It’s Not Just the Met: Deployment Policy Swamps Resources

Thanks to Ademan for his up front and honest appraisal of the current situation in MetPol – his blog published earlier today has already generated some interesting responses. The overwhelming majority of which are entirely in agreement with the case he presents

It’s not just the Met though…

Many miles from the bright lights of London the same issues present themselves on a daily basis. The last couple of weeks and the month or so to come present some of the most dangerous times for Policing resilience. Throughout the six weeks of the summer holiday season both ends of the fuse burn brighter and faster than at any other time of the year.

At one end of the fuse, countless families are spending more time with each other than normal. School is out which means the kids are permanently at home. For those with jobs this is the time when the need for parents to take time off from work arises. The stress and strain of relentless parenting coupled with the endless need for the kids to find new and exciting ways of entertaining themselves creates a much higher demand on the 999 and non-emergency lines. Nuisance, ASB and domestic calls during the recent spell of actual summer weather represented an overwhelming majority of the deployments, and were up to 40% higher than average over the previous three months in respect of domestics and as much as 300% higher for ASB.

At the other end, both the Call Handling and Frontline elements of the Policing machine are simultaneously decimated by the need for leave (if that’s allows this year) and the lack of resources created by it. When combined with the increase in workload the issue is magnified by a further factor of two and quickly becomes unmanageable.

BANG!

The points that Ademan raise come sharply into focus as the deployment list grows by the minute. The arguments about whether to send an officer or not can be heard across the district – Sergeants and Dispatchers have blunt discussions over the phone about the latest Facebook slanging match. It may well be that it has now ticked too many boxes to be written off because one 15 year-old has made a technical ‘threat to kill’ against an other but it still doesn’t mean there is anyone to go!

The Ambulance Service are in a similar boat – hypothetically speaking. Their resources seem to be thinner on the ground than ever too. One day last month officers ended up dealing with two cardiac arrests in one day after being asked to back up an ambulance that had never been dispatched. The knock on effect being that for the equivalent of an entire 10 hour shift, two of the 12 officers covering the division were stood helplessly in A&E just in case their patient didn’t pull through.

The next day arrives and a new batch of officers start their tour of duty. They all have a crime account that is full to overflowing already, but through no fault of their own they all need to take on at least four extra jobs from the list of ‘stuff we never got around to’ yesterday – affectionately known as the ‘shit list’ amongst my team.
These are mostly the non-life-threatening jobs that are also the most complaint-worthy. They have festered and fermented for anything from three up to eighteen hours as there simply hasn’t been anyone available to go and now someone who wasn’t even on duty at the time has to pick up the pieces and take all the flack.

It’s like a three-tier wedding cake of failure:

Tier One is the call handling section. There are a number of issues here but for once, resourcing (although there is always a degree of making do) is not generally one of them. It is the smallest, yet in many respects the most critical, layer.
The issue here is making good and robust policy that allows the right decision to be made at the outset. We go to too much stuff that is not Policing related. We should not have to go and get your child from a mates house as he is refusing to come home. We should not be going to the 50-year-old who has fallen over just because he said ‘Boo’ to an ambulance technician once and now has an ‘aggression’ marker against him. We should not be checking on the children in a house because the Social Services team have phoned them all day with no success and now have no time to go because it’s half past three on a Friday. These jobs are the beginning of the problem and are compounded as they get further down the line.

Tier Two is the middle management on the ground – The sponge layer in the cake. Sergeants in charge of a shift have to come in to work every day and spend their entire shift batting off rubbish jobs, allocating out the rubbish jobs that got through the filter from tier one and dealing with the fallout from the fact that we are not getting to or being able to deal effectively with the jobs we already have. It’s a job I have done in a temporary capacity on a number of occasions and it can be hateful.
Once a job has been accepted into the system from call handling it becomes almost impossible to get rid of without satisfying everyone that it has been comprehensively investigated – regardless of whether this is warranted or not. Phone calls are made, options are discussed and more often than not the person who was promised a Police attendance by the call handler will insist on nothing less than that. The job ends up qualifying for Tier Three.

