So now there’s a three-way battle between the Police, the Magistrates Association & the Ministry of Justice.
The Magistrate’s Assosication are reported this week saying that they don’t like the way the police hand out fixed penalty tickets "like confetti". Apparently, magistrates are concerned that the police are ‘under charging’ suspects so that they can dish out a fixed penalty ticket thus avoiding a court appearance. Cindy Barnett, the association’s chairman, said: "We have always had grave reservations about criminal offences other than very minor infringements being dealt with out of court."
She continues, in a comment which is surely a joke: "Anyone who has broken the law so as to merit a punishment should be dealt with in court with efficient use of resources to prevent reoffending."
Sorry? That’ll be the same court system which consistently fails to prevent reoffending & has done for decades then, will it? The same system which the general population has little faith that they can dish out any meaningful sentence?
It does make me laugh. Part of the reason fixed penalty tickets were introduced was to take pressure off a judicial system which couldn’t cope with the amount of work the police were generating for it, a system in which even a simple case would take months to appear & more serious cases sometimes a whole year or more.
The Ministry of Justice has said that it is not always necessary for an offender to face a court. Well it would, wouldn’t it, because the simple system of dishing out a ticket enables the police to target many more offenders with simple tickets which boost the detection rates & makes the government look like it’s making a difference & they can say x-squillion offenders have been dealt with this year.
So that just leaves the police stuck in the middle. Unfortunately, we bow to what the government wants. If they want quick & easy detections then that’s what they get. It’s why we have special operations when the targets look like they’re not being met. We take officers away from helping the public to go out & dish out quick tickets for minor offences; a detection is a detection, no matter how minor, after all.
There is, of course, no willingness for people to be processed properly through the court system; it will take even more officers off the streets than it does now, dealing with all the paperwork, it wil completely clog up the judicial system which wouldn’t be able to cope with all the extra work & it would take months to get the same detection which we can get in a day.
All we wan’t to do is lock up the bad guys. That’s why I joined & that’s why I still get a buzz when I’m on the end of a radio when one of my colleagues captures a baddy.
The punishment was demotion to chief inspector, the crime was making an inapropriate comment during his leaving bash.
Supt Pretty was transferred from head of training in Birmingham to Coventry & held a leaving do during which he was presented with a toy BMW car. – he collects model cars On receiving the gift he joked "Oh, black man’s wheels". Two people complained & the force sent the case to the IPCC who promptly returned it (presumably becaus they didn’t consider it worthy of their investigation) back to the professional standards department at West Mids. At his misconduct hearing recently, he was demoted.
I don’t know what service Chief Inspector Pretty has but let’s assume that he was on the middle pay scale for a superintendent (£61,000) & had a further 5 years to serve. His punishment would amount to about a fine of about £55,000 plus many thousands more in loss of pension.
A force spokesman said: "West Midlands Police expects the highest standards of professionalism & integrity from its officers & staff & has robust procedures in place to deal with behaviour which falls below those standards."
I read a letter in the Daily Express (I’m not a regular reader, honest, it was lying around at work), which I thought sums up quite a lot of people’s views on current sentencing. Well, I say current, actually it’s been like this for the last 30 years to my knowledge.
Basically, it compared the recent cases of the ‘disappearing canoist‘ who with his wife’s conivence, defrauded an insurance company & the case of two thugs who attacked Thomas Walker in Blackpool almost killing him.
In the second case, two 15-year-olds attacked a man who was on crutches with a broken leg. He was beaten to the ground & savagely attacked with his own crutch. He was left in intensive care with a one per cent charge of survival. Miraculaously he survived after part of his brain was removed, he will suffer consequences of the attack for the rest of his life. One of his attackers received a two-year youth custody sentence while the other received one year’s youth referral order.
Compare & contrast to Mr & Mrs Darwin, who pretended Mr darwin was dead in order to gain £250,000 insurance money. They were sentenced last week to over 6 years in prison.
The correspondent in the Express notes that the conclusion to be drawn from this comparison is that the legal system will put you away for three times as long for defrauding a very rich financial corporation which can afford to write off the financial loss many times over, than if you literally beat a fellow human being within an inch of their life.
