November 26th, 2005
I’m a member of several police forums; they are great for a lift just when you thought you’d heard it all. Sometimes I put my point of view, sometimes I just watch, or ‘lurk’ without saying a word but enjoying the spectacle as people ‘debate’ over the most trivial of things.
Something grabbed my attention this week in one of them. I’m not often shocked; I’ve been a police officers for nearly 30 years, so little surprises me. I was, however, stunned at the following.
The police recruitment field is a tough business. Ask anyone who has applied to join the Met in the last two years (especially if you are a white male, but that’s another story). There are usually hundreds of applicants for only tens of places which means a large proportion of people are going to end up disappointed. I’m led to believe that something like 60,000 people a year apply to to join the ranks of the boys & girls in blue.
In order to help people get a competitive edge, several companies have sprouted offering help and guidance on how to make it through the recruitment maze and come out happy the other side. Two of these companies have started advertising on the police websites.
Apparently, you pay some kind of largish fee to go on a one-day conference where you get hints, tips and guidance on how to pass the police recruitment process. I believe these involve ‘consultants’. I don’t know much about consultants other than there are millions of retired senior officers who are police officers one day, retire, and come back to do the same job only for more money as consultants the next.
These recruitment consultancies have websites, (doesn’t everyone?) where they advertise their ‘wares’. I guess you do what you can to get visitors to your website and advertising on police websites is just one way.
Another way is to pretend to be your closest business rival and get people to come to your own website when they think they’re actually going to your rival’s. How do you do this? Simple, register websites which are mis-spelled versions of your rival’s name and point it to your own site. Anyone familiar with the dregs of all websites, porn, will be familiar with the concept.
Another way is to see what domains your rival has registered and then register any they haven’t. Is it illegal? I don’t know but I know if I tried to register www.mcdonalds.ky (assuming .com, .co.uk, .org & .net are already on Ronald’s books but he forgot .ky) and I pointed it to my own website selling parts of cow in a bap, you can bet your arse big Ronald and his suited cronies would be on my case faster than a non white recruit through the welcome gates at Hendon.
So who could stoop so low as to do this then? Step forward the guys at In2Blu *. Contrary to the first paragraph on their website, they are not the “UK’s only specialist company dedicated to helping people like you to land a job as a Police Officer in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.” But I suspect they are doing all they can to force everyone else out of business.
One of their rivals is The Interview Success Company, who also have a website. They can be found at name-of-their-company.co.uk. sadly for them, they forgot to register name-of-their-company.com. Never mind, In2Blu have registered it, only they point it at the In2Blu website. So people who wish to visit the Interview Success Company but use .com instead of .co.uk will find themselves at In2Blu’s website. And just in case In2Blu don’t steal enough of the other company’s potential clients, they’ve also registered name-of-their-company-spelled-slightly-wrongly.co & .com so if people don’t spell success with 2 c’s they’ll also get shoved across to In2Blu’s website.
You might think all is fair in business. I don’t know if you’d be right or wrong. I just think it’s unethical to carry out business that way. When you realise that the guys who run In2Blu are serving police officers (as are the Interview Success people) you might agree with me that it’s a f****** disgrace!
* I have used an incorrect spelling of In2Blu as I have no wish to assist them getting higher up the search engine rankings.
November 23rd, 2005
You can always rely on the British Police to shoot themselves in the foot with bad publicity.
This week it seems half the mothers in the country have been up in arms because a Norfolk police officer asked a woman who had been breastfeeding her baby on a bench in Watton High Street not to do it again because there had been a complaint.
He (and it was a he) had received a complaint from someone who found the act of feeding a child in public offensive.
Had the officer done the same thing in Scotland, he would have been committing the offence of preventing or stopping a child from being fed milk. (Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Act 2005).
The item appeared on the BBC East regional news and spread like wildfire through to national news and leading to discussions on radio stations and internet forums up and down the land.
Any story with the opportunity to slag off the police is grist to the mill for anyone with half a mind to jump on the anti-police bandwagon, but this was a story with a difference. The people doing the slagging off weren’t the usual suspects but were white, middle-class females. (the demographic who had suffered the ignominy of having their rights trashed by the Old Bill in Norfolk).
The item was discussed on several police forums. And, rightly so, the defenders of the argument don’t have much of a leg to stand on.
