Three inductees into the ’200weeks Scum of the Week’ Awards.
Robert Copper, 33, Richard Cooper and Michael Black, 46, were convicted at Southampton Crown Court of fraud.
They used two pet rats to convince a vulnerable pensioner that his house was infested by rats. They offered to do some pest control to rid the premises of rats saying that he risked eviction if the problem was not tackled.
They charged their victim Ã‚Â£4000 for the privilege, even taking him to a cashpoint to withdraw money from his savings.
They then tried to charge the man a further Ã‚Â£13,000 but the fraud was discovered.
The three shiny examples of scum were sentenced to between two and three and a half years.
We are often called to deal with reports of dogs left in cars on hot days, and not always to police dogs left to die by their handlers (see previous posts). Sometimes we end up breaking into the vehicle to release the dog from a potential lingering death.
Very occasionally we get calls to cars which have very young children on board, some of the parents even end up getting arrested for child neglect as they don;t seem to think it might be a bad idea to leave an unattended baby or toddler in a Ã‚Â car.
Another case this week of the latter in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. (I used to go there during the miners’ strike).
Police were alerted to a baby lying in the rear foot well of an unattended car. They duly smashed the window causing Ã‚Â£200 of damage to rescue the child, only to find it was a doll.
Mind you, the doll was one of those trendy new ‘lifelike’ dolls. I seem to recall paying out Ã‚Â a very hefty sum for one such doll for one of my kids a while back. They do look much more like a real baby than your average Tiny Tears. I can just imagine the piss-taking back at the nick after that call.
Regular readers will know of my objections to the DNA database, or more specifically to keeping innocent people’s DNA records on file. I’m not one to champion the European Court of Human Rights but just to mention that in 2008 they ruled the British Government was retaining innocent people’s DNA records illegally and that they should delet them from the records.
The Labour government objected to this but in a mealey mouthed effort to go part way with the court’s recommendations, they agreed to delete these records after six years.
Now the coalition have gone even more mealey-mouthed by rescinding that decision & worming their way out of it by saying that they won’t delete the records but they will separate the identity of the records so that they won’t be easily identifiable. Both parts of the record will be kept apart and only matched up should the DNA record be of some future use.
Call me old fashioned but that just means they are still keeping innocent people’s DNA records.
I shouldn’t be surprised that the government has done a U-turn on policy, what with their record so far.
Liberal Democrat MP, Chris Huhne, has been in and out of the news for months nowÃ‚Â concerningÃ‚Â allegationsÃ‚Â that he may have tried to dodge a speeding ticket by getting his then wife to admit take the points by saying she was the driver at the time of the offence.
He has always denied the allegation which first appeared in the national papers after his ex-wife admitted in an interview that he had tried to pass his points to her to avoid losing his driving licence.
Essex Police has been investigating the matter for at least three months. They have apparently now finished and have passed the papers to the CPS who must now decide, on the evidence provided, whether to officially charge the MP with any offences, such as perverting the course of justice.
A Special Constable is in a critical condition after the police car in which he was a passenger was involved in a road traffic collision with a taxi in Basildon, Essex.
The police car was travelling to an emergency last night and had its blues and twos on. The cause of the crash has not been mentioned in the Independent today. The police driver & taxi driver also receivedÃ‚Â treatmentÃ‚Â at hospital. The Special has been transferred to the Royal London hospital.
Thoughts with him with hopes he makes a full recovery. It’s bad enough being put at risk when you get paid, let alone when you do it for nothing.
They say if you wait around long enough someone will introduce something into policing which somebody else did away with a few years ago.
Tom Winsow, a man who used to play with train sets, has been tasked to look into the future of policing. I guess having someone with no knowledge of policing would inevitably lead to one of his recommendations; direct recruitment from the Army into senior police roles.
I think this takes us back to the nineteenth early twentieth century when chief constables were often Colonel This & Captain That. I have no idea whether it’s a good or a bad idea.
Actually, it’snot just army recruits, lawyers (heaven forbid) could be running the police. Cameron is even considering getting foreign police chiefs in to run British forces.
Currently, if you want to run a police force, you have to start at the bottom of the ladder and serve your two years’ probation before working your way up the ranks. How quickly you get up the ranks depends on whether you have a degree and how manyÃ‚Â diversityÃ‚Â questions you can answer by the book.
Cameron says: “At the moment, the police system is too closed. There is only one point of entry into the force. There are too few Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and arguably too similar Ã¢â‚¬â€œ candidates for the top jobs. I want to see radical proposals for how we can open up our police force and bring in fresh leadership.
