Posts Tagged ‘Police’


It has just been drawn to my attention that the Pigpen is not allowed to express ANY views that may be considered political in any sense. Apparently I am in breach of statute and several disciplinary codes if I so do. I quote in full from the superintendents association article;

‘As a regular user of Twitter and a former Head of Professional Standards, I have become increasingly concerned with comments from a number of serving police officers, whether anonymous or clearly identifiable, expressing through tweets or blogs what could be perceived as either ‘political’ views or comments that ‘cross the line’ in terms of the what is expected of a police officer.

We live in a democratic society of which free speech is at the heart, however police officers are fully aware of the fact that they have certain restrictions on their private lives, indeed this is one of the things that makes us unique in terms of our professional role. These restrictions are laid out in Schedule 1 of Police Regulations 2003 but I wonder how many officers have ever really looked at them or thought about what they really mean. Here is an excerpt:

“A member of a police force shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it may so interfere; and in particular a member of a police force shall not take any active part in politics.”

For the most part, this is not usually a major issue for officers, however because ‘politics’ here is not restricted to party politics but means politics in its widest sense, some officers could be at risk. The increased use of social media combined with the current debate around police cuts, policing reform and in particular Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) is presenting opportunities for officers to offer their views in a very public forum.  On some occasions, those views include ‘political’ views or views about current Government policies, which could potentially be in breach of Schedule 1.  This situation is likely to get more difficult for officers as the interest in the elections for local PCCs increases over coming months. I think it’s timely, therefore, for officers to be reminded of Police Regulations and to bear them in mind when commenting on political policies or the views of PCCs.  

In addition to the above scenario is the fact that two of the Standards of Professional Behaviour for police officers as outlined in the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2008 set positive standards of expectation in terms of conduct when dealing with others, and both of these can relate directly to the use of social media:

  • Police officers act with self control and tolerance, treating members of the public and colleagues with respect and courtesy
  • Police officers act with fairness and impartiality

It is inevitable that many police officers feel frustrated and angry about the changes that are happening to the service and their own pay and conditions at the present time, but does this ever justify breaching these standards? I don’t believe that it does. One of the statements that police officers are often heard saying is that they are professionals. On 99% of occasions I believe they are, however some of the conduct I see via social media sites does not give that impression, and if that’s how I feel, then what impression is it giving the public?

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a great fan of the use of social media in policing, providing it is used professionally, and I don’t want to stop police officers from expressing their views and feelings. This blog isn’t about threatening officers with the full force of regulations, it is simply about reminding officers to do the right thing. Have your say, but please don’t let yourself or the service down by doing so in an unprofessional manner. Be professional, play within the rules and you will play safe. ‘

So, it seems that a literal reading of this piece of state sponsored propaganda means that I cannot comment on anything to do with Government, Politics, decisions made affecting me directly and the greater British public indirectly. I cannot respond to comments made to others on those topics. Indeed it seems that the only safe subject for me to write about in future is the state of the weather once that topic has been vetted by the powers that be.

I have just realised that this post is in breach of the regulations, … I canm hear footsteps drawing nearer and n

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Posh Dave has told us, ‘In these straightened times we must all pull together, put our shoulders to the wheel, well not mine obviously my Armani wouldn’t like it, tighten our belts and go without.’

It is obvious that Dave and his mates don’t mean this to apply to them but only to us plebs.

Now, the PigPen is a little thin on the ground. Old coppers have been put out to grass. Young coppers aren’t being recruited. The received wisdom from the head shed, ACPO etc is that there is no overtime. By working smarter we can deal with everything life (the great British public) throws at us.

I was rostered for a 14:00 x 22:00 shift yesterday. I was busy all day, burglaries and the like needing to be sorted out. Then, late in the shift a paedophile grooming job reared it’s ugly head. Three officers had to work overtime to deal. I finished work in the wee small hours and will be back at my desk for 14:00 today.

Well it’s only one day isn’t it? Hasn’t cost that much has it?

In fact, since my return to this particular arc in the pen I have finished late more often than on time. Each late finish means a cost to the job, irritates me because I would rather be at home and impacts on the efficiency of officers on the next shift. It is like doing a days work then partying most of the night and going back to work the next day.  Not as much fun and no hangover but the tiredness / exhaustion is just as real without the change as good as a rest syndrome.

Is this the quality of service the public wants? They probably don’t know or care, until it is their house burgled, their son in a car crash, their daughter raped or father mugged. Lets hope that when these things happen the officer has not been forced to work overtime for too long and can actually function at the top of his (or her) game.