If you were after a definition of ‘pig ignorance’ you need have looked no further than PoliceSpecials.com. Their debate started out with a ‘serves her right’ attitude and save for one or two voices of reason went downhill. The forums over at PoliceSpecials are open to the public and it wasn’t long before breastfeeding mothers joined the forums solely to voice their concerns that members of Her Majesty’s finest should have such blinkered philistine attitudes towards the rights of breastfeeding mothers. Visitors to the forums were treated to such gems as comparing breastfeeding in public to picking one’s nose, urinating in an alleyway and having sex in the High Street. One enlightened member went as far as to suggest if we allowed breastfeeding in public, we might as well all go round behaving like monkeys and throwing our faeces around the High Street. Fortunately for him he was behind the safety of a computer screen somewhere. I suspect if half the respondents in that thread had gotten hold of him we’d be searching the same High Street for his testicles.
You could tell how low the debate got as the owner of the site decided to lock it before his members got him in trouble and published a disclaimer distancing the site from the views of some of its members.
I don’t know whether it says anything about the difference between police officers and specials but over on Police999 the debate was far more weighed in favour of the mother with most people agreeing it had nothing to do with the police. Unfortunately, only members can view the Police999 forums so guess which site has made the lasting impression on the disillusioned mothers of the nation?
Link to BBC News Article
Breastfeeding (Scotland) Act 2005
November 11th, 2005
This comes into the “would you f*****g believe it” category
A certain Ms Natasha Hughes of Arboretum, Worcester has been described as someone who enjoys dressing in a feminine way. Nothing wrong with that, nor the fact that she likes to show her femininity by wearing skirts.
Apparently, she is also either a very heavy sleeper or she likes to stay out late because she wasn’t at home when the local constabulary called upon her place of abode at 2.35 in the morning of the 1st November.
You might be wondering why the Old Bill were attempting to make her acquaintance at this unsociable hour. The answer is that she is currently up on a charge of GBH on a female and is on a home detention curfew between the hours of 9pm & 7am.
Arrested for breach of bail (failing to show she was at home between those hours) she appeared in front of the local beak where an application to have her tagged was made.
A simple matter for those with a proven inability to stick to simple bail conditions you might think. Not if you are someone who likes to show their femininity by the wearing of a skirt.
Ms Hughes’ solicitor successfully persuaded the court that a tag was inappropriate because “it would not look right with a skirt”.
Said Ms Hughes, “I didn’t want to wear a tag because they are really bulky and embarrassing.”
To quote from the BBC News Article:
Prosecutor Douglas Marshall said Hughes should be forced to wear a tag to prove in future she was at home when she said she was.
But David Taylor, defending, said this was not necessary and would interfere with his client’s dress sense.
He said: “She wants to wear skirts, not trousers, which would cover the tag.
“Perhaps she could arrange for a doorbell that could be linked to her bedroom.”
Well fair enough, said the court and let her off being tagged.
So once again the might of the country’s legal system is felt around the streets of the nation. It’s a pity they didn’t suggest that if she didn’t like wearing a tag then perhaps being remanded in custody might suit her better. I think skirts in prison may be rarer than those in Ms Hughes’ wardrobe, possibly.
I wonder if she was wearing a skirt when the alleged GBH took place?
Link to Original Story
November 7th, 2005
Good to see the 700 hours of debate time in the House of Commons hasn’t gone to waste
Last week saw the start of the hunting season. Those who had thought that hunting with dogs had been banned might have been somewhat surprised to see that almost every hunt in the country was turning out for the glitz of red coats and brandy on Saturday. Surely hunting has been banned?
Er yes…and no.
Hunting with dogs has been banned, except when you hunt with dogs (but they don’t actually kill the fox) or something. To be honest I think you probably need a degree in law and a pair of large green wellies to understand the ins and outs of the law prohibiting fox hunts.
They might just as well have called it the law to allow fox hunting to continue as one banning the bloody things. There are more loopholes than in a government minister’s personal standards contract.
Judging from the first week of the season the ban has changed precisely bugger all. Having been involved in the policing of fox hunts for several years I guess we’ll still be wasting our time keeping one side from killing the other around the highways and byways of rural England for some considerable time to come.
Lucky we haven’t got anything else to do then.
November 4th, 2005
Earlier in the week Tony Blair said David Blunkett had his full support. It was therefore only a matter of time, a ‘when’ rather than an ‘if’.
Sure enough, within a day he had resigned, again.
He quit over failing to abide by ministerial guidelines when he took paid work after resigning from the cabinet the first time.
Apparently, he took 3 directorships earning him something between £15,000 & £20,000 each and bought shares in one of them without taking advice from some ministerial office, which he was duty-bound to do.
Remarkably, Blair announced that his good friend had done nothing to resign over, although he accepted the resignation. So that would be nothing like avoiding parliamentary rules in the pursuit of personal wealth, then. Correct me if I’m wrong but he already had a full-time job, that of being an M.P. I also reckon that the only qualification for him being fast-tracked onto the boards of three separate companies is being a senior politician. Oh, and buying shares in the company? I expect he was going to donate the profits from those to some charity or other, like hell.