Tier Three is the officer. The brandy soaked heavy fruit cake base holding everything else up. If a job has come to you then there is virtually no option but to accept it into the list of outstanding investigations you already have on your account. At one point recently I had over 30 crimes on my account – through no fault of anyone including me. With that amount of active investigation there is no way that anything effective can be done with any of them without neglecting some of the others to some extent. The result is that officers end up being ineffective at investigating many crimes rather than effectively dealing with a few. It’s completely counter-productive.
I believe that if I concentrated solely on one crime a day, and had no distractions or other calls, I could almost guarantee to get that job boxed off and filed. This would represent good service for that victim and an effective use of time. Unfortunately this would mean that the crime at the bottom of the list would have to wait a month for any action and would not allow me to keep up with the growth of my account – typically two or three lengthy investigations per day. It would also, of course, mean I could not go out to any of the jobs that were being passed over the radio either.

So, in a roundabout way this brings us back to the solution proposed at by Ademan. The mesh needs to be tighter at the top of the sieve. The writing on my uniform says Police. It does not say Ambulance or Pseudo Parent or Social Worker.

Let us get on with doing our job – if we just had to worry about getting that bit right the public might see that we are actually quite good at it!


Guest Blog: The MPS Local Policing Model – Ademan Deloya

The Local Policing Model, the Metropolitan Police Service’s new way of doing everything, is in place across most of London now and, more or less exactly as many people predicted (including me, here: http://wp.me/p2T48h-y), it is failing. Unfortunately, all of the fine ideas and clever acronyms and gloriously proliferated layers of management and supervision are balanced on the shoulders of not even nearly enough officers actually doing the work that matters: answering calls and investigating crimes. Response teams can be relied upon to run out of units within an hour or two of the start of a late turn (the busiest shifts), because the system is not built with any tolerance to cope with a single major incident, or even a moderately warm Saturday. Call handling target times are being missed, and morale has fallen off a cliff.

Already, senior management types are fiddling with the system. Plans such as having a few night duty officers come in early to cover the handover periods are, I’m told, in the offing, but this will not deal with the real problem. The handover period is not the issue; the whole shift is the issue. There are not enough police officers available to deal with the amount of work that is there to be done. No amount of card-shuffling is going to alter that fact. Quite aside from which, what are these non-core officers going to be driving? A couple of those spare cars we keep hanging around the nick? Yeah, right. If it’s there and it’s even nearly roadworthy, it’s already being used.

Now, I have not had my head under a rock for the past five years. I, like everyone else in the service, am acutely aware that we are not likely to get our ranks swelled any time soon. So we have to find another way of solving this problem. It seems a matter of simple mathematics to me that, if there is too much work for the number of people doing it, and you can’t increase the number of people doing it, you have to reduce the amount of work being done. In this case, the only pragmatic way of doing that is by reversing the seemingly irresistible blossoming of our remit. Most of the time it is perfectly possible to determine at the call-handling stage what is likely to require a police presence and what is not. Unfortunately, the culture recently has been one of “send a unit, just in case”. This seems like logic, looked at only on a case-by-case basis. It always seems preferable to send a unit than not to, in case it kicks off. But the cumulative effect of all of these individual decisions is the drip-drip-drip of mission creep, and it swamps the service. Officers spend so much of their time dealing with every argument, landlord-tenant dispute, civil dispute and neighbourly-bout-of-mutual-toy-hurling that genuine victims of genuine crimes too often get lost in the shuffle.

We do not help ourselves, either, by taking it upon ourselves to be the “service of last resort” for every other public service. In the odd whimsical moment, I toy with the idea of sending an outstanding call – let’s say a domestic – across to the London Ambulance Service, and saying “We have no units to deal at present, can you please attend this call, assess the scene, and let us know if we need to send a unit, and then wait there for our arrival?” Just to see what they’d say. I suspect I would be answered with a richly deserved invitation to jog on. And yet when the reverse happens, we routinely go. Send a unit, just in case. A man’s fallen over in the street? A ten-year old child won’t stop throwing things around the house? The landlord won’t fix the washing machine? Send a unit, just in case. It has to stop. Budget cuts are affecting everyone. But we allow the staffing problems of our partner agencies to become our staffing problems, because we do not seem to employ anyone with the courage to say “No, that is not a police matter, we barely have enough people to do our own work, we cannot do yours for you,” and we certainly do not employ anyone with the courage to say “We are not here to sort out all your problems for you, I’m sure your landlord is perfectly horrid but it is absolutely none of our business.”

