Sunday, 25 October 2009

Second Chances

Well that last post totally missed the point and prompted some conflicting reactions. I can now understand why the senior police ranks haven't stood up. The public perceptions have been skewed and are rallying against us. I wonder what a general public perception survey about the police would show since April, people are not happy. There's been plenty of mud flying about and boy it must be sticking.

My thoughts are still on the management of those in the shite. It seems only fair that somebody should take an interest in their welfare, and I don't just mean to cover the duty of care side for the job. At the moment most of it is left to the Police Federation representatives at individual stations. I think you have to be pretty non-judgemental, and considering us police people look objectively at cases and make decisions we're not bad at it. Lets face it who else could deal with child molesters and have no feelings at all against them, so supporting our own should be no different.

There was a lad where I used to work who got arrested for drink driving. Good policeman but there were known issues that were not dealt with before his arrest and conviction. It's a rather open and shut case and always leads to a discipline board. I went along to support him and provided a character reference knowing that he was likely to be dismissed. It was horrible waiting for that decision but due to the circumstances he kept his job. Before anybody goes off on one the discipline regulations have been changed since then and I've not heard of anybody being kept on for a similar conviction. I think quite a few kept out of his way beforehand unable to handle the embarrassment of knowing what to say to him.

We're unlikely to get second chances now and every police officer knows the score. It doesn't stop loads of people still blowing their careers. Most only have themselves to blame but until they leave us a bit of human decency and understanding towards them isn't too much to ask.


Dandelion said...

I see where you're coming from SoC, and I don't doubt what you say, but from the public's point of view, the sham and dishonesty that ensued re. Jean-Charles and Ian Tomlinson for eg, and that surrounds a number of deaths in custody really are a serious cause for public concern regarding accountability.

You, or MCM, might be able to see how it's ok that these people died and no-one was held responsible or faced justice, but the public don't find that acceptable. It's a sign that something is very wrong with the police.

The accountability should reach up the chain of command, yes, and I can imagine the average ordinary policeman must be left between a rock and a hard place.

Committing crimes unrelated to the job is one thing though. Misusing one's powers is quite another, whether intentionally or otherwise, and it is this latter that concerns me. It's a shame that it doesn't result in a discipline board to the same degree, though of course I'm well aware the system is weighted against it. Counter-productively in terms of public confidence.

MTG said...

I have some some sympathy with your points. The mud is sticking whilst middle and working classes are, to varying degrees, jointly unhappy with police. Breathtaking hostility of estate teenagers reduces to measured disapproval at the dinner table where body language speaks volumes in response to the question "Where do you think current UK policing will take us in five years?"

There is widespread mistrust of the Federation and IPCC and many prefer to see a reduction in the overall influence of the former and reconstruction of the latter. Civilians who give thought to future developments express a desire to see the police and public working on a very different level to that of present Police Authorities and Police Forces themselves. They have failed the public disastrously, doing little more than pocket expenses and salaries whilst Peelian principles are undermined by government. We can meekly allow ourselves to be driven further down a dark path or snatch the reins to change course.

Words, more words - but only words The fact that the tabloids and public have been so verbose must constitute a warning in itself. If that goes unheeded we await the inevitable seismic event before change. The bloody feud that totally eclipses all former unrest and riots, flaring into unmanageable County size proportions.

In the meantime we are obliged to tolerate police like Gadget. They will abuse their powers at work and later boast of it with loud taunts from their blogs "We are the police and we do as we wish!" Middle England fumes and quietly mutters "Is that so?"

The upper class will not give a fig about this, or a decent policeman's lot - or the discomfort caused to others when corrupt and evil police have unimpeded freedom to be so. The upper class will have no involvement in pressure vessel cooking in the kitchen, for no more reason than they are unlikely to suffer the effects of an impending explosion.

If it comes to it let us have the rotten apples out by any means, SOC. Yet the harshest police critic cannot reasonably incline himself towards denying good police a second chance. Senselessly blown careers are a loss to us all and let us never forget that decency works best in two directions.

Anonymous said...

Only last year I was involed with the off duty arrest of a met police officer at a football match. The inspector on the L2 serial did the honourable thing and nicked him for SCt 5 Public Order. He had in fron of 200 away fans abused his colleagues got 21 chances to go away after being escorted away! He refused a PND by not giving address and d.o.b.At court he was convicted and giving a football banning order. Despite the whole serials statement the dicipline board gave him 2 weeks loss of pay! He was abuse and I believed he was on drugs aswell as drink yet we could not test him for it he was abuse to every colleague that he came across yet he kept his job!! Please cols Sgt. Smillie get the same bboard!!