Talks over the next pay rise dispute (yeah, we knew there would be a dispute rather than an agreement) have broken down & are set to go to conciliation, again.
The 3.5% claim has been met with an offer of 2.325%.
Police Federation spokesman, Paul McKeevor said, “The offer of 2.325 per cent is insulting & adds to the sense of injustice experienced by officers last year. We will take our very fair & reasonable claim for 3.5 per cent to conciliation.”
We’re used to stories of how luxurious it is within a prison in the UK, even to the extent of people breaking in to prison because they can’t stand life on the streets. We know drugs are pretty much available to whoever wants them.
News this week of jailed gang leader Gareth Curtis who is said to have used an illegal mobile phone in his cell 45,000 times in six months. 45,000? That’s more than my daughter! News reports after a recent trial say he made or received 246 calls or texts a day using mobile phones & sim cards.
I’ve been to prison a few times, in a professional capacity, but I’ve never worked in one, but I really can’t understand how difficult it can be to exclude drugs & mobile phones from what is supposedly a secure prison system.
A police officer is injured every hour (& he’s getting bloody fed up with it! ba-boom).
New figures reveal the number of serious assaults on police officers is rising, more than 500 last year, up by 20% in 2 years. There were around 11,000 assaults on officers in 2007/2008, 31 a day.
The Federation reports that the true figures for violence against officers will be higher as many minor assaults go unreported.
According to the latest figures, annual police strength was at 139,728 full time officers, a decrease of just over 304 in 2007.
Home Office minister, Tony McNumpty, was quick to point out that there has been an increase of 14,000 since 1997. He didn’t mention anything about the decrease in the last year though, no surprise there.
I have to agree with the Federation. having been involved in the paperwork required when you’ve been assaulted, then the battle to get a charge laid, then watching the charge be reduced from an ABH to a simple assault simply because it’s easier to get someone to plead to a lesser charge, or the charge being dropped altogether, I have often wondered whether it’s actually worth all the hassle to report an assault & have personally not bothered quite a few times over the years. And that’s something which isn’t just a result of the last 10 years of government, it’s been the case throughout my career.
I’m sure the same applies to many of my colleagues. We’re our own worst enemy here though, if all assaults were recorded a truer picture would emerge on what the modern police have to put up with on a day-to-day basis. However, because we don’t, people will always have a rosier view.
Now that the Portugese police seem to have closed the file on the search for Madeline McCann, would it be a good time to suggest that the parents, Kate & Gerry McCann are finally prosecuted for child neglect?
I said at the time, & I stick by it today 14 months later, that if it had been some old slapper from a council estate who had abandoned her 3-year-old to go round the corner on the piss with a group of mates, her feet wouldn’t have touched the custody suite floor.
However sad this whole case is there were 3 people responsible for whatever has befallen little Madeline; the person who took her & the people who left their children alone in a hotel room in a foreign country so they could quaff wine & food with pals.
It seems only a few months ago that the government was giving us a pay award of 2.5% with one hand & taking back 0.6% with the other by refusing to back-date it.
The next battle for this years’ award started at the beginning of July with the negotiating body putting in an early claim for a 3.5% rise for 2008. They are looking at 5 to 6% for support staff. (some hope)
I have no doubt that a) we won’t get anywhere near 3.5% in September – the traditional month for our annual pay rise, b) whatever rise we do get will be several months past September while we threaten to take them to court again & c) even when it does come it won’t be backdated, thus saving the government even more cash which they can use to purchase Ikea goodies for their second homes.
Finally, I predict that due to this year’s award not actually coming in 2008 or being backdated to September, that I won’t get any more pay rises at all as a serving police officer.
The main reason for withholding the full pay award to police last year, according to the Home Secretary, Jacqui Spliff, was because to award to full amount would place too much inflationary pressure on the economy; if we got the £30 million they saved by reneging on their agreement, the Bank of England would explode, or something.
Bearing in mind this was at a time when the ‘credit crunch’ was but a glint in an economist’s eye, petrol hadn’t gone up a squillion pounds an hour & people weren’t screaming about huge rises in food bills with fuel bills set to rise by orders of magnitude.
