Who Gives A Toss About #KnifeCrime?

Well, I do, but I’m not sure that our politicians really do care.

It will come as no surprise to most of you that I care about it, and my chosen vehicle for heightening awareness is the Knife Angel. I ‘dug’ into it, found out what it was all about, went to see it (stunning) and met the ‘owner’ and creator of the Knife Angel. I spoke to both of them at length over many cups of coffee, and their passion and belief in the project is absolutely blindingly clear.

Clive Knowles, the ‘owner’ has invested thousands (probably 10s of thousands, I was too polite to ask him) of pounds in creating the Angel. He has fabricated secure Knife Bins, more than enough for each Force to conduct a Knife Amnesty and securely store the knives surrendered. He has footed the bill for delivering the Knife Banks and collecting them when full and transportation back to his business premises.

Nobody can say that Clive is not fully committed to tackling the epidemic of Knife Crime across the country. Once the Angel was made he started a campaign to get the Knife Angel installed on the 4th Plinth of Trafalgar Square. He has even named the Knife Angel the National Monument Against Violence And Aggression.

Clive Knowles is the gent on the right.

I have also spent some time with Alfie Bradley, the brilliant young sculptor who created the Knife Angel. In order to do this he had to take 100,000 knives, and other bladed instruments, blunt each and every one of them and then form them into the Knife Angel. Some of the blades even have personal messages engraved on them from victims of Knife Crime or their families. His passion and commitment are blindingly apparent, but he is possibly better known for making a huge gorilla out of spoons for Uri Geller, but that’s another story.

Alfie is the chap on the ladder.

Then we come to our politicians. At various times, in an assortment of ways, the following politicians have proclaimed their abhorrence of the current flood of Knife Crimes and their desire to do something about it.

Theresa May

Amber Rudd

Sajid Javid

Louise Haigh

Jeremy Corbyn

Holly Lynch

Nick Hurd

Sadiq Khan.

There may be others that I have overlooked, if that is the case please forgive me.

I have tweeted to Theresa May and Amber Rudd, and emailed both of them personally. No response from either except for an ‘Out of Office’ response from Amber Rudd that if I was not a constituent of hers I would not get a reply, and I didn’t.

Sajid Javid has only recently joined the Home Office but he has still failed to respond in any way to tweets to him about Knife Crime and the #KnifeAngel.

Louise Haigh, Holly Lynch and Jeremy Corbyn have not once responded in any way to numerous tweets addressed to them on the matter.

Nick Hurd has failed to respond to tweets or emails.

Finally, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. I have tweeted him dozens of times, to both his official and personal accounts. I have sent him emails. No reply to anything. Sadiq Khan is also responsible for deciding what exactly is shown on top of the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square. I have emailed the 4th Plinth Commissioning Group. No reply, but I have seen a photo of Sadiq Khan posing in front of the latest piece of art atop the 4th Plinth.

A big ‘Thumbs Up’. London is in the grip of an immense wave of Knife Crime and a ‘Thumbs Up’ is more appropriate than the Knife Angel.

I also emailed the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, but all I got back from them was a bland rejection by ‘James’ her Staff Officer, whoever ‘James’ may be.

So, sadly, the answer seems to be that I give a toss, Clive Knowles and Alfie Bradley give a toss. Not one of the above-mentioned politicians has demonstrated any positive action towards the Knife Angel campaign. However, I do believe that Sadiq Khan has contacted Clive Knowles direct and informed him why the Knife Angel is not a suitable exhibit for the 4th plinth. In my opinion he offered a pathetic, jobsworth, reason, but that is entirely his affair, I have the right to reject it.

If the politicians want to convince us that they do actually give a toss then it’s time for them to adopt more than snappy soundbites. Get behind the Knife Angel. If not Trafalgar Square then suggest somewhere else that’s suitable. Make it happen. This is not about me. It isn’t even about Clive and Alfie. It’s about the thousands of people being stabbed and murdered on our streets every year, and Clive’s campaign to draw attention to it, and begin a reduction in Knife Crime. Don’t support me, #SupportTheKnifeAngel. Especially if you want people to vote for you next time round, whichever party you are. This is not about politics, it’s about young people dying on our streets.

PLEASE take the time to watch all three videos below, particularly the second one.  The Knife Angel suddenly becomes very real.

SAVE A LIFE – Surrender Your Knife

Knife And Gun Crime On The Streets Of Almost Anywhere

I don’t need telling, I know I’m a dinosaur, but 30 years pounding the mean streets of London, locking people up for doing bad things, qualifies me to know a bad thing when I see it. The current rate of Knife and Gun Crime almost anywhere in England and Wales is a bad thing. Even counties where it is not particularly high, or even low, the trend is still seemingly increasing year upon year.

I recently pestered every single Force in England and Wales and asked them how many deaths and injuries could be attributed to the illegal use of Knives (or other sharp, pointy stabby things) or any kind of firearm.

Most, but not all, have responded. A small number claimed that their crime recording systems could not give me an answer to my questions within the financial cost limit (£450). One large Force close to London but not the Met even referred me to the Coroner for an answer. As an aside, it’s quite shabby that not all Forces can readily pull out the kind of figures I was asking for without a manual search of the records.

