April 30th, 2008
I’ve been working up to this one for a while… if you want to read it you’ll probably need to make sure you take regular screen breaks & have also brought something to eat; I won’t be held responsible if you collapse through malnutrition by the end of it.
What’s the biggie? Well I guess it’s one of the biggies, should drugs be legalised?
Drugs have been used by humans for thousands of years. We know that alcohol was used 10,000 years ago. The Sumerians used opium 5,000 years BC, 1,000 years ago opium was in widespread use across China. Tobacco came to Europe in the 1490s. Cocaine was first isolated into its pure form in 1844. In 1885 the Royal Commission on Opium concluded that it was “more like liquor than a substance to be feared and abhorred”. Heroin was first synthesised in 1898 in Germany. Coco-Cola contained cocaine until it was replaced in 1903 by caffeine.
Drug use has long been part of many cultures and in many parts of the word such use of mind-altering drugs is still commonplace and legal in some societies, one only has to look at TV documentaries exploring tribal cultures.
Drugs were not illegal prior to the last 100 years or so.
The 1961 UN convention on drug prohibition was instrumental in 150 states criminalising the production, supply & use of a selection of psychoactive substances. When the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act came in, the UK had fewer than 5,000 problematic drug users. The figure now is between 280,000 and 500,000 (mostly heroin & cocaine), depending on where you get your figures, and the substance has been illegal while billions of pounds of money has been wasted in the attempts to cut drugs use through law enforcement.
The question really arises as to why current illegal drugs have been banned and why should they remain banned. The only reason I can see that drugs have been banned is because of the possible harmful effects on health. The current high crime levels are a recent phenomena and simply didn’t exist at the time when drugs were criminalised.
If it is purely for health reasons then why not ban other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol both of which have a far greater devastating effect on health and society than drugs ever have?
It is not the role of government or society to prevent self-harm by legislation, otherwise there would be strong arguments for banning tobacco, alcohol, sports, tea, coffee, e-numbers etc etc. Government must give us the tools to explore freedom of speech, choice and expression and the knowledge to do that safely and without harm to our fellow citizens.
UN estimates that global trade in illegal drugs is $400 billion a year which represents 8% of all international trade. It is 3rd in global trade only to oil and arms.
UK Government estimates that the annual cost of drug-related crime is £16 billion.
Customs & Excise quote that a kilo of cocaine which would cost £1,000 in South America to buy should, under normal economic conditions cost about £1500 by the time it reaches the UK but in fact costs around £30,000. Estimates of the mark-up from production to market of between 2,000 and 3,000 per cent make it the most overvalued commodity on the planet. It is purely the illegality of the drug which pushes the price so high. These costs are hugely inflated as a direct result of the risk involved in production, delivery and supply.
A study by York University for the Government estimates that every drug addict in the country costs the taxpayer £35,455 – a total of £11.9billion. It said the annual cost for policing, courts and prison terms was £10.6billion. GP visits, emergency treatment and mental health treatments was put at £1.3billion and other social costs such as the loss to the economy from users not working at £63million. The report says that this is an underestimate and does not take into account any costs associated with recreational drugs users who are able to hold down a job whilst indulging their habit.
Other estimates put the amount of problem drugs users as half a million which would take the annual cost nearer to £17billion – that’s 17,000 million pounds!
Current info suggests that the average heroin addict needs between £50 and £100 per day to fund their habit, and that the vast majority of problem addicts have no income to fund their habit so must turn to crime.
Cocaine and heroin are not in themselves particularly valuable not in the same was that gold and diamonds are valuable. The only reason that they have any value is exclusively because their production, supply and use is illegal which artificially creates high monetary values for them.
Such is the power of the criminal element who have seen drugs as a good earner that in certain countries those who hold the balance of power are those that control the drug cartels. The gross domestic product of Mexico is something like £280billion, the drugs money which goes through that country is something between £70 and £200 billion. Drugs wars in countries like Mexico & Columbia are actually wars with tens of thousands killed in the last 20 years. The amount of corruption in countries like some of those in South America is incredible and reaches to the highest government levels, all because of the trade in illegal substances.
In contrast, tobacco, alcohol and prescription drugs are all easily available and affordable. They are quite legal and it can be strongly argued are more of a menace to society than illegal drugs.
Because they are so freely available the levels of crime associated with them are completely different. There is very little property crime committed by alcohol abusers (most crime associated with alcohol is violent crime), there is almost no property crime associated with tobacco users. There are 1million prescribed drug ‘addicts’ and they do not commit crime in order to get their prescriptions.
The fact that a far smaller proportion of crack & heroin users commit far more crimes is down purely and solely to the fact that their drugs are prohibitively expensive because they are illegal.
Alcohol not only harms the person taking it, it frequently kills and maims others.