Strange then, that whilst the economy can’t handle an additional £30 million to 155,000 police officers, it can handle, in these times of rapid inflation, £15 for 640 individuals with barely a raised eyebrow in the corridors of power.
That’ll be because the £15 million is for MPs’ expenses allowing them to claim an additional £24,000 a year towards a second home. The economy will additionally stand all these MPs pocketing up to hundreds of thousands of pounds profit when they eventually sell the home that the tax-payer paid for.
I don’t work overtime now that I’m in the control room. To be honest, I could use the extra cash & there is a fair amount available – if you want it – to cover the never-ending & increasing staff shortfalls. I just don’t want to spend any time more than I have to at work.
I say I don’t do overtime, that’s not strictly correct; I do overtime when they cancel my rest days.
It seems that when one particular shift is short of staff, they scream that they need extra to cover. When they don’t get enough volunteers they scream a bit louder resulting in police officers getting their days off cancelled.
When my shift is short (most of the time, today we had 90% of our radio channels single-crewed when there should be two people per channel) we just have to get on & work single-crewed despite the extra pressures & stresses.
I don’t know whether it’s because our shift ‘managers’ aren’t shouting loud enough or whether the people who are responsible for rest day cancellations are using double-standards in the application of duties.
I guess it’s just too simplistic to employ more people.
My latest Tosser of the Week award goes to one Andrew Kellett of Leeds, dubbed as one of Britain’s Dumbest Criminals last week after receiving an ASBO. He has been banned from boasting about his unlawful activities via YouTube having posted over 80 films of himself breaking the law & engaging in fuck-whit type behaviour.
His directorial career, which is about as low as his IQ includes videos of him bilking from a Tescos Petrol Station, street racing in vehicles at high speeds, taking class A drugs. He has a string of convictions. He filmed himself driving round Leeds at very high speeds, including one film which showed him travelling at 140mph. At his court appearance he claimed his videos were "social commentary", yeah, right.
He posted his films on YouTube under the username mrchimp2007 which kind of sums him up really.
I worked on my own again this week. It’s got so I’m single crewed more than I’m double-crewed, as are my colleagues.
At the start of every shift I make a list of all the officers I have available. Just out of interest I checked out the dates they all joined. We had a sergeant & 8 PCs. The total service between them was 369 months or nearly 31 years, just a fraction over my total service. The average service between them is 41 months; less than 4 years.
The sergeant has a couple of months over 3 years.
Not many years ago I was on a shift where the average service was about 16 years, several of us had twenty plus, there were no probationers. This was quite unusual even then, it wasn’t that we were in any specialist role, we were front line shift, but we were somewhat remote from the rest with little supervision, so experienced officers were the norm.
Even when I was at one of the larger stations with a big shift, we had several officers who had ten to 15 years in the job. There were usually only one or 2 probationers out of 12. Now at least half of most shifts are probationers.
I’m not sure what this tells us about the demographics of the police service. I’ll hazard a guess though, that the job is so unattractive to those who have to do it that everyone wants out of it. There are so many opportunities not to do frontline policing & after a couple of years people just want the hell out. People want jobs with less stress, less hassle, where they don’t get pissed about, both by those within the job & those outside. They want to deal with interesting, worthwhile jobs & not the day-to-day shite that the government have forced upon us by making us investigate utter bloody tripe because a stat somewhere says it’s a crime.
I see officers as keen as mustard for 18 months or so who gradually have the enthusiasm sucked out of them until they become weary & uninterested. It saddens me, they have over 30 years to go.
Of course the other side is that everyone out there who deserves a decent service, they’re getting folk who haven’t learned their craft, who spend half the time on the radio getting advise from their supervisors or senior colleagues. Just when they start to excell in their trade, they move on.
Mention recently about the billions of pounds wasted with tax credits & the news that millions of people now have to pay back around £4 billion in overpayments, reminded me of my earliest days in the job.
