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The picture on the right is a Surrey Constabulary view of Chertsey Road, Woking taken in November 1962.  It shows a smiling 19 year old PC Colin White on patrol and was taken by colleague Paul Holt.  Is it not a frightening thought that this picture is now over fifty, yes 50, years old?

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Home Secretary: Reforms ‘prove more for less is possible’

Theresa May claims that Coalition Government has “proved critics wrong” and that reform programme has improved policing.

The Coalition Government has proved that it is possible to deliver more for less through its radical police reform programme and has proved its critics wrong, according to the Home Secretary.

Theresa May (pictured) has said that in the face of significant criticism from the Police Federation, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Labour Party, the current government has proved that “change is possible” through its reform programme.

In a recent speech Mrs May reiterated that police reform is working and that crime continues to fall.

She said: “When I first launched my programme of police reform, many denied the need for change. When I announced that central government police budgets would be cut by 20 per cent in real terms over four years – they said it couldn’t be done.

“The Police Federation, ACPO and the Labour Party were united: the frontline service would be ruined and crime would go shooting up. Labour called it “the perfect storm”, the Police Federation said it would be “Christmas for criminals”.

“But in all these areas, we are delivering better value for money, more effectiveness and greater accountability. And we have proved – against all the critics – that change is possible.”

Speaking at the Police IT Suppliers Summit Mrs May highlighted how police reforms have “cut excessive and unnecessary bureaucracy” in addition to scrapping national targets in a bid to free up police time.

We have proved that most important of lessons – this it is possible to deliver more for less
She added: “So central government funding to the police has reduced by £1.2 billion over the Spending Review period even as crime has fallen by more than a fifth, according to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales.

“And that isn’t some abstract number, it’s 962,000 fewer criminal damage incidents, 413,000 fewer violent incidents and 160,000 fewer domestic burglaries in England and Wales in the past year compared with 2010.

“By getting rid of government imposed targets and unnecessary bureaucracy we have saved 4.5 million police hours – the equivalent of 2,100 full-time officers. And Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has shown that the proportion of officers on the frontline has risen from 89 per cent to 91 per cent.

“So police reform is working: crime is falling, and we have proved that most important of lessons – this it is possible to deliver more for less.”

Officer professionalism

However, Steve Evans, Vice-Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said that the quality performance achieved in policing is down to the “sheer professionalism” of the police officers that remain.

In an interview with PoliceOracle.com Mr Evans said: “The improvement or performance that the Home Secretary refers to is in our view, down to the sheer professionalism of the police officers who still remain in post, rather than police reforms.

“Our officers have gone the extra mile despite the effects of the cuts.

“What needs to be considered is that the policing world is much more complex – so even if a crime is going down in one area, each incident is more complex and takes more time because people’s expectations of policing are higher.

“In order to satisfy the high demand expected of us – each crime is more complicated to follow up. The demand on officers is still rising.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to get the very best out of the resources you have – it is the definition of professionalism. But police numbers have a critical mass and it can get to a stage where the public will not get the service they need if there are not enough officers.”

John Apter, Chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, said of the Home Secretary’s speech: “The rhetoric that comes from the Home Office is typcial of a government who are out of touch with the reality of policing.

“I know that police officers have never felt so under-valued, unsupported and demoralised. If that is success then congratulations the government have succeeded.”

From Police Oracle

Punitive drug law enforcement failing, says Home Office study

Home Office study finds no evidence that harsh sentencing curbs illegal use and documents success of Portugal’s decriminalisation
There is no evidence that tough enforcement of the drug laws on personal possession leads to lower levels of drug use, according to the government’s first evidence-based study.

Examining international drug laws, the groundbreaking Home Office document published brings to an end 40 years of almost unbroken official political rhetoric that only harsher penalties can tackle the problem caused by the likes of heroin, cocaine or cannabis.

It is signed off by the Conservative home secretary, Theresa May, and the Liberal Democrat minister Norman Baker and will be published alongside an official expert report calling for a general ban on the sale and trade in legal highs.