After the latest tragedy in South London the mother of the 17 year old victim is even blaming the Police for not protecting her son. Why would she do that? The poor lady was clearly, and understandably, exceedingly distraught. However, it remains a fact, regardless of your politics, that we have lost more than 21,000 Police Officers in England and Wales since 2010. More are scheduled to be lost in the coming years to 2020 unless policy is reversed.

21,000 Police Officers, what does that look like? It looks exactly like the areas shaded pink below not having a single Police Officer at any time of the day or night. Not one single officer

Just let that sink in a moment.

Back in 19 hundred and frozen to death we had Juvenile Bureaux, Schools Involvement Officers, Home Beats (SNT etc in modern parlance). All things that got Police Officers and young kids talking. I honestly believe that I am responsible for saving more than one young person’s life. Nothing to do with Knife and Gun Crime but the same principle applies. I was sent on a week’s course in Norf Larndarn to teach me how to interact with young kids, of a variety of ages, in the classroom environment. This was followed by a short attachment to a school, full days, can’t remember how many. I then engaged with kids (mainly Secondary School) and persuaded them that it was a very bad idea to play on the railway tracks, swim in quarries or gravel pits, take drugs etc etc. Surely it is far from impossible to do the same with Knives and Guns. Only it isn’t possible is it? Cruella has seen to that. 21,000 fewer officers mean that proactivity is a thing of the past, consigned to the museums. Front Line Response Teams do not have the capacity to mount proactive operations any more, no matter how good the intelligence is. London’s Intelligence Units are rapidly being centralised, or it may already have happened. Local Knowledge is a thing of the past.

There is absolutely NO WAY that dedicated offers will be reintroduced into schools to educate them. We used to show them films, sometimes hard-hitting, uncomfortable films, to educate them of the risks associated with the fashionable behaviours of the day. That would not be possible now. I’m sure there is adequate material to show, demonstrate or talk about, but nobody left to do it. Even the PCSOs are being decimated, they couldn’t take it on either. It might not be a rufty tufty front line role but it saves lives.

So, back to the beginning, regardless of one’s politics there are, at least, two irrefutable facts.

1)  Police Numbers in England and Wales are steadily dropping and will continue to do so

2) Knife and Gun Crime in England and Wales is steadily rising

I totally content to leave it to others, more highly qualified than I, to tell me if there is any correlation, but my Copper’s Instinct tells me that there might be.

Wether they are fashionable and popular or not, there are ways to tackle this onslaught on our streets, but none of them will work with 21,000 fewer officers. It is time that ALL Chief Officers spoke out about the cuts. I’m sure the public would prefer to hear unadulterated truth than Smoke and Mirrors. It also time that Central Government put aside their vendetta and complied with their 1st Duty of Government – To protect the Public. That also cannot happen with 21,000 fewer officers.

I will not be holding my breath waiting for either of the above suggestions to be implemented.

This Is EXACTLY How This Government Views A True Hero

A week or two ago Mrs May, our beloved Prime Minister, announced that forever more there would be a Stephen Lawrence Memorial Day. She may well think that’s appropriate, but surely it opens the doors for other victims. There are surely other people, victims of violence, who deserve their own Memorial Day.

One of these, in my opinion, was the late PC Keith Palmer, murdered by a Terrorist whilst protecting Parliament.

To recognise his valiant sacrifice I started a government petition to commemorate PC Palmer in a similar way to Stephen Lawrence.

Create a Permanent National Memorial Day for PC Keith Palmer

The precedent was recently set by the Prime Minister in creating a permanent Stephen Lawrence Memorial Day. Whilst Stephen Lawrence did not deserve to die and the circumstances of his death were quite awful, so were the circumstances surrounding PC Keith Palmer’s death.

He died violently with no regard for his personal safety, protecting the politicians and staff present within the Houses of Parliament. If it is important to remember the death of Stephen Lawrence in this way, then surely it is important to remember the death of a Police Officer protecting Parliament from a ‘live’ Terrorist Attack The creation of a permanent PC Keith Palmer Memorial Day will properly reflect a true act of selfless bravery, keeping our politicians safe from harm. A true Hero.

It seemed reasonable to me, people signed it. People said they wanted to sign it but it had been taken off line whilst it was ‘checked’. Then today I got my email in response to my petition. REJECTED. Why? I thought. What could possibly be wrong with it, it was polite etc. Then I read the test of my email.

Dear Alan Wright,

We rejected the petition you created – “Create a Permanent National Memorial Day for PC Keith Palmer”.

It included confidential, libellous, false or defamatory information, or a reference to a case which is active in the UK courts.

We’ve marked your petition as confidential to avoid the risk of causing distress to the family and friends of PC Keith Palmer. Parliament has been working to find the most appropriate way to honour and remember PC Palmer, in consultation with his family.

We only reject petitions that don’t meet the petition standards:

https://petition.parliament.uk/help#standards

If you want to try again, click here to start a petition:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/check

Thanks,

The Petitions team

UK Government and Parliament

Confidential, libellous, false or defamatory information? Really? Where?

A reference to a case which is active in the UK courts. That can only relate to a Coroner’s Inquest surely, but why not be precise so that I, and the others who signed or supported it , can understand?