The US Dept of Health estimates that 100,000 Americans die of alcohol related problems per year, 450,000 die of tobacco related problems but only 10,000 die of drug related problems. So a drug which kills 10s of thousands of people a year and is responsible for misery for millions of people is tolerated yet cannabis, which on it’s own has not been shown to have killed anyone is completely banned.
Have a look at the following figures for the USA:
Deaths in the United States in a typical year are as follows:
- Tobacco kills about 390,000
- Alcohol kills about 80,000
- Workplace accidents kill 60,000
- Automobiles kill 40,000
- Cocaine kills about 2,200
- Heroin kills about 2,000
- Aspirin kills about 2,000
- Marijuana kills 0,000
There has never been a recorded death due to marijuana at any time in US history.
All illegal drugs combined kill about 4,500 people per year, or about one percent of the number killed by alcohol and tobacco.
Tobacco kills more people each year than all of the people killed by all of the illegal drugs in the last one hundred years.
And alcohol and tobacco are legal? Go figure!!
Whilst researching this ‘essay’ I came across the following quote which I find funny-strange yet quite apt to my own viewpoint:
“Anheuser-Busch, brewers of Budweiser, hair-test employees to be sure that they are not using any drugs less dangerous than the one they make.”
There are something in the order of 1.7million people in US jails, 80 per cent are there for drug-related offences & 10million have been arrested for cannabis possession since 1965. Think of the cost.
Many thousands of people have a criminal record as a direct result of a policy which treats criminalisation of drugs on a lottery basis. If you happen to choose the one which is legal you’re OK despite the greater risks to yourself and the greater costs to society, whereas if you choose cannabis which causes far less problems you will get a criminal record and possibly a prison sentence despite otherwise good characters. I bet there are people reading this now who have smoked cannabis or have friends and relatives who have or do smoke cannabis but who have never committed any other single crime. So you use drugs, get a criminal record and then suffer the social consequences of having a criminal record. Drug prohibition has turned otherwise law abiding citizens into criminals
A survey of 150 long-term addicts in a particular clinic showed that about 100 of them had been spending £700 a week on drugs which amounts to £36,400 a year. The survey also showed that each one of these people had previously been imprisoned for an average of four years…. at a cost of £24,000 for each year of imprisonment. That’s £36,400 of other people’s money and you can bet the probably had to steal 5-10 times that amount in real value to accrue a resale value equating to £36,000
Current policy is a failure. Eighty per cent of addicts found guilty of a crime and sent into compulsory rehab under a Drug Testing and Treatment Order (DTTO) re-offend within two years. Those not forced into rehab have a 71 per cent re-conviction rate. And the figure for those put on probation and given community sentences is best of all at 66 per cent. It’s incredible how people who have no treatment for their problem have a higher success rate staying off drugs than those who are forced to undergo drug treatment programmes.
Custom and Excise officers only seize an estimated 10% of illegal drugs entering the country. Addicts need to raise huge amounts of money to pay for their habit.
There is more law enforcement targeted throughout the world at anti-drugs operations than any time in the history of the planet yet the drugs problem is at its worst, surely this should show the complete and abject failure of governments to prevent the ever increasing spiral of drugs misuse? Does anyone reading this think that drugs are now harder to get than when they were kids? They’re probably cheaper than they were 10 years ago.
We spend billions of pounds a year fighting something which only does so much harm because someone somewhere decided to pick it from a list of harmful substances and ban it, whilst leaving more harmful substances completely legal. AND WE’RE WASTING OUR MONEY!
It all leads up to this really and I can’t pretend to have a definitive answer but I do think that it is a better solution than we have now.
And I don’t mean open sweetie shops selling them to anyone who wants them, I mean legally regulated and controlled. Policies in Holland, Portugal, Switzerland & Russia are seeing some drugs decriminalised. We already have a system for handing out drugs through pharmacies and doctors where people can get good quality health advice and guidance and don’t need to jack up using shared needles round the back of some derelict crack house.
Take production out of the hands of the drugs barons, produce a product which is not mixed with baking powder or anything else that happens to be lying around, which is as safe as it can be and is of measured quantity so you know how much to take and don’t need to risk an OD.
Bring the price down to a reasonable economic level and not one based on an illicit trade with mark-ups of 2000%. Which will cut crime levels dramatically. Even if you’re a complete cynic, if a drug user’s £100 a day habit is cut to £1 a day he has to rob an awful lot fewer old ladies a year.
Maybe open up clinics where people can take drugs in relative safety with medical staff on hand to help, advice and initiate drugs treatment programmes.
Proper investment in successful treatment programmes, not ones which cost millions and have an 80% failure rate. The very fact that the only way to get on a drug treatment programme is to get convicted at court and have it as part of the sentence or be very rich and go to that place all the footballers and pop stars go makes it impossible to get help without entering the spiral of crime/prison. I don’t have much experience of drug taking but I do know that there aren’t many people who actually want to be hooked on drugs. The fact that drug taking is largely the domain of the socially deprived can’t be coincidental.