If we could manage this, as a pleasant bonus, we might even find morale improving. I, like many others in this job, did not become a police officer because I woke up one morning with a burning desire to be a cross between a social worker, a relationship counsellor, an Approved Mental Health Professional and a paramedic. Police officers, at heart, want to deal with crime. An honest, public conversation needs to be had at the highest levels, on the subject of what we are entitled to expect from our police services, given the resources that we intend to devote to them. A refocusing of police resources back towards what Peel had in mind might give the police enough time to do their core business properly, and might even reinvigorate a tired, cynical workforce. The alternative, our current course of playing financial Jenga with the police, married to the culture of “send a unit, just in case”, leaves us sleepwalking towards disaster.

Ademan Deloya’s blog can be found at http://ademandeloya.wordpress.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at @AdemanDeloya


Abigail…

This post is not about Policing

This post is not about the governments latest policy decision

This post is not about me…or you

This post is about Abigail

At about quarter to five the radio breathed…that unmistakable audible intake of breath from the radio operator that always comes before a job.

I was tired – very tired. I had completely failed to sleep after the previous night and had pulled into a side road to watch the traffic for a bit. To be honest I was probably starting to drift off – we have all been there – awake enough to hear the radio, but offline enough to recharge the batteries for a few minutes.

The call was to my Sgt – asking him to make himself available for a phone call. This was always an ominous sign – they never phone him to tell him about a nice job. I felt an immediate reaction in my chest when five minutes later my job mobile rang. He passed me the details and we set off to an address – wide awake now and feeling sick in anticipation.

We had been asked to meet a paramedic at the end of the road and follow him on foot to the address. The walk was a silent one, despite the fact that we had both known the man ahead of us for years. Words were pointless, their absence protecting us from the reality of the situation for a few moments longer.

After a short walk we were in the address and were ushered upstairs. The silence still prevailed – although now it was deafening.

On the bed in front of us was a mother and her child. She cradled it in her arms as her husband walked over to greet us. ‘Thanks for coming’ he said – as if we had popped over for coffee and a chat. ‘Sorry to have to drag you out at this time in the morning’

I reassured him that he didn’t need to apologise – resisting the urge to take his lead and enter into casual small talk. I knew he was in shock and that this was nothing more than a coping mechanism.

‘We have to see her’ I said, choosing the direct approach.

This is something that I have regularly done in such situations – I believe it is sometimes easier for everyone just to get to the point rather than risk skirting around it for an unlimited period of time.

‘I know’ he said and looked to his wife for a reaction. She clasped her baby tighter to her chest. The numbness gave way to a tear, then a sob, then a voice -

‘NO!’

‘Darling…’ he said.

‘NO!’ she screamed. The emotion suddenly released. ‘No No No No No NO NO!’

We stood and we waited. Silent. Unwanted intruders in a moment of horrific intimacy.

After what seemed like hours, but was in truth only a few minutes, her arms slowly relaxed and she released the child to her husband. He walked across the room and placed her in her gently in her crib before silently walking back to his sobbing wife, now collapsed on the bed.

I checked the tiny body, still disturbingly warm, with the paramedic. He quietly gave us his assessment of what had happened. It appears that after a string of restless nights, mum had decided to move Abigail into her bed to make it easier to feed her. Her husband had been sleeping in the spare room to make sure that there was plenty of space. Tragically, during one of the early morning feeds, mum had been overcome with tiredness and fallen asleep. The slight movement of her body relaxing had been enough for her breast tissue to obstruct the baby’s nose as it fed. Silently suffocating her child as she dozed.

She may have only nodded off for about ten minutes, but by the time she came around it was too late. Her world was destroyed and her future changed incomprehensibly.

I walked downstairs to meet the Sgt and tell him what I knew. We were soon joined by the husband who was back into talkative denial. ‘Can I get you a cup of tea or a sandwich? Although the bread isn’t too fresh’ he said.

We politely declined before moving outside. Decisions were made bedding was seized and arrangements were put in place for messages to be passed to nearby family members. Eventually it was time for Abigail to leave home for the last time.

‘Do you want her car seat?’ said dad.

A lifetime seemed to pass before he realised what he had said and was immediately hit with another massive dose of reality. On some level I was pleased to be able to leave at that point – yet on some level I wanted to stay. I wanted to make things right again…but that was never going to be possible.

*************************

When I went to work that night, all was well in my world. When I went to work that night, all was well in hers too.

By the time I came home from work the next morning – everything had changed.

I kept thinking about that little doze that had crept up on me in the car. The same little doze that crept up on Abigail’s mum. I actually felt a little guilty that it had been so harmless to me, but so devastating elsewhere.