Sage said...

Second chances are all about giving a person another opportunity at doing the right thing at the right time to the right person... and yes I have experience of that, I don't believe we are born bad, only that we have bad experiences... I don't believe we know right from wrong until we learn the differences from initially our parents, and family, then from life itself.

God forbid, that we should turn the other way and become such a heartless society that we cannot support friends, colleagues and also sometimes strangers without judging them.

Hogday said...

I was glad to stand in the witness box as a character witness for a jumior police officer charged with a very serious offence. So did another senior colleague. All we had to do was tell the truth, which we did. I wasn't a drinking pal of this officer, neither were we in any secret society sworn to offer each other mutual support. I was simply his commanding officer. I managed to state that I wished I'd had several more just like him on each shift. He was acquitted on the evidence, not on public opinion, the opinion of the left right or extremities of the press, nor by any cctv footage shot in isolation and not showing the background and build-up to the incident. A jury, untainted by any of those elements previously mentioned herein, heard all the evidence and acquitted him. - simple as that. He felt he was alone in the months leading up to the trial. It is not very nice being hung out to dry.

Blue Eyes said...

To say that "someone" should be held accountable for Mr de Menezes is to misunderstand what apparently happened. Which person should be held accountable for what?

Should the officer who pulled the trigger be up for murder? Should the commanding officer for overseeing a horrific set of circumstances?

I don't think anyone can say with a straight face that Mr de Menezes' death has not been looked into in great detail. Either no one person can be held responsible or there is massive corruption at every level of the legal process in this country.

Dandelion said...

Sorry, Blue Eyes. I thought that a totally innocent man was shot to death by police while going about his legitimate business. Did I get that wrong?

It's hard to say who was ultimately accountable, in view of the cover-up, the buck-passing, and the sham investigation, and in view of the fact that no-one appears to have faced any form of discipline or sanction for the man's death.

It sends a very clear message to the public that the police as an organisation a) is not fit for purpose b) is corrupt and c) thinks itself above the law. And DeMenezes is just one extreme example.

Merlin said...

MTG: "middle and working classes are, to varying degrees, jointly unhappy with police. Breathtaking hostility of estate teenagers..."

I probably shouldn't encourage you, but would point out that you're conflating the "working" class with the criminal/underclass. There are overlapping segments, as there are between the criminal & "middle" classes - a Venn diagram would express this - but the core groups remain distinct. Reebok Boy, on his mountain bike, with a pocket full of pills & a proudly-held ASBO is never going to be a fan of the police. Should the police - or Mr & Mrs Upright - give a flying f**k about that? If Darren McScumbucket doesn't mind the bizzies, we've got major problems.

In my day-to-day experience, the "working" class remain supporters of the police (God knows that it's working folk who suffer first when policing slackens & they who are the first to notice & complain), but are driven to exasperation by the daft human rights agenda and what appears to be an ineffective criminal justice machinery. Police have to work within the rules - cr&p as these may be - and if they had the self-conferred powers with which you credit them ("We are the police and we do as we wish!"), there would be an awful lot of summary justice going on and a great many matters being settled in the custody suite without ever having to bother the magistrates. But that's not the case, is it? It isn't the case because we live by democratic process, with all the attendant checks & balances between legislative, judicial & enforcement arms; even when that system delivers duff results.

Linking this to SOC's point about public confidence - the danger is, IMHO, that this confidence (whether this be in the perceived ability of police to deliver results or in "the system" itself) will be undermined to a point at which citizens are prepared to allow their government to abandon certain democratic values in exchange for of law & order. vide I.D. cards, erosion of our trial by jury system & of the principle of habeus corpus , etc.

Then it's game over for what we may term "The British Way".

Merlin said...

"exchange for of law ..." should read "in exchange for law ..."


Tom said...

I am surprised that certain commentators have assumed the mantle of responder on my behalf, but the reference to those in public service being without human frailty beggers belief.

I, and many others in HM Forces made huge cock-ups, and were duly held accountable. However, and I say this from experience, one mistake and a second chance is a good thing!

I cannot believe the degree of animosity directed at police, and their attendent services, compared and contrasted with that of the private sector.

Of course any right minded individual will not accept misconduct by a police, fire officers or paramedics, but let us all agree a mistake ought not to be punished by way of association.

Those in the private sector, (myself included) appear to have carte blanche to take the p""", while those in the public sector are held to account in extremis.

Let us all think about our MP before going after some bobby going about his/her work.