Proper education from an early age based on reality. There is little point in telling someone that drugs are evil & horrible and you might die, if what they actually see is that some drugs can be quite pleasurable and people aren’t dying. Tell people the truth about drugs. Expect that some people will experiment but give them the tools and support to understand their actions and consequences and give them the support to stop.
The argument that making drugs legal merely to cut the crime rate is like making burglary legal is a total spurious argument. With all other crimes there is a victim; it can be argued that the only victim in drugs misuse is the user, therefore the analogy is a completely false one. And it’s not about legalising drugs so there are less crimes on the figures, it’s about minimising the real and huge effects these particualr crimes have on real people every day in every town up and down the whole country, including the massive massive financial loss these people have to suffer.
You may say if we legalise drugs there will be many more users and that may be the case, but those users won’t be committing crime to fund their habit and your mum won’t be as frightened to walk down the street in case she gets mugged by a druggie and there will be more money in the pot to fund drug treatment, education and a whole host of other things which we could fund having made billions of pounds of savings by decriminalising drugs. I’m not so sure that millions of people will be whooping it up in the streets because they are now allowed to take heroin. The vast majority of us know the risks and choose not to do it, but if we do try and, and get hooked we can say it’s our own choice, we don’t commit crime to fund it, we’ll probably still have a job and who are you lot to ban us from our pleasure, just like smokers do now!
Legalisation is not a cure-all; people will still die and there will still be an illegal market (although much smaller) as there is in any commodity. But it seems to me to offer more to society than the current outlook.
I don’t think it is acceptable to say to my neighbour when all her worldly goods have disappeared and her husband has been battered over the head and had his wallet and mobile phone nicked that we could have prevented it but we didn’t because it is all the fault of some scumbag drug-taker.
Taking a different approach to the way we deal with drugs is not about treating the minority of society who can’t be arsed to work and just want to sit around all day doing heroin and taking handouts; it’s about protecting the important people in life from harm, crime and an ever downward spiral of social disintegration and in order to do that, you just might have to adopt a new radical approach, ‘cos the one we’ve had since 1961 has completely and utterly failed.
April 29th, 2008
When I give out a job on the radio, I give as much information as I have so that the unit attending is as fully briefed as to what they will be dealing with as possible. I can still remember being on the receiving end of such calls.
I don’t keep secrets. If the information the officer wants is available to me, I’ll pass it, usually without prompting. I’ll often say something along the lines of "that’s all the information we have." (Which doesn’t stop people asking for a description or direction of travel or more information).
Quite often the information is known to the person calling in but the call-taker doesn’t ask for it. I’ll often ring the caller back myself on the grounds of ‘if you want a job doing properly, do it yourself’. I’ll then find out the information which is actually useful to us (such as descriptions of offenders, where they are now, which way they went, details of vehicles involved, current location of the informant, etc, etc et-bloody-cetera).
One of the biggest problems we have in the operations centre is an ‘us & them’ attitude between the controllers & the call-takers. We should be working as a team to provide the best service, both to the people who call & to the officers on the street. Instead we have controllers slagging off call-takers for failing to obtain useful information and call-takers slagging off controllers for making snotty remarks on logs about how useless the call-takers are.
Unfortunately, we seem to be adopting the Walmart Strategy of piling it high & selling it cheap with some of the call-takers. We are getting lots of new employees (there is a reasonably high turnover – I wonder why) so we have lots of inexperienced staff. They are not being trained properly & nobody is interested in improving the situation (except people like me who aren’t allowed to affect policy), so the crap logs they create just keep on coming. This goes on for so long that the main offenders are now training the newer staff. There is no way on this planet that someone who hasn’t really ever been shown how to make a great log & take all the necessary information can train someone else to do it. Within a couple of years we’ll have a workforce where nobody knows how to do their job properly.
One of our serial offenders on crap log creation has just been promoted to supervisor level down the call centre.
We’ve suggested that they ought to get the call-takers to come & sit with the controllers on the radio channels so that they can see what happens when detailed information is left off the log & also why we need what information. They can see, first-hand, the problems caused when correct information isn’t taken at the first opportunity. We’ve also offered to go & sit with them in the call centre to advise & guide while they are taking calls & creating logs.
The problem is that in order to do either of those things you need to release staff from their position. There isn’t enough radio staff to enable anyone to be missing from their desk, so that’s out the window – we don’t have enough staff to fill all the positions as it is. The telephone lines don’t answer themselves & there are stats to be targeted on what percentage of calls are answered within so many seconds.
