ACPO to go

This is not a strange order for a take out. ACPO have announced that they are to disband and regroup.

Read here from West Yorks Federation.

There is superb empirical evidence available in this area. It shows that when something is failing and has a negative reputation that rebranding and rising like a Phoenix from the ashes is highly successful.

Take a look at Centrex… sorry I mean the NPIA… ah hang on … er.. Yes! The College of Policing!

London Centric Cops

The Met Police have announced that the recruitment if new PC’s will be limited to those who live in London.

The lines being used are “Londoners policing London” and having “a police service that is representative of its community.” I don’t disagree with the latter part. The police service should reflect its community.

So are the Met becoming London living cop focused? Do they want Londoners who know, love and have lived or even grown up in their boroughs? Maybe they do. There could even be an argument for this. Yet this is not the issue. The Met, like most forces, fall short on BME recruitment and this is a push to try and redress that balance. By restricting the process there is the hope that more BME recruits will come forward.

Are they really that naive?

The Met and other forces must look at increasing BME representation within the ranks. This needs a focused and rational process that addresses why so few BME people are unwilling to join and how those people are retained. That is the question that needs tackling. Narrowing the goalposts and trying to force the issue does nothing to answer that question. It may make short term gains that can be promoted and hailed as a success but does nothing to engender a long term solution.


Four People

There were once four police officers. They were named, Somebody, Anybody, Everybody and Nobody.

One day a suggestion was put forward to have #100COPS at the UK COPS survivors weekend. This wasn’t ACPO and senior officer ranks but frontline operational officers. The purpose was to support the families of police officers who had fallen in the line of duty. Those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The plan was put forward and gained much support on social media. There were no special requirements.

The opportunity was open to Everybody. Anybody could do it. Somebody should do it but in the end Nobody did it.

Everybody thought Somebody would do it and agreed that Anybody could do it but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry. They chose to shout at Everybody and said Anybody could do it. Everyone agreed that Somebody had to make that first step and commit to #100COPS and Everybody would then follow suit but Nobody stepped forward.

In the end the matter gained momentum. Nobody held back and Somebody said Anybody could go and eventually Everybody went and stood, with pride, alongside families and paid tribute to police officers gone… but never forgotten.


Stick Dog

I have quite deliberately stolen the “Stick Family” theme from Simon Guilfoyle. He will no doubt institute legal proceedings and sue me for every penny I have. By my reckoning, if he clears me of all my assets, he may just get enough to buy a pint of Guinness at his favourite hostelry.

The Stick family decided it would be fun to have a dog. Not only would it be a companion to all the family it would also provide some security to their family home. Family meetings were held and eventually a strategy was agreed. This included what purpose the dog had, what they hoped to obtain by having a dog and going to the local kennels to choose said dog with Stick child.

At the kennels there were many dogs and a rigorous selection process followed. Sex, breed, colour, cute factors and how big the dog would get were all considerations. Stick family finally whittled down the list to one dog; Stick dog.

Stick dog was led out photo-16of his cage and was literally bouncing with excitement. A family at last. His purpose was to be fulfilled. Yet this was only the start. A considerable amount of vetting was necessary before Stick family were happy with him and the kennels would let him go.

Stick Child was to be the primary owner but Stick Dog would ultimately be a family dog. Stick Dog would provide comfort and company to Stick Family. Stick Dog would give Stick Family opportunities to get out in the fresh air for exercise and enjoy the countryside. When Stick Dog was taken home Stick Child made a big fuss of him. He was provided with everything he needed to do his job. He had a bed, toys, a lead, food and water.

Stick Child gave Stick Dog all of his free time and walked him all over the local fields and park. When he got home he would play with Stick Dog even more until poor old Stick Dog would be worn out and fall asleep. Stick Child was happy. Stick Family were happy and Stick Dog was fulfilling all the objectives he had been selected for. Life was good.

Stick Child continued to work with Stick Dog and he began to learn lots of new skills. Stick Dog could sit, lie down, stay, fetch, roll over, walk to heel and come back whenever he was called. Stick Child was very pleased and Stick Dog was a happy dog. An optimal balance had been achieved where Stick Child and Stick Dog worked well together, respected one another and as such anything was possible. Stick Child began to suggest to Stick Man that he should take Stick Dog to agility classes.

