“The place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino” – French blogger fined over review’s Google search placing

The restaurant argued the negative review’s prominence in Google’s search results was unfairly harming business


A French judge has ruled against a blogger because her scathing restaurant review was too prominent in Google search results.

The judge ordered that the post’s title be amended and told the blogger Caroline Doudet to pay damages.

Ms Doudet said the decision made it a crime to be highly ranked on search engines.

The restaurant owners said the article’s prominence was unfairly hurting their business.

Ms Doudet was sued by the owner of Il Giardino restaurant in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France after she wrote a blogpost entitled “the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino”.

According to court documents, the review appeared fourth in the results of a Google search for the restaurant. The judge decided that the blog’s title should be changed, so that the phrase: “the place to avoid” was less prominent in the results.

The judge sitting in Bordeaux also pointed out that the harm to the restaurant was exacerbated by the fact that Ms Doudet’s fashion and literature blog “Cultur’elle” had around 3,000 followers, indicating she thought it was a significant number.

‘Perverse’

“This decision creates a new crime of ‘being too highly ranked [on a search engine]‘, or of having too great an influence’,” Ms Doudet told the BBC. “What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people,” she added.

The judge told Ms Doudet to amend the title of the blog and to pay €1,500 ($2,000; £1,200) in damages to the restaurant, as well as €1,000 to cover the complainant’s costs.

In her article, which has now been deleted, she complained of poor service and what she said was a poor attitude on the part of the owner during a visit in August 2013.

The owner took issue with the whole article. However, the judge limited her decision to its title.

The restaurateur did not respond to the BBC. But, according to the website Arrêt sur Images, she said: “Maybe there were some errors in the service, that happens sometimes in the middle of August – I recognise that. But this article showed in the Google search results and did my business more and more harm, even though we have worked seven days a week for 15 years. I could not accept that. People can criticise, but there is a way of doing it – with respect. That was not the case here.”

‘Weeks of anguish’

A French lawyer and blogger who writes under the pseudonym Maître Eolas, said: “It seems to me that the judge did not understand the technical issues.” He added that, in French law, this type of decision would not create legal precedence.

Under French law, a judge can issue an emergency order to force a person to cease any activity they find to be harming the other party in the dispute. The summary decision is intended to be an emergency measure to protect the person deemed to be a victim and can be overturned or upheld if the parties go to a full hearing.

In order to issue the order under French law, the judge has only to identify a wrong on the defendant’s part, a negative effect on that of the appellant and a causal relationship between the two. Ms Doudet said she did not believe she will appeal because she did “not want to relive weeks of anguish”.

Ms Doudet added that, because the decision was taken at an emergency hearing, she did not have time to find legal representation, so had represented herself in court.

BBC story

Schools top source of police concern over radicalisation

Sir Peter Fahy, the Greater Manchester police chief constable. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA


Randeep Ramesh, social affairs editor
Monday 14 July 2014 19.40 BST

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Schools are referring to the police record numbers of pupils and staff identified as being at risk of radicalisation.

Official data to be released on Tuesday will show that the details of 1,281 people were referred to the government’s “Prevent” scheme, up from 748 the year before, with officers citing the civil war in Syria as the main reason for the increase.

Sir Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Manchester police who leads on extremism for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), told the Guardian that schools were now the greatest source of concern for the police, followed by local authorities, the NHS and then higher education.

But he said people should not be surprised that “Muslim lads” felt compelled to travel to Syria after seeing in the media the atrocities committed there.

Since 2007, 1,450 children aged 18 and under have been referred to Prevent, the government’s scheme to tackle extremism, the Acpo figures show.

The disclosure that education is at the forefront of anti-terror measures comes in the wake of the Trojan Horse scandal, in which Ofsted and the Department for Education placed five schools in inner-city Birmingham into special measures.

Fahy defended Prevent, saying it was “just trying to look out for vulnerable young people and to try and avoid using a criminal justice intervention”.

He said: “It’s been a difficult issue with some of the people we know who have been wanting to go to Syria and the people who have come back. Do you want to prosecute them? We have stopped young people on the way to the airport going to Syria. They have not been prosecuted but instead we are working with other agencies to get them help.”

Fahy risked criticism from some quarters by adding: “We all feel desperate about Syria. I have written to my MP. I have watched those reports about Aleppo and Homs and say: ‘What the hell can I do?’ Don’t be surprised that Muslim lads look at that and say: ‘What the hell can I do but go out there and help them.’”