We’ve marked your petition as confidential to avoid the risk of causing distress to the family and friends of PC Keith Palmer. Personally i find that comment highly offensive. I would not do anything that I thought would cause distress to PC Palmer’s family and friends and I’m mortified at the suggestion that this petition might do that.

I am sadly left with only one conclusion, that this government really doesn’t care about the Police Officers that, every day, protect them and the Public to the very best of their ability. Further than that I really don’t wish to say.

ADDENDUM

I emailed the Petitions Committee querying their precise reasons for binning my petition and received this very prompt response

Dear Mr Wright,

Thank you for your message.

As we explained, we marked your petition as “confidential” to avoid the risk of causing distress.

I absolutely understand that it was not your intention to cause distress to the family and friends of PC Keith Palmer. However, I hope you will understand that we can only accept petitions of this kind with the consent of those close to the person who has lost their life.

A petition campaign can be very high profile. If your petition were successful, it could be seen by hundreds of thousands of people and would be likely to make the headlines. A debate in Parliament (if it reached that stage) would also be very high profile. That would be good for your campaign, but it might not be what someone’s family and friends want to happen.

If a campaign is run without the involvement of the person’s family, it is very hard to know how they might feel about it. There is a risk that people might not welcome having so much public and media attention, which might be intrusive. They might also prefer to remember the person they have lost in a different way.

As we explained, Parliament has been working to find the most appropriate way to honour and remember PC Palmer, in consultation with his family. I’m sure you would agree that their wishes should be paramount in any decisions that are made.

Best wishes,

Anne-Marie

I can’t be bothered to email them further, but it does seem to me that there is more than one interpretation of their response.

Knife Crime, Stop/Search – Some Facts, Some Figures And Some Fictions, Plus Anything Else I Can Think Of

Knife Crime is very much current and on the rise, both in the capital, London, and across the country generally.  For the purposes of this post I shall be relying on figures that relate to London, but I have no doubt that they will be mirrored elsewhere, just with smaller numbers.  In this context Knife Crime = Any Crime enabled by use of a Knife, not just assaults and homicides etc.

Ethnicity in this context is Self Defined Ethnicity.

In 2012 there were 12,454 recorded victims of Knife Crime in London, 2,489 (20%) were female and 9,960 (80%) were male.  1,566 (12.6%) were Asian, 1,208 (9.7%) were Black (any origin), 185 (1.5%) were Mixed Race, 86 (0.01%) were Chinese, 3,123 (25.1%) were White, 181 (1.5%) were from Any Other Ethnic Group,  and 6,105 (49%) were Unrecorded (including Refused)  for whatever reason.

Fast Forward to 2016 and we see a slight reduction in the total number off victims of Knife Crime

In 2016 there were a total of 11,707 recorded victims of Knife Crime in London, 2,360 (20.2%) were female and 9342 (79.8%) were male.  So not really very much has changed here. 986 (8.4%) were Asian, 968 (8.3%) were Black (any origin), 125 (1.1%) were Mixed Race, 36 (0.3%) were Chinese, 2,110 (18%) were White, 121 (1%) were from Any Other Ethnic Group and 7,361 (63%) were Unrecorded/Refused for whatever reason.  A HUGE rise in Unrecorded/Refused.  Is this indicative of a lack of supervision, insufficient time to fill in all the boxes, or just sloppy crime recording generally?  Small reductions in the number of Asian, Black and White victimes but this is absolutely meaningless due to the ridiculously high Unrecorded/Refused figure.  Not very much you can do with any of these figures except insert the words ‘At Least’ in front of them.

 

This brings us to the persons carrying out these offences, which in this instance are the people ‘Arrested’, or Persons Proceeded Against as the Met quaintly calls them.

In 2012 a Grand Total of 3,067 people were ‘Proceeded Against’, 302 (9.9%) of them were Female and 2,765 (90.1%) were Male.  319 (0.1%) were Asian, 1,288 (42%) were Black (any origin), 200 (6.5%) were Mixed Race, 10 (0.3%) were Chinese, 1,070 (34.9%) were White, 86 (2.8%) were from Any Other Ethnic Group and 94 (3.1%) were Unrecorded/Refused.

 

Fast Forward to 2016 once more, what, if anything has changed here?

In 2016 a Grand Total of 2,546 people were Proceeded Against for Knife Crime.  341 (13.4%) were Female and 2,205 (86.6%) were Male.  288 (11.3%) were Asian, 1,040 (40.1%) were Black (any origin), 174 (6.8%) were of Mixed Race, 7 (0.3%) were Chinese, 850 (33.4%) were White, 97 (3.8%) were from Any Other Ethnic Group, and 90 were Unrecorded/Refused

 

So, what does Stop and Search look like?

In Calendar Year 2012, in London, there were 390,231 recorded Stop and Searches. Of the Persons stopped 60,696 (15.5%) were Asian, 106,303 (27.2%) were Black (any origin), 16,547 (4.2%) were Mixed Race, 1,051 (0.3%) were Chinese, 175,036 (44.9%) were White, 8,266 (2.1%) were from Any Other Ethnic Group and the remainder being Not Recorded or Refused.