As long as the chief can report that we’re meeting our call-taking targets, nobody gives a rat’s arse about the quality.
April 28th, 2008
So the police have been told to cut down on ‘management speak’ or "ploddledeygook" by the Plain English Campaign.
I’m surprised it’s taken so long. I’m sure those of us within the police have been suffering an ever-increasing circle of management introducing language which comes straight out of their posterior orifices for at least 10 years. It happened around the time that someone thought it was a good idea to try & run the police like a division of the Ford Motor Company.
It’s difficult to give some of the really grat examples, because I don’t know whether some of them just apply to my force & which ones are national, so I had a quick scan through some adverts for jobs in the police & came up with a few.
"…we’re at the forefront of work place modernisation & citizen focus…"
"…Business Change Manager … managing a portfolio of projects within the Business Preparation and Implementation Strand….guidance to a range of stakeholders…"
"…intensifying our total war on crime…"
…part of our bold blueprint for continued success…"
"…deliver a sustainable change in the way which the county is policed…"
"…provide multi-agency command band training influencing and participating across a broad spectrum of agencies…"
"…staff officer to the chief people officer…"
"…our force moves towards a model for policing that will deliver a programmed, flexible and efficient, localised policing service which puts the community at its heart…"
"…deliver a sustainable step-change in the way in which the county is policed…"
and the last one for now, "…we welcome applications from all candidates, including those from minority ethnic groups & women…" and there’s me thinking all applicants meant white men only.
April 27th, 2008
As much as I moan about the job & my own force, it seems the grass isn’t always greener.
Every month we see officers quitting the force & transferring out. There will be a variety of reasons, perhaps they want to live in a different part of the country, maybe their partner is having to relocate with their work. Many will be because they are simply disillusioned with the force for a variety of reasons but don’t want to leave the profession totally.
It’s surprising how many get accepted by another force, go to the effort of transferring & often moving house & then end up coming back a few months later because whatever disillusioned them with this force was even worse elsewhere.
It can be difficult to believe that other forces can be any worse that the one you’re in, that they can have technology which makes this force look like a Silicon Valley innovator, but it’s true. There must be some bloody awful police employers out there given the shite that we have in our force to put up with.
I was speaking recently to an old pal who transferred away last year; not just a neighbouring force but one a couple of hundred miles away. She is now back with us. Staffing levels at the other force were even worse than ours. They didn’t have half the technology we have. What got her the most was that there wasn’t enough to do. She was getting 3 or 4 jobs a shift, most of which were domestics & utter tatt.
Our force were quick to accept her back when she phoned in enquiring what the chances were of coming back.
I guess policing is similar everwhere, it’s just the right level of shite you have to be prepared to put up with that changes.
April 26th, 2008
So the National Union of Teachers went out on strike this week after failing to accept a pay deal run up by the government & whatever the teacher’s pay award body is called.
It seems things aren’t going to well for Gordon Brown at the moment. He seems to change his mind more often than a rampant housewife in an Anne Summers’ trolley dash. All you need to get him to ‘see the light’ & do a U-turn is threaten to revolt.
Notwithstanding the rights & wrongs of the teacher’s strike & whether or not they had a democratic mandate, it gets to something when teachers go on strike for the first time in 21 years & as as good an indication as any that the government are pretty bloody useless when it comes to pay deals.
In a post on the Police999 forums I was amused to read that one member there was driving home from work when he heard Gordon – about as much use as a old school blamonge – Brown spouting forth about the teachers. Apparently the poster, a Met sergeant, nearly crashed his car when he heard Gordy announce, "The pay award given to the teachers was agreed by an independent arbitration panel, and we would expect the teachers to agree to this, as we have."
It seems Gordon has a very short & selective memory. Doubtless he will, in light of his new stand on arbitration panels, be reversing the decision not to award the police our full 2.5% pay award & I can look forward to the £200 he owes me.
April 25th, 2008
The wife of a BTP officer who committed suicide has been speaking out against the target-led culture which pervades modern policing.
PC Ian Hardwick, 41, had been an officer with BTP for 16 years when he stepped in front of a train in Leeds in June 2006.
His inquest was told he felt depressed & unable to cope with demands put upon him by senior officers at his Sheffield base.
Mrs Hardwick has told how a new system of weekly performance targets created poor morale & a culture where officers were cherry picking jobs so that they could meet their own individual targets. She said, "It got t the stage where intelligence was even kept secret – officers were not passing it on to the next shift as they needed it for themselves to get another box ticked & the job done."
I can vouch that this is not limited to the BTP. It’s the same in my force. Some officers are cherry picking jobs. I’ve lost count of the amount of times officers have not been free to attend run-of-the-mill, everyday jobs (for which they’d get no detections or performance indicators) but are suddenly free when a job come sup which will get them an easy arrest.