Another thing has also happened since Theresa May took over the role of executioner in chief of the ‘best police service in the world’ is the lack of available vehicles. OK, I hear you, lets put plod back on the beat. Fine.

This week Officers in my particular arc have been unable to conduct necessary enquiries and transport victim’s and witnesses to where they need to be. The area my arc covers is half of a County. I don’t know the exact area but about 170 square miles I would guess. Yesterday I heard a call for Officers to intercept a wanted man

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpI9A9fxRH4

The response over the radio to this call was, no cars in the pen, two officers made their way on foot, setting off 10 minutes after the ‘felon’ had been spotted. I ask you, dear readers, what chance they will catch up to the individual even given that we knew where he was heading. Officers now need to be as fleet of foot as the estimable Mr Bolt!

To return to my Arc, the recent cuts and amalgamations mean that my colleagues and I cover three policing districts. Those districts have two radio channels. My radio can only listen to one. How does that work? On nights, one plain clothes porker covers the aforementioned acreage, one other based an hour or more away covers a similar acreage and one sergeant covers the entire area. That would involve something in the region of 7 radio channels. I can’t see how that is meant to work.

If only each major town had it’s own detective arc within the pen, but that is what we used to do. Should we re invent the wheel now or wait until even the spare is knackered beyond redemption and only then start over?

May, Cameron and the rest, need to get real. My fervent wish is that no more citizen’s are the victim’s of crime but that the Politicians are targetted by the mindless moron’s who wreak havoc in our society. Perhaps then the government will realise that what they are doing to the emergency services is slowly starving them to death. 999 I’m being killed – sorry we cannot take your call at this time please try later.

Silly me, this will never happen, the government have their private army of Police Officers there to personally protect our leaders and ensure the dirty public don’t get too near. So you and I can be offended against by any Tom Dick or Harry (Tomasina, Deidre or Harriette) and feel the lack of funding and therefore justice. THEY don’t give a fig.


Following on from my last post, I am currently dealing with several matters which for obvious reasons I cannot discuss in detail. Suffice to say a victim of crime has been lucky. By sheer good fortune I have been able to recover some stolen property. The victim was happy, until he realised that he couldn’t get the property back until it had been forensically examined.

Of course, with fewer Police Officers and all the support staff, everything takes much longer. Our Forensic examiners are nothing like Dr Eve Lockhart. We don’t have on site labs where we can wander at will. The same examiner has to come and collect the item(s), transport them to a lab, deal with jobs happening real time with all the travel that involves and not work any overtime. Numbers have been slashed over the years.

A month after the property is recovered my victim still doesn’t have his property back because it cannot be examined. He feels let down, I feel I have let him down.

Smaller does not necessarily mean better.


Following on from my post here:

     https://fromthepigpen.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/business-greed/

I have just been informed that the Police Service that I work for, we can no longer say Force due to its negative connotations, saved £22 million by the end of 2011/2012, a term vague by design I believe. Apparently the service will save another 8 million by the end of this financial year. In total the service in this area have to save £50 million by 2015. So from April 2013 until April 2015 the service needs to save a further £20 million.

In order to achieve this it seems that 400 Officers and 450 support staff will have to go.

We are told that the second phase of the operation to save money, yes it has an operational name and a team to match, is not just about saving money. Yes, that’s right, my Chief Constable has said so. Just because he earns £145,000 (November 2011) does not mean that he can treat his constables like idiots. This phase is apparently about modernising, with less money to cost less money at the same time as saving £20 million. But, of course, it is not all about saving money.

The chief opines that by 2015 ‘… we will look and feel like a very different organisation.’ He goes on to say that he cannot describe the plans in detail, probably because the May fairy hasn’t told him what they will be yet.

I CAN envisage our service in 2015. There will be fewer Police Officers. There will be fewer Police Stations. The Police Stations that do exist will be open for fewer hours. There will be less staff to manage ‘front offices’, custody and scene’s of crime officers.

We will modernise. That probably means another set of computer programmes that cost the earth, do not talk to other system’s within this service never mind those with common borders. No maintenance contract being taken out to save money so no updates provided. A change of personal equipment, different baton’s, … again. In all probability Cheaper handcuffs and less training in Home Office Approved Techniques for restraint.

To shed the 400 officers it is likely that the older more experienced officers will be shed because they are expensive, being at the top of the pay scale. The experience will be gone. The officers will, in all likelihood, be shed because they cannot complete the soon to be introduced fitness tests. I can run all day, I cannot complete the ‘shuttle’ run because this requires constant turning and after an active life my knees don’t like the strain. My job does not entail chasing people. I am a detective. Unlike Chief Superintendent Boyd (‘Waking the Dead’) Inspector Frost and many other TV Detectives, in the last 7 years I have not had to run after someone. I have arrested people, interviewed them, investigated serious crime and never once had to break a sweat. Some would say that is what experience does for you.

