At least they are according to Justice Minister Jack Straw.
Interviewed on Radio 4, in response to a point that police officers were often overworked, he said: “Some police officers, whatever they say, actually quite enjoy being in the police station in the warm. We are dealing with human beings, but we are also dealing with the kind of discipline and culture in the police service.”
In response to criticisms that officers were taking up to four hours to complete their paperwork on a case, he said: “good police officers will take an hour to fill in the same forms because they want to get out and catch criminals”.
Naturally, the Police Federation are up in arms about the comments. Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the remarks were “irresponsible and inflammatory“.
“It wasn’t police officers who brought in 3,000 new laws, it wasn’t police officers who brought in a 30-page prosecution file and it wasn’t police officers who brought in multiple forms and authorities to use a pair of binoculars,” he said.
“This was all done by politicians. Police officers are not the architects of bureaucracy, they and the public are the victims of it.”
It probably won’t go down too well with the Federation or many readers of this blog but to deny Mr Straw’s comments out of hand is to deny an uncomfortable truth that there are officers who would rather spend their time in the warmth of the police station. There are officers who have made a whole career out of it. Many of them are not front line officers, they are people who spend a few years trying to get into the uniform, done their two years’ probation on the streets & then made a career out of going from one office job to the next. I know officers in my own force who haven’t been on the streets for 27 years or more.
There are also a certain section of frontline officers who spend more time trying to avoid jobs than they do actually attending them. Mr Straw is quite correct in some respects, though I’m not sure the problem is as widespread as his comments appear to suggest. I defy any of the many, many hardworking – and yes, overworked – officers not to be able to come up with an example of someone at their nick who always seems to take so much longer doing their paperwork than the rest of the shift, or who often ‘don’t hear’ the radio when the control room is trying to send them to a job, or take the long way round in the hope that another officer will get their first & pick up all the work.
When I worked the streets, I knew officers like this & now I’m in the control room I know it even more. When you work with the same people all the time you soon get to know who are the workers & who are the shirkers.
The shame is that the loudest comments about the police are always the critical ones, the vast bulk of very hard working & dedicated officers hardly get a mention. And, thinking about it, I guess this post is just another in a long line of that type from many quarters. I’ve always said that we in the police are good at doing ourselves down & rubbish at bigging ourselves up.
Perhaps 2010 is the time to start talking more of the good news in the police service.
Happy New Year & a prosperous & safe 2010 to you all….
I see a report this week is announcing the government’s latest plan to get the country back on its feet is to give 270,000 families a free computer & a year’s free Internet access.
Apparently, only 1 in 5 white teenage boys on free school meals is passing 5 good GCSEs. In a pilot of the scheme with 9,000 families in Suffolk & Oldham, pupils made a two-grade improvement.
Poor families will be offered Ă‚ÂŁ500 for an approved computer.
Figures show that 1 million kids in the UK have no access to the Internet.
Personally, I dont buy it. Ă‚ÂŁ500 for a computer seems quite extravagent given you can get a fully functional one for not much more than half that. Buying 270,000 of them, you’d expect a decent discount too.
And I dont accept for one minute that sticking a PC in someone’s front room will turn them into scholar of the week; they probably won’t get a look-in for guardians downloading porn threatening each other on Facebook.
It’ll end up as another example of the government doling out my tax dollars to some thoroughly undeserving wasters.
A bit like that cash giveaway for six form students who get something like 30 quid a week to stay on at school while my kids got bugger all because I told the truth about my earnings even though I was in debt up to my arse, drove a 15 year old car never went abroad, while my kids’ friends lived in bigger houses, went abroad twice a year never had a car older than 3 Years.
So the Munir Hussain case has heightened calls for changes in the law for people to defend themselves, particularly by Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary & the Daily Telegraph which has published several articles in the last week.
Currently the law allows an individual to use such reasonable force as is necessary to protect themselves, their family or their property.
The key factor being ‘reasonable‘ force. In the Hussain’s case the court clearly thought the force used was far above reasonable, & they were probably right no matter how distasteful the chap on the Clapham omnibus might find the conviction of a burglary victim.
So what is reasonable? This is not really very clearly defined & ranges from putting your hand on a criminal’s shoulder & saying “you’re staying right there until police arrive”, to shooting someone dead.