Baker said the international comparisons demonstrated that “banging people up and increasing sentences does not stop drug use”. He said the last 40 years had seen a drugs debate in Britain based on the “lazy assumption in the rightwing press that if you have harsher penalties it will reduce drug use, but there is no evidence for that at all”.

Baker added: “If anything the evidence is to the contrary.”

The minister added that wider societal factors, such as a more risk-averse generation of young people, who suffered fewer alcohol problems and were healthier, contributed to the general downward trend in drug use.

It documents in detail the successes of the health-led approach in Portugal combining decriminalisation with other policies, and shows reductions in all types of drug use alongside falls in drug-related HIV and Aids cases.

The Home Office international research paper on the use of illegal drugs, which redeems a Lib Dem 2010 election pledge for a royal commission to examine the alternatives to the current drug laws, also leaves the door open on the legalisation experiments in the American states of Washington and Colorado, and in Uruguay. It says that “it is too early to know how they will play out but we will monitor the impacts of these new policies in the years to come”.

Regarding legal highs, Baker said the government would look at the feasibility of a blanket ban on new compounds of psychoactive drugs that focused on dealers and the “head shops” that sell tobacco paraphernalia rather than users.

“The head shops could be left with nothing to sell but Rizla papers,” Baker said. “The approach of a general ban had a dramatic effect on their availability when it was introduced in Ireland, but we must ensure that it will work here.”

A ban would apply to head shops and websites. Legal highs are currently banned on a temporary 12-month basis as each new substance arrives on the market. Legislation is possible before the election but not certain.

The new blanket or “generic” ban would not be accompanied by a ban on the possession or use of the new psychoactive substances, which often mimic the effects of traditional drugs. This would remain legal.

It is expected the expert report on legal highs will recommend a threshold for substances to be banned so that those with minimal psychoactive effects such as alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee would not be caught by the proposed new ban.

The report firmly rejects a New Zealand style-approach of regulating head shops and other sales outlets for legal highs.

Publication of both reports has been held up for months as interminable negotiations between the two coalition parties have gone on over every detailed issue.

Baker has repeatedly warned of the dangers of legal highs, citing evidence that some cannabinoids synthesised in chemical labs are 100 times more powerful than traditional strains of cannabis.

The expert report says there were 60 deaths related to new psychoactive substances in 2013 – up from 52 the year before.

It also considers basing future controls of the effect on the brain rather than the current test of their chemical structure.

Frontline health staff are also urged to receive strengthened training to deal with their effects.

Danny Kushlik, of the Transform drugs charity – which campaigns for drug legalisation, said the international report represented a landmark in British drugs policy since the introduction of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act that is still in force today.

“This is a historic moment in the development of UK drug policy. For the first time in over 40 years the Home Office has admitted that enforcing tough drug laws doesn’t necessarily reduce levels of drug use,” said Kushlik.

“It has also acknowledged that decriminalising the possession of drugs doesn’t increase levels of use. Even more, the department in charge of drugs prohibition says it will take account of the experiments in the legal regulation of cannabis in Washington, Colorado and Uruguay.

“Pragmatic reform will only happen if there is crossparty support for change and we can assume now that the Labour party can engage constructively on this previously toxic issue.”

A Home Office spokesperson, responding to the evidence of the international report, said: “This government has absolutely no intention of decriminalising drugs. Our drugs strategy is working and there is a long-term downward trend in drug misuse in the UK.

“It is right that we look at drugs policies in other countries and today’s report summarises a number of these international approaches.”

Earlier this year the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, pledged to abolish prison sentences for the possession of drugs for personal use – including class-A substances such as heroin and cocaine. He urged David Cameron to look at issues such as decriminalisation or legalisation of drugs.

From the Guardian but widely reported

Surrey Police apology over John Lowe double gun murders

Dog breeder John Lowe told police officers he wanted the women put down

Surrey Police has apologised over its “flawed” decision to return guns to an 82-year-old man who went on to murder his partner and her daughter.

Christine Lee, 66, and 40-year-old Lucy Lee were shot by John Lowe at his puppy farm in Farnham in February.

His shotguns and licence had been seized by the police in March 2013 but were returned to him four months later.

After the hearing, Christine Lee’s daughter, Stacy Banner, said Surrey Police had “put the gun in his hands”.