Blue Eyes said...

"Did I get that wrong?"

Did I say you were wrong? Did I say that it wasn't a fucking disaster? I would respect you a whole lot more if you actually engaged with the points raised rather than answering non-existent assertions.

I ask you again, who should be held responsible for what? Names and offences, please.

MTG said...

Insufficently upset that we must suffer his impossible anatomical suggestions, Blue eyes fast resorts to normal Scroteish.

Dandelion said...

Tom, I think the difference with the police compared to other organisations, particularly the private sector as you mention, is that the police have extraordinary and wide-reaching powers. You're not comparing like for like.

Police misconduct is not by itself the reason for tainting everyone with the same brush. Malcolm Searle faced justice for what he did, so although it was terrible, one isn't left with the feeling that the police think it in any way acceptable.

What is a problem is a)where there are attempts by police to evade accountability, b)the position they are in to withhold, falsify or destroy evidence of any potential misconduct, and c)the fact that they can, quite literally, get away with murder. Not only that, but when the public object (eg me) where police officers actually see fit to defend the murder of innocent people, public confidence is even further undermined.

Blue Eyes, I would apply your own request to yourself. I never said you said I'd got it wrong. I simply asked you whether I had got it wrong. You implied that I'd misunderstood what happened to Jean-Charles, so I was simply seeking to clarify. No need to get your knickers in a twist.

And as I stated, I can't answer your questions, and neither could I be expected to, given the level of dishonesty on the part of the police involved, and the sham that was the investigation. And this is my point. It should not be possible for police to alter records post hoc, or to lie with impunity, or for a jury to be instructed not to hold them accountable. This systemic hostility to the notion of accountability damages the police very seriously.

If only police officers, at all levels, could understand this, they'd face a whole lot less hostility from the public.

Metcountymounty said...

The whole 'extra-ordinary powers' over you really grates doesn't it Dandelion? De Menezes was a tragedy I don't think anyone can say otherwise, but the two guys who pulled the triggers can't be accused of murder and the coroner decided to remove the option of unlawful killing, not the Police. Have you read the transcripts of all the evidence? The SFO's were told in several briefings that they would only be sent in to the target IF it was confirmed. They aren't privvy to everything going on and have to trust the information they were given, they also do not have the luxury of questioning the orders to get all the information to make an informed judgement themselves, don't forget they were after a failed suicide bomber who had been on the run for 24 hours. They were told to go in and from that point on De Menezes had virtually no chance. They did their job as trained and as within - as they believed them to be at the time - lawful constraints. As far as they were concerned they were going into a confirmed target situation with a failed suicide bomber. The issues with did he stand up or move towards them or didn't he will be argued about for years, a situation like that effects memory and recall differently, if you have a psychological background as I suspect you should know something of perceptual distortion under stress no? My personal feeling is that some of the officers involved in the command structure made unforgivable mistakes and they have not been held responsible, mainly the commissioner for blocking the ipcc and the commander who gave seemingly intentionally vague and very delayed decisions - I've been in a command room like that and know how hectic it can be but failing to make timely decisions ultimately cost an innocent mans life. I also think that the coroner shouldn't have removed the option of unlawful killing. The outcome was always going to be appealed by one side or the other anyway and given the legal position of lawful and unlawful killing it should have been left to run all the way up to the house of lords for a final ruling. The fact is the guys on the ground did everything right with the information they had at the time and they now have to live with the knowledge that they killed an innocent man.

Blue Eyes said...

MTG, I find it interesting that my use of language is the only part of my comment that you object to. If you were offended by it then I apologise and simultaneously suggest that you grow a slightly thicker skin. I suppose in the rarefied atmosphere within which you live it must be quite a shock to hear such uncouth words. Maybe you should open your curtains from time to time.

MTG said...

Dear Blue Eyes,
Only very naughty boys misquote commenters sequentially. I never said that your use of language was the only part of your comment to which I raised objection. As it happens, I never allow foul language to offend me.

I am simply affording readers a better understanding of who you are with an observation that you quickly revert to a vernacular of obscenities.

Study this for a while - read it over several times before embarrassing your keyboard.

Blue Eyes said...

Who have I misquoted? Where is your comment which discusses the "substance" of my "vernacular" comment?

Anonymous said...

Methinks this Blue eyes is a Troll looking for distractive arguments. Don't feed it.

Dandelion said...

Why did I bring up the 'extraordinary powers' thing, MCM? Because people were comparing the police with other professions, in the context of accountability. It's not rocket science. My objection is not to the powers, but to the excercise of those power without responsibility.