The Conservative party want to raise the level of defence a victim defending themselves would have, suggesting that no convictions should be brought unless the level of violence used against an offender was “grossly disproportionate”. They further say that when they come to power they will change the rules which currently see police investigating trivial or malicious complaints so that police would not arrest someone acting in good faith to prevent a crime or apprehend a suspect.
Under their proposals we would also have the freedom to apply common sense when faced with absurd allegations.
If any of this goes through it will see a major change in the way police record & investigate ‘crimes’. National Recording Standards require police to record an offence on the grounds that the ‘victim’ thinks it is a crime rather thanĂ‚Â there being evidence that a crime existed.
The offence of common assault is a prime example. We currently record, & investigate, thousands of assaults which amount to no more than pushing & shoving. Previously we would have said there was no injury, if you’re that concerned take them to civil court. We record threatening & antisocial behaviour for incidents which amount to not much more than bad manners.
But I digress. Back to reasonable force.
There are thoughts that much crime is so prevalent because the offender knows he has just as much protection – some would say more judging by many cases – as the victim. We have the ridiculous situation where some ill-mannered & badly behaved chav can ruin a pensioner’s private peace but when the pensioner remonstrates with the youth & pokes him in the chest, she gets nicked & prosecuted.
How many times do we hear from gutless little teenage scumbags “you can’t do nuffin'”.
What would burglars’ attitudes be if they knew the law would protect the householder who gave them a good kicking or even shot them?
Brendan Fearon, one of the burglars shot by Tony Martin when they broke into his Norfolk farmhouse in 1999 is quoted as having said a bill to protect homeowners from prosecution would have deterred him from breaking in.
It would be interesting to see the burglary stats in countries which permit firearm ownership to see if the thought of being met by an angry victim with a shotgun would deter a would-be burglar.
Switzerland has amongst the highest level of gun ownership in the world; they still have national service & an army based on a militia. All personnel are required to keep their assault rifle or pistol at their homes. Estimates suggest there are 420,000 military assault rifles stored in private homes together with another 320,000 similar weapons & pistols exempted from military service. The total amount of firearms is believed to be up to 3 million in a population of just over 7 million.
I’ve not had the opportunity to investigate Switzerland’s burglary stats, they might make interesting reading.
I’m not convinced that the banning of handguns in the UK has done much more than rob thousands of responsible gun owners of a hobby; as it appears any TV documentary maker is able to get one within about 30 minutes, if their programmes are to be believed. But maybe that’s a debate for another day.
With an election looming & a high probability of a new government, it will be interesting to see how, or even if, this one pans out.
The best case of poetic justice I’ve heard for some time comes from a story in the Telegraph last week.
A suspected thief in Somerset who is alleged to have been trying to steal a tractor from a farm in Bridgewater. He was spotted driving the vehicle across fields by the farmer & fled in darkness through the farm.
Alerted by cries for help the farmer found the thief up to his neck in slurry. It took fire crews an hour to pull him out.
The farmer said: “If we hadn’t been there he would have died & that’s not a nice way to go.”
I expect the local officers were fighting for a place at the back of the arrest queue.
When I was planning my retirement from the job a year or so ago, I foolishly thought that one of the benefits would be no more Christmases or New Years Eves working while everyone else was off enjoying the festive season.
How wrong was I.?
Having gone back to full shifts I’ve not only managed to pull Christmas Day, I’ve also got New Year’s Eve, again.
Well they say if you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have joined. With all the little Weekslings to put through uni, I can’t see the situation changing any year soon.
So, my first festive season as a civvy with Her Majesty’s finest. I don’t expect it will be much different to my times in the job.
Happy Christmas to all my readers (including Melv) & a safe 2010
The tax payer has just forked out six thousand of our English pounds to fund a violent prisoner’s attempt to sue a volunteer jail worker for failing to call him “Mr“.
Bernard Pennington, who is serving a life sentence for attacking his wife with a machete, was incensed when the volunteer referred to him as “prisoner Pennington”, claiming the term was derogatory & breached his human rights. David Luckett is voluntary chairman of the Independent Monitoring Board which monitors the day-to-day running of Kingston prison in Portsmouth. Pennington had caomplined about his treatment to the board. Mr Luckett’s written reply had addressed the prisoner as, er, ‘prisoner’ Pennington.
Pennington was seeking Ă‚ÂŁ300 compensation at court, fortunately, the judge at Portsmouth County Court threw out the case saying it had “no merit”.