“The shotgun was one of seven that had been returned to him by the police only months before he used it to kill,” she said.

“John Lowe pulled the trigger but it was the Surrey Police who put the gun in his hands.”
Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Cundy from Surrey Police, said two reports by other forces had found the decision to return the guns was “flawed”.

He said: “Whilst the full investigation into this matter remains ongoing, in light of these early findings Surrey Police has spoken with members of Christine and Lucy Lee’s family to apologise for this.”

Three Surrey Police employees were now subject to a gross misconduct investigation, he added.

“As a result of the two independent reports, the IPCC have decided this will now be an independent investigation,” he said.
Outside court, Mrs Banner said Lowe “brutally and deliberately murdered my mum and my sister by shooting each of them at close range with a shotgun”.

“They did not stand a chance,” she said.

Mrs Banner called for the way gun licensing decisions are made to be changed.

“Licensing cannot be left entirely up to the police,” she said.

“There needs to be thorough and regular multi-agency assessments for would-be gun-holders.

“And the cost of a shotgun licence needs to be significantly increased.”

IPCC commissioner Jennifer Izekor said: “Two women have tragically lost their lives, and their family and friends deserve to know the circumstances in which the guns were returned to Mr Lowe.

“It also is in the interests of the wider public that Surrey Police’s decision-making in these circumstances is independently scrutinised.”
The jury heard a 999 call by victim Lucy Lee: “He’s just shot my mum”
Surrey Police said it had taken steps to ensure its firearms licensing policy and procedures were in line with national best practice.

The force is also reviewing other cases in which firearms have been returned to people.
Kevin Hurley, Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner, insisted it was “very difficult” to get a firearms licence.

When asked for his reaction to the family’s statement, he told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “I understand that when someone has lost family members they want to apportion blame and they will make statements they think are appropriate.

“I have no issue with family members making that kind of statement because they are upset, they are grieving and it is clear that police failed in this case.”

From the BBC

Positive discrimination employment changes branded ‘politically correct’

The Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation has branded Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s remarks about positive discrimination “drivel” – accusing the Commissioner of pandering to the “politically correct brigade”.

Met Commissioner Sir Bernard has said he wants employment law altered to enable the force to practice a form of positive discrimination.

Sir Bernard wants to copy a practice in Northern Ireland designed to achieve diversity in the ranks and “create a ‘critical mass’ of black and minority ethnic officers within the service which we believe would then help encourage even more to join”.

The Met already undertakes “positive action” recruitment advertising campaigns targeted at specific communities considered underrepresented in the force, and the commissioner has in the past stated his commitment to get his force “looking like London”.

The force would now like to recruit people from minorities in equal numbers to those from the white majority “for a set period of time”, said a spokesman for the Met.

However, Federation Chairman John Tully said he did not agree with the idea.

He told PoliceOracle.com: “I’ve gone on record saying I don’t support it at all. I am against any discrimination whatsoever, and that includes positive discrimination.”

He said he had no objections to positive action campaigns, but added: “If you relate that to the Northern Ireland example, they can only recruit one protestant if they recruit one Catholic. We would be able to recruit one white person only if we also recruited someone that isn’t white.

“Actually we agree with Tom Winsor that we should be recruiting the best person for the job. It doesn’t matter what colour or sexual orientation they are, so long as they are up to the job and are competent.”

He said Sir Bernard’s idea was “akin to pandering to those sections of society who think they know best, and on this occasion I don’t think they do know best [...] this drivel about the Met looking like the city it polices is just nonsense. It’s a headline grabbing snippet. We don’t police by headlines, we police by consent.

“I’m sorry if it doesn’t suit the politically correct brigade but that’s the way it is.”

‘Pushing the limit’

Others, including Greater Manchester Police’s Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy – Vice President of the Association of Chief Police Officers – have come out in support of Sir Bernard’s view.

Sir Peter said: “A service that represents the communities we serve is imperative in tackling crime and terrorism.

“When you are dealing with difficult community issues, undercover operations or gathering intelligence there is an operational need for officers who understand different national or ethnic groups, can identify with their culture and build relationships to work with them effectively.