Then before any agility classes could be arranged things began to change. Stick Child had a birthday and got a bike. His friend had a bike too. Suddenly he spent all his time cycling up and down the road outside and Stick Dog was left indoors. He started to forget about Stick Dog and walked him a lot less than he had done before. Stick Man and Woman picked up the slack and walked him but Stick Dog didn’t find the walks were as much fun. Stick Dog was a little unhappy and on walks he forgot to walk to heel. This was seen by Stick Man as odd and tried to get Stick Dog to do as he was told. Stick Dog didn’t respond well to this as he preferred working as a team with Stick Child. He continued to avoid walking to heel and this led to him getting pulled about a bit on the lead and shouted at. Stick Dog felt a little threatened by this and so tried to keep his distance from Stick Man. This led to more pulling on the lead and more angry responses from Stick Man. Stick Dog would still get to the park but when he was let off the lead he would try to stay away from Stick Man. When he called Stick Dog he would not come to him straight away. The problems just got worse.

Stick Man could not understand why Stick Dog would not do as he was told. Stick Dog was unhappy. Stick Dog then got left at home for a long time one day. He got a bit bored without any attention and decided, for reasons he cannot fathom, to chew the wooden leg of Stick Woman’s dining room table. Stick Woman went crazy. She yelled at Stick Dog and he sought refuge on his bed and cowered. Stick Woman was not impressed and continued to rant when Stick Man came home from work. She also berated Stick Child for what ‘his’ dog had done. Stick Dog stayed on his bed and kept his head down.

That night Stick Child took Stick Dog out for a walk. He felt a little guilty at ignoring Stick Dog but also wanted to get away from his angry Mum. Stick Dog was glum and a very miserable. He didn’t walk to heel and when they got to the park he had no enthusiasm to chase the ball and fetch it. Stick Child found a bench and sat down. Stick Dog sat between his knees and accepted some fuss. As he did so Stick Child talked to the dog. He asked what was so wrong that he wouldn’t do what he could do before and why was he showing uncharacteristic behaviour.

Stick Dog didn’t reply but as the one way conversation progressed two things happened. Stick Dog began to feel a little bit better about himself and Stick Child began to understand what had gone wrong and apologised for ignoring his friend.

On the way home Stick Dog’s demeanour perked up. He played fetch with a stick and he walked to heel and didn’t pull the lead once. Stick Child went into the lounge and Stick Dog came and sat by his feet like he always did. Stick Man noticed Stick Dog hadn’t retreated to his bed as soon as he got in. He discussed with Stick Child how Stick Dog looked happier somehow.

Stick Child pondered for a moment and then told Stick Man that he had let down Stick Dog by ignoring him. He told him that none of them had noticed the messages that Stick Dog was sending to them. They hadn’t stopped to realise that the instant change to the normal conditions Stick Dog was used to had created a change in his behaviour. A change in behaviour that was unwanted and engendered an angry response by all of the Stick Family because he just wasn’t doing what had come to be expected of him. Stick Child told Stick Man that in any period of change each and every person, including the dog, had to have their view heard. They had ignored Stick Dog and that was wrong.

Later that night when Stick Dog was snoring in front of the fire and Stick Child was tucked up in bed, Stick Man thought some more on what had been said. He suddenly drew a comparison to a situation at work that he had been wrestling with for a while. Stick Man had put a great deal of time and effort into recruiting a team of people who were ideally suited to the job and then invested heavily in them. He built a good team that worked well together but some recent changes had destroyed morale. He realised that in order for a team to work well together and ensure everyone is happy it needs inclusion. He hadn’t included the staff in the change process. He realised that if change is implemented it has to be gradual and discussed with all those involved. If changes are simply put in place without any consideration to others and how they feel then an adverse and unwanted reaction is highly likely. Responding to that reaction with more anger and tighter controls is only likely to engender greater resistance to the change.

Stick Man went to work the following day with a whole new outlook on how to implement change at work and it would start by being a good listener and making staff feel valued. It wasn’t the end of the journey but it was a good start.

The Stick Dog image is provided by the Stick Family author Simon Guilfoyle and is copyright! So he tells me. If you pinch it and use without his permission you may get a hard stare from him… believe me.. you don’t want this to happen. Paddington Bear has nothing on him.


Lights, Camera…. ACTION!

What a week last week was for policing. The jury at the Mark Duggan Inquest concluded that his killing was lawful and then PC Keith Wallis pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office over the #Plebgate saga.

The media attention zoned in on policing and questions have been asked about how both these cases, and others, will undermine the confidence the public have in us a service. To be fair you can’t get away from it. It’s a hot topic. It’s on TV, the topic of discussion on radio chat shows, in the papers, the internet and all over social media. The Duggan matter is causing a lot of controversy but the officer has been found by a jury to have acted lawfully. In response to the Plebgate matter there have been many comments by police and non police supporters that we shouldn’t judge all police officers over the actions of individual “bad apples.”

One of the biggest discussions 20140113-104105.jpgabout policing as a result is the use of body cams (BWV – body worn video) by police officers. This has been a current topic for a while but last weeks events have added to its momentum. I think the use of body cams is a great idea and would welcome it. It is also worth pointing out that some forces have been using this kit for quite a long time.