It’s only a shame that it got as far as a judge & had already racked up 6 grands’ worth of free cash on the prisoner’s behalf.
Thanks to PC Hawkeye for the heads-up on this update from yesterday’s story.
It does appear that Walid Salem got off so lightly due to his ‘brain damage’ inflcited at the hands of aggravated-burglary victim Munir Hussain when he committed a particularly nasty offence against Mr Hussain’s family.
Salem must be laughing all the way to his next victim’s bank account. He spent two weeks in hospital recovering from his ‘brain damage’ but went on a crime spree shortly after. He was arrested in January 2009 in possession of forged credit cards & appeared at St Albans Crown Court at the end of November charged with 5 more offences. His solicitor, Tajinder Singh, successfully got him off the charges when he argued that his ‘brain damage’ made him unfit to plead. Judge Stephen Warner gave him an absolute discharge. Sadly, he didn’t appear to recognise that his ‘brain damage’ ws clearly not so severe as to stop him committing crimes against more innocent victims, just that he doesn’t have to answer for his deeds, which is basically an official licence to do whatever the fuck he wants & get away with it.
Defence solicitors, what a bunch of prostitutes, how do they sleep at night?
There can’t be many things more frightening than having a group of thugs armed with knives break into your house, tie you up & threaten to kill you.
This is what happened to Munir Hussain in September last year. He arrived home with his two sons to find 3 burglars had tied up his wife & 18-year-old daughter. Munir & his sons were also tied & all 5 were forced to lie on the floor or they would be killed. Mr. Hussain was also beaten by the thugs.
One of the sons managed to escape & alerted MinerĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s brother, Taker, when he arrived the criminals ran off but were chased by Taker & Munir who caught one of them in a garden. The brothers set about Waled Salem with a pole, a hockey stick & a cricket bat. He was left with a fractured skull & a brain injury.
Both brothers were charged with an offence of GBH & Salem was charged with an offence of aggravated burglary.
Salem, who had 50 previous convictions, broke into someone’s house armed with a knife – remember the government’s tough stance on knife crime – received a supervision order, yes you did read that right, 50 pre-cons, a nasty aggravated burglary & a supervision order.
The Hussain’s on the other hand were both jailed. Munir for 30 months & Tokeer for 39.
Jailing the pair, Judge John Reddihough said: “If persons were permitted to take the law into their own hands & inflict their own instant & violent punishment on an apprehended offender rather than letting justice take its course, then the rule of law & our system of criminal justice, which are the hallmarks of a civilised society, would collapse.”
Just as an aside, if the Hussain’s had let justice take its course presumably that would have led to completely nothing since, to date, the other violent burglars have not been found. And if they had been found would justice mean a supervision order, or in other words, as close to getting off scot-free as possible?
Doesn’t this open up a whole new black kettle of worm can ball games?
I started writing this entry a couple of days ago & wish I’d published it then as today the case has appeared on the national TV news & on the front page of the papers where the Conservative Party are discussing the need to change the law on self-defence, though this particular case seems to be one of self-defence after the fact.
There will be many people completely appalled at the prison sentence given to the Husssains, which kind of makes the other point swallowed up, i.e. how the fuck can someone with 50 convictions who is convicted of entering someone’s house armed with a knife, tieing up 5 people & threatening to kill them whilst carrying out a particular nasty burglary, get away with a supervision order?
The sad thing is that while most people would think this is a travesty, the facts are that it is nearer the norm than you might expect. But back to the case in hand.
Should a man go to prison who has caught a violent criminal having been subject of a nasty aggravated burglary? I expect there will be many people who say give the man a medal, but bear in mind he attacked him so severley with a cricket bat & other items that the bat broke & the scumbag was left with brain damage. I’ve not yet seen any of the reports detailing exactly what the burglar’s injuries were. Was the judge’s leniency based on the ‘he’s already suffered enough’ principle?
There’s a balance to be had in protecting someone who uses violence to defend themselves, their families & their property & clearly someone who seeks to enter your home must expect to be met with a bigger stick than the one he’s carrying, but are we saying a man should be able to go above & beyond what is required to protect themselves? The Hussains did go a step too far. It was probably right that they should be prosecuted. But I don’t believe it is right to make an example of them & there was surely an alternative to imprisonment, after all, the guy with 50 convictions was able to take advantage of one of them.