After leaving training school for my first nick, I was posted to one of the major towns in the area. In those days, the job had to provide either free accommodation or a rent allowance if you had your own place. The accommodation usually consisted of a police house – we had them in every community once – or a section house/hostel where single officers lived in shared facilities.
I got to lodge with a lady who worked at the police station & rented out a spare room to new probationers. For this I received a monthly rent allowance which covered the rent I paid to my landlady.
I used to walk to work from my digs as I didn’t have my own transport.
After some months I moved into the joint facilities & my rent allowance was no longer due since the shared accommodation was provided free of charge. It comes from the days when they had to give police officers lots of financial benefits as the wages were considered to be quite poor. (these have all been taken away over the years).
I duly notified the pay office at HQ that I was now in the free accommodation & they’d need to stop my rent allowance. I was quite surprised when they paid it to me the next month. I advised them again in writing & by telephone, but they paid it for several months before stopping it & notifying me I’d need to pay it back.
I didn’t have a problem with paying the money back, even though I hadn’t asked for it & had actively told them to stop sending it, after all, the money wasn’t mine. However, being young, free & single I had, of course, spent every penny of it. So I wrote to the pay office & requested that, as it would cause some financial hardship if they took it back in one go (it was about a month’s salary) & it was their cock-up, could they take it back at the same rate they gave it, i.e. in instalments. ‘Of course’, they said.
It should really have been no surprise when they took the whole lot out of my next month’s salary leaving me with 3 sheckles & a couple of groats to live on for the whole month. Happy days.
It must have seemed like such a fantastic idea to raise a titter on stage when ‘comedian’ Russell Brand, decided to make a hoax call to Northamptonshire Police live on stage during his act.
The wag borrowed a mobile phone from a member of the audience & dialled a police call centre to report that he had information regarding a series of sexual assaults in the area which had recently been publicised in a local newspaper. He then proceeded to take the piss for three minutes during which the audience roared with laughter.
Of course he has issued the obligatory apology, probably after someone pointed out to the thick twat that making hoax calls to the police isn’t such a good idea.
Bloody hell, no wonder the government want lots of free cash to boost the old coffers; it must be to make up for the billions of wasted cash the government have mis-managed over tax credits. You know tax credits, the scheme introduced to replace family allowance (& presumably to save money, why else to the government change things?).
You might also remember them because of the furore when some idiot posted CDs containing the personal details of millions of us who are claiming tax credits when they went missing.
Apparently, £14 billion has been lost in fraud, error & overpayment in just 4 years. The National Audit Office found that up to £1.5 billion was lost through fraud in 2007 alone bringing to £7.3 billion losses as a result of bogus claims in the last 4 years. £6.7 billion has been overpaid, only £2 billion of which has been taken back.
It’s really hard to comprehend. I think most people would be pretty concerned if you said a few million quid a year was just disappearing due to the inefficiency of a system brought in to streamline & improve the process, but fourteen thousand million???
This post is going to sound very similar to yesterday’s, so apologies for repeating myself.
So the latest headline-grabbing wheeze from the government, whose answer to everything is to legislate, legislate, legislate, is to up the prison sentence for motorists who kill people while using their mobiles when driving.
Prison sentences have been available for some time for people causing death by reckless/careless driving. It was interesting to see a woman jailed last week for killing a woman on the motorway; she was over the drink drive limit, & texting on her mobile while travelling at 95mph when she killed someone. She got, I think, six years which was a pretty high sentence for this type of incident.
Do we think the woman sentenced last week, wouldn’t have done it if she’d known she could have gotten 14 years rather than 6, would it have made the slightest bit of difference? No. Because when she did that she didn’t think she’d get caught, she didn’t not do it, if you see what I mean, because the prison sentence wasn’t high enough.
And like I said yesterday, you won’t deter people from using their mobile phones while reducing the traffic departments, taking traffic officers off the roads & sitting them under ANPR cameras and sticking up thousands of speed cameras which can detect bugger all except someone speeding in a 30 metre section of road. Those people who find it acceptable to break the law need to think there is a realistic chance that they will be caught before they decide to comply with the law. Those who obey the laws have no concern whether the prison sentence is 5 minutes or 50 years.