“The Government is introducing elected police and crime commissioners, ensuring there is an individual holding their local force to account on behalf of local people.”
Understandably, the chiefs are twitching, after all, for every person coming from outside the ranks, that’s one less opportunity for them to climb the grease pole. Peter fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, and someone who himself took full advantage of the privileges of accelerated promotion, said that giving people direct entry to senior police positions from without the service would be likeÃ‚Â ”a medical student acting as a surgeon”.
It appears to have come as a shock to the press & TV news today that 34,000 police jobs are to go in the next four years, amounting to around 16,000 police officers, a similar amount of civilian staff & some PCSOs.
The Inspectorate of Constabulary has announced that,Ã‚Â despiteÃ‚Â all the lies ministers have been spouting for the last year, front line officers will be lost and there is a great risk that crime will rise.
Yet still we saw today chief officer after chief officers queueing up to give interviews to their local media about what a great job they are doing, how we just have to adapt to change and how safe the public will be despite the lack of police officers.
Working in the control room, I am well aware of the appalling service we give to many people; I have to ring them up every night apologising for my force;s inability to send an officer to see them, often within several days of their call, never mind within an hour as is the ‘unmeasured’ promise we make when we grade their calls. Sadly, we are only measured on how quick we answer the phone and send an officer within 3 minutes of that call if it’s anÃ‚Â emergency.
If the chief was measured on how many people had to wait more than 8 hours, or more than a day, or more than 3 days to see an officer, they’d either be sacked or have so many officers on the front line you’d see tumbleweed flowing through the corridors of headquarters up and down the land.
I must have missed the headlines & front-loaded TV News reports on this one, but a few days ago another police officer was shot in south Croydon.
The unarmed officer (i.e. 99%+ of all officers) was called to a routine report of people acting suspiciously. On arrival three men made off. The officer gave chase when one of the men pulled out a gun & shot him. Fortunately, (or unfortunately given that it could have missed all together) the officer was shot in the arm, his injuries were not life threatening.
Met Police Commander Tony Eastaugh said: “I am outstandingly proud of our officers who put themselves in positions of danger on a daily basis to protect the communities of London.Ã‚Â It is sad that an unarmed officer has been shot whilst performing his duty to the public. Our thoughts are with him and his family.”
Nice to see a departure from the usual community reassurance message with a total lack of support for the officer concerned that we normally get from these incidents from senior officers.
The injured officer is the second to be seriously injured in Croydon in the last two months. A plain clothes officer Ã‚Â was stabbed when he stopped a gang of youths in May.
We know there are thousands of guns in the hands of criminals and thugs who are willing to use them on police officers and each other without a second thought. Yet we still expect officers to confront them with nothing more than a bit of stiff plastic and a few stern words. Not much good against bullets & pointy things when you least expect it.
Those two officers are typical of the ones the government is taking money away from in the form of wage freezes and pension attacks.
So the race is on to secure the top spot at the Met. With the recent falling from grace of the last two commissioner’s it’s getting to look more like a poisoned chalice than a job from heaven. Still, quarter of a million quid’s gotta be worth a punt.
I spent a fair bit of time in the car yesterday and heard lots of people gushing about how the current, er, previous commissioner was well-liked, respected, a copper’s copper, cleared up the crime rate, London a much safer place, yadda, yadda, yadda.
I wonder who these people are who thought so highly of Paul Stephenson. This is a man who, many officers will say, failed to support his staff over pay issues, failed to support his staff over personal safety by a) making them go single patrol and b) headed an organisation who declined to give front-line officers Taser capability when forces with far less staff, smaller budgets & less risk were making their staff safer. He steadfastly refuses to bring the Met into the 21st century by making them wear a uniform which most forces in the land have realised is no longer fit for purpose (jacket & ties).
He’s a man on Ã‚Â£260,000 a year who sees nothing wrong in accepting a five-week recuperation at a private health club belonging to a man his outfit hired for PR work despite being previously employed by the News of the World, a paper which his outfit were investigating. Even if his choice of luxury health club wasn’t called into question, was the man not able to actually pay for the services provided, which included services run at the site by the husband of one Rebecca Brooks?
Then we hear about Assistant Commissioner Yates (who undoubtedly did good work on anti-terrorism) suspected of joining the nepotism club in assisting a daughter of one of the main players at the News of the World.