I’m sure there are many cases of officers racing to a job from different directions just so they can get their hands on a body.
A little while ago it was brought to my attention that someone on a particular shift was dedicated to sit at a computer monitoring all the logs being created which had the look of an easy arrest, they then advised officers on their team to get to the job ASAP & snaffle the arrest even before the log was sent over to the control room for allocation. Traffic officers were attending Sainsburys just so they could get an arrest for their targets. I’m sure this is widespread.
If intelligence come sin with the likely location of some wanted scrote or other, surely this person should be taken off the streets ASAP & not when the person keeping this info to themselves is next on duty or is next looking for a boost to his personal performance indicators?
We all know it goes on, the trouble is that nobody with any say in the matter has the balls to stand up and say "wait a minute."
April 24th, 2008
In a recent article in the Police Review, Inspectpr Simon Hepworth of West Yorkshire Police, waxes lyrical about the ‘new’ government initiative of neighbourhood policing.
Entitled ‘Keeping Policing Local’ he says the recent publicity by the government promoted "a localised brand of policing & promises the public access to a dedicated & visible neighbourhood policing team."
Inspector Hepworth is a neighbourhood policing team inspector & is "pleased to say there is nothing new in this initiative" – well no shit Sherlock!
He explains "West Yorkshire Police moved towards the primacy of neighbourhood policing over a year ago & our chief constable, Sir Norman Bettison, has long been a champion of this format."
I seem to recall that Inspector Hepworth has previously written criticism of police bloggers. It’s a shame he hasn’t been reading this one or he’d have discovered that neighbourhood policing initiatives date back far longer than his ‘forward thinking force’.
Insp Hepworth ends his article with some advice to improve the success of this ‘visionary‘ style of policing. "To be most effective, neighbourhood ethos needs to be spread across all parts of the police organisation. An ideal model of neighbourhood policing would [be] to have patrol teams, proactive beat managers [e.i. neigbourhood PCs] & CSOs working in the same area every day. They could be backed up by CID & local intelligence officers who would also concentrate their efforts in the same small area.
"A police station in each town would be ideal. The lack of a loal nick is something the Home Office should address to get the best out of its new idea. Ultimately, local police stations mean local policing."
Pretty much as it was in the 1970s & 1980s, before they sold all the neighbourhood & rural officers’ houses & offices & decided to put everyone on squads.
April 23rd, 2008
You may not have heard of the ‘Opiate Dependent Prisoner Litigation Scheme’, if so, let me enlighten you.
This is a scheme where yet more criminals get yet more free cash from the tax payer.
In this case it relates to prisoners who have been awarded up to £4,000 in compensation. These prisoners were/are heroin addicts who were forced to go ‘cold turkey’ when they were imprisoned & their methodone treatment was withdrawn.
The government had, until their imprisonment, been funding their methodone which is a heroin substitute designed to gradually wean addicts off heroin & stop their need to to commit crime to fund the purchase of heroin.
In May 2006, the High Court ruled that withdrawing their methodone was a breach of their human rights. The government have paid out £750,000 compensation to 197 inmates. Following the court decision the tax payer has now funded 9,250 inmates’ methodone at a cost of up to £15,000 per course.
I wonder of the founding fathers of the Human Rights Act envisaged that it would have such far reaching consequences & would actually protect those who seek to break the law more than it does everyone else in society?
April 22nd, 2008
Back in September 2007 I blogged about the case of the sensationalist reporting when Jordan Lyon drowned in a quarry pit trying to rescue his sister.
You may recall the headlines along the lines of "Two PCSOs watch boy drown". There was some pretty poor vilification in the police forums & on some police blog sites.
The Sun have printed an apology. It reads:
"OUR reports on the inquest of Jordon Lyon who drowned trying to rescue his sister (September 2007) stated two Police Community Support Officers from Greater Manchester Police stood by and did nothing.
We wish to clarify the two PCSOs arrived after Jordon disappeared under the water and they summoned help and directed other emergency services to the scene.
We apologise for any distress our report may have caused."
Blimey, someone must have threatened to sue…
April 21st, 2008
Another week, another chap kicked to death by feral scum.
This week’s Pondlife Award goes to mark Elliott, 21, Curtis Delima, 19 & Gerry Cusden, 16 who were drunk when they attacked & killed 47-year-old Mark Witherall when he caught them burgling his home in Whitstable, Kent.
Mr Witherall disturbed these pieces of scum & chased them outside where they attacked him, clubbing him to the ground with a spirit level. Laughing, they then kicked & stamped on him as he lay defenceless. His life support machine was switched off five weeks after the attack.
Judge Timothy Pontius told the youths "You turned on that unfortunate man like a pack of hyenas. You attacked him with sustained & merciless ferocity."
Elliott was sentences to 23 years, Delima to 20 years & Cusden got 16 years.
