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?

Seems Like A Reasonable Question To Me

There was a time, I agree, when Police Officers were paid handsomely. I don’t think many would dispute that. They were paid handsomely BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY DO AND WHAT THEY MIGHT HAVE TO DO. They accepted that and were, in the main, happy with the balance. Contrary to what Mrs May and others think, they went about their duties professionally, and carried them out to the very best of their abilities. Untold numbers of meals went uneaten. Untold numbers of social engagements were cancelled. Untold numbers of marriages broke up. Collateral Damage at the hands of Policing. Untold numbers of Police Officers just pitched up for work the next day and did it all over again, soaking up more of the same, willingly. It is what they did.
Then along came Camoron, Cruella and Winsor and destroyed all that.

Now they get paid much less in real terms. Their pensions have been slaughtered. They will be as old as Methusalah before they can retire. And the government, the NPCC, IPCC, HMIC and Uncle Tom Cobley expect more and more and more, and offer less and less and less in return.  Don’t forget that there is also 20,000 fewer of them too.

It isn’t even all about money. They cannot pursue a car, draw a Taser or even use force in the act of arrest or restraint without picturing themselves as The Defendant. The scales have swung too far the other way, and weak management is allowing or even encouraging it. We are very much in danger of losing Policing as we know it.

To the detriment of many things, I loved my 30 years. The best job ever.

Would I do it all again?

Never.

Do I miss it?

Not any longer, but I still miss the people I worked with immensely.

Look around, the NHS, the Police Service, the Armed Forces.  We used to have the finest Health Service in the world, now we are recruiting from foreign climes to get cheap nursing cover.  We used to have the finest Police Service in the world, now a mere shadow of its former self, and running round in ever decreasing circles till they disappear up their own fundament trying to do all the jobs that every other service thinks they can lumber the Police with and save a few bob along the way.  Nearly every nation in the world feared our Armed Forces, now our Army is not much bigger than a Defence Force, our carrier borne aircraft are a bit of a joke thanks to successive government cuts and U turns.

The nurses, the doctors, the Police officers, the soldiers, sailors and aircrew (and their relative support staff) etc are all some of the finest people availabe, but they are hamstrung beyond belief by ‘The Cuts’.  They WANT to do their best but can’t.

“Do More With Less” is the same mantra we hear for all of the Public Sector, except, of course, the politicians, they are getting more now. Austerity does not apply to them.

All of these cuts and the associated ‘wastage’ will take years to put right, if ever. “Work Smarter” then.  Don’t be ridiculous, there is only so much that can be achieved with reduced resources.  Many of the functions carried out by the NHS, Police, Armed Forces (and many other, comparable services) simply need PEOPLE to carry them out, and a certain number of people at minimum.  Below that and we are in the mire.

So Home Secretary, Mrs May, Sir Tom, Sara Thornton “What does your Strategic Risk Assessment tell you is the absolute minimum number of Police Officers needed to provide an efficient PolicecService for England and Wales, and maintain Public Safety and Tranquility?”

I Thought It Was Only Me

I saw a tweet recently that made me think;

For over 30 years I came home from work and answered the question “How was your day?” with “oh pretty quiet, nothing much, you know”. This was clearly a lie. The only day I didn’t get away with it was when I was delivered home by my friends, colleagues, workmates having been overcome by smoke whilst searching a burning flat during the Firemen’s Strike one Boxing Day morning. To say that I was pissed off missing out on that Double Time overtime was an understatement. 
I suspect that Mrs Angry already knew, but it was obvious that day, that things weren’t always “pretty quiet, you know”. I had taken the decision NOT to share my daily experiences with my family as I thought I was doing them a favour not burdening them with the knowledge of how my day had really been.

I genuinely thought that it was only me that did that.  My colleagues’ wives and families always seemed to know stuff, although who knows what they were told.

The downside to this was that I didn’t get the benefit of talking stuff over with loved ones, partly so they could understand the stresses of my job better, and partly just to chat, chill out and wind down.  Even a ‘quiet’ day can be stressful.

It’s obvious to me now that I wasn’t the only one.

We each have to make our own choices in this life, and looking back it feels like I made a bad choice.

So next time your loved one says “How was your day?”  think very carefully before you say “Nothing much, pretty quiet, you know”, it’s possible that isn’t the best answer.  No medals, cerificates or prizes are handed out for bottling things up.  

Sometimes, it’s good to talk.