Five very senior staff members of the Met being referred to the IPCC in one hit. It’ll be a wonder if there are any left to step into all the holes being made in the fallout.
And how come the head of an organisation employing someone from the News of the World for a bit of PR work is ripe for a sacrificial falling-on-swords ‘the right thing to do’ if you’re a police officer but not if you’re a prime minister?
The government’s attempts to slash a massive 20% off the police budget hit new heights this weekend when they pressed the senior officer self-destruct button. They managed to save a massive half a million pounds a year by getting a Commissioner & deputy to resign. The new scheme appears to apply only to very senior officers earning over Ã‚Â£200,000 & affects only those who have ‘done nothing wrong but leave with their integrity intact’.
So the rest of the Met have nothing to worry about.
It’s not only the police who are being handicapped by current drastic funding cuts. The government haveÃ‚Â announcedÃ‚Â this week that they are closing 2 prisons and selling 8 others in a bid to cut a whacking 25% off their budget.
No wonder Kenneth Clarke wants to let everyone out of prison if the plead guilty. Whilst there is room for debate on the efficacy of imprisonment and who should be sent to prison, there can be no doubt that some people need locking up.
However, it would appear that the government’s approach is not about doing the right thing for society, whatever that ‘right thing’ Ã‚Â is, it is about how can we save cash. Ã‚Â Trying to correct the behaviour of Ã‚Â a few hundred thousand people costs money, without investment in in programmes which firstly remove law abidingÃ‚Â citizensÃ‚Â from risk and secondly change the mindset of those people creating the risk, merely condemns society to an unending circle of repetition.
The closure ofÃ‚Â HMP Latchmere House and HMP Brockhill will save the country nearly Ã‚Â£11.5 million a year & reduce the available prison spaces by 377.
The solution cannot be sought when the overriding factor appears to be how many noughts there are on the financial spread sheet. The government deny it’s about money, spouting forth the mantra about their decision being based on the ability to “balance the need to increase efficiency”.
A police officers from Scotland faces jailÃ‚Â afterÃ‚Â failing to arrest a suspected burglar.
Thirty-eight-year oldÃ‚Â Strathclyde Police Constable Michele Selby was on patrol with a more junior officer when they spotted a man tampering with the door to a Chinese restaurant at 5.30 in the morning. He was in possession of a screwdriver, crowbar and a wrench and appeared to the younger officer to be trying to break in.
PC Selby spoke to the man, did a PNC check & confiscated the tools before driving off to deliver some letters to a police station. PC Selby’s colleague told Glasgow Sheriff’s Court: “She told him, ‘We know you are trying to break in and if we didn’t have another call to go to you would be getting the jail’.” PC Selby told the court she didn’t believe a crime had been committed.
She has been told by the Sheriff that she faces a jail sentence after being convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
I don’t know about you but I never heard about the police day of action in London this week.
On Wednesday, 2,000 officers gathered for a rally to protest about the government cuts in police funding. I’d have thought it was a prime opportunity for some massive publicity but appears to have attracted a mere 10% of the numbers that protested a couple of years ago when the Home Secretary refused to backdate an agreed pay rise.
Calls were made for the government to reverse its decision on the 20% target cuts for policing, after all, the government does seem to have a regular habit of announcing changes and then deciding against it when they realised their plans weren’t really investigated much more than a few notes on the back of a fag packet on the terrace bar at Westminster. (health review, 50% prison discount, sale of the forests, etc).
It’s a shame the event wasn’t more widely advertised. I know lots of people from my force went last time, I’ve not heard of anyone going this week.
Whilst checking the day’s news stories to find something for today’s entry, I happened across a football story, or rather a footballer story.
I’ve mentioned Joey Barton a couple of times, he with a penchant for violentlyÃ‚Â assaultingÃ‚Â people. Back in 2008 he was earning Ã‚Â£65,000 having been sentenced to two terms of imprisonment for separate assaults on a member of the public and a team mate, one term of which was suspended.
His team, Newcastle, are off to America for a pre-season jolly and Barton has been denied a visa due to his criminal record so he won’t be going. Instead he has to settle for a trip with the reserve team to Holland.
He has apparently posted on his Twitter page that he didn’t expect to be treated any differently from any other person in the same situation, but went on to say that it was hypocritical of the Americans ‘considering what they get up to’. He added, “IÃ‚Â can’t be bothered dwelling on negatives, this is my last post about the visa situation.”
I suppose it is a real pain being reminded that you are a violent thug all the time.