 

 

 

In 2016 the situation was this; there were a total of 135,968 of which 15,940 were Asian, 43,599 were Black (any origin), 5,889 were of Mixed Race, 49,322 were White, 272 were Chinese,  3,182 were Any Other Ethnic Group.  An incredible 17,764 were Unrecorded/Refused.

So, what does all of this show?  It shows that you can demonstrate almost anything depending upon how you present the statistics.  Almost every set of data above is rendered unreliable by the incredible number of Unrecorded or Refused entries.  However, merely looking at the entries where ethnicity was self-defined, it would appear that white people were the major victims of Knife Crime. Black people formed the majority of the Persons Proceeded against.  In both years White people formed the majority of persons Stopped and Searched.  Right?  Got that?  If only life were that simple.

The Academics (thankfully I’m a mere faux-Academic) would have you believe that Black people form the majority of people stopped because they are being stopped disproportionately.  This is how it works.

For the Rolling Year in London, this is how Stop/Searches look

Black people have crept slightly ahead of White people in the Rolling Year (to today’s date), but nothing to be alarmed about.  Not until the Academics get hold of it and tell us that on the basis of these figures Black people are SEVEN times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.  How does that work then?  It works by measuring the totals against the percentages of the ethnic population of London.  using exactly the same figures the graph now looks like this

It makes it appear that MANY more Black people are being stopped than White people, but that is merely one interpretation of the same data.  Certainly not the much-vaunted SEVEN times that we keep getting fed. Personally I prefer to deal in simple numbers as the true picture is immediately obvious, the Academics love to deal in percentages because they can ‘prove’ that something has improved that has, in reality, got much worse, such as the Stop to Arrest ‘hit’ rate.  That is much worse, but the percentages would tend to suggest that it is much better.  A higher percentage of a smaller number frequently produces a much smaller result.

To demonstate the folly of this within the context of Stop and Search, one of our Northern Constabularies was criticised for stopping too many Black people.  The numbers being stopped were disproportionate to the ethnic makeup of the County.  Well I have to say this was true, Black people made up approx 0.3% of the County, but approx 0.7% of the people stopped were Black.  Twice as many as you should expect perhaps.

Strip away all the smoke and mirrors and reveal the reality

In  2015/16 Out of 3,879 s1 Stop Searches 3,381 were White, 22 black, 43 Asian, 6 Chinese, 12 Mixed Race, 110 unknown and 305 were Vehicle Only.

In 2016/17 Out of 1,962 s1 Stop Searches 1,705 were white, 14 were Black, 21 were Asian, No Chinese lol, 9 were Mixed Race, 86 Unknown and 127 were Vehicle Only

One Black person stopped by the entire Force every 2-3 weeks.  If that is excessive I’ll go back to knitting.

Does The Home Secretary, Sorry, Prime Minister, Have Blood On Her Hands?

The answer to this, I think, very much depends on your opinion of Stop and Search. It is controversial, undoubtedly, but is it legitimate? Is it effective? Is it necessary?

Once upon a time, in 2014, Theresa May, as Home Secretary, instructed the Police Service of England and Wales to reduce their use of Stop and Search stating that it was disproportionate towards certain sectors of the community.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

  • Nobody wins when stop and search is misapplied. It is a waste of police time. It is unfair, especially to young black men. It is bad for public confidence in the police.

  • The proposals I have outlined today amount to a comprehensive package of reform. I believe that they should contribute to a significant reduction in the overall use of stop and search, better and more intelligence-led stop and search and improved stop-to-arrest ratios.

  • But I want to make myself absolutely clear: if the numbers do not come down, if stop and search does not become more targeted, if those stop-to-arrest ratios do not improve considerably, the government will return with primary legislation to make these things happen.

No such instruction was issued to Police Scotland, or Police Service of Northern Ireland.

As early as 2013 Mrs May had decided upon a reform of Stop and Search, and most definitely let everybody know her intentions.

She had been ‘informed’ that young black men were seven times more likely to be ‘targeted’ than whites.

Mrs May launched a consultation on her proposals in July 2013 and told MPs she wanted to make sure stop-and-search was used fairly and only when it is needed.

In answer to a couple of points in the last paragraph in the extract above, have the numbers come down?

Have they ever.

The above pretty chart is based on figures obtained by me from the 43 Forces in England and Wales, and may not align with figures quoted by our beloved media.

So, the first answer is an unambiguous YES.

Has the stops-to-arrest ratio improved?

The chart below represents the stops-to-arrest ratio for a rolling 12 month period in London in about 2016

At the beginning of his graph 8.3% of 533,427 people stopped were getting arrested.  This means that 44,274 people stopped were getting arrested.  Fast Forward to 19% of 160,694 people arrested as a result of “better”, “more intelligence led” application of Stop and Search.  It seems like we’re doing SOOOOOOO much better.

In a 12 month period the stops-to-arrest rate has increased from 8.3% to an impressive 19%, by doing fewer Stop/Searches more effectively.

Really?

In reality those figures show that the Met arrested only 30,532 people, almost 33% FEWER. The total number of people paying a visit to Custody Suites across London as a direct result of being Stopped and Searched was about one third less.

