Chief constable resigns over ‘grave concerns’ about elected commissioners

Flagship plans to elect police commissioners across the country have suffered a fresh blow after a senior officer resigned over his “grave concerns” about the proposals.

Chief Constable Tony Melville of Gloucestershire Constabulary claims continuing cutbacks will harm frontline services beyond recognition.

Tony Melville, who is retiring early as chief constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary

Just two years after being appointed chief constable of Gloucestershire, Tony Melville said he would rather step down early than serve under the new regime.

He had recently warned that cuts to his small rural force’s budget had left it on a “metaphorical cliff edge”.

His departure is another setback for the Coalition’s plan to elect new Police and Crime Commissioners in 41 areas across England and Wales in November.

There are widespread concerns that the initiative is costly but unnecessary, while the electoral rules are likely to benefit established politicians and public figures over independents. The commissioners, who will be paid up to £100,000 even if they work part-time, will have the power to fire chief constables as well as setting budgets and priorities.

Mr Melville said in a statement published by Gloucestershire constabulary on Friday: “After a thirty-four year career in the Police service, 10 of which have been as a Chief Officer, I have decided the time is right to leave.

“I believe Policing does need to change and that is why we have transformed our approach in Gloucestershire. However I have grave concerns about some elements of the current police reform agenda especially the election of Police and Crime Commissioners in six months time.

“I have therefore decided that I will not continue as Chief Constable under those new arrangements. I am stepping aside in time for the Police Authority to appoint my successor and ensure continuity for the incoming Police and Crime Commissioner in November.”

Mr Melville, who moved from Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in January 2010, will leave the service in May.

In January he had warned that Gloucestershire was facing additional cuts after already being asked to make £24million annual savings from its £103m budget.

“In a small force, a series of local decisions have combined to take us to a metaphorical cliff edge much more quickly than others.”

The Police Federation, the organisation that represents rank-and-file officers, said it was “unsurprised” by Mr Neville’s departure. It is holding a march in London next week against 20 per cent budget cuts imposed by the Government and is also balloting on giving officers the right to strike, in protest at the proposed Winsor reforms that would give forces the power to make police officers redundant.

Paul McKeever, Chairman of the Police Federation, said: “The resignation of Chief Constable Tony Melville demonstrates the enormous difficulties and pressures being faced by police officers across the country during a time of radical untested change within the service and drastic cuts to the police budget.

“However, we are unsurprised at his announcement, as it reflects the mood within the service and the views being expressed privately to us by many senior officers who are deeply concerned about the future of British Policing. We share those very real concerns; enough is enough.’

Labour’s shadow policing minister, David Hanson, said: “Tony Melville’s decision to resign in protest of the Government’s decision to hold elections for the new Police and Crime Commissioners in November is deeply concerning.

“Chief Constable Melville has served in the police for 34 years and the Government should be alarmed that such an experienced and well regarded officer is unable to support their flagship policy.”

He said that the plan for American-style commissioners was “wasteful and flawed” and that holding the elections in November is “extremely unwise”, although Labour is still putting up candidates including the former Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Prescott.

A Home Office spokesman attempted to downplay the resignation, saying: “We are not going to speculate on the local reasons why a chief constable decides to retire.”

He added: “Parliament has decided that elections for the first police and crime commissioners will be held in November, giving the public a stronger voice in the fight against crime while protecting the operational independence of chief constables.

“All the major political parties agreed that police authorities needed democratic reform and we worked closely with ACPO (the Association of Chief Police Officers) to ensure that their concerns were addressed.”

Chief constable resigns over ‘grave concerns’ about elected commissioners

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Friends of Met Police History

Friends of Met Police History (click for email)

Subject: Battersea Dogs Home

I’ve been asked by the Curator at the Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre to ask –

Does anyone have any information about the link between the Commissioner and Battersea Dogs Home?

The Battersea Dogs Home website reveals the following points on the connection of the MP Police with the Home:-

  • The MP Commissioner is an ex-officio member of the council of Trustees.  (This was unknown until recently and is causing the Commissioner’s Private Office and the charities section some concern.  As a Trustee he has responsibilities.  The Home has suggested that he could be named as Honorary Police Liaison and I am ensuring the governing document of the Dogs and Cats home reflects this)
  • 1870    MPS Contracts the Battersea Dogs Home to deal with stray dogs of London
  • 1911    Battersea Dogs Home starts collecting stray dogs from London police Stations
  • 1932    Formal agreement that all stray dogs found by MPS would be taken to the home
  • 1956    Queen Elizabeth II becomes Patron
  • 2008    Local authorities are responsible for collecting and receiving stray dogs brought in by the public to Police Stations.

If anyone has any information, please let me know.