There are many cases we can hold up as an example why victims should be protected from prosecution, I’m not sure the Hussain’s case is one of them.
The below poem has appeared on this blog for the last two years, so it’s getting to be a bit traditional:
Twas the night before Christmas
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung on the doorknobs with care,
But something was missing, my dad wasnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t there.
Out in the night parked under a star,
My Dad was there watching in his traffic car.
Now out in the snow, where nothing had stirred,
the radio crackled, the big engine purred.
Dad adjusted his cap and straightened his tie,
Got out of his vehicle and looked round the sky.
He turned up his collar and looked all around,
And listened so hard for that wonderful sound.
And sure enough soon through the cold winter night,
My Dad on patrol saw the wonderful sight.
There up in the distance so vivid and clear,
A light getting brighter it soon would be near.
He called on the radio Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Tango-one-oh,
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“I think I have contact out there in the snow.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve got him on mapping, itĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s him thereĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s no doubt,
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m off the to R.V. point, Tango-ten, out!Ă˘â‚¬Âť
Dad jumped in the police car & looked to the sky,
Just getting closer but ever so high,
Bathed in the glow of a deep yellow light,
He finally saw the wonderful sight.
First Dasher then Dancer then Prancer and Vixen,
And Comet and Cupid then Donner and Blitzen.
Then out in the front of the beautiful sleigh,
Was Rudolph the Reindeer leading the way.
Santa looked down at the police car below,
Grateful once more for a guide through the snow.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“This is Santa, come in Tango-ten,
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“It really is good to see you again.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Roger that, Santa, your message is clear,
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“This really is the best assignment all year.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
The police car revved hard as Santa flew by,
Then magically lifted up into the sky.
Over the County they flashed blue & red,
Santa behind and my Daddy ahead.
Landing on rooftops and climbing inside,
Then off to the next, my Daddy the Guide.
They finally finished their job in the sky,
Daddy saluted as Santa flew by.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Same time again, Santa, next year once again?Ă˘â‚¬Âť
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“You bet, and my thanks go to you Tango-ten.
Into the distance Dad saw Santa fly,
He took off his cap and loosened his tie.
And feeling quite pleased with himself, as he should,
He knew he did well, he did fine, he did good.
When I open my presents although I am sad,
I know Santa leaves me a kiss from my Dad.
And although I miss him I know in my soul
Though DadĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s up in heaven, heĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s still on patrol.
Dedicated to the twelve officers who lost their lives on duty in 2009:
PC William Barker – Cumbria Police
PS Iain McClay – Metropolitan Police
PC Michael Johnson – Wiltshire Police
PC Phillip Pratt – Kent Police
PCSO David Adams – Avon & Somerset Constabulary
PC Christopher Dent – Metropolitan Police
PC Gary Toms – Metropolitan Police
PC Stephen Carroll – Police Service of Northern Ireland
It’s comforting to see that the good old British tradition of the country falling to pieces at the first drop of snow is holding up well, at least it is round these parts.
This is traditionally the time where police managers try to get all the force’s 4x4s into play at the same time, usually somewhere around the time when the first snow flakes appear somewhere in the county while the rest of the country have been talking about the predicted heavy snow for three days or more.
It is also around this time that the police managers realise that they’ve degraded the Traffic Department year after year & depeleted the resources such that there are only a few 4x4s left & they are stored somewhere on the other side of the heaviest snow which necessitates 2 of the few available traffic officers to travel across the county for an hour & a half to collect a 4×4, timesed by the number of 4x4s we have left, which leaves only a few traffic officers who can’t respond to half the jobs because their cars can’t get there.
We spend all night & day taking reports of kids throwing snowballs. We have to ignore most of these as we simply are too busy dealing with dragging people out of crashed cars or standing at road closures telling people if they go up[ there they’ll get stuck. Asian & Jewish people can say they think the people chucking snow at them/their businesses are racist which guarantees that we have to go & see them because saying you think an incident is racist is a trigger which puts you to the head of the queue when it comes to dishing out assignments to officers.
Lots of the calls into the control room about traffic accidents or RTCs usually mention that the person has crashed due to the dangerous road conditions which seems to skirt round the fact that most of the people who have travelled along the same road have managed to avoid crashing & totally avoids the thought that it is perfectly possible to drive safely on ice if you adjust your driving style accordingly & you’ve not usually crashed because of the dangerous road, you’ve crashed because you were an arse & driving too fast (& 10mph can be too fast).