Abigail was loved by everyone in her family, by her parents, her two brothers and countless others who knew her. It is truly cruel that one decision, with absolutely no malicious intent, could have had such tragic circumstances.

Abigail had no say in her fate – she was helpless to fight it. A true innocent who will never be forgotten.


‘Go Home or Face Arrest’

This is the slogan used by the Home Office in a number of London Boroughs as the first stage in a national campaign on immigration. A warning to those who have come to the UK and now reside here illegally coupled with an offer of help to those who choose to leave voluntarily. Despite only being seen in a small part of the capital, the campaign has quickly attracted national attention following a number of complaints about the use of the phrase ‘Go Home’ and its perceived links to slogans used by racist groups.

Racism exists – I am not going to deny that for a second. It is a real and often devastating evil which is all too common in our society – it should not be tolerated in any form.

However….

It can also not be denied is that we as a nation have, in some instances, become enormously over sensitive to matters of political correctness. We now exist in a world where common phraseology is challenged because of its potential for mis-interpretation rather than any actual intended malice.

I received an interesting response to a tweet published earlier today in preparation for this post – The comment was that if you apply the same sentiment to a similar message such as ‘Burglars – Stay at Home or Face Arrest’ it would probably not even cause an eyebrow to be raised. There certainly wouldn’t be such widespread media attention.

I have stood toe to toe in the High Street with groups of many backgrounds. I have told them all in the same way to ‘Stop fighting each other and go home’ – they too have been threatened with arrest if they persist in their illegal activities.

On at least one occasion I have been accused of being racist by one member of such a group who was of mixed race and picked up on those two words – ‘Go Home’. He immediately attached a racial significance to them and reacted against me on that basis. His defence to the assault of racial provocation was completely destroyed the footage of me using the same phrase to at least four other groups, consisting entirely of people of a white ethnic background, in the 45 minutes prior to his arrest.

I honestly believe that many of us in the UK are so caught up in what might or might not be potentially interpreted as racist, sexist, or any of the other ‘ists that we have lost the ability to see a simple message for what it is. I believe that on some level, the Advertising Standards Agency is, by its very actions here, re-enforcing this Ultra-PC attitude rather than investigating a truly offensive message, designed to incite or promote a racist ideology.

I may get shot down for saying this but I honestly believe that there was no issue with the message on those billboards. If an extremist or racist chooses to take the intended message and twist it to fit their own aims, then the issue lies with them and it is them that should be investigated. If I come across an illegal overstayer I will detain them and seek to have action taken against them just as I would arrest and seek action in respect of one of the rapists and murderers that so many believe I should be out catching.

What I will say to finish however – because I can’t quite bring myself to write an entirely pro-government post – is that perhaps those in power wouldn’t have to expose themselves to such criticism if our borders weren’t quite so soft.

In other news published today it was revealed that only a small proportion of those found entering the country illegally from Europe had their fingerprints taken by UKBA officials yet 100% of legitimate passengers through the same ports had some form of biometrics collected. With such gaping holes in our border controls, is it any wonder that we have such issues with illegal occupancy and that our population has been swelled by 420,000 in just the last year including a staggering 165,000 more people immigrating to the UK than emigrating from it!


Guest Blog: How Times Have Changed

As a member of the public who is not employed in any of the emergency services my heart sinks when I listen to the talk of youngsters about the Police.

When I was little (in the sixties) I was brought up to believe the Police were there to help you, but don’t you dare bring the Police to our door!! My Parents had very firm views on the Police. You rang them in an emergency only, but then where we lived we had no phone, but the Police had a regular beat and they knew the local bobby. My father had many tales to tell about growing up in the East End of London and how the local policeman took him home having clipped his ear for some misdemeanour only for his Mother or his older siblings (his father having died when he was very young) to inflict further punishment for bringing shame to the house. My mother lived in Leicester and her attitude was very much the same. She would have died from embarrassment if the Police had taken her home for any reason!!

So, when I had a minor traffic accident when riding my bike when I was about 8 or 9 and the local Policeman scooped me off the road, dealt with the car driver, and took me home, I was more worried about what my parents would say about a Policeman bringing me home rather than the state of my bike! Needless to say, I was re-assured by the Policeman and indeed my parents were more concerned about me than my bike! The man who ran me over came round later that night to check I was OK and paid for the repairs to my bike. Can’t imagine that happening today.