Thank you.

Barry Walsh


Friends of the Metropolitan Police Historical Collection

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Federation – Police pension contributions:

26 April 2012

On 10 April 2012 the General Secretary wrote to the Home Secretary in respect of the recent increase in police officer pension contributions.

The Home Secretary responded on 19 April. The Home Secretary’s response will be considered by Staff Side in the PNB Pensions Working Group discussions going forward as we respond to the consultation on the reform of police pensions by 22 June. Both letters can be viewed below.

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Debate rages on Surrey Police’s use of effective resolution

A CONTROVERSIAL police policy that lets criminals go unpunished has been used more than 10,000 times in the last six years.

“Effective resolution” was introduced in 2008 to deal with low-level crimes when both the victim and offender agree to its use, with the perpetrator recorded as “responsible for an offence” and warned over future conduct.

TOUGH TALK:  Advertiser reporter Edward Gent and Chief Superintendent Gavin Stephens  RSMD11369Advertiser reporter Edward Gent and Chief Superintendent Gavin Stephens

But figures obtained by the Advertiser through a Freedom of Information request show the power is being used for crimes such as arson, drug trafficking, possessing weapons, sexual offences and serious assaults.

Jerry Strzebrakowski, who runs Tillingbourne Trout Farm in Abinger, has taken advantage of the policy several times after youngsters have stolen fish from his site.

He said: “As long as they get a slap on the wrist I don’t have a problem with it. You don’t want to fill up the courts unnecessarily. But personally, I don’t think it is appropriate that serious offences should be dealt with that way. But are they just dishing these out to clear their desks? It sounds very much like it.”

The Advertiser first became aware of the issue when it was used to resolve an attack in an Ashtead pub last year that left a 40-year-old man unconscious and bleeding.

Lawyer Howard Jones, who complained to Surrey Police about the case, said: “My concern is that they have changed the culture of officers at Surrey Police, so even if they know something is a case they really should be dealing with properly by taking someone to court, now they are thinking they can deal with it through effective resolution.

“They are demotivating the people who pride themselves on taking proper criminals to court for proper crimes. They are watering down that instinct.”

But Chief Superintendent Gavin Stephens said many of the offences are not as shocking as they first seemed, with firearms offences including the use of toy and BB guns and many of the sexual offences down to experimentation by teenagers.

“These are fine and difficult judgements based on the views of the victim,” he said. “This is what the victim is asking us to do. Neither I or any of the officers applying these judgements have got any desire for dangerous people to be walking the streets.”

The initial six-month pilot in 2008 saved about 1,500 police hours but Mr Stephens was keen to explain effectively resolved crimes do not benefit the force as they do not count towards crime detection figures with the Home Office.

Mr Stephens has initiated a review into how the power is used in relation to violent crime.

Debate rages on Surrey Police’s use of effective resolution

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From The Guardian

It’s time to scrap stop and search

There is no good reason why this Orwellian ‘anti-terror’ law should be made permanent ahead of the Olympics

stop and searchStop and search powers face a barrage of criticism, yet the home secretary seems intent on putting the latest version into the new protection of freedom bill.

In March last year the home secretary, Theresa May, used a fast-track parliamentary procedure to rush through emergency anti-terrorist stop-and-search powers. Section 47a of the Terrorism Act replaced the act’s highly controversial section 44, ruled unlawful by the European court of human rights after a decade of use which saw the police carry out hundreds of thousands of arbitrary stop and searches in the name of anti-terrorism. In 2009-10, not a single one of the 101,248 section 44 searches led to a terror-related arrest.

May’s 47a replacement power allows senior police officers to seek authorisation from the Home Office to do searches in a particular area if the officer “reasonably suspects that an act of terrorism will take place”. If granted, police can stop anyone without any reasonable suspicion of anything. To most that sounded like section 44 all over again.

Defending the emergency power, May said she had decided that police did need the new powers, “given the current threat environment”. I debated this with Chief Constable Andy Trotter, chair of Acpo’s media advisory group, on the Today programme. Under the watchful eye of John Humphrys we agreed to disagree.

Last month, the Home Office released stop-and-search statistics showing that since section 47a was introduced, police forces in England and Wales have asked for authorisation to use it precisely zero times.

Surely, then, the time has come to scrap section 47a? Well, for this government it hasn’t. Instead, the emergency measure is about to become permanent law as part of the Orwellian-sounding protection of freedoms bill, currently making its way through parliament.

Why do this now? The Olympic Games may well be a factor. We are told the biggest mobilisation of military and security forces since the second world war is just about to hit London. With asbos banning protesters from the Games and Olympic security guards and photographers clashing over the weekend that mobilisation is starting to feel and look very real.

