Is it possible to reform the police? It is certainly necessary. Every politician says that there are lots of brave, decent, hard-working officers prepared to sacrifice their lives in the line of duty â€“ and so there are. But there are also quite a lot of cowardly, lazy and incompetent ones.
So youâ€™re going to punish the majority of officers because you believe a number of them are â€˜cowardly, lazy and incompetentâ€™? Rather than specifically target the worst preforming officers, youâ€™d bludgeon the majority with Winsor? Mr Palmer actually fails to mention any statistics here, he just stereotypes officers because he probably has received a speeding ticket or has been burgled and there was not an officer on his street corner whistling.
As Tom Winsorâ€™s review of police pay and conditions found, many police officers are not up to the work theyâ€™re meant to do: theyâ€™re too fat to walk comfortably, let alone to chase a burglar. In the Met, for instance, about 22 per cent of serving male officers are obese.
The statistics Mr Winsor originally referred to was drawn from a cross section of officers who volunteered to get fit because they believed they were overweight. Not surprisingly, the majority of those officers were overweight.
Inspector Gadget said it better than I ever could:
If you read a report into the nationâ€™s health which claimed that 95 per cent of the population was sick or injured, you would be amazed.
If you then discovered the report was, in fact, based on a survey only of patients in doctorsâ€™ waiting rooms you would understand how it reached its ludicrous conclusions and dismiss it out of hand.
Tom Winsor actually opens his comments on police fitness by admitting: â€œThere is little data on the fitness of those in the police serviceâ€ adding that when Hampshire Constabulary conducted a trial fitness test, 97 per cent of those who took it passed.
Mr Palmer claims 22% of the Met is over-weight, Iâ€™d like to know where he got this figure from.
But they canâ€™t be sacked, because the policeâ€™s â€œspecial conditions of serviceâ€ mean that the only basis for removing an officer is if he is guilty of gross misconduct.
Like every other type of employment? You screw up you get sacked-that sounds fair doesnâ€™t it?
Mr Winsor found that the police are paid 10 to 15 per cent more than other emergency workers, and frequently do less work.
Again, staggering lack of statistics here, I honestly canâ€™t remember the last time I witnessed the shift have a proper break for dinner/lunch/breakfast like people do in every other job. I used to work in the private sector, I used to have an hour lunch break and I usually took longer anywayâ€¦.
Here is the violin playing part from me: two nights ago I responded to a woman claiming she was going to kill herself. We blues it over to her house and upon opening the door she swings a bread knife at me. â€œIâ€™m gunna kill anyone who comes in my houseâ€ I was able to talk her out of cutting my face off and I spent over three hours sitting with her, waiting for the mental health assessment team to arrive (and declare her saneâ€¦.)
My point is: Policing is not all Road Wars/Blue Lamp. It is responding to fear for welfares, preventing people from harming themselves and other-you cannot measure this because it is not a conventional quantity that fits neatly in a box. Mr Palmer may not see a bobby walking down his street, cocking his knees and saying â€˜ello ello elloâ€™ mainly because they are completing a full file upgrade to get that prolific burglar put inside, or he is trying to stop a husband beating his wife, taking a witness statement from victim of a robbery, sitting with a victim of rape, putting children in PPO, preventing a smack head from biting his colleague and then doing the hours of arrest statements, use of force forms, phoning up pec to record it then creating a handover for the next shiftâ€¦. I would say the least busy hours of the day are the small hours (on my patch anyway) say 5am to 9am then it all kicks off. Maybe
Only in one in 10 of recorded crimes do the police detect the perpetrator, and only in half those cases does the detection lead to a charge or summons.
Yea, remember criminals donâ€™t want to get caught. We call SOCO and they fail to find evidence of the suspect, we take statements and none of them corroborate and we try CCTV but it fails to identify the suspect. What more can a copper humanly do? Yes, human error plays a part in the failure to investigate crime properly, just like human error plays a part in the shelves of Tesco not being stocked, or the failure of a builder to complete a job on time.
As many people who have called the police to investigate a burglary will also have discovered, officers often appear uninterested in collecting evidence and donâ€™t bother to take the most elementary steps to catch the criminals.
A sweeping generalization there….
Its 5pm on a hot Sunday and a property is broken into. I gaze up the hallway past the broken glass and looted cupboards and see the route the suspect took through the house. The homeowner is very shaken though is unhappy that I am not dusting for prints. I advise her that I am not a Scenes of Crime Officer which leaves her unimpressed and she mumbles about me under her breath. I arrange for SOCO to come and investigate-she is still pissed off. I complete the burglary paperwork and I tell her that the investigation will be filed until the forensics come back. â€œWhy arenâ€™t you out there looking for him?â€ she asked accusingly. â€œI appreciate that your house has been violated by a criminalâ€ I reply calmly â€œBut with all due respect, who would I start looking for?â€ I did the house to house and the burglary was indeed not witnessed and happened within the last week. â€œForensic evidence is out best bet, sadly no one was here to see it so I have no more avenues to investigateâ€. Of course this was not good enough and I can understand why she was still angry, but Iâ€™m not sure what she wanted me to do-I can only do what is humanly possible and identifying the suspect at that time was not possible.
They sympathise with your predicament, but they donâ€™t do anything about it, except to send you a note giving you a crime number so you can claim on the insurance.
