December 4th, 2005

More of the Same

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

We just had our SOCAP training. SOCAP is the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 and brings in the most significant changes to the way we deal with people since the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. That’s 21 years, a long time in a police career

This basically does away with the old arrest conditions for various offences and replaces them with the power to arrest everyone, for anything.

The Government have been trumpeting the new legislation as proof of their ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ ethos. That’s the ethos which they’ve been promising to switch to for years but nobody has seen any evidence of it yet. It gives the police the power to arrest for any offence. The streets will be swept clean of the dross who blight the lives of Mr & Mrs Miggins every evening on the estates up and down the land. Hurrah for the police and the long-sighted caring government, lock ‘em all up and back to the nick for tea and medals.

Er, not according to the small print. You see every arrest will now be subject to a ‘necessity test’. “Officer, was it really necessary to arrest my client for chucking a banana skin up the High Street?” The upshot is that not only won’t you arrest for offences you didn’t arrest for before, but you’ll not arrest for some of the ones you did because it ‘won’t be necessary’.

Another case of the Government giving with one hand and snatching back even bigger fistfuls with the other yet giving the appearance of actually doing something?

By the way, I think I said something about the biggest changes in the ‘way we do business’ (management bollocks-speak) since PACE in the first paragraph. So how much training have we had in it?

Yes, 30 minutes and we’re the lucky ones. Some forces so far haven’t had any training at all. “SOCAP, what’s that?” can be heard ringing from the dusty corridors where front-line officers are queuing up for the photocopier in nicks up and down the land. It appears we were lucky to get 30 minutes. It should have been two hours but the trainers took all the unnecessary stuff out. But we did get a 7 page hand-out, so that was nice.

Contrast that to the two hours training we did get on the Disability Discrimination Act the same week. Apparently it’s more important for me to know that people who build police stations have a duty to put in wheelchair ramps than it is for me to understand my powers of arrest. And to prove it there is a mandatory 12 question exam on the Disability Act which everyone in the force, police and civilian, must take and pass. It’s not in case I ever become part of some future police station building planning team, it’s to stop the Chief Constable from being sued if I muck-up. That’s two hours of public-funded wages for about 5,000 people…. No wonder there are no new traffic cones in my boot.


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