When innocent people can be killed by the exercising of those same powers, and no-one is held to account, then that is a matter of grave public concern, to say nothing of those abused by police, or those who are victims of police error, without actually being killed.

I agree with you, btw about whose fault the Jean-Charles death probably was and what should have happened. As I keep saying, the problem is systemic - ie responsibility can and should be traced right to the top. It just doesn't help public confidence when those lower down the ranks are so terribly defensive, and apparently hostile not only to the very notion of accountability, but even to the slightest suggestion that the police has a problem in this regard.

I believe (or at least, I hope) we're fundamentally on the same side. We want to see a police that is run with competence and integrity, not the shambles which the public and the everyday police person is expected to tolerate.

Anonymous said...

Sounds a bit like a lot of professions, unfortunately.

How many accountants were censured as a result of Enron? How many bankers as a result of the credit crunch? How many politicians?

Tom said...

OK Dandelion, MTG et al.

Many years ago, as a member of a QRF (quick reaction force) I was sent to deal with an IED. I cleared the area and summoned the experts to play with the nasty bang thing.

Carefull to avoid disturbing the Bang Bang, I worried about using the radio (remote/radio detonation), or getting too near the device (tremalo detenation), or making too much noise. Anyhow the nice and quiet device waited patiently for the nice 'bomb' officer to incapacitate it, and everyone went home very happy.

Scenario 2. You are chasing a running bomb. it can be manually detonated at any time. The environment is a closed area, that, should there be an explosion, there will be a cascade affect. that is, the device will effectively double or treble its destructive power. There are innocents who cannot be evacuated in the military manner which requires immediate conformity to an order, but a multi-ethnic group unversed in military protocol. This is not helpful.

While chasing the target suspect bomb, and mindful of the potential danger, you realise you are out of comms. Decision time. Do I fire? Or do I gamble with lives?

You Answer, because in reality it takes a lot of guts to run after a bomb. I don't know about you. Theoretically it is easy to be a hero, but in real life, it is very different to the 1800 hrs news on BBC1.

De Menzes was an out and out tragedy, but in truth if we ask for extra-ordinary courage from the men and women in blue, then surely it is their right to expect a reasonable degree of support from those they protect.

Sorry SOC, but I suspect my comment will offend. If that is the case, and other contributors wish, rather than malign your site, they may contact me direct. You will of course have access to my email address.

I stand by these comments.

Hogday said...

Well said Tom.

I happen to have been similarly deployed, in civvy police guise, and had what turned out to be an unarmed man in my sights. The briefing we had, pointed us all towards him being a threat to life and limb, but what confronted me didn't quite cover this particular `what if`? I held, he surrendered, we both got lucky. Similar ROE's (thats rules of engagement for the psychologists reading this) in Afghanistan - a war zone, not a British city street - Man in dishdash in hostile area wearing black turban carrying RPG launcher = legit target. Same man, realising he's under observation, puts RPG on the ground and walks ten paces, waving arms in air = a no-no. In 5 seconds he can grab it and fire, but on that basis it's still a no-no. So, like a Miss World would say, I too want all the little children to grow up safe and happy, oh and world peace. Not too much to ask for.

Dandelion said...

Sierra Charlie, yes you're right. But accountants don't have the direct authority as part of their jobs to stop and search people, to enter people's homes, stigmatise people, deprive them of liberty, and sometimes of life. Sometimes on incorrect or false intelligence.

Tom, no-one is having a go at the individuals who pulled the trigger. Did you not read the part where I said I agreed with MCM's analysis?

But I do think you're expecting a bit much to ask for support from the public who are supposed to be being protected, when any one of us could in theory be shot dead at any moment as a result of an honest mistake, and not only that, but when the police knows it won't be held accountable. Right or wrong, it's just not realistic.

If Jean-Charles and Ian Tomlinson had been dealt with the same way as the Malcolm Searles case, it would go a long way in terms of public confidence. The difference I suspect is that the responsibility in the latter case could be isolated to the individual who killed, whereas in the former, the responsibility lay a lot further up the hierarchy.

Stressed Out Cop said...

Sorry I've been away - only a part time dad to one of mine.

Difference between corruption and other forms of accountability where public want a head to roll.
I think we all agree corruption is all bad. Can't say anymore as it's something I've never come across... ever, but there must be some otherwise we wouldn't have complaints dept.

Honest held beliefs and subsequent actions sometimes result in deaths. It's a hard call but not always due to negligence.

Put yourself there .. not nice.