where if you passed, you were trusted with all manner of important jobs, Driving Courses, Specialist postings, looking down on Probationers and “Wind Ups”.  Instead of being the butt of Wind Ups one was allowed to participate at other Probationers’ expense.  But it was fun but the Job most definitely got done first, that was always the main priority.  Nowadays there’s seldom time to down a pork pie never mind have fun between assignments.  If we handed 6 jobs over to the following shift there was a shit-storm to follow, unforgivable.  Nowadays I can imagine dozens of jobs being handed over to the next shift.  Too many calls and not enough cops.

I had a serious wobble at about the 15 years and told my Inspector that I wasn’t coming in to work and he could do whatever he ******* pleased about that.  Don his name was.  He was brilliant, he appeared at my house, alone, and sorted me out in the best possible way.  He got me to see that it was ‘just’ a wobble and what could we do about it?  A change of direction within my career, a hilarious application to work at Buckingham Palace that didn’t go very well, and I was back on track again, different role, different responsibilities and fully re-energised.  After that point I never looked back.  If I ever meet up with Don again I shall surely buy him a large pint or two.  I owe him a lot.

We had our Gene Hunts, Jack Reagans, a few Jack Frosts and even fewer Barnabys.  Dixon of Dock Green existed but he really wasn’t very well.  Did I like working for Hunt and Reagan?  You bet I did.  I knew exactly where all the lines were drawn, I knew what was expected of me, and I knew what I had to deliver and how to deliver it. In the 90s I was introduced to the newest breed of DIs and DCIs.  Not for me I’m afraid, and those people were destined to be the Senior Management Team of the future.

It was about the same time that the Met started universally going down the pan.  PCs started calling their Sergeants John (or whatever their given name was), things became too pink and fluffy.  Having been given an assignment some officers were heard to say “I’d rather not do that, can’t you give it to somebody else?”, ‘bosses’ would surround themselves with their friends rather than take who they were offered, or choose the best people for the job, Chumocracy had arrived in the Met and it made me uncomfortable, calls would go unanswered and (Once) I even witnessed officers finishing their meal rather than turn out for an Urgent Assistance call.

Slowly and almost imperceptibly, the really senior officers changed from being proper cops to academics and weasels.  Not all, but very many.

From the late 80s to the present time the Met has tragically gone from being the envy of the world to (almost) a laughing stock.  Who do I blame for that?  May, Camoron and Winsor most definitely.  Hogan-Who must shoulder a large part of the blame too.  Too late speaking up in his last month before retirement,  the Winsor ‘reforms’ was the time when any true leaders needed to be heard.  I certainly didn’t need to turn the volume down there.

I do need to get my glasses out.  Where exactly has the Metropolitan Police Force gone and what is this thing that has replaced it? How did that happen?

Selling England (and Wales) By The £

No, sadly not that well known tune by the troubadours known as Genesis, but if that’s what you’re looking for it’s here;

I’m talking about some old news that I’ve only recently caught the monumental scale of.

Ever wondered why the Metropolitan Police hasn’t had to reduce it’s numbers quite so draconically as other less well-resourced Forces?

It’s not magic, the answer is here (BEWARE – Contains Numbers) – You might need to scroll past the table (sorry)

 

In short, over the last 5 years or so, the Mayor of London have sold off the family silver.  Dozens and dozens of properties, Police Stations, Traffic Garages, Flying Squad bases, Married Quarters, Feeding Centres.  GONENEVER TO BE REPLACED.

To save you breaking out your calculator I’ll add it up for you – £829,582,000, or in words if that sounds less bad, almost 830 Million Pounds

No wonder the Mayor of London can strut his stuff and boast about maintaining numbers on our streets, but I still wonder where they all are.

If you live or work in the capital, how do you feel now?

And you can bet your sweet bippy that this pattern has been repeated all around the country, although possibly on a slightly more modest scale.  One redeeming feature of the Mayor of London is that both Sadiq and Boris before him have got a reasonable handle on ‘transparency’ and this info, whilst tucked away, is relatively easy to find.

I think I’ll lie down and maybe listen that Genesis track again, it’s far more welcome than these figures.  Feel free to quote them, nothing there that can’t be found with Google (other search engines are also available).