“Despite police efforts, the service still does not reflect the diversity of our communities, particularly in big towns and cities.

“We are pushing the existing law to its limit so that chief officers can take positive action in the recruitment process to choose candidates that are most able to engage with a particular group or tackle certain issues in their force area.

“As the size of forces reduces and there is more competition for promotion opportunities, this becomes a more challenging issue and there is a danger that progress slows.

“Chief officers have been clear that they would like to see a change in employment law to allow the rights of the individual to be balanced with the needs of the organisation and the expectations of the local community.”

Police Killer Harry Roberts to be Released

Police killer Harry Roberts is to be released from prison after serving more than 45 years behind bars.

He was jailed for life for the murder of three policemen in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, in 1966 and told he would never be released.

Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, Steve White says he is appalled at the decision.

“Let’s not forget, this menace murdered three unarmed police officers in cold blood and it is abhorrent news,” he said.

“This decision by the parole board is a slap in the face for the families of the three police officers he brutally murdered who, once again, are forced to re-live their pain and loss. It will spark fury among everyone in the police family who will feel badly let down.

The officers were shot, in what was later called the massacre of Braybrook Street, after they pulled over
a van containing Roberts and two others.

PC Geoffrey Fox, 41, Sergeant Christopher Head, 30, and Detective Constable David Wombwell, 25, had approached the van after seeing it parked near Wormwood Scrubs prison.

The officers were in plain clothes and had approached the van after suspecting a prison break. In fact the men were preparing to commit an armed robbery.

Roberts shot dead Mr Wombwell and Mr Head, while Mr Fox was killed by another member of the gang.

Roberts was given three life sentences for the murders and his 30 year minimum tariff expired 18 years ago.

When he was finally brought to justice, Mr Justice Glyn-Jones said it was a “heinous” crime and told him: “I think it likely that no Home Secretary regarding the enormity of your crime will ever think fit to show mercy by releasing you on licence.”

He would have faced the death penalty but it was abolished eight months prior to his sentence.

The 78-year-old has now been approved for release by the Parole Board.

We Don’t Have Enough Resources.

Well done to Keith Bristow, head of the National Crime Agency, for stepping up and stating that there are insufficient resources to tackle all the online paedophiles viewing indecent images.

Mr Bristow said it was an “uncomfortable” reality that some of the 50,000 people who accessed indecent images of children each year would not end up in the criminal justice system.

Mr Bristow said the police and NCA needed to focus their efforts on apprehending the most high risk offenders who may go on to sexually abuse children.

But he admitted that this meant some lower risk offenders who only viewed images online would inevitably escape justice.

You can read a bit more here.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11174715/Thousands-of-paedophiles-will-escape-justice-crime-chief-admits.html

Conservatives Cutting Crime

I received the following email from Theresa May today. Apparently, their strategy of screwing up the police service and focussing on cutting crime is working!

‘People who work hard and do the right thing deserve to feel safe in their homes and in their communities.

Under Labour, that wasn’t the case. Police officers were wrapped in red tape, unable to do their job – and people didn’t feel safe on the streets.

So since the last election, we’ve been working through our action plan to tackle crime: freeing the police to do their job, giving them the powers they need, and protecting communities with tougher sentences for criminals.

And our plan is working, with crime down by more than a fifth since the election:

Graphic – safer, more secure communities: 2.3 million fewer crimes than 09/10; 160.000 fewer home burglaries; 290.000 fewer vehicle crimes; 413,000 fewer violent crimes.

But we need to keep going – and we need everyone to get behind our plan. So Paul – please add your name today to show you’re backing our plan.

With your support, we can keep making our streets and our communities safer. So please sign your name today

Theresa May

Guildford Pub bombings – a policeman recalls the horror

Guildford pub bombing suspect being led from court

Police officers worked through the night to secure the town centre and begin a murder investigation, but few could be prepared for what they saw.

The centre of Guildford was a busy place on a Saturday night in 1974. Stoughton Barracks was the home of the Women’s Royal Army Corps and male recruits from Aldershot and Pirbright, and even sailors from Portsmouth, would come to the town for a night out.