I’m happy the police have not used section 47a, but I see no legitimate reason for making this measure permanent: in fact, there is no sound argument for not scrapping it. Like many photographers, I’m worried about how the military and security mobilisation for London 2012 is going to affect how we work and what we document. We all have a common law right to take a picture in a public place.

My friend and colleague, the photojournalist Guy Smallman, who is best known for his work on Afghanistan, told me last week that he was going to give London 2012 a miss: “I am not usually a quitter in the face of authoritarian bureaucracy. But the sheer inconvenience of trying to haul a camera bag around my home city, when it is populated by several thousand paranoid spooks, does not appeal in the slightest. So instead I have decided to join the exodus and spend that time working somewhere less militarised. Like Kandahar for example.”

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Police to be given specialist training to help child victims of ‘witchcraft’ beliefs

Police in London will receive training on helping children accused of witchcraft and sorcery, with plans to expand the training nationwide if it proves effective.

Detective Superintendent Terry Sharpe, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Religious Violence Unit, said officers on the street were rarely equipped to spot the signs that a child might be in danger, and needed better training.

“We’re very well aware that usually the first person on scene is going to be the young cop with two or three years’ service who probably has no understanding of this whatsoever,” he said. “We’re not naïve enough to think this is just happening in London. It is happening in Birmingham, it’s happening in Leeds, Manchester and other big cities across the country.”

The 28-year veteran of the Met is an expert on child abuse investigations and heads Project Violet, a unit specifically set up to tackle religiously motivated violence such as witchcraft abuse and female genital mutilation.

He was speaking following the conviction last month of a woman and her boyfriend who beat 15-year-old Kristy Bamu to death because they believed he was a witch.

The case shone an uncomfortable spotlight on the prevalence of the belief in sorcery within some immigrant communities, and raised questions about whether authorities were doing enough to tackle such abuses. Senior officers admit the crime is under-reported and are trying to examine ways to encourage victims to come forward.

Project Violet has put together a booklet which will be circulated to all police officers in London, and recruits at Hendon Police College will be given extra training. The booklet details the kind of language and terms used by people who accuse others of sorcery, and advises on what officers should look for to gauge whether a child is at risk.

In June the Department of Education will roll out a “national action plan” to encourage police, teachers, social workers and medical professionals to take a more proactive role in looking out for witchcraft victims.

During the trial of Kristy Bamu’s killers, no links to churches that promote belief in spirit possession and exorcisms were established, but previous cases have shown some pastors persuading people that their children are witches.

Det Supt Sharpe said he wanted local officers to pay closer attention to unregistered churches that spring up in residential streets. “It’s the non-registered churches that concern us,” he said. “Once we can identity those we can start to engage with them. There are all sorts of potential safeguarding issues, especially if children are attending.” He defended the police’s record on pursuing people who carry out female genital mutilation, a practice common within some Middle Eastern and African communities where a girl’s clitoris – and sometimes her labia – are removed with appalling consequences. The practice was made illegal in Britain nine years ago but there has never been a successful prosecution.

Det Supt Sharpe said an enormous amount of preventative work was now done each year, especially in the run-up to the summer holidays when girls were most at risk of being mutilated. But he said convictions remained difficult because intelligence was not being passed to police.

Calling on community leaders and professionals to come forward when girls are attacked he said: “If we’re informed we will investigate it rigorously but we need to be made aware of it. We’re looking to convict people involved in this, but until we get that intelligence we require to prosecute it is very difficult for us.”

Religious crime: The young victims

In the past 10 years there have been 81 Metropolitan Police investigations where a child was abused over allegations of witchcraft. Of those, 57 resulted in criminal prosecution. Since 2008, 166 girls in London have come forward saying they may be at risk of forced genital mutilation.

Kristy Bamu

The 15-year-old French teenager was beaten to death by his older sister and her boyfriend because they believed he was a witch who was bringing bad luck on their family. Eric Bikubi and Magalie Bamu were convicted last month after a trial that was so horrific the jury members were excused from ever having to serve again. Det Supt Terry Sharpe led the investigation into Kristy’s murder.

Victoria Climbié

The first case that really brought witchcraft allegations to national attention. Eight-year-old Victoria was tortured and starved to death in 2000, partly because her guardians thought she was possessed. A pastor had previously told her killers that she had demons inside her. Her death and the failure of many agencies to stop the abuse led to a public inquiry which produced major changes in child protection policies in England.

Police to be given specialist training to help child victims of ‘witchcraft’ beliefs

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Senior Met Police officer suspended for ‘racially abusing man while off-duty’

The racism crisis engulfing Scotland Yard took a new twist yesterday as a senior officer was suspended for allegedly racially abusing a man while off-duty.