I joined the Police at a time when they were recruiting more mature people because there were so many youngsters ‘in the job’. Now, as a cost cutting exercise the more mature among us are likely to be targeted for removal. My pension has been worked for. I have paid 11% of my salary into the scheme. As a consequence of the contribution, in the early years, my family suffered financial hardship. Now, if I continue to work until I am 60, which the government will allow me to do, I will be forced to accept reduced benefits for increased contributions.

If the government do not want me to continue being a Police Officer, pay me off. I have already previously blogged about where money can be found. To the good people of England I would say, do you want a Police Service comprised of students, or would you like some experienced people. I appreciate experience does not equate to good, but new does equate to mistakes. Mistakes lead to wrongful convictions and wrongful acquittals.


What is worse, no union or an ineffective staff association?

The UK government are tinkering with terms and conditions of public sector workers. I can only comment on conditions in the pigpen I’m afraid but I am sure comments can be applied (or at least the sentiments) across the public sector.

I am not particularly talking about pay, although we are all concerned about being able to earn enough to maintain a certain lifestyle hovering somewhere between what passes as poverty in the UK and getting by. There are so many other issues. Tom Winsor, who was appointed by the current UK Government to review pay and conditions, seems to believe that middle and upper management positions in the service should be open to all. I don’t necessarily have an issue with that, I have always maintained that coppers make lousy managers, they don’t have the skills. However, it is also true that managers make lousy coppers. If the middle and senior posts are managerial, which do not involve any input into day to day Policing then a person with no Policing knowledge would be fine. However, one such middle manager post could be to set tactic’s and policy for the Public Order Unit. Now, regardless of a person’s opinion of the efficacy, proportionality of the Police response to Public Order situations, if your house was being threatened by rioters who would you want in charge? An Officer who has spent some years being trained in such situations or a regional manager from a local retail outlet?

The Police Federation, toothless wonders that they are, have posed the question to local MP’s,

‘Would we parachute captains of industry into the army and have them lead troops into battle without them having an understanding of soldiering? So why does he think it will work in the police service?

The UK Government state they want to attract the right calibre of candidate, while reducing the starting salary by £4000 and requiring higher educational qualifications (three ‘A’ levels). The Federation argue that,

‘This will potentially be the end of a police force reflecting the community that it serves, which goes to the heart of policing in this country as not everyone will be able to reach the required standard. Along with our colleagues, we have all served with officers who have not been academically endowed but who could catch and lock up villains with consummate ease using skill and common sense but not ‘A’ levels. They were known as “thief takers” but people like this will be lost to the service if this recommendation is adopted.

I am not sure that the Police do truly represent the community they serve. I work in a town where there is a large Asian community but there are very few Asian officers. What the Fed say appears to say is that the Police must be truly representative of and reflect the composition of the society in which we function. Nonsense. There are always limits, I cannot see the Police employing a partially sighted driver nor a deaf interviewer. Do the Fed suggest that the blind and deaf are excluded from society? I am sure they do not. That this section of the community is not reflected in the Police Service has not been the death knell of ‘the heart of Policing…’ If the educational standard is set then it is probably for sound reasons, like being able to accurately record in writing (in English?) what has taken place so that the witness can be left alone to get on with their life. My written English leaves much to be desired. I have a degree in Law. Education and good written skills, a basic requirement of the job, do not necessarily go hand in glove. I become increasingly frustrated at the standard of spelling, even more than grammer, wrtiien in Police Statements by officers. Sometimes to the point where I have to re write the statement! This has also lead to a culture of, ‘Can you come to the Police Station to make your statement so I can type it, it needs to be typed for court anyway.’ Yes and PC Brain Cell can use the spell check. So is a requirement for basic educational ability outrageous?

There are many other elements to Winsor, introducing a basic fitness test, removing a competency pay from officers at the top of pay scale which will decrease pension benefits while increasing pensionable benefits for senior officers, officers to work to age 60 an increase of 5 years. Of course a person can only afford to retire at 55 if they have achieved a full 30 years in the job and therefore benefit from a full pension. I was a late starter and need to keep going to 62 in order to achieve a 20 year pension!