I investigate the crime? I try to give the crime reference number to the victim while Iâ€™m on scene, it is very important that the victims receives this. In the meantime, the forensics are analysed so we can identify the suspect-what more can a copper possibly do? Some people honesty think you are going to swoop in, identify the suspect immediately and then deliver them to justice. Yes, ultimately this happens, but not over night.
And if we who live in relatively low-crime, middle-class neighbourhoods think the police are reluctant to turn up and do what theyâ€™re paid for, it is even worse in the poor areas where most crime gets committed: officers often wonâ€™t even enter those places. They think itâ€™s too dangerous.
That is not true-in fact it is a bare faced lie and I challenge Mr Palmer to prove it right. The best results my shift have had recently have all happened in the roughest bits of town. The worst bits of the town are actually the most exciting and difficult to deal with. Shit Street-as we call it because all the local criminals are found there is where you are most likely to bump into a copper creeping about. The more proactive officers will stalk the dark alleys waiting for a drug deal or robbery to come in so they can pounce on the offender. Like I said, it is exciting to be in these parts of the town hence Iâ€™ll always float around those shit bits of town.
It is not often recognised that the form-filling culture that characterises much of the British police is the creation of the police themselves
Sigh, no facts of figures to back that up, but I can confirm there are far too many forms to fill in which are actually a court requirement rather than police. If a file is not completed properly, the case could get dropped in court. I do not know of any paperwork created by the police that is unnecessary and neither does Mr Palmer. If we suddenly scaled back the paper work, you scale back the detail and I very much doubt a Barrister or Solicitor would appreciate this in court. A lot of paperwork is duplicated-that is where time is needlessly lost.
The official inspectorate noted that sergeants are frequently unable to get constables to comply with their orders, but donâ€™t dare force the issue, because they fear being the subject of an investigation and allegation of bullying.
Prove it rather than write hearsay bollocks. Then again, employment rights are out of the Sergeantâ€™s hands and in those of Tom Winsorâ€¦.
A proportion of the constables who stay in the office and out of danger are there because they prefer form-filling to crime-fighting.
Prove it rather than write hearsay bollocks. That sentence is a crass generalization that is not factually accurate and is intended to sway an undecided reader by misinformation. Apart from wanting to put scum away-I live off of the buzz that come from a foot chase or a decent arrest. Trust me, most officers crave this too.
The Winsor Report suggested various measures to tackle those problems, such as relating pay to performance; making inability to do the job sufficient for sacking an officer; and increasing minimum length of service before retirement. But reforms of that kind were suggested 20 years ago by Patrick Sheehy, and they were effectively seen off by the police.
I doubt Mr Palmer has actually read the Winsor Report, he would not accept sweeping deformation of his profession by an inexperienced individual who hand no knowledge of journalism-so why should coppers? Well if you want 50 year old response coppers fighting your teenage sons and daughters then give Winsor your full support. It is unrealistic to ask an older Officer to perform the physically demanding role of response PC hence why we retire earlier. We also have a short life expectancy anyway.
The Police Federation, the forceâ€™s union, has already started its campaign to get the reforms abandoned. A demonstration last Thursday protesting against any changes in London was attended by between 20,000 and 30,000 officers.
So 20,000 to 30,000 Police officers are wrong? I was not protesting change, I was protesting the decimation of the Office Of Constable. Now that Office still means something to me and my fellow officers. It is a noble and proud tradition that separates this country from all others-privatisation is an affront to the history and tradition of the Police Force in Britain
PC Julie Nesbit sums up the Federationâ€™s case: â€œWe are the public service, without whom the other public services couldnâ€™t function, and therefore we should be treated according to thatâ€ â€“ by which she means, differently. Coppers should be allowed to keep their benefits, their immunity to being sacked, and retirement on full pension at 50 or younger, not because it is fair, but because they have the country over a barrel.
Yes we do, pay us to keep the peace, pay us in our retirement, allow us to retire younger because this is physical daily manual labour that only younger people can complete.
The Coalition may be forced to agree: like every government, it depends on the police. The first duty of any state is to maintain social order, and the police have one effective threat: they can make it more likely that social order will collapse. They donâ€™t have to strike. They can just not co-operate.
Will the Conservatives face them down, if the cost is watching their reputation as the party of law and order evaporate, with calamitous consequences for their prospects at the next election? It is not impossible. But it is much more likely that a face-saving compromise will be agreed, and those fat policemen will be allowed to keep collecting their fat salaries for doing nothing but sitting in the office filling in forms.
Mr Palmer is typical of the media, he has a bias agenda as do I, but he will use any tactic to push through his ideology to convince the feeble minded. He is an armchair warrior, an over educated, under experienced purveyor of misinformation. There were few facts or figures in his article, even less than a Guardian article about the police and all of his arguments rely on stereotypes and assumptions. I wonder, does Mr Palmer believe all journalists are corrupt and on mass carry out poor research such as he does? The comments at the bottom with show you that the publicâ€™s perception of is entirely based on fiction: The Bill, Life On Mars, CSI, ect and of course what the media prints about us.
A dignified march of 30,000 modest police officers through the capital didnâ€™t fit in with the mediaâ€™s keyhole view of the force so now youâ€™ll continue to see the demonization of the Federation. Yes we have a union, like every other job does and our has suddenly found its bollocks. Long may it remain because no one else is looking out for the people looking after the public.
We all must base praise and criticism respectively on personal experience and fact-not the column inches intended to shock and sell.