A Metropolitan Police inspector was arrested on Tuesday after an incident in Barnet, North London when the off-duty officer apparently swore at an innocent bystander.

The officer has now been suspended from duty while the case is being investigated by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards.
Racism storm: Scotland Yard found itself at the centre of a deepening crisis as the family of Kester David accused the police of failing to investigate his suspicious death

Racism storm: Scotland Yard found itself at the centre of a deepening crisis as it faces yet another allegation of racism against one of its officers

It has also been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The allegation is the latest to emerge during a month in which Britain’s biggest force has been rocked by accusations of racism.

There are now 12 reports of racism involving 19 officers and a civilian worker under investigation by Scotland Yard and the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe will return from holiday amid calls for him to show leadership

Action: Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said there is no place in the Met for racism

A Met spokesman said: ‘Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) are investigating after an alleged racist incident involving an off-duty police officer that occurred at 7.40am on Monday, 23 April in Barnet borough.

‘A serving officer of inspector rank, based in North London, was arrested on Tuesday 24 April by DPS in connection with the incident.

‘The male officer was arrested on suspicion of a Section 4 Public Order Act offence (racially aggravated words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress).

‘He is at present on police bail and has been suspended from duties pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.’

The news comes just weeks after it was announced that Alex MacFarlane is to be prosecuted for allegedly abusing a suspect.

The PC was said to have been recorded telling a 21-year-old black man he ‘will always be a n*****’ during last summer’s riots.

MacFarlane, a response officer based in Newham, East London, has been suspended from duty since Mauro Demetrio claimed he was abused in the back of a police van on August 10.

His recording forced senior officers to confront a backlog of outstanding racism claims within the force.

Senior Met Police officer suspended for ‘racially abusing man while off-duty’

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Tour of Britain cycle race to end on Guildford’s cobbles

Cyclists on Box Hill Spectators at Box Hill will be able to see the men’s Olympic race pass nine times

The Tour of Britain cycle race, the British equivalent of the Tour de France, is to finish in Surrey.

The final stage of the race on 16 September will start in Reigate and end in Guildford, passing through Ranmore and Cranleigh.

Organisers have described the route as the “toughest yet” with race ending on the cobbles of Guildford.

The Olympic road race and time trials will use also Surrey’s roads in July and August.

Mick Bennett, race director, said: “The route is certainly our toughest yet.”

The eight-stage race starts in Ipswich on 9 September before ending in Guildford High Street on 16 September.

BBC cycling correspondent, Matt Slater, said: “Tourist boards love it and local businesses like it as well because, if you get a start or finish in your area that’s a lot of hotels, that’s a lot of broadcasters.”

He said the rolling countryside of Surrey was ideal for cyclists.

“We can’t finish in London this year because of the strain the Olympics and Paralympics are putting on the city,” explained Mr Bennett.

“But the alternative is a brute of a day around the Surrey Hills, which has the potential to be pretty spectacular, followed by an atmospheric finish up Guildford High Street.”

London Olympics

Four Olympic cycling events will pass through Surrey on 28 and 29 July and 1 August.

The county is jointly hosting the men’s and women’s road races and two time trials.

Work has begun on resurfacing the Zig Zag Hill at Boxhill which forms part of the route of the cycle race.

The Olympic torch relay is also visiting towns and villages in Surrey, with the final overnight stop in Guildford on 20 July before the torch enters London.

The Guildford tourist information centre said the Olympics had already boosted inquiries about Surrey tourism attractions by 55%.

Tour of Britain cycle race to end on Guildford’s cobbles

See also:

Navy ship to visit for Olympic security testing

THE Royal Navy ship HMS Bulwark will be arriving in Weymouth and Portland waters next week – as part of a security exercise ahead of the Olympics.

HMS Bulwark will arrive 10 miles off Weymouth late on Monday.

It will remain there for four days to play a part in a security testing exercise, led by Dorset Police.

Residents are warned to expect to see increased activity in the Weymouth Harbour area.

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Naked Biker Booked For No Helmet

Missing bike helmet was the only offence for naked biker in eastern Europe.

A Romanian policeman pulled over a woman who was riding pillion naked on a motorcycle – and booked her for failing to wear a helmet.

The woman was not wearing a stitch but the traffic officer said it was the only offence that he had authorisation to book her for.

Motorists got out their smartphones to take photographs of the eye-catching biker who was pulled over in Constanta.

And, after accepting her punishment, she donned a helmet before continuing her journey – still naked.

“The officer was a traffic cop and the only traffic offence she’d committed was in not wearing a helmet,” one witness told Romanian media.

“So he gave her a warning and a ticket and told her and her companion to ride on,” they added.

Naked Biker Booked For No Helmet

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