Robert Bartlett was a sergeant, based in Cranleigh at the time, and arrived before the second blast, but a junior colleague of his was quickly on the scene after the explosion in the Horse and Groom.

“Just around the corner was WPC Jackie Parish and she went to the pub,” said Mr Bartlett. “As she got to the front door the floor gave way and all the injured and the dead fell into the cellar.”

Other officers described medical staff among the rubble, treating the victims who were covered in dust.

Mr Bartlett himself was collected from Cranleigh by an inspector and they drove to Guildford and parked in Haydon Place.

“My image to this day is parking and getting out of the car, and walking past a dead body in the gutter,” he said. “I always remembered that but thought it can’t be right, but about two years ago I was shown a photograph of a stretcher in the road where I parked my car.”

The most seriously injured victims of the blast were taken to Royal Surrey County Hospital, then in Farnham Road, but many others remained in the street.

“Set against the wall, around the corner from Haydon Place were lots of injured people. These were the least injured – the most injured had been moved to hospital,” said Mr Bartlett. “They were bleeding and being treated as best people could.”

Outside the library, on the opposite side of the road, he described a tense and hysterical atmosphere where crowds of young men and women watched on.
Some still thought the explosion was caused by a gas leak but at 9.30pm the bomb at the Seven Stars detonated.

“Suddenly there was this boom and silence. Then the glass dropped,” said Mr Bartlett.

“At that point Divisional Officer Shettle shouts out ‘stand by your pumps’. I’ve never heard that phrase since.

“The young people started screaming.”

Mr Bartlett ran down North Street to where a cordon was being placed across the entrance to Swan Lane. He ran though and in the front door.

“I was actually the first man in the pub, thinking I was going to see pretty horrible sights,” he said. “Fortunately it was just the landlord, his wife and a couple of other people.”

The landlord, who had already cleared most of the bar, was bleeding from a head wound. The explosion had blown a hole in the ceiling and white paint was dripping through.

The pub was evacuated and Mr Bartlett continued to work through the night, until 8am. He ensured cordons were secure around the two sites, letting the emergency services through – and the occasional journalist such as Trevor McDonald, from ITN news, who had been having dinner at the Angel Hotel.

Robert Bartlett has compiled a history of Surrey Constabulary, including officers recollections of the bombings, which can be found at www.surrey-constabulary.com.
From GetSurrey

See also Guildford pub bombings – when terrorism came to Surrey

Guildford pub bombings – when terrorism came to Surrey

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the Guildford bombings

The devastated Horse and Groom pub in North Street

On the night of Saturday October 5 1974, IRA bombs ripped through two Guildford pubs, claiming the lives of five young people and injuring more than 65 others.

Many more lives were shaped by the events that night, which became a defining moment in the history of the town.

The first blast was at 8.50pm at the Horse and Groom in North Street, with the second at the Seven Stars in Swan Lane 35 minutes later. No warning was given of either explosion.

The device in the Horse and Groom was thought to be 10lb of nitro glycerine, hidden under a bench seat in the corner of the pub. It was probably powered by a battery and a stopwatch served as a timer.

“Nothing was real,” said, one of the drinkers in the pub that night, Sammy Norris.

“One minute it was laughter and the jukebox was playing, then screams and moans.”

A member of the public made the first 999 call to Guildford ambulance depot at 8.50pm. A message from the police headquarters followed one minute later.

The Horse and Groom was full of customers when the first bomb went off

The county town was measurably different to Guildford of 2014.

The army presence at Stoughton, Pirbright and Aldershot meant the town centre was a popular destination for soldiers, and Guildford was on the edge of one of the largest army training complexes in the country at the height of the Troubles.

The bombers knew this only too well. Soldiers were paid on a Thursday and weekend nights would be when they would head out of the barracks.

The Horse and Groom was popular because it was reputed to have the cheapest beer in town. The Seven Stars had a disco.

Servicemen and women would start their evening at the Horse and Groom and then move on to the Seven Stars.

It was believed this was the reason why the Seven Stars bomb was detonated later that night.

Police officers who were on the scene recalled that at first the bomb at the Horse and Groom was thought to be a gas explosion.