In the meantime, Knife Crime in London soared. Once again, don’t be bamboozled by some of the huge figures quoted by our media, they include Knife-Enabled Crime, a Robbery for example where a knife was produced but not used to injure anybody. I am referring to Deaths and Non-Fatal stabbings.

Sadly I don’t have Knife Crime data dating back to 2012 as this is not the post I anticipated writing and events have overtaken me.

 

What can’t speak can’t lie.  Force figures provided under FOIA and replicated without ‘massage’.  As Stop and Search declined over the three years, Knife Crime rose.

In London the pretty chart looks like this

The increase in Knife Crime is very much of the same order as nationally, but the reduction in Stop and Search has been much steeper.

As a faux-academic I am not qualified to proclaim that there is a relationship between decreased Stop and Search and increased Knife Crime, although a) It looks like there might be and b) Every weapon is carried through the streets at some point and the deterrent effect diminishes with reduced Stop and Search.

If you are a regular reader you will know that I strongly support the lawful use of Stop and Search i.e.  complying with the requirements of s1 of PACE and not conducting random searches for the hell of it.  Nothing here changes my view on that, but in my opinion it should be considered as a perfectly valid tactic if used properly againt the surge in Knife Crime.

Ordinarily that would have been the end of it.  Here’s the problem, this is what I think of it, you might like to try this……the end.

Oh no, nothing so simple this time.  Since writing my previous articles on Knife Crime and/or Stop and Search I have found this article in The Spectator.

Written by Alasdair Palmer, a former speech writer at the Home Office, one assumes that he writes with a degree of authority.

He was allegedly informed by one of Theresa May’s Special Advisers that stop and search was  a policy which consistently alienates members of the black community. He was told, allegedly,  that it would help the Home Secretary’s standing with Afro-Caribbeans if she made a statement that was critical of the police’s use of stop and search.

Her statement would include the fact that the Police’s use of Stop and Search was racist and that one was 7 times more likely to be stopped and searched if one was from an ethnic background.  The reality was that the Home Office had conducted research in the reent past and that the statistics produced did not actually support this proposal.

If you want to know if the police are stopping and searching members of particular ethnic groups in a biased and possibly racist way, then what you need to know is who is available to be stopped and searched on the streets at the times that the police are stopping and searching people.……….

The team of Home Office researchers felt it was important to know the ethnic composition of the population available to be stopped and searched in the places and at the times the police were implementing that tactic. So they went out and counted it: they identified the percentage of the street population made up by each ethnic group. They then compared that with the percentage of stop and searches that were made up by each ethnic group. They discovered that, when you looked at who was available to be stopped and searched when the police were actually stopping and searching on the streets, the ethnic bias disappeared.

The Home Office research actually indicated to them that the Police did NOT seemingly target any section of the community in particular, but actually conducted their Stops and Searches in areas of high crime.

Many years later it appears as though that piece of research has been ‘buried’.  Nobody at the Home Office knows about it or can find any trace of it.

Much has been made of Disclosure recently, but it seems that at least one piece of work was totally ignored when Thersa May made her politically inspired diktat on Stop and Search.  SOMEBODY within the Home Office knew the truth (allegedly).  Was it her SPAD?  Did she herself know and choose to ignore this inconvenient piece of research?

My last quote for The Spectator (I hope they don’t mind, all acknowledgemnts given) is this

The special adviser re-wrote the statement in the way he wanted it, with the misleading statistic, and she gave the statement to parliament as he had written it on 2 July 2013. And the rest is history.

At the time in question I am informed that she only had two SPADs, one was female, the other was (allegedly) Nick Timothy.  I presume the female was Fiona Hill.

All of this leaves me with one question really. Does Theresa May have the blood of untold youths on her hands, or is she totally innocent of all blame?

Knife Crime – A Faux-Academic’s View

I confess, I have never been an ‘academic’, I left school with two A Levels and a Jamboree Bag. In truth, I’m never likely to be an academic either. I have had three jobs since leaving school, and every one of them involved being a practitioner of one kind or another. I’m not intimidated by ‘maffs’ and ‘riffmatic’ though. A set of numbers is just another challenge.

As most of you will know I have a ‘thing’ about Knife Crime and somehow seem to be at odds with some of the more established academics about Knife Crime and its prevention.

So, I wrote to all 43 Forces in an attempt to get a true picture of the scale of the problem across England and Wales. Then I thought, I can draw some pretty graphs and charts too. I won’t feel so left out.

It has to be said I got a colourful variety of responses, some Forces even went overboard and gave me far more data than I had requested. Some gave their results in Calendar Years, and some in Financial years, but at least they gave me something I could work with. One Force that shall remain nameless suggested that I contact the Coroner as they couldn’t tell me how many persons had been killed by knife or bladed object. A small number haven’t yet replied, so where you see value of zero on a graph, they are almost certainly one of those.  In the case of the Met I am still waiting for the figures for the second half of 2017.

With 5 Forces still to provide me with ANYTHING the total number of people killed by knives or other pointed objects in England and Wales was

2015 – 158

2016 – 177

2017 – 173

The total number of people injured by Knives etc (e.g. non-fatal stabbings etc) was

2015 – 9272

2016 – 9922

2017 – 8719

I expect all of these figures to rise, especially the 2017 totals, once I finally get the outstanding data.