Mr Witherall leaves a 10-year-old daughter & an 8-year-old son.
April 20th, 2008
The backdated-pay debacle is currently at the High Court with both sides battling to influence the judges into siding with them.
For the Government, Jonathan Sumption QC represent the Home Secretary, Jacqui Spliff, claimed that giving officers a full 2.5% rise would not have been unfordable.
In what can only be described as another cynical ploy to win public support he said, "The money could not have been found without using resources from police authority budgets, particularly the counter-terrorism programme."
This is despite the fact that most chief constables & police authorities supported the full award & had already found sufficient funds in the budget to sufficiently cover the award.
So the £12 million needed to cover the reneged agreement has to come from the ‘counter-terrorism’ budget? It can’t come, for instance, from the budget used for MPs expenses & fraudulent claims, or the budget used to fund the £1,000 a month benefit payments to failed terrorists, or the same budget used to hand out fraudulent benefit payments to people such as Shannon Matthews extended family. Or what about the budget used to install even more speed cameras & devices to prosecute even more people by camera thus doing absolutely nothing for road safety other than bringing in millions more in revenue for the government to give away to anyone who wants it (except the police).
The government are on a ‘terrorism’ frenzy instilling fear into as many people as possible, what better way to try to make the cops out to be the bad guys by suggesting that if they get their full award, people will be put in even more danger.
April 19th, 2008
Have you got yours yet?
I got mine, filled it in & sent it off this morning.
I’m talking about the Police Federation Poll on the pay award & industrial action.
The poll is conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Federation. Apart from the generic data agethering questions, such as rabk, force, length of service, sex, ethnicity etc, they ask 2 questions:
- Do you think the decisions made by the Independent Police Arbitration Tribunal should or should not be binding on the government?
- In the current absence of binding arbitration on the government, do you wish the Police Federation of England & Wales to start to lobby for a change in legislation to allow police officers full industrial rights?
I answered yes to both.
Have you returned yours?
PS: not that it will make any difference, of course.
April 18th, 2008
Jamie Bauld is an 18 year old lad from Scotland. He had a run in with the law last year & his story is told this week in the newspapers & radio.
Jamie was investigated, interviewed & charged with an offence of racially aggravated assault last year. Nothing unusual or newsworthy in that. The thing which made it hit the news was that Jamie has Downs Syndrome & a mental age of just 5.
Jamie was at college last year (in the special needs department) when he was involved in an incident with a slightly older Asian girl, also with Downs Syndrome. Jamie’s family said that he had previously complained to them that the female in question followed Jamie around & her behaviour scared him. The parents advised Jamie to walk away. In September the girl apparently came up to Jamie while he was eating his dinner. He pushed her & told her to go away. Later that day they received a call from the college explaining what had happened & advising that both Jamie & the girl had been reprimanded.
You’d have thought that would have been the end of the matter, after all, Jamie’s parents summed it up when they said it was like a couple of 5 year olds arguing.
No, this is Great Britain, the land where everything has to be approved by the state. Later the family saw an advert in a local paper asking for witnesses to a racial assault occurring the same day at the college. They then received a call from two of Scotland’s finest who proceeded to interview Jamie getting a ‘cough’ from him to slapping the girl’s face. The officers advised that there was nothing to worry about & they would advise the procurator fiscal of Jamie’s condition & thought that would be the end of it.
Oh contrare, the family received a letter from the prosecuting authority to say they had enough evidence to prosecute Jamie for the assault. Seven & a half months later the received a letter saying the proceedings had been dropped.
Another victory for justice, a detection for the Scottish stats.
I know I should not be surprised at some of the things which happen in our legal system, & I know that in the end charges were dropped. But I can’t believe that we have a legal system which allows a lad with Downs & a mental age of 5 to go through the rigmarole of being cautioned & interviewed & charged with a criminal offence over what was basically a kids spat dealt with by staff at the time. The lad clearly has no concept of racisim & no understanding of the judicial process. I wonder how much damage this has done to the lad. His mother said he had no understanding of what the police officers who interviewed him were doing – he thanked them & shook their hands when they finished. Some time later he said that his mum & he should run away to Australia in case the police came back.
I don’t know who deserves more criticism, the government for introducing systems which make the police think they have to follow every reported incident to the nth degree or the local police department for not having anyone in the chain of review stepping in to say, wait a minute, there are cases which deserve our time & effort & those which don’t.
I think the whole case is a pretty sad indictment on the state of our legal system.
April 17th, 2008
I heard some worrying news this week; PC Andrews is going for an acting sergeant’s position in the control room.
Under normal circumstances I’d say ‘good luck to him’ after all why should someone else’s career path be of any concern of mine? The trouble is, the bloke is a complete tosser. Although he’s not on my shift, we do crossover sometimes & he often relieves me (not in the Biblical sense, you understand!) If he gets the job the chances are that he won’t stay on his own shift & will go to another, that’s a one in four chance he’ll come to mine & be my sergeant.