The Fed point out that Winsor wants to reduce pay of officers who are restricted in the work they carry out, through sickness or injury. Why anyone would be surprised at this measure is beyond me. The Police are paid more than their equivalent in the forces. At present a soldier stands more chance of being shot, blown up, maimed or killed than any Police Officer. The government have reduced payments to injured soldiers and reclaimed ‘overpaid’ salary issued to KIA troops. In fact, is it wrong to pay a person less for doing a substantially different job? I can see the argument that if an officer is injured at work risking life and limb to protect a member of the community we serve there should be no reduction after all the officer was doing his job and should not be penalised for that. But if the reduced ability is not work related …

The fitness test. A lot has been said about this in the UK media. I have watched overweight officers trying to outrun a 19 year old racing snake, it is not pretty, it is not effective. As a more mature person, OK old git, I do not look on the requirement of a fitness test with horror. The military conduct annual (at least) fitness tests. An age / time allowance is given to those of more advanced years. The only real problem I have is that the army are a physical entity. There is time factored in to the work programme for fitness training. In the Police we are stretched for resources. My shift pattern does not have time in it for training, of whatever kind. There is a Gym at the station where I work, funded by the officers themselves. In the last three years I have been able to get to the gym only infrequently. It is in a room 12′ x 12′ and contains some free weights a rowing machine, cross trainer and running machine with a couple of excercise bikes. If all equipment was being used the officers would suffocate because there is no proper ventilation or natural daylight. If I am required to pass a fitness test, time needs to be allocated by the employer to enable me to train. The Police (and therefore the government) make play of the Police family, indeed when I joined my wife and children were welcomed as individuals into the wider Police family. My shift pattern has changed. I now see my wife for one weekend in 6. She works weekdays, even if I am off I cannot treat this as a weekend as my wife works. I have three evenings a week off at the same time as my wife. I would ask, what is work life balance. I do accept that I am fortunate though. My children are grown so they don’t miss out and I have only got about 5 years to retirement.

 


English: London

It is not often that I find myself in agreement with the big chunks that have risen, inevitably, to the top of life’s cess pit. However, I recently read that a senior UK Police Officer was talking about the new idea to contract services out to security companies. Whilst I personally would dismiss that as unworkable tosh, he did say something which struck a chord.

All Police forces maintain major crime teams used to investigate murders and the like. Of course there are not murders every day (this not being television) so they get used for other stuff. What about having a fixed number of teams that cover the whole country. Dropping in on demand to oversee the investigation. That sounds a bit like what the Victorian Scotland Yard used to do. ‘Inspector, there’s been a murder! Call Scotland Yard.’

This can of course be expanded. I work on a Police Specialist unit. We are never used to capacity to deal with crimes within that specialism. We fill our days with investigations that could be undertaken by any officer. It would be far better to use our skills as a ‘fighting platoon’ as Lt Bromhead would have it.

Trouble on the North wall, send in the fighting platoon. This would generate certainty of process, standard procedures making officers inter changeable and a more complete understanding in the officers of the problems and complexities of the work. The result would be speedier investigation, more thoroughly carried at with timely file submissions to the CPS for decisions to charge.

It makes so much sense that I doubt any senior officer would agree.


Doorstaff waiting to be recruited as G4SPolice Officers‘?

The British Police are often hailed as the best in the world. Other countries come to the UK to see how Policing is carried out. They even make documentaries about this. The current government appear to pay lip service to this view while bringing in US experts to help with ‘gang culture’ to much fanfare. This would seem to be a good idea, taking experience from wherever you can get it. But do I want to be policed by gun toting ‘good ole boys’ with big nightsticks and scant regard for the public at large. Now it seems the government have decided that G4S ought to be given the opportunity to run its private army of Security police. The BBC report on the subject seems to suggest that these low paid security type guards will absorb most functions of the Police, community patrol, response, investigation, running Police Stations (and building Police Stations) but not being able to arrest people.

I see a time rapidly approaching when G4S, using low paid workers, runs the nations constabulary. Each ‘Police’ area will probably be left with a handful of proper Police Officers just to arrest suspects. All the while the directors of G4S and their friends (anyone in the government I wonder?) line their pocket.

Theresa May and her chums can give themselves a pat on the back, the guarantee of another directorship when they leave Parliament with a massive pension paid for by ‘we the people’.  There will doubtless b ‘fringe benefits’ for cosying up to another corporate body. In the event the experiment does not work and the council estates and town centre’s descend into chaos and violence will they care. Of course not, they can retire to their gated communities with their armed G4S bodyguards who will ‘Protect and Serve’ their masters. We all, I am sure, have seen or heard of out of control door staff. Does the government think they will attract better quality people by calling themselves something else. The self image of most door staff I know is one of steroid taking iron pumping bully boys. The private security industry is littered with ex soldiers (they all seem to say they are ex SAS!) frustrated soldier / police wannabe’s. If they are not able to join the Police / Army for whatever reason, why does the government think they will make good surrogate Police?