Missed The Point ??!!

The Police Financial Audit & Research Centre for Experimentation has announced that, after many years of hard work and spending a small fortune (which completely dwarfs the cost of water cannons), they have developed the very latest and absolute cutting edge of law enforcement operational units.

This unit is capable of performing a multiplicity of actions, throughout an eight-hour tour of duty, in all types of weathers and any environment, be it urban or countryside.

The actions performed by the units are as follows:

  •  Prevention of crime
  • Intelligence gathering
  • Positive marketing of the police product
  • Delivering a wide range of advice from crime prevention through to marriage guidance
  • Develop a strong working knowledge of the residents and businesses in its area of patrol
  • Manage traffic congestion
  • Report traffic accidents
  • Keep traffic flowing
  • Give words of advice to those local miscreants who need it.
  • Words of advice are given once and failure to comply results in arrest
  • Develop a level of communication with a variety of strata’s of society and with ethnic minorities, which is unparalleled in any other UK work place.
  • Identify criminal activity as it happens by instinctive knowledge gained over many years of patrolling
  • Arrest of offenders
  • Interviewing offenders to gather evidence and intelligence
  • Conduct searches of properties and open areas
  • Have a strong working knowledge of Traffic Law, Criminal Law and some aspects of civil law.
  • Deliver dreadful news such as death messages.
  • Risk life and limb by physical engaging with violent individuals
  • Liaise with detectives & crime squads, who enter its patrolling area, to provide timely and factual intelligence absent from current intelligence gathering processes.
  • Leave their area of patrol and operate complex command and control centres
  • If required, drive a variety of police vehicles, when drivers are not available.
  • The units walk, so they are cost free, carbon free and completely green.

There are also a wide variety of other tasks they can perform, but these are not mentioned, as the accountants cannot quantify them.

These units will be called Police Constables and they will patrol given areas, which will be known as “Beats” and whilst walking their beats will perform all of the above task and many others that cannot be quantified by accountants.

This is policing in the 21st Century!

Well actually it is not.

The reason being is that this fulcrum upon which policing turns, is being steadily reduced almost to a point of oblivion, for the simple reason that those who now run & control the police force/service/something else {Delete as you think appropriate} no longer understand the value or nature of the patrolling police officer.

This was exemplified by the comments of Nick Alston, Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex Police and the Chairman of the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners (APCC). So we can understand the lofty and authoritive position of Master Alston, his antecedents are understood to include his father who was a police officer in Essex police, who rose to the rank of Deputy Chief Constable. Young Alston then took a commission in the Royal Navy and then served for 30 years in the Civil Service.

Naturally, this exemplary Curriculum Vitae provides him with all the experience and knowledge to know what policing is and how it is undertaken on a day to day basis.

Alston recently told The Times that neighbourhood uniformed patrols had not been relevant for decades, while their impact on crime was “at the very best completely unproven”.   This statement shows that Alston has absolutely no idea what he is talking about and I could fill a book with factual anecdotes that would disprove the statement completely.

Alston states that ‘Beat Bobbies are out-of-date-luxury we cannot afford”. Wrong. They are more of a necessity in today’s modern world, than they have ever been.

His statement, however, shows that modern policing suffers from a throat-choking hold by accountants and financial managers, none of whom understand the fact that the biggest and best results in policing comes from uniformed officers patrolling the streets and making instinctive decisions based on hard-earned experience.

The other critical point, is that these instinctive decisions cannot be quantified on a spread sheet, as neither can a good 45% of what a patrolling uniformed officer achieves by just being on the street.

Alston continued to wade into the guano by stating that ”Bobbies have beats because in the old days they didn’t have telephones, they didn’t have cars. Those days went 50 years ago”. This shows that he does not have the smallest clue what policing is or how you perform it and manage it.

As an example, when the modern military operates in violent areas of the world, they operate from their own bases from which they regularly leave and put “boots on the ground”. They engage with the locals as positively as they can, to win their hearts and minds. They engage with the terrorists as rapidly and aggressively as possible to neutralise criminal activity, risks and threats. Effectively, they become a visual, patrolling presence doing a difficult and dangerous job.