I’m quite an affable sort of chap & I talk to people on other shifts & I’ve not found a single one who has a good word to say about him. Hi attitude is appalling, his manner is arrogant & condescending. He has 4 years in the job which means he came in the control room when he was just out of his probation. Rumour control has it that he came into the control because the 3 front line shifts he was on wanted him due to being a bloody liability. He’s one of these blokes who thinks he knows it all. He is the prime example the phrase "better to keep your mouth shut & appear stupid, than to open it & removal all doubt", was invented for.
It makes me laugh the way he talks to senior PCs, some of whom were policing before he was born (e.g. me, but especially traffic officers), as if he knows more than they do. If power was ever going to someone’s head, then working in the control room & telling people what to do was his ideal opportunity, he milks it. I mention traffic officers because that department has about the highest proportion of experienced officers still out on the street. Front-line policing is so crap these days that nobody stays longer than a few years. My own example of 28 years is almost unheard of. So it’s fun listening to PC Andrews trying to tell someone on the motorway how to deal with a fatal accident.
Under the old system, it would be reasonably hard for someone like PC Andrews to get promoted. Generally, you had to be a capable officer (unless you were on the High Potential Development Scheme or whatever they call it these days) & you had to pass an exam. These days you have to fill in a few forms saying how good you are, tick some boxes, it helps to be part of a minority group so the force can get its quotas up & you have to show how well you accept ‘diversity’.
I have absolutely no doubt that PC Andrews will achieve promotion sooner or later, not because he deserves it, but because any shift he works with will thoroughly recommend him as the quickest way to get rid of him off their shift.
April 16th, 2008
So I had another rest day cancelled. They can do that to police officers, they can’t do it to civilian (or ‘support’) staff, so when they are short, or when there’s a bit of a do coming up & they can’t get the volunteers, they cancel he officers leave. That’s why they have police officers in the control room, because we have no rights unlike the support staff who can refuse to work overtime, rest days & can take industrial action. If they had no officers in there & something happened the wheel would fall off & society would grind to a halt.
They are great at quoting regulations, when it suits. If you want to work two rest days runnign they won’t let you because rules is rules, but if they decide they are too short, can’t get anyone else, they can cancel your 2 rest days (it’s OK, you can have them re-rostered to a day of their choosing since you won’t be able to take it on a day of your own choosing).
They cancelled a weekend for me recently so I had to go in and work a late shift. It doesn’t matter that it was the only weekend off in 9 & I had planned to go to the coast with my family. But rules is rules so they have to give me back a day on a like for like basis, which means I’m entitled to a weekend late shift off in recompense. I’ve emailed the personnel people. They have to re-roster my owed rest weekend within 4 days of me working my days off. They’ve not bothered to reply & haven’t rostered a weekend off for me. They’ve not got many to choose from as I’ll be leaving in under 50, 2/5ths of which I’m off, 1/5th is earlies 1/5th is nights leaving only 10 late shift weekends they can choose from. And I thought I’d I’d left that behind what with having had to put up with it for 28 years or so already. (before all the non control room police officers start bitching about how good we have it in the control room)
The regulations say they have to re-roster within 4 days of the weekend I worked, that was almost a month ago. I’ll probably just have to retire a weekend earlier than expected.
It’s OK though, ‘cos rules is rules.
April 15th, 2008
I love conspiracy theories. I used to be a big fan of the X-Files & not only because Gillian Anderson was in it & I loved Kevin Costner’s JFK even if you can grow a beard during it.
The latest one appears to be over the death of GMP Chief Constable, Michael Todd.
It appears to stem from comments made by one of the Mountain Rescue Team who has been interviewed as saying that normal protocols weren’t followed when people first became aware that Todd might be somewhere in the Welsh mountains. Things like, not a full team being sent out, people going to the wrong location. The killers in this one are the sighting of a Chinook helicopter (search & Rescue use Seakings) and the sighting of “Men in dark suits were swarming all over the place. They were not in uniform. We took it they were spooks – Government agents. They weren’t normal plainclothes detectives, and they didn’t introduce themselves to us.” Clearly these were top secret agents of the CIA, MI5 and/or any other government unit which doesn’t exist, possibly Chinese trained killers who had ditched their blue & white trackies & just happened to be in the hills training for the Olympic Torch run.
Chinooks only appear when there is top level sneaky beaky stuff going on like them crashing into Welsh Mountains full of intelligence officers, wait a minute, wasn’t Michael Todd investigating that case??? Case Closed MI5 responsible.