I remember in my Junior School every four years they did a week-long whole school project on one of the Emergency Services, and in my time, it was the Police. We had visits from all sorts of policemen and women, the uniform has changed over the years hasn’t it? I do remember one visit in particular. It was from a dog handler. He brought his dog with him, a huge German Shepherd. This dog padded around the classroom while we asked questions, we could pet him, and he did some basic exercises on the playground like a retrieve and then he chased a baddy.
Fast forward 45 years. The training for these dogs must have changed. Not too long ago we had a dog handler and his dog visit our Cub Pack. The Cubs couldn’t touch the dog, and she wasn’t allowed off the lead!

The attitude to the Police seems to have changed over the years. I can remember being shocked at the murders of PC Blakelock and WPC Fletcher, when the two Manchester WPC’s were killed I was shocked again, my sons seemed to just shrug their shoulders and say, well I guess it is part of the risks of their job – I was shocked again.

When my oldest son was in the Junior School I discovered he had a bundle of sweets in his sleeve following a visit to a local shop. I knew I hadn’t bought them. I was horrified. We went back to the shop, who were very understanding, and then I took him to the local Police Station. I asked them to frighten him rigid so he wouldn’t do it again. The Sergeant gently told me that it wasn’t what they did anymore, and he spoke to my son about the wrong he had done and the possible consequences. Water off a ducks back. His father was so disappointed in him, and his response had a far greater effect. I hit the roof and shouted and yelled!! The shame of it all.

So imagine my horror when my youngest son several years later rang me from a local supermarket to say he had been caught shop lifting. Having stupidly accepted a dare to lift a bottle of Jack Daniels from a local supermarket whose policy was always to call the police, he walked out of the store behind the security guard! Not exactly the smartest of moves. I was told by the police officer to moderate my behaviour as I ripped into my son for being so stupid, for doing something illegal, and for being a prat. I shut up immediately, scared that I would be in trouble too for trying to discipline my son.

We had mixed messages about what was to happen to him. Several phone calls from and to the station, then the courts, then the station again over a period of weeks and he ended up with a warning. So a trip to the Station again. I was in tears, my youngest son – he took it all in, apologised and appeared to be upset by what he had done. Again, he was more scared about what his father would say than anything the police could do to him.

This attitude puzzles me. Why is he more scared of his father (who has never laid a hand on him) than a police man?

I know who scares me more. In an age of Taser, armed police, and everything else, the programmes on the tv showing a portion of police life. The Police try hard to walk a very difficult line, some of them don’t help themselves. Others are caring beyond the call of duty. I am full of admiration for those who run towards danger while others run away. However, I dread the Police turning up at my doorstep, because they can only bring bad news

Thank you for doing a difficult job. I couldn’t do it. I might have been able to do it some 40 years ago, but not now!


Travellers can Keep Stolen Caravan – ECHR Strikes Again

Less than a month ago I wrote with disappointment about the case of three life term prisoners that were potentially going to get their sentences reduced because of a European Court ruling that their whole-life tariff was considered a breach of their Human Rights.

Now its the turn of a family of travellers from Hampshire to benefit from the inverse benefits that the ECHR provides. Benefits that exist at the expense of genuine victims of crime who are still paying the costs of their loss.

In 2011 Kathleen McLelland and Michael Curry had their caravan stolen. They had paid £20,000 for the top-of-the-range 26ft Bailey Louisiana and invested a further £10,000 upgrading it. They had poured their life savings into this project plus some additional financed costs. The caravan was stored on a secure site, but unfortunately this wasn’t enough to prevent it disappearing into the night.

Fortunately Police discovered the caravan 18 months later on a traveller site in Surrey. It was identified as stolen by officers who were at the site for an unrelated matter. By now it was being lived in by a family on the site. Police arrested and interviewed a 22 year-old man in respect of the theft who provided an account of the sale as well as what he said was proof that he had lawfully bought the caravan. His story – that he had bought the caravan for £300 from a man in a pub who he cannot name.

The arrested man was unbelievably – on the strength of this story and a hand-written scrap of paper masquerading as a receipt – released with no action being taken against him. Apparently there was insufficient evidence to suggest that he knew the caravan was stolen or was involved in the theft of it.

This is where things started to go wrong in my opinion.

I would love to know what justification was provided for accepting this story. It is completely ridiculous. I have always believed that if someone pays substantially under the expected market price for an item, especially in the ‘man down the pub’ scenario, then it is reasonable to expect that the item may not have been lawfully obtained. They lose their ‘honestly held belief’ that the item was lawfully in the possession of the seller and hey presto – you’re nicked for handling stolen goods.