This process is exactly the same thing that “Bobbies” have done since 1839, when Sir Richard Mayne was the first Commissioner of the Metropolis and issued the guiding words that “The primary objectives of an efficient police force (note the word Force!) are the prevention of crime, then next the detection and arrest of offenders”. This sentence embodies the very principles on which policing is undertaken. This has not changed.

This was the first thing taught to all police officers who joined the “Met”, until eventually it was dropped in favour of a more politically correct approach to policing, which, we have all seen, no longer works.

Alston continued that he did not support the total abolition of neighbourhood response teams and police community support officers as a level of visibility, “gives confidence to the public”. Clearly, 30 years in the Civil Service has served him well, as he cannot decide whether the uniform presence is relevant or not. Furthermore, in order to provide him some free advice, Neighbourhood Watch teams do not work; you cannot find them and, most importantly, you never see them. Ergo, they cannot provide confidence to the public and, frankly, they do not.

The thorny political discussion of the Police Community Support Officers ever lies below the water. The PCSO was a totally flawed concept, dreamt up by the Blairite Government. They achieve nothing as far as operational policing is concerned and cost the policing budgets a fortune, which should be employed on recruiting and training real police officers. PCSOs’ are policing on the cheap to save money on wage bills and pensions and to fool the public into thinking there are lots of police on the street.

Alston continues, that in a climate of swinging cuts, forces (there are no police forces any more) needed to give evidence-based policing priority. Specially trained officers who could tackle child abuse and sexual exploitation or crime on the internet were more important. Ahh, the pointless, eloquence of the civil servant.

If Alston knew anything about policing, which he quite clearly does not, he would know that these offences are being committed and often continue in homes. One of the best way of identifying these offences and reacting to them, is by having uniformed officers constantly patrolling, being embedded in a community and knowing what goes on. It used to happen some 40 years ago, when Beats were patrolled and it clearly does not now (as there are no beat patrols).

None of these offences mentioned by Alston will ever be discovered by a fast moving, brightly decorated police car and crew, rushing up, taking a quick burst of reactive policing and driving off again.

Alston continues deeper into the mire when he states that, “The ‘bobbies on the beat’ language for me is just very out-dated and misses the point about modern policing. We want our police officers focussed where we know they can make a difference to crime reduction”.

The place where you make the biggest difference to preventing crime and then arresting offenders is by having uniformed officers on the street and doing their job. We are not sure if this comment is referring the Essex officers who, last week, attended the scene to find a dead man, but failed to completely miss the point that he had been shot several times! Outstanding police work.

Alston bangs on about that “I’d love other forces to learn that you don’t want bobbies on the beat, you want highly trained detectives who can obtain best evidence interviews really well, who have the skills to manage a relationship with social care so we can do the safeguarding for the children who come to harm.” What a great statement from a man who has never done the job and yet again, shows that he is talking total tosh.

Frankly, in my experience, there are hardly any highly trained detectives left.

The worrying point is that many senior police officers are reported to share Alston’s views, according to Fiona Hamilton, Crime Editor of The Times, who believe that neighbourhood patrols should be the first unit to be sacrificed in the present cuts.

In order to assist beleaguered senior police officers and the high quality and experienced Police and Crime Commissioners such as Alston, here are some areas where they could make some cuts to save money and improve operational efficiency:

  • Remove the role of all PCCs’ and disband their organisations. Millions saved in one hit!
  • Remove all civilian staff who do not directly contribute to operational matters.
  • Don’t buy water cannons, which would never have been used, and if they had, would never have worked operationally.
  • Start reviewing the extraneous costs that do not have anything to do with operational policing.
  • , etc.

People like Alston now control the UK police. In the main, they do not know what they are doing, they operate from a point of nil experience and carve out policing policies that do not work.

This is why the standards of policing in this country have plummeted and will continue to do so.