Where did all these attacks happen?  Are there any unexpected hotspots?

As a faux-academic I think it’s quite clear that there are only maybe half a dozen or so Forces that have a real problem with Deaths and Injuries by knife etc. However any death is one too many, whoever the victim is, whatever his/her background is and whichever Force it is.  The killing simply has to stop.

One point that I feel I need to expand upon, I have heard figures quoted that are massively bigger than those above.  In the main they refer to knife-enabled crime such as robbery, aggravated burglary, any offence where a knife is produced but not used to cause injury.  We must definitely not forget those crimes but here I am concentrating on deaths and injuries.

What can we do about it?  I have written about Knife Crime many times before, and unless anyone comes up with another, better, suggestion, I still see the two ways forward as a) Education and b) Stop and Search, preferbaly in conjunction with each other.  I have read ‘proper’ academics papers that suggest that Stop and Search has no effect on Knife Crime.  I don’t have anywhere near enough pieces of paper to argue with that effectively, but I simply don’t agree.  Any weapon used in the commission of an offence is carried through the streets at some point.  During that time it, and its carrier, are always vulnerable to a Stop and Search if sufficient grounds exist.  I have always maintained that to retain its credibility Stop and Search should be used, but used lawfully and ethically.  I have previously written about the reduction of Stop and Search instigated by Theresa May, and the main post can be found here.

Finally, I have heard it said that ethnic minorities are unfairly targeted by Stop and Search.  I have always maintained that if you test the ‘available population’ that is no longer true.  Last night I happened upon this post in The Spectator which not only appears to support my view, but states that government knew this but had it spun differently.

Policing In The 21st Century

Ten years ago there were 141,859 Police Officers (all ranks) in the 43 Forces that traditionally make up England and Wales, 108,884 of that total were Constables. By 2010, when David Cameron and Theresa May came to power, there was a total of 143,734 officers in total. 109,669 were Constables. By 31st March 2017 after nearly 7 years of attrition we were reduced to 123,142 in total, of which only 95,840 were Constables. Seven years of Tory/Coalition rule had reduced the Police Service of England and Wales by almost 20,600, nearly 14.5%. Constables, the rank most members of the public will encounter, or interact with most frequently, were reduced by 13,044 or 12%.

It’s all well and good me being flippant, but what does this really look like in the real world?

A stark visualisation would be this.

All the areas coloured pink add up to equal the 20,600 officers that no longer exist. It is the equivalent of almost all of Wales and a large chunk of England not having a single Police Officer available, at any time of the day or night.

Personally I see no outrage from National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) about the cuts. The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) do not appear to have been able to persuade the government to halt, or reverse, the cuts. In fact more have taken place in the last 12 months and more are planned. The most recent published, September 2017, shows that the total strength is down to 121,929 officers.

It must also be remembered that Police Officers are not the only casualty. Police Staff (civilian support workers) have been slashed by a similar amount. Police and Community Officers slashed, Special Constables, relied upon to take up some of the duties when there are insufficient Regulars, their numbers initially rose, but know they are falling too. The total Police Workforce has been culled from 244,497 in 2010 to 198,388 in September 2017. That is more than 46,000 fewer in the workforce. How are they possibly expected to maintain standards at the same level, or improve?

All you get for less is less.

The Police Service as a whole cannot possibly sustain losses of this magnitude and continue to protect the public.

Each Operational Command Unit (OCU) should have a safe minimum set, below which they should not drop without risking public safety. I have attempted to identify what that number is for England and Wales in total. Unsurprisingly nobody wants to reveal what that number is.

I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that this government will not listen to Police Officers or their Federation. NPCC seems unwilling, or unable, to speak out. A few individual Chief Constables speak out, but we need to hear the combined voices of ALL NPCC members telling government of the crisis that Police across England and Wales faces. Interestingly Police Scotland and Police Service of Northern Ireland have not suffered the same problems.

The time has come for the public, or at least the majority that quietly support the Police, should write to, or email, their local MP demanding that the cuts are halted and reversed. I truly believe that nothing will happen until the public get involved. The Police are the Public, and the Public are the Police, and now the Police desperately need the help of the Public.

You can find the contact details, including email address and phone number, here.

If that doesn’t work the future is grim.

Stop & Search – A (Not An) Academic’s Opinion

I am not an academic, never been one and hardly likely to become one now. I have, however, considerable experience in Research and Analysis. In the past few days I have been involved in a, sometimes, acrimonious exchange on Twitter with an ex Think Tank academic, on the thorny subject of Stop and Search.

It all started off when I received this Tweet

and then

Rightly or wrongly I just had to challenge them

Gavin then confirmed his assertions with

This exchange continued backwards and forwards over 2 or 3 days, with neither of us conceding that the other might be right. Gavin came up with an extract from some unidentified document that he had found.