There is evidence from a US study that complaints against officers plummeted after the introduction of BWV.

I remember very early in my service being told by a more experienced colleague that CCTV was everywhere and I had to assume, no matter where I was, there was a camera recording my actions. This was years ago and CCTV coverage has increased enormously since then. This wasn’t a warning to me to ensure no cameras covered me before I misbehaved. This was a warning that if I did misbehave something would capture it and on my head be it. He concluded it by saying “you won’t go wrong if you act all the time as if a tv camera is behind you.”

The question then is does BWV make a difference to behaviour and increase transparency? If it does then it can only help in the police/public confidence issue. If the US trial is to be believed then yes it does. Complaints plummeted and officers have said they were more likely to go “by the book.” This can only be seen as a positive. Yet there is a danger if BWV is set to become, in the eyes of the public and media, the arbiter of truth and the panacea to all the ills in police trust debates. BWV is useful and helps to paint a picture of how events unfold but it isn’t solely conclusive. It sees only where the camera points. Yes, attached to an officer it shows his/her view but it doesn’t show everything. It doesn’t show peripheral vision or what happens behind. It is a valuable tool but needs to be used in conjunction with other evidence and not relied upon in isolation. I don’t anticipate this will happen but comment in the media and by hurting families suggests that this is what they expect the outcome to be. I have refused charge on many cases where even with CCTV the evidence against the suspect didn’t add up or something else off camera could not be disproved. The same principle has to apply to police officer BWV evidence.

I work in an environment where I am monitored on CCTV every single day including very sensitive audio recording. I don’t live my life in fear of it. I simply act in the best way I can, with integrity, and know that the CCTV will back me up. I have been to court with a very difficult drink drive case involving a Freeman on the Land. The CCTV footage from custody was played in full in court. The case was won easily. In contrast I recently had another drink drive case where the CPS did not rely on the CCTV at all. As a consequence my evidence in chief was littered with “the CCTV will show this to be correct”. The prosecutor said the CCTV was probably on the file but they tended not to rely on it. Clearly we have the option to utilise CCTV from custody to prove cases and rubbish complaints. Conversely, it is also there to substantiate complaints and protect detainees. It’s just not being used to full effect.

Defence solicitors if given proper access can, when appropriate, advise guilty pleas and save police and court time. Professional Standards departments can view CCTV and rubbish false complaints without the need for a lengthy investigation. Yet at present they still run a full investigation. As an example; a case a few years ago related to another team. A detained person claimed to have been approached in the cell overnight and touched inappropriately. The CCTV footage showed that nobody entered the cell at all. Despite the footage, the investigation rolled on for months and cost goodness knows how much only to conclude there was no case to answer.

This is different to an ongoing incident on the street though because custody is a controlled environment. Footage from the street needs to be considered carefully as there are many more dynamics to take into account. As an example, officer V53 had an honest belief that Duggan had a firearm. He didn’t see it thrown. If he didn’t see it thrown then the BWV may not have done either. If BWV captured the gun being thrown the officer may still not have seen it because he was focused on Duggan at one side of the car whilst the gun was thrown from the other. It may show Duggan with his hands in the air or reaching for something. It may have been a phone and it could have been a gun. It quickly becomes clear, I hope, that BWV will help but it is not independently conclusive.

The UK police force is 130k strong. I’m not keen on the bad apples phrase. Bad apples affect all the others even when removed from the fruit bowl. I prefer rogue officer or maybe just criminal. I think BWV may bring into line any officers who are tempted to cross the line. It may stop some people joining in the first place. Either way neither of them are welcome by those of us who simply get on and do our best every day. The new Code of Ethics has also been raised a lot recently. Officers will know what is expected of them. Will the code of ethics prevent cases such as PC Wallis? I don’t think so. The code of ethics is a rebadged version of the current codes of conduct. It’s simply expected behaviour and a small number of officers have always fell over with this. There is nothing to say they wont do the same with the new code. The code is just a set of rules to comply with. So is the Theft Act. Despite all the effort the Criminal Justice System and external partners put into stopping it, theft crimes continue. We try to remove those officers who act inappropriately as fast as we can but the nature of society means that there will always be a thief in a community and there will always be a bad cop in the force. We don’t tarnish all of society as thieves when a crime occurs and we shouldn’t tar all police when the odd few let the side down.

In conclusion, I welcome BWV and would gladly wear it. It has great benefits and will validate officer actions and protect the public at the same time. It just needs to be considered with care and not given too much weight in isolation.

Bring on BWV. Give it to all of us but we need to use what it shows wisely and not expect too much from it…… Lights, camera… ACTION!

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