It is here that the pendulum swung in favour of the travellers. The line between Police powers relating to investigation of criminal activity and the bureaucratic world of civil matters was crossed and a new box of red tape was opened…

Advice was subsequently sought, by Police, from their legal experts and a letter written to the victims explaining that they would now have to take civil action against the occupying family to remove them from their home as doing so by force would breach their Human Rights. The fact that this was now a dwelling property evidently pushed the case out of reach of the legislation relating to seizure stolen property. It was now considered to be well and truly into the realm of evictions, squatters and tenancy disputes. 

As soon as that person walked out of custody with a release form the legitimate owners of the caravan lost nearly all hope of recovering their property. They will now have to go through complex, and expensive, civil proceedings and fight the HR legislation as well as the current occupants. Their chances of ever seeing this caravan again are – in my experience – slim.

I don’t think that I would be alone in predicting that the family currently living in it will not be doing so it for long once a civil case starts. I would expect that, at around that time – or conveniently just prior to it, the caravan in question might be sold to another unknown person in a pub for a small amount of money and disappear – leaving the current occupiers free to move into newly ‘acquired’ accommodation at the same site experiencing none of the hardships that the ECHR claims to be protecting them from.

I cannot challenge the ultimate decision of the force to declare this a civil matter with the circumstances being as they are now. But I feel that the ball was dropped at the point where there was still a potential for prosecution and seizure of the caravan. I do not know whether this was a fumble by the investigating officer in putting their case forward, or whether it was an unfortunate decision by the Charge Desk Sergeant or CPS.

I would have been furious if I had been asked to let this person walk out of my cell block without a charge sheet because I know how complicated things would have been about to become. I expect he even got offered a lift home too.

Meanwhile Kathleen McLelland and Michael Curry are still paying £250 per month to clear the outstanding balance owing against their caravan. There’s justice for you…


Guest Blog: Screening out Crime – Chris Hobbs

This skit encompasses the recently reported ‘screening out’ of crimes by the Met, its treatment of serving officers post Leveson, the manipulation of crime figures, the Met’s treatment of whistleblowers or others who fail to toe the line (Howard Shaw, Brian Casson), the arrogance of ACPO ranks, bullying and finally the skeletons that are still rattling around the Met’s 2011 riots cupboard.

Scene; An office deep within Scotland Yard where a half a dozen senior ACPO ranked officers have congregated.  The mood is jovial and amidst much mutual back slapping, champagne is being quaffed.

Suddenly the door opens and a young staff officer, PIERS-SMYTHE  enters the room addressing the most senior ACPO officer present.

PIERS-SMYTHE: Sir, sir. Terrible news. There’s just been a BBC news item which shows we haven’t been investigating 45% of recorded crime.

ACPO 1: I know Piers-Smythe, that’s why we’re celebrating.

PIERS-SMYTHE: Sir, you don’t understand. This man had his expensive car radio stolen, his car tool kit and presents for his disabled child. He only left the car for five minutes and by the next morning, he had already received our standard ‘Sorry you have been the victim of crime, case closed’ letter.

ACPO 1: Sounds like we’re being efficient eh what. (nods of agreement from fellow officers).

PIERS-SMYTHE; Sir, CCTV footage seen on the BBC clearly shows the two men taking the goods from our victims car and putting them into their own. The number plate is clearly visible.

ACPO 1: Piers-Smythe that’s exactly why we’re having this party ooops I mean meeting.

PIERS-SMYHTE: But sir, why?

ACPO 1: It’s obvious dear boy. The public will watch that report and read about it in the papers and will conclude that when they become a crime victim there’s no point in contacting us so they’ll join the millions of others who also believe there is no point in reporting crime.

PIERS-SMYTHE: Sir?

ACPO: And our crime figures will come down still further which will ensure we’ll all get our QPM’s  from the Queen  and possibly even knighthoods. (turns to fellow ACPO officer).

ACPO 1: By the way Tom have you nominated me for my QPM yet?

ACPO 2: All sorted. (turns to ACPO 3) Have you done mine yet?

ACPO 3: Nearly. I’ll email it to you to check over.

ACPO 4: Who’s doing mine?

PIERS-SMYHE leaves only to return two minutes later.

PIERS-SMYTHE: Sir, sir. We’ve another problem sir.