Cheekily followed up with

A further refusal to concede that “we expect…..” may just have a different meaning. The mood of this ‘instruction’ is possibly revealed here

In the midst of it all I asked Gavin if he had ever spent a week with a Front Line Response Team, his response was

The argument continued backwards and forwards for a couple of days, I won’t bore you you with the actual tweets they are on our timelines if you want them. At some point it included “numbers versus percentages”. Academics love things in percentages, I prefer numbers. A good example of this is Stop and Search in the Met. The number of people stopped and searched has dropped off a cliff face. The percentage of those arrested has increased dramatically. Some Academics claim that as a success. The reality is that a larger percentage of a much smaller number means that about 15,000 fewer people are being arrested in the Met as a result of Stop and Search. Not exactly a huge success.

In an attempt to get a more balanced opinion than my own I posed the subject of the 20% Arrest Rate to 2 Facebook Groups for the Metropolitan Police. Most of the replies I received denied that there was such a policy, a small number remembered the policy but claimed that it was ignored as unethical, some claimed that it was misinterpreted and only ever implemented by a small number of Inspectors at Appraisal time. There was one response however that was quite illuminating and I brought it to Gavin’s attention (anonymised obviously)

Gavin’s response?

My final words

I have nothing against Gavin as a person, I have never met him, but in this particular exchange he seems to have formed an opinion regarding Stop and Search in the Met and was particularly unreceptive to any differing view. This is not intended as an anti-Gavin post, just expressing a different interpretation of the same document.

However, not all Academics are so insistent that Stop/Search is bad. I have always taken the view that Stop and Search conducted lawfully is a valuable tool and legitimate tactic in the war against Street Crime. Police Officers are fully aware of the requirements for lawfully conducting a Stop/Search under s1 of PACE, and attempting to fulfil an SMT-defined quota is not one of them. I wonder if all Academics are familiar with them.

Finally, I was reminded of the work of another Academic, Dr Marian FitzGerald, basically her recommendations and conclusions can be summed up thus:

Contribution of saearches [sic] to tackling crime:

▪ Searches contribute to the detection and prevention of crime through arrests, and through the intelligence they produce.

▪ The arrest rates tend to be higher for ‘low discretion’ searches, where officers have received information from a third party.

▪ The report claimed that the power has a general impact on crime prevention, demonstrated by independent statistical analysis. However, this important finding was disputed by the independent analyst contracted to carry out the investigation.

Patterns of searches:

▪ Officers target certain individuals who they perceive to be involved in crime locally.

▪ Officers may use the power of stop and search to disrupt groups of young people.

▪ The use of the power is still perceived as a measure of productivity although searches have not been used as a Performance Indicator since 1997.

▪ Most searches were carried out on young men, around half of which did not live in the local area.

Dr FitzGerald’s research was conducted quite some time ago, and is specific to London, but that in itself does not necessarily render it invalid. The two main factors that have changed since then are;

a) Crime Levels have increased

b) Police numbers have increased since the date of the report but are steadily reducing again.

In conclusion it appears that Academics do not all agree with each other, and some are not willing to listen to opposing views to their own, even when presented with supporting ‘evidence’. However I am still perfectly happy to support Stop and Search as a valid tactic, with the strict proviso that it is conducted lawfully. With the recent explosion of knife-related assaults and murders, robberies etc, it has to be remembered that every one of those knives is carried through the streets at some point. How else do we deter this epidemic without Stop and Search? It’s a serious question, I’m open to all suggestions, I just want the killings to end.

Any item of Academia that appears on my Timeline that reduces the opportunities to prevent the killings is not best received.

ADDENDUM

Whilst I was writing this the following response popped up in one of the Facebook Groups;

Considering S.1 PACE refers to reasonable suspicion I’m surprised that the arrest ratio to “lawful stops” is not higher. How can any organization legislate a specific quota of arrests to stops? So they don’t. In fact with all of the adverse criticism over the years stop and search has been reduced to a trickle……………

It IS All About The Numbers

I never thought I would be writing a post about the snow. However it has served to highlight the effect on Policing of factors outside of Crime. For the second time in a few months it is snowing. Some parts of the country are getting it bad.

The thing that has attracted my attention and focused my thinking was a message from a serving Police Officer re the weather.

Basically his Division has 5 times as many I (Immediate) calls on their system than they have officers to deal them. Most of the calls relate to collisions in the snow with persons being injured.

Another perfect example of the total absence of resilience in the modern day Police Service, courtesy of Theresa May. “It isn’t all about the numbers” “It is all about crime”. Yet today we see a situation, no doubt repeated across the country, where numbers WOULD make a difference and it’s absolutely nothing to do with snow.

This is totally down to May and Cameron, with a bit of help from Winsor and total acquiescence from ACPO/NPCC.

I have been asking for literally years, but now Insee senior Police Officers asking the same question

Just how low CAN we go?

It’s pretty much like shrinking the Army, crossing your fingers, and hoping we never have to go to war.

You have been caught out Mrs May. Admit you were wrong, stop this ridiculous vendetta, and get back to protecting and serving our population. Reverse your damaging, vindictive cuts as a matter of total priority. Acknowledge the #CrisisInPolicing and put everything right before it is too late and the system becomes irretrievable.

The Streets Are Lost – Will We EVER Get Them Back?

The Police have lost control of the streets. There, I’ve said it.

Not everywhere, of course, but cities mainly, London definitely, but it could apply literally anywhere.