 

Knife Crime 2016 – Almost The Final Word

As promised (threatened) here is the almost final update on the scale of Knife Crime in England and Wales last year.  I am still arguing with the City of London Police and Avon & Somerset Constabulary over their Refusal Notices, if I ever get final figures from them I’ll update this post. The figure for A&S in the graphic is very much provisional and dependent upon the outcome of the arguments.

Dyfed Powys is late replying (my fault, I didn’t spot a clarification question they sent me)

Cleveland, Kent and Leicestershire are late replying – their fault, reminders sent.

So, the bottom line is that in 2016 there were almost 18,000 deaths or injuries caused by knives, swords or other pointed implements in England and Wales.  Nearly 50 a day, or 2 every single hour of the day and night across the country.

You may not think that is very much, but every single hour a family somewhere has their lives affected to a greater or lesser extent by knives.

What can be done about it?  In my view, and you don’t have to agree with me, there are two possible solutions;

  1.  Increased use of the controversial (but not unlawful) tactic of Stop and Search.
  2.  Education – get back into schools, youth clubs and other such organisations.  Use some hard-hitting facts and images and educate the youths of the consequences of Knife Crime to others (and to themselves)  There are no guarantees of course, but, having been educated, anyone caught carrying a knife has only got themselves to blame for the consequences.

One or 2 ‘hotspots’ immediately hit you when you look at the bland statistics.

London (unsurprisingly), followed by Greater Manchester,  West Yorkshire, West Midlands, Merseyside and Essex are the front-runners.

North Yorkshire are the outright winners of the Low Knife Crime Award, BTP appear to be joint winners but I suspect that some of their crimes will feature in other Forces’ stats.

 

Where are we going with Stop and Search?  Can’t really tell you for the whole of England and Wales, but for London the answer is easy to find, and you may or may not approve.

The Mayor of London routinely publishes the stats for all kind of things.  I ASSUME they are provided by the Met but I can’t actually vouch for that.

Between 2008 and 2016 crime involving weapons generally looked like this;

Not currently as high as it has been, but looks like it’s on the way back up again.

Stop and Search? What does that look like over the same period?

As I said, these are only the figures and trends for London, they may well be similar all over the country.

Can we afford to assume that they are not?

So, back to the Knife Angel.  As of this month Clive Knowles, the chairman of the company that created the Angel stated that the only Forces who were not supporting the project were South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Sussex.  Sussex have now stated that they WILL support the scheme.  South Yorkshire, in the form of Temporary Superintendent Simon Wanless, have stated that no-one has asked them to support the scheme.  However my attempts to contact Mr Wanless have gone unanswered.

West Yorkshire, and their PCC, also have ignored my heavy-handed hints, despite having one of the larger problems in the country.

I have visited Mr Knowles again, and I can confirm to South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire that the offer of free Knife Amnesty bins is still very much available.  Each Amnesty Bin is made on site and, delivered and installed, costs the company £600-£700, that is the level of his commitment.  Come on South and West Yorks, please get on board and contact Mr Knowles, I know for a fact that he will be delighted to hear from you.

Shropshire Knife Angel’s tragic inspiration is revealed

SAVE A LIFE, SURRENDER YOUR KNIFE

Knife Crime Vs Stop & Search, Some Numbers (London Edition)

In a few days time I should have a set of figures telling us exactly what the size of the Knife Crime problem is across England and Wales.  While I’m waiting for the last few miscreants to remember to send me some data, or protest that they don’t have a Knife Crime problem, I thought I would plunder the Mayor of London’s Data Store and draw some pretty pictures of the scale of weapons generally in our capital.

As the data goes back to 2008 I thought “why not nick it all?” look at the long term situation and how it might have changed.  The categories covered everything from Dog Bites to Murder but I just concentrated on my current hobby horse and guns while I was at it.

As we all know, Sir Bernie Hogan-Who ordered a reduction in Stop and Search in London after the 2011 riots in order to try to build trust between the police and London’s communities.  Did that work?  We shall see.

Knife and Gun Crime between 2008 and 2016 looks like this.Reasonably constant over 8-9 years, not a huge increase but certainly hasn’t gone down much.

Contrast this with Stop and Search over the same period.

That has MOST DEFINITELY gone down

Because we can, why don’t we have a look at staffing levels within the Met over that period.

Police Officers down a little bit, but noticeable drops in Specials, PCSOs and Police Staff.

Finally, total recorded crime, how much has that reduced?