Initial reports suggested it had not been considered that more pubs would be targeted after the Horse and Groom explosion, and consequently it was only after the second blast at the Seven Stars that all other pubs were evacuated.
Seven Stars publican Brian Owen O’Brien evacuated his pub after hearing about what had happened. Between 150 and 200 people had been there earlier that evening.

The Surrey Advertiser reported that Mr O’Brien heard the first blast and left the pub to see what had happened. After seeing the horrific damage, he rushed back to his pub and told everyone to get out.

Brian Pool, a Welsh Guardsman, also worked part time behind the bar at the Seven Stars.

He said the pub was busy that evening but emptied after the first explosion when Mr O’Brien told them to leave.

They heard there had been an explosion at the Horse and Groom. The two men checked the pub and nearby shop doorways but found nothing.

Minutes later the second bomb went off, injuring Mr O’Brien and his wife, four pub staff and a girl who was walking past. They had searched the pub but could not find anything.

The 35-year-old landlord suffered cuts to his head and hands and ended up hospitalised.

“I am sure that the bomb was under a cushion on the bench seats around the bar, ” he said.

“That was the only place we did not look.”

The Surrey Daily Advertiser’s front page after the bombings

Of the five people killed in the Horse and Groom, four of them were teenagers.

They were Caroline Slater, 18, from Cannock, and Ann Hamilton, from Crewe, who was 19 – both were training at Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Pirbright.

Two teenage boys undertaking basic training for the Scots Guards at Pirbright also lost their lives that dreadful night.

William Forsyth, 18, and John Hunter, 17, came from the same street in Barrhead, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

The other victim, the only civilian killed, was 22-year-old plasterer Paul Craig, from Borehamwood.

He had travelled from Hertfordshire to Guildford with the parents of friend Carol Ann Burns, who was based at barracks in Stoughton.

Carol Ann had turned 19 and Paul would have celebrated his 23rd birthday the next day.

A total of 17 ambulances including four military vehicles took bodies and casualties to the Royal Surrey, Farnham Road and Cambridge Military hospitals.

Recollections from the time said that a garage opposite the Royal Surrey was used as a temporary mortuary.

The hunt for the bombers saw four men jailed for life before their convictions were quashed in 1989.

The Guildford Four included Gerry Conlon, who died in Belfast in June this year following a long battle with illness.
From GetSurrey

See also Guildford Pub bombings – a policeman recalls the horror

Police building closures ‘weakening community links’

Concern is mounting that force “interfaces with the public” are being lost forever. Nick Alatti reports.

New Scotland Yard in central London has been the home of the Met for almost 50 years – the revolving sign outside the iconic building (pictured) is instantly recognisable around the world and a place where many a TV reporter has stood in front of to talk about an important item of news.

Now it is to be consigned to history, along with around 200 other police buildings across the country to reduce running costs and raise millions of pounds for extra officers, new equipment and technology.

Not everyone is rejoicing at the news. There was uproar last year when Hampstead police station was closed due to lack of use and rising costs, with residents fearing that they would be more vulnerable and left without any contact points. The issue was reignited after an armed robbery at a local supermarket in March led campaigners to call for the police station to be re-opened.

‘Rising crime’

Frognal and Fitzjohn Safer Neighbourhoods Panel Chair Jessica Learmond-Criqui recently launched a petition directed at the Prime Minister, the London Mayor and Borough Commander for Camden, Ben Julian Harrington, claiming crime in Hampstead had soared since the police station was closed.

She said: “I and others pleaded over the past two years with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) not to close the station because we knew that crime would increase. We also pleaded with the then Borough Commander to keep a base in Hampstead but his hands were tied because he was tasked with cutting costs of up to £500 million over a three to five-year period.

“In Hampstead we are now hearing on a daily basis of violent muggings during daylight hours of mothers outside schools, moped ram raids of houses, hammer attacks on residents driving into their drives, violent robberies and burglaries. We know of at least five violent street attacks in the Hampstead area in the last month.

“About 15 years ago, each of the wards of Hampstead Town and Frognal and Fitzjohns had at least 22 dedicated officers, based at the Hampstead Police Station, working throughout the day. Today we have just one sergeant, one police officer and one police constable support officer, based 40 minutes’ walk away in West Hampstead.”