Getting the sack whilst trying to feather your own nest (like fast-tracking a private nanny’s visa application) once might be a mistake but doing it twice might be seen as careless.
I can imagine one man who won’t be sorry to see Blunkett go; a certain David Westwood, ex-chief constable of Humberside, whom Blunkett suspended in 2004 over matters relating to the Soham investigation after the chief’s own Police Authority refused to follow the wishes of Blunkett & the Home Office.
Still, I guess what goes around came around.
November 2nd, 2005
According to right-wing think-tank Politeia, we are a bunch of incompetent numpties. How dare they? I mean, they (if they are a ‘they’) don’t even know me. I don’t mind someone who knows me calling me a numpty, after all, they have inside knowledge, but I’m not having some faceless twat with nothing better to do with his or her (or their) time making outrageous assassinations of my character.
Well actually, I think they might have a point or two.
Apparently, the police entrance exam is too easy and attracting academics the like of which are described as ‘no better than criminals’. All the intelligent people go elsewhere while the police are soaking up the dregs.
I have to say, from personal experience over the last 10 years I do think the level of recruit has gone down. I can’t actually comment on how hard or not the initial recruitment test is because I never took one (and even if I had, it was almost 30 years ago and if the history of exams is anything to go by would have been far, far tougher in those days). In my days if you had 4 O’ levels you were in.
Today it is no surprise at all to come across written reports so full of spelling and grammatical errors that it is difficult to realise they may be destined to appear in front of the highest courts in the land, responsible for removing the liberty of some citizen for a number of years in some cases. When I was a tutor constable I sometimes used to wonder whether I should take one home and let my children practice their writing skills by proof-reading them for me.
I did have the misfortune of working with one probationer officer who could barely string an English sentence together with any kind of grammatical order, much less write it down. It seemed the only criteria she filled for appointment as a constable was that her skin wasn’t white. I think she was so fast-tracked from application to appointment that nobody stopped to find out whether she could speak English. (but that’s another story)
The following quote from the report did catch my attention; “According to the study, the police service is left with officers who may appear incompetent and are unable to inspire confidence in those they serve.” Well, no shit Sherlock! There are many of us who have been saying this about senior officers for years. But that’s the price you pay when you have a promotion system which is no longer based on ability but on someone’s skills at saying the right thing and ticking the right boxes.
I haven’t a clue who Politeia is (are?) and to be honest I can’t be arsed to Google them to find out. I guess nobody else has heard of them either. I think their advertising executive has come up with an excellent plan though. Write a report which slags off the police and give it to the BBC.The trouble is that whilst many people will remember what Politeia said, I guarantee that 2 days later nobody will remember who wrote it.
I have a suggestion for said advertising executive – get another name.
November 1st, 2005
Whenever I need a dose of ‘well it could be worse’ I pop over the Officer Down Memorial Page (link below). It’s an American website which lists all the law enforcement officers killed on duty. We have something similar, it’s called the Police Roll of Honour Trust
Currently the Officer Down pages show that there have been 126 line-of-duty deaths in 2005 and 17,762 in total. We’ve had fifteen so far out of a total of about 4,000.
For all the things we Brits like to have a pop at the Yanks for, this is one that they outshine us. Not police deaths but the way they memorialise them. The site really is a great tribute to fallen officers. The design is crisp and all the facts are within easy reach of the main page. Each year shows a list of all the officers who died with a brief summary and a picture of their department patch. Clicking on a name takes you to the officer’s page where you can find out all the details of how they died, see their photo if available and read what people had to say about that officer.
It’s the ‘Reflections’ page which always gets me. I defy anyone not to be moved reading some of the thoughts people have left, especially thoughts written by officers’ children or partners & colleagues.
With the best will in the world the British version is so much less. The design is a little, how can I put this? amateurish, and hasn’t changed in years. The layout is much more clunky and there is no facility for anyone to write comments about the officers who died. Well, that’s not strictly true, you can use their guestbook which is a long list of comments on the site interspersed with the odd personal tribute but you have to scroll through the whole damned thing to see if there’s any mention of a specific officer. The guestbook is provided by a third-party website company who has their logo at the top and doesn’t actually feel part of the site.
Perhaps the difference between the two sites says something about the difference between the two cultures, or perhaps it doesn’t. I don’t know. But I do know the Officer Down Memorial Page will get more visits from me than the Police Roll of Honour Trust and I think that’s a shame.