A slight dip around 2012-2013 but most definitely on the way back up would you say?

Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well.

Back soon with England and Wales Knife Crime figures.  I bet you can hardly wait.

 

Mixed Messages From @NPCC, @Police_Now @MetropolitanPolice and @CollegeOfPolicing?

I’m old, I’m confused and my brain hurts.

Firstly, the much-revered College of Policing has proposed completely shaking up the entry route into the Police Service;

The three proposals are

Proposal 1. Establish a qualifications framework for policing so that individuals can gain recognition that has meaning and credibility

Proposal 2. Opportunities for existing officers and staff to gain accredited and publicly recognised qualifications for their existing skills, if they wish to do so

Proposal 3. Develop three entry routes for new constables

undergraduate degree in policing

graduate conversion programme

higher level apprenticeships 

Hardly confusing at all, all about improving the professional image and status of Police Officers.  No bad thing per se but it fails to recognise that Police Officers already have a good, professional status but it does need to be formalised and recognised.

Then we have the Gold Service from much-vaunted Police Now.

To get with the Police Now programme, In brief, you will need to:

be between the ages of 18-57 on application

have lived in the UK for the last three years

have indefinite leave to remain and work in the UK

be working towards or have achieved a 2:1 at undergraduate degree level or non-UK equivalent

have received a GCSE grade C or above in English language and be fluent in the written and spoken word.

So, sign up to the flagship Police Now programme to fast track to tomorrow’s leaders.

The Metropolitan Police contributes to my eternal confusion by offering Direct Entry to the CID for Specials, and this is where I need some help.

Will the successful applicants from the ranks of the Specials become part-time detectives, as and when their main job permits?  Is this a back door into the Met and they will become warranted, Regular Tecs? 

If they remain as Specials will they need to be graduates first?  How do they fit in Detective Training School with their ‘proper’ jobs? If they don’t achieve some formal accreditation in Investigating Stuff their work will be torn up,for **** paper the first time they appear in Crown Court.

If this is actually back door DE entry as a Tec, this is surely demeaning the role of the traditional Constable.  He/She needs a Degree or equivalent, a Tec needs to be a Special with who knows what academic qualifications.

I am not against Specials, I knew some very good ones and counted them amongst my friends, but this is really worrying and confusing and urgently needs clarification.  The government has already tried bolstering the Armed Forces with Reservists and that did not go well.  Policing is too important to risk getting it wrong.

Not for nothing are some Tecs in the Met labelled Cops In Disguise.

Sort yourselves out please, all of the above, work together, openly, and come up with a sensible solution that is acceptable to current and future officers alike.

It cannot be impossibe.

Unreasonable? Critical? Me?

I have been ‘accused’ on another forum of being unreasonable in my criticism of Theresa May.

Initially I, along with others, had an issue with her £1,000 pair of leather trousers worn for a press interview.  Her trousers, and jumper, were by Amanda Wakely, and her trainers by Mulberry.  Not one piece of this attire was cheap, or reasonably priced.


Yesterday she was wearing a jacket by Vivienne Westwood.  I have no idea of its worth, but again, I doubt it was cheap.  It was not new, she has worn it before, but not cheap

This is not the first, or only, time that Mrs May has been seen sporting Vivienne Westwood, she appears to be somewhat of a favourite.

I have not defected to the Fashion Police, nor would I normally take any notice whatsoever of what somebody is wearing.  I am completely oblivious to fashion labels, just ask Mrs Angry, she can confirm this.

What I do object to most vigourously is this.

Mrs May now heads a party that has waged a ruthless war on ordinary people.  If you are not a toff, investment banker, CEO of a security company or private healthcare provider you are not worthy.  Ordinary people have not seen a meaningful pay rise for 5 years or more, or worse, many have even seen their pay reduced.

The Tories, in coalition guise, came to power in 2010, and you don’t need me to remind you of all the various ‘reforms’ they have put in place since.  Most of us have an opinion on those reforms.

What has this got to do with Cruella’s Dress Sense I hear you ask.

The answer is this

Since 2012 the number of people/families using Food Banks has increased by a factor of very nearly FIVE.

For the WHOLE of 2011-2012 the figure was 128,697.

In April to September 2012 113,264 people were using Food Banks.

In April to September 2016 this number had increased to 519,343

So I ask you, next time I find Mrs May’s choice of outfit inappropriate, am I really being so unreasonable?