The old Hampstead police station has now been sold to the Department for Education and part of the building leased to Abacus Free School. Ms Learmond-Criqui added: “The government money has just gone around in a big circle and the government could simply have given the Met the funds to make the station fit for purpose. The Met could have leased space it did not want to the school and kept the building.”

Fed concerns

John Tully, Chairman of the Police Federation, is also concerned that the closure of local police stations could isolate the force from the public.

He told PoliceOracle.com: “I know they are mainly Victorian buildings with upkeep and maintenance issues as well as costs, and if you are looking purely at pounds, shillings and pence it makes sense. But as policing is under intense scrutiny and pressure these days and we are often criticised for lack of community engagement, this becomes another symptom.

“We’re closing off these focal points in the community because that’s what police stations are really. People can pop in and report their dog missing or their bike stolen right up to the other end of the scale, because that is available to them. In the 80s when I moved to London we used to have nine or 10 police stations locally and now we’ve got just three. And two of those are part time. That’s been happening right across London.”

Mr Tully insists that police stations are the hub of the community and the ‘go-to place’ where the public feels reassured and secure in the knowledge that they will be dealt with efficiently and appropriately.

He added: “It’s all well and good to say we have got a counter in Tesco’s or at a coffee shop or library, but at the end of the day it is not a police station. If I want to go in there and report something confidential or wanted advice and wanted to do this one-to-one with a police officer, I am simply not guaranteed privacy or confidentiality. Whereas in a police station there would be a facility for that. Furthermore, I am not guaranteed to see a police officer.”

Mr Tully said he would never disparage the work or the role of PCSOs or members of police staff because they do a fantastic job – but the bottom line is they are not police officers.

“When I first became an officer we had stations operated by police officers and I have seen over the years how we have changed that focus by trying to keep pace with cuts and deploying police officers where management feel they are best placed,” he added.

“But In the past, a station sergeant used to be a rank – that’s how important the interface with the public used to be. Although people try to talk a good game around it now and say it is most important and top of the list, the reaction of management in response to government policies has changed the focus.

“A lot of our front-facing facilities are now staffed by volunteers. We have gone from having a reasonably senior sergeant down to volunteers in some cases. That really can’t be right.”

Planning permission

Meanwhile, planning permission has already been granted for the development of a new Met HQ on Victoria Embankment at the Curtis Green building.

When completed in 2016 it will save the force over £60 million on annual running costs. he building will be home to up to 1,000 officers and staff compared to the 2,500 working out of the current HQ and the trademark revolving sign will be reinstalled outside.

Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh said: “Investing in new technology is key to more preventative policing, and by selling the old Met HQ and shrinking the estate, we can afford to fund the massive programme we have underway to equip frontline officers with cutting edge technology.”
From Police Oracle

Huge number want to become NCA Specials

A highly skilled group of volunteers have become an invaluable asset to an agency still developing its capabilities, deputy director reveals.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has had 100 people asking to join its ranks as specials – even though it is not seeking applications for the positions.

The organisation launched in October 2013 with 10 volunteer officers on board. A further 12 were recruited at the start of this summer and there are plans for another 14 to join early next year.

In an interview with PoliceOracle.com, Sarah Goodall, Deputy Director of the NCA, said that the highly skilled individuals were helping to fill a niche in areas, such as cybercrime and finance investigations, which otherwise would not be available.

She also stressed that the growth of the Agency’s volunteer capacity is being developed slowly in order to ensure that it has maximum impact.

“At the moment we’re not advertising for two specific reasons – one is we’re very keen we match the requirements to the demand we have to get it right,” she said. “We don’t just want to be swamping and not getting what we want, and we don’t want to waste their time as volunteers which their so kindly donating.

“As soon as one comes in we want to know exactly how we are going to use them.

“There has been a huge interest in NCA Specials, we’ve had nearly 100 expressions of interest from skilled professionals who want to volunteer their time which is fantastic,” she said.

Volunteering manager

And she revealed that the Agency is about to bring in a dedicated full time member of staff to best direct volunteers.