Stiffer sentences must be combined with proper enforcement.
So the answer to knife crime is to get people caught carrying a knife to pop down to the local A & E to see the consequences. Fantastic, that ought to cure it. Was that really a cogent & realistic suggestion? Did anyone ask the hospitals, speak with the doctors? what about the knife victims?
MPs are very well paid (apart from the tens/hundreds of thousands they weedle in expenses). They can call on a whole army of civil servants who actually do all the research & donkey work for them, and can access any number of quangos & research companies, so why is it that government policy appears to be not so much basic research which is mulled over, looked into, discussed, re-researched & discussed some more until a working policy emerges & more like a random member of the government appearing on the quiz show ‘Just a Minute’ and being asked to spout everything they can on the possibilities of cutting knife-crime for 60 seconds, no matter how ridiculous?
I’m reminded of the time that Tony Blair announced that the police would be hauling drunken yobs to the nearest cash-point to relieve them of a fine. Sounds good, total bollocks.
When my arse makes noises I’m usually sitting on a porcelain bog with a copy of the Sunday Times on my lap. When a member of the government talks through their arse, national policy is formed.
Prison sentences do little to deter, at least on their own, the reason is that people don’t think they will get caught so the fact that there is a prison sentence of 4 weeks or 4 years is immaterial to someone who wants to commit the crime. What you need to do is make it more likely that someone will actually be caught. If every car was tracked by satellite & you got a fine every single time you broke the speed limit I’d guess you’d pretty soon not speed, if the fine was just increased to £1,000 & 9 points the chances are you’d still speed because you know where the speed cameras are & you are careful about checking for police vehicles so the chances of getting caught are minimal.
You can’t increase the chances of getting caught when you’ve taken police officers off the streets, the ones that are available to catch them are too busy responding to long lists of waiting jobs.
And you can’t up the anti with the prison sentence idea when you have let the prison service rot for years with no investment in the infrastructure such that you have to let most of those already there out early & every couple of years have to house them in police cells because they’re full up, again.
ACPO are to issue guidelines suggesting that police dogs may have to have their feet covered when engaged in searches of Muslim homes.
The story comes hot on the heels of some Muslims being upset and/or offended at an advertising campaign by Tayside Police because it included a picture of a cute puppy sitting beside a police hat & a telephone. The ad was used to encourage people to use the new 0845 telephone number in Tayside.
I have no idea what Muslims think of dogs. Unlike most people who claim not to be racist, I don’t have any Muslim friends, not one., so I can’t ask any what they think. I expect it is similar to what white Christians think of dogs, some like them, some don’t, some are ‘offended’ by them, some aren’t. Indeed, it seems Muslim religious leaders can’t agree whether dogs are ‘offensive’ or not; Ibrahim Mogra, an imam, says: “In Islamic law the dog is not regarded as impure, only its saliva is. Most Islamic schools of law agree on that. If security measures require to send a dog into a house, then it has to be done. I think Acpo needs to consult better and more widely. I know in the Muslim community there is a hang-up against dogs, but this is cultural."
This blogging business is a funny old lark, I’m not sure I’ll ever really understand it. One thing I’ve learn in the 3 years I’ve been doing it is that you really can’t tell what posts will provoke some kind of response & what won’t.
Take my "Those missing data scapegoats in full" article, a light-hearted look at who is to blame for all the missing data cockups we’ve been having in the last year. I filed it under "The Job – satire". These are the bits I try to put my most creative efforts (if ever there is a creative side to me). And usually take up more brain power than the rest of my stuff – probably because it takes more effort to think than it does to just slag things off. This particular entry got 4 comments in a week.
Then I go and put some rambling musings about what to do when I retire & it gets 11 comments straight away. Thanks, by the way, for the advice. I’ve got a little way to go before I need to make any decisions. Doubtless you’ll be updated when I make a decision one way or the other.
Anyway, notwithstanding the above, it’s great to see people taking part in my blog. When you scan down the page it’s rare to find a post which at least 1 person hasn’t commented on, this makes a great change from times gone by – thanks very much to everyone who does!