Then you finish the shift between 15 minutes & two hours late because your relief hasn’t left early enough to negotiate the conditions by which time half the main roads in the county are clogged up with crashed cars, jacknifed lorries & queues of vehicles who can’t get up the hills, so you’re 2 hours late home & have to abandon your car & walk the last mile or two & they still expect you to be in to work the next day, on time, and you are.
The Serious & Organised Crime Agency has been hailed as the UK’s equivalent to the FBI, an outfit full of the best hand-picked detectives in the business fighting crime at its highest levels.
Which is why there might be some embarrassment in the ranks afterĂ‚Â a document containing the names & movements of 230 SOCA agents was left on a train by an unnamed agent in London last week.
A spokesman said: “This is clearly a breach of security & something we are taking very seriously. I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the agent who left the file on the train. It’s not exactly the actions of a top lever crime fighter, more like a ridiculous schoolboy error.”
I was shocked to the core when I walked into the little boys’ room at work this week; they had removed the poster which tells me how to wash my hands. What the hell am I going to do now that stroke-by-stroke instructions are gone, how can I refer to the little diagrams telling me how much soap to put on, where, & which actions my hands must be doing in order to maximise my personal safety & ensure the job doesn’t have to pay me sick leave because I have picked up one of the millions of strains of germs which float around the control room?
Has the chief constable gone totally mad? Next they’ll be removing the sign which tells me the steps are slippery when wet or the one which advises waiting until the door is open before I walk through it.
I never realised the true function ofĂ‚Â ‘Police – Do Not Cross’ tape was to stop me walking across a patch of muddy grassĂ‚Â at police HQ or keeping me from incurring a fatal injury from the edge of a desk where the metal edging has fallen off (because they bought the cheapest).
If you don’t see a blog entry tomorrow, it’s probably because nobody told me not to do something I’ve not been doing for nearly 50 years quite successfully.
In a change to my occasional Scum of the Week Award, I’m giving you 200’s Hero of the Week, or more precisely Heroine of the Week.
Actually, there’s probably also a Scum of the Week in the same post.
70-year-old pensioner, Patricia Hendry, was praised by a judge today after he jailed a thug for attacking her friend in Luton earlier this year.
In May, Patricia’s friend, 66-year-old Patrick Barrett withdrew some money from a cashpoint. He became aware of someone watching & made his way to Patricia’s home nearby where he let himself in. David Cherrington, 42, had followed Mr Barrett back to the house & entered via an insecure door. He then attacked Mr Barrett demanding that he hand over the cash.
During the attack Mrs Hendry armed herself with a plank of wood & set about the attacker who made off with the victim’s money. Mr Barrett was left with a large scar on his forehead.
Cherrington was later arrested in June when Mrs Hendry recognised him in the street & pointed him out to police. He was jailed for three & a half years at Luton Crown Court.
Christine Rabaiotti, defending, said: “He is deeply, deeply remorseful for this aberrant piece of behaviour and wants to become a useful member of society.” It’s a pity he didn’t think of that before he decided to follow a vulnerable old man home from the cashpoint & violently rob him inside someone’s home.
Mrs Hendry will receive a High Sheriff’s Bravery Award together with Ă‚ÂŁ250.
You may remember meĂ‚Â mentioning back in July about the case of a woman who told a group of youths to be quiet. She was subsequently followed to a restaurant where one of the youths threw bleach over her.
Well the case has come to trial during which more details have emerged.
Leeds Crown Court has heard that the 16-year-old, who isn’t being named, has admitted assault but denies a charge of GBH with intent.
Annette Warden was watching Harry Potter at a local cinema when she had cause to ask a group nearby to be quiet.
When the film finished the family walked to a nearby restaurant. A car drove past them & the defendant shouted at her “fucking slag”.
The 16-year-old asked his mates to stop at a garage claiming he wanted to buy eggs to throw at her, but they had sold out so he bought a bottle of Domestos.
They then drove to the restaurant where Mrs Warden was sitting at a table. The youth approached her from behind a poured bleach over her head, he then ran off. Her husband gave chase & managed to get the number of the car they fled in.
Mrs Warden was lucky not to suffer serious injury.
So, place your bets. Guilty or not guilty, & if guilty, what will the sentence be…….you decide!