It has been obvious for a while now but the government have just sat quietly and said nothing. Only that isn’t quite true is it? The government have said something. In 2014, i think it was, the then Home Secretary Theresa May instructed the Police to cut down on Stop and Search. Instructed. That must rank as the biggest political interference in Policing in modern times.

Various pretty graphs have been drawn over the years to try and make it look like the policy was working, but in reality Stop and Search fell off the cliff after 2014. Fewer people were getting stopped (all reasons) and fewer people were getting arrested as a result of those Stops. Mayor Khan’s office tried to make it look like the policy was working and that more people were being arrested, but they were just playing with percentages.

 

Knife crime up 21%

Robbery up 29%

Vehicle theft up 18%

With figures like these how can you pretend that we have control of our streets.? Are these are NATIONAL figures, not just London.

BBC News ran an item on Knife Crime in Tuesday’s evening News


I would go so far as to say that the government in general, and Theresa May in particular, are directly responsible for this state of affairs.

in 2010, under the direction of Theresa May, the Home Office embarked upon a systematic culling of the Police Service in the name of ‘Austerity’. I don’t think that anybody outside of the Palace of Westminster believes that one any more.

Theresa May cannot claim to be unaware of the effects of her vicious cuts, she has been told, often. However in 2015 she responded to this enlightenment like this

you warned that the police – and the public – were being put in danger in 2001, 2004 and 2007. The truth is that crime fell in each of those years, it’s fallen further since – and our country is safer than it has ever been…………

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

The country is safer than it has ever been? Try telling that to the parents of our dead children Mrs May. And many of them were just that, children. Crying Wolf? Safer? 4 young people in London lost their lives to knives on New Years Eve/Day alone.

How can you say such things? How can you now remain quiet?

Stop and Search in London 2008 to 2016

A 12 Month Snapshot of Knife Crime in London

 

 

 

Before I leave Knives and Stop & Search, a senior officer at Scotland Yard received a Knighthood this year on the back of a 70% reduction in Stop & Search. How is that justified in the light of the slaughter around us?

Moped Crime and Pursuits – before I make any comment all, I fully realise that pursuits in particular are a highly contentious, and current, topic. Any collision where an innocent member of the public is injured or, worse, killed is highly regrettable, and preferably avoided. However, the Police still have a job to do and sometimes that will involve pursuing vehicles. More often than not the officers will be unclear on why the driver has decided to make off from Police until it is stopped. Sometimes a collision will occur. Some times the driver of the car being pursued will exceed his/her capabilities and crash. Hopefully no innocent parties will be injured. HOWEVER, the driver of the car/moped etc being pursued ALWAYS has the option to STOP. This would result in him/her being arrested in a dignified manner with full recognition of the driver’s rights. Surely this outcome is preferable to risking death or injury? Many seem to think not.

Moped crime in London has absolutely rocketed although it is not an offence restricted to London alone. Once again, how can we claim to have control of the streets with crimes at these levels? I’m sure that somebody will let me know what the latest instructions are, but I’m absolutely certain that the Police Drivers dread being faced with the dilemma of stopping a moped.

 

 

 

 

Gun Crime – up 20%. Wether it be for an Armed Robbery, a Terrorist Attack or a simple Murder all of those firearms are carried through the streets at some point. Once again, how can we claim to be controlling the streets with a 20% increase in Gun Crime nationally?

Acid Attack – these also appear to be on the rise with a further 300 (approx) being reported in the first 6 months of 2017. Like firearms, these acid attacks are either committed in the street, or the acid is carried through the streets, once again casting doubt on our ability to claim control.

County Lines – A brief and basic description of how County Lines work is contained within the very short video below.  Violence between gang members can be extreme, a recent dispute saw one male have his hand chopped off with a machete and both legs broken.  Young children are used as Mules or Dealers including one young chap who operated in the vicinity of a school miles from his home but was wearing the school uniform of the school where he was operating.

Racism – an easy claim for observers and community ‘leaders’ such as Lee Jasper is that the Police are Racist.  Maybe some are.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find that out of 122,000 officers a few bad apples were Racist, but I am absolutely certain that the number is not large.  According to Sir Robert Peel “The people are the Police and the Police are the people” (see below).  This almost guarantees that in any given Police Force you will have some of everything, because the Police are drawn from the public, and the public consists of all types.

Peelian Principles

The seventh Peelian Principle is the one I refer to above, it simply states

7 – To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

So, no different to anybody else then.

The first Peelian Principle is the one we were all given to remember and repeat ‘parrot fashion’ during Initial Training.  Paraphrased it says “The primary objective of an efficient Police is the prevention of crime………”, or as Peel had it

1 To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

Which brings me to the end of this tome, which I hope you have found useful and not too dry.  Number One – “To prevent Crime and Disorder”.  With crime, or least certain types of crime undisputably rising, and Police Numbers undisputably falling, and the population constantly growing;

How do the Police Prevent Crime and Protect the Public?

Answers on a postcard please.  There is a #CrisisInPolicing but there is NOT a #BottomlessBobbyBox.  I heard tell recently of a Sergeant, in a large urban Force, who paraded 4 Constables (yes 4) and had 3 pages of Incidents to assign.  What should he have done?