You can find more details of the conspiracy theory at Grough’s Blog. Postman Patel, also discusses the case several times. Codshit also discusses the case – at some length (to be honest I haven’t read it all yet as I’ve had to bandage my chin when I hit it on the edge of my desk falling asleep). There’s another one at Eclectic Katie Smith.
Perhaps more anon, in the meantime I’m off to dust down my poster of Gillian Anderson & warm up the plastic laminator.
(Oh, you have to sing the title of this entry to the theme tune of the X-fles)
April 14th, 2008
The government’s latest wheeze to save money from police funding is to reform the way the police handles overtime.
In 1994 they decided that inspectors would receive a pay rise if they agreed not t be paid for overtime. The scheme was implemented & they received an additional £3,500 in their salary but now no longer receive extra pay for overtime. I don’t know how the figure was arrived at, but I guess that £3,500 times by how many inspectors there were in the country came to something substantially less than the total annual overtime bill for them.
This was great if you happened to be one of those (many) inspectors who worked 8-4 behind a desk, didn’t work weekends or do any overtime. It was like a £3,500 gift, every year, for doing bugger-all extra. If you were a front-line inspector who did lots of overtime & had to work rest days for various events it was in effect a pay-cut. There were many stories of inspectors routinely being forced to work many more hours, after all, it didn’t cost the force a penny more.
The government are now considering this as a viable option for the rest of the service. I’ve not seen any figures mentioned but they are trying to save an apparent estimate of £250 million which is the current annual budget for overtime.
A few years ago they decided that the first half-hour of overtime would no longer be paid for. This saved them a few million a year & means that if you want paying for overtime you need to do a minimum of an hour. This means officers already work many hours a year for nothing.
If this scheme comes in I expect there will be many cases of officers rubbing their hands. I’d benefit now as I don’t do any overtime, so giving up the right to be paid in return for a few grand a year extra would be lovely. Many others would suffer.
If the government really wanted to reduce the overtime bill there is a simple measure they could take – employ more officers.
April 13th, 2008
Of the reasons I write this blog, one of them isn’t because I want a book deal.
Good luck to those who have, though. I bought PC Copperfield’s "Wasting Police Time", (I didn’t get past the first 20 pages because I had this feeling I’d read it all before – on the blog). I also bought PC Bloggs’ "Life of an on-call girl". I’ve not read that either. I might buy Insp. Gadget’s forthcoming book, & not read it as well.
Nope, I don’t want a book publishing deal… not like their’s anyway.
The kind of book publishing deal I want is more like Cumbria PC, Matt Hilton, who has just signed an £800,000 deal for a five book series of crime thrillers!
PC Hilton is now ex-PC Hilton having resigned on receipt of his good news. I can’t imagine what part of the £800,000 book writing deal has caused him to leave such a great job.
Yep, that’s the kind of book deal I could do with. I’m already dusting down "The Tails of Tigger the Cat", which I wrote for bedtime stories a few years back. Now I only need to find an agent.
April 12th, 2008
Following on from the BBC Scotland programme on assaults on police, news comes via the Police Review of a worrying development.
It appears that the Home Office are no longer collecting data on the amount of assaults on police. The Home Office refused the magazine’s repeated requests to confirm it still collected the data. They merely replied, "As part of an overall drive to cut data recording, we are currently reviewing whether to continue collecting data on assault on police officers."
When asked for the most recent figures it could only supply data from 2004/2005.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary failed to include officer assault figures in its 2008 annual report, published in March.
Figures gained from individual forces by the Police Review recorded 21,845 officers were attacked in 2005, an average of 60 assaults a day, one every 24 minutes. In 2006 this rose to 25,368, an average of 70 a day.
Is it me or is this just another example of the contempt shown by this government to the police with yet another failure to protect us? How can anyone tell what measures need to be implemented to protect officers if the government can’t be arsed to find out how big the problem is & whether it’s getting any better or not?
April 11th, 2008
Never one to miss an opportunity to report on another scummy solicitor, news of one Thomas McGoldrick, a solicitor in Cheshire who has, this week, been jailed for 10 years for stealing £1.25 million from a client.
If that wasn’t bad enough in itself, wait until you hear the circumstances surrounding the case which are even worse.
Kieth Anderson was paid £1.8 million in compensation after being rendered quadraplegic following a road crash. McGoldrick acted as his solicitor & compensation was paid into the solicitor’s account. I believe the normal practice is for the solicitor to take their fees & then forward the balance to the client. The money was never paid to the victim, who was finally alerted by police who advised him that he had just £200 of his compensation remaining.
McGoldrick meanwhile had forged a letter claiming his client had ‘gifted’ him £900,000. He used the money for holidays, cars, private schools for his children & his £800,000 house. The judge accused him of "obscene extravagance" & that he had lied his way through the six-week trial.
He was charged with 59 counts of fraud.
Nice to see one get their come-uppance.