“At the moment our NCA specials do have a manager but it’s not a dedicated full time post – this will be dedicated with support across the Agency.”

Ms Goodall stressed that those joining as specials were bringing extra “world class” skills to the organisation rather than being a cheaper option for staffing.

“Rather than just getting several officers into some areas we’ve taken a step back to look in an ideal world what are those niche skills that we can’t afford to have 365 days a year – that wouldn’t be a good use of public money – but we could really do with tapping into.

“We’re really trying to make it as flexible as possible each role where we’ve bought someone in is a bespoke one. (The volunteers) have different requirements. We’re not putting in a set amount of hours which must be worked because for some things for our specials to do there may be a gap of weeks or even months at a time.

“It’s very much about what works for each scenario as opposed to needing a common standard.”

From Police Oracle

Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a ‘little s**t’, claim court documents ‘exposing ex-Chief Whip’s ‘record of abusing police’

plebgate-mitchell-sun‘More than a dozen incidents’ dating back to 2005 outlined by Sun’s lawyers in libel case

The former cabinet minister at the centre of the Plebgate row has a history of foul-mouthed confrontations with police officers at Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament, the High Court will hear.

The allegations are contained in court documents presented by The Sun newspaper in its libel defence against Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell. The former government chief whip is suing News Group Newspapers Limited, the owner of The Sun, for alleging that he called police officers “plebs” during an argument at the gates of Downing Street in September 2012.

Mr Mitchell has admitted swearing during the incident but rejects claims that he swore at the officer. He has also consistently denied calling officers “plebs”. Mr Mitchell was forced to resign in October 2012, but CCTV footage later emerged which cast doubt on the police officers’ version of events.

Now new allegations paint a picture of a history of rude and abusive behaviour by the former minister over a seven-year period. The most serious allegation in the defence document is that Mr Mitchell called a police officer a “little shit” after he called for the then minister to stop as he was approaching a barrier at the Black Rod’s Garden entrance to the Palace of Westminster in November 2005.

Mr Mitchell is alleged to have responded to the officer’s request by saying, “I’m a member of parliament and I’m too important to stop for you.” When the officer responded that he “didn’t care” who Mr Mitchell was, the MP reportedly said, “Stop being so aggressive, you little shit.”

The court documents detail more than a dozen alleged incidents from 2005 until 2012. They include instances when Mr Mitchell is alleged to have been unable to produce the correct identification to enter Downing Street, refused to allow his car to be searched when entering the Palace of Westminster, and tailgated cyclists to enter a restricted area without being stopped for a search.

They also draw fellow Conservative Minister Ian Duncan Smith MP into the row; they allege that Mr Mitchell twice relied on Mr Duncan Smith to vouch for him in order to gain entry to Downing Street following confrontations with police officers.

The documents also allege that, while in Kenya as Secretary of State for International Development in 2011, Mr Mitchell stated that he “should be treated like royalty” and launched a “foul-mouthed tirade” questioning the actions of his accompanying police protection unit.

In Westminster his behaviour at Downing Street and the Palace of Westminster is alleged to have been so poor that incident reports by “senior management” allegedly described him as a “repeat offender” who had “scant regards for security measures”. During a meeting in 2010 with John Groves, the head of security in the Prime Minister’s Office, he reportedly said police “should have fucking well known” who he was.

On 18 September 2012, a day before the now-famous Plebgate incident, he is reported to have told a police officer at the contested Downing Street main gate that “I am the Government Chief Whip and I want to leave via these gates”.

Mr Mitchell’s libel case against The Sun newspaper comes after CCTV emerged that put the police version of events in doubt. An investigation carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission earlier this year found evidence of “collusion” by police officers over the incident. In February, PC Keith Wallis was sentenced to 12 months in prison for lying about having witnessed the row.

Mr Mitchell was unavailable for comment yesterday, but in an email his lawyer, Graham Atkins, said: “Mr Mitchell’s Amended Reply is shortly to be filed at court and this responds to each allegation in detail.”

Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a ‘little s**t’, claim court documents ‘exposing ex-Chief Whip’s ‘record of abusing police’

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