ACPO 1: Is there no peace?

PIERS-SMYTHE: That victim of crime sir who was on the TV. He’s a police officer. He’s one of us.

Room goes silent.

ACPO 1; (roars) WHAT. A BLOODY WHISTLEBLOWER. WHAT DO WE DO WITH POLICE WHISTLEBLOWERS?

All other ACPO officers in chorus:  THEIR LEGS. WE DO THEIR LEGS.

ACPO 1: Go and get me a progress report.

PIERS-SMYTHE leaves and returns ten minutes later.

PIERS-SMYTHE: Sir it was his wife who contacted the BBC but…..

ACPO 1: So.

PIERS-SMYTHE: Well anyway our people have smashed down his door, arrested him for misconduct in public office, terrified his children, seized his laptop, his daughter’s playstation, her plastic playphone  and the family hamster.

ACPO 1: And if the Crown Prosecution Service won’t prosecute?

ACPO officers in chorus: WE’LL DO HIM FOR BREACH OF DISCIPLINE.

PIERS-SMYTHE: Sir. Just a word of advice if I may. We have come badly unstuck at a couple of employment tribunals lately.

ACPO 1: No matter Piers-Smythe, if we lose we’ll just pay up. It’s only taxpayers money and we’ll make sure those officers will be forever tainted as troublemakers.  If any senior officer gets criticised by the judges we’ll just ignore them and promote the officer. Anything else?

PIERS-SMYTHE: Sir, Chief Superintendent  Righteous from East London is here.

ACPO 1: Ah him. (turns to others).

ACPO 1: This is the officer who refuses to bring down his crime figures?

ACPO 2: Disgraceful.

ACPO 4: Unbelievable.

ACPO 1: He actually insists his officers report pickpocket offences as theft rather than property lost in the street and he refuses to classify attempted burglary’s, where there are marks around rhe doors or windows, as criminal damage.

ACPO’s  2,3,4 and 5 gasp in horror.

ACPO 1: He refuses to appoint a Detective Inspector to trawl through reported crimes so they can be no-crimed and won’t allow officers to contact victims of crime in an attempt to get them to unreport them.

Two shocked ACPO officers have to sit down.

ACPO 1: He even insists that theft where violence is used is actually reported as a robbery rather than theft and assault and, you won’t believe this; he won’t send his drugs squad officers out to issue street warnings to those with tiny amounts of cannabis in order to boost his detection figures.

PIERS-SMYTHE: Sir, we can hardly sack him for that.

ACPO 1: Sadly the Commissioner hasn’t won his battle yet to make officers arbitrarily redundant.

ACPO 3: So what are we going to do with him.

ACPO 1: Well. I’ll get him in here and shout at him for an hour and see if I can reduce him to tears like I have with other stroppy Chief Superintendents. Where does the bounder live Piers-Smythe?

PIERS-SMITH; Out in Essex sir, somewhere near Harlow.

ACPO 1: Ah good, we’ll post him to Feltham over near Heathrow.

PIERS-SMITH; That’ll be a terrible journey for him sir.  (Pauses) Sir you’re not thinking of ……

ACPO 1: I am Piers-Smythe. Not just Feltham, but as senior police liaison officer based at the Feltham Young Offender’s Institution.

PIERS-SMYTHE: Sir, that’s inhuman. The gangs, the violence; that’s worse than a posting to Kabul.

ACPO 1: Enough Piers-Smythe. We’ll see him in ten minutes.

PIERS-SMYTHE leaves.

ACPO 1:  Is there anything else coming up that could bite us on the backside?

ACPO 3: Well there is the second anniversary of the riots.

ACPO 1:  Hmmmm. I can’t deny we’ve still got more than a few career ruining skeletons rattling around in our cupboard. Tom can you all instruct our legal people to get some form of gagging order if there is  a sniff of any skeletons emerging or if we think someone is going to blab lets get a warrant and kick the door in.

ACPO 2 nods.

ACPO 1: Right, if you all move your chairs to behind my desk you can all have a go at shouting and intimidating Chief Superintendent  Righteous.  We’ ll have a little wager as to how long it takes to reduce him to tears.

PIER-SMYTHE enters.

ACPO 1: Send him in but first frisk  him in case his mobile is set to record.

PIERS-SMTHE leaves

ACPO 1:( to other  ACPO officers) You just can’t trust police colleagues these days.

All nod in agreement.


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