In 2011, the government redefined the counter-terrorism programme and asked public officials such as doctors and teachers to help identify people who were “vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism”. Campaigners complained that this was in effect creating a surveillance state that “spies on Muslims”.

Asim Qureshi, research director of Cage, an advocacy group that campaigns against measures introduced in the wake of the war on terror, said: “The problem is that the indicators used to identify what the government calls extremism are often opinions or beliefs held by the vast majority of practising Muslims in this country. Therefore, for many Muslims, Prevent appears to be a policy aimed at criminalising Islam.

“We’ve come across cases where people feel that they have been referred simply because they hold certain perfectly legal views, such as about foreign policy, or that they have decided to grow a beard or wear a niqab. Conflating legitimate viewpoints or religious symbolism with a propensity to commit violence displays a worrying lack of nuance in the government’s engagement with the Muslim community, and can only serve to alienate people further.”

From The Guardian

Fed reform ‘now on course’, says Home Secretary

The Police Federation of England and Wales is now on the “right track” towards reform, the Home Secretary has told MPs.

Theresa May (pictured) was greeted by a stunned silence at the Fed’s annual conference in Bournemouth when she issued an effective ultimatum to the organisation – threatening to “impose change” if delegates did not vote for it of their own accord.

However, Mrs May says she is now happy with the direction in which the organisation is heading and told the Home Affairs Select Committee she has held talks with new Police Federation Chair Steve White since her notorious conference speech two months ago.

Committee’s Chairman Keith Vaz told the Home Secretary: “I was present when you gave your speech to the Police Federation. It was a fairly uncompromising speech.”

He then asked: “Are they now on the right track? Are you now happy that things are going according to your views?”

Mrs May replied: “I believe they are getting the changes in place.”

But she added: “We will continue to watch what they are doing.”

She praised the Fed for accepting the recommendations of the independent Normington Report, which proposed large scale changes to the organisation – including greater transparency and revisions to the staff association’s core purpose to oblige it to act in the interest of the public as well as officers.

At the Committee Mrs May was also questioned over the controversial purchase of water cannon by the Metropolitan Police and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in London.

The Home Secretary said she had still not made up her mind about whether to authorise the use of the vehicles for use on the mainland UK.

She was also asked about jihadists travelling from Britain to join fighters in Syria.

The Home Secretary refused to rule out copying a German model to “deradicalise” returning fighters and integrate them back into society rather than prosecuting them.
From Police Oracle

Public ‘surprised by officers’ ethical dilemmas’

College of Policing survey shows that most people would not want to be in the position of police officers.

The chief executive of the College of Policing has said he is surprised that many members of the public would not want to be in the same day-to-day situations as officers – following the results of a survey.

While Alex Marshall (pictured) said that he understood that many people would not want to have to be put in stressful positions as those at the sharp end of law enforcement he admitted being taken aback at how many were concerned by the ethical dilemmas.

He added: “I am not really surprised that people said they would not want to be in the position of an officer – but what really surprised me were how high the numbers were.

“This is something that does not come across in the hurly burly of the news media – 40 per cent felt the decisions the police have to make were harder than they thought.”

Chief Constable Marshall was speaking as the College prepared to lay the new Code of Ethics before Parliament as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act.

In a survey to coincide with the launch of the document, which will apply to all those working in policing, the professional body asked more than 2,000 members of the public about how they would deal with daily ethical dilemmas faced by personnel.

Just under 70 per cent said they would not want to be in the shoes of an officer or staff member when dealing with the situations – and four-out-of-10 believed that the challenges faced by the police were more difficult than they had thought.

The study also highlighted that most respondents did not always find what to do easy.

CC Marshall said the College remained committed to explaining the pressures officers found themselves under to the public – promoting greater awareness of the role.

The Code of Ethics will apply to more than 220,000 officers, police staff, contractors and volunteers in policing. It sets out the standards of behaviour expected and was drawn up after the professional body was granted powers in legislation to set codes. Chief constables must legally have regard to these documents.

CC Marshall told PoliceOracle.com that he was confident that personnel at all levels of the law enforcement family were now behind the latest code – which sets out 10 standards of professional behaviour in areas including accountability and fairness.

He said: “All chief constables have now committed themselves to it and the Police Federation has voiced its support – we have backing from those at the top and the frontline workforce.

“This is the first time we have had a code of ethics and forces have been implementing it in their own way. It brings policing into line with other trusted professionals such as those in medicine and law.”

College of Policing board Chair Dame Shirley Pearce echoed the chief executive’s comments. She added “The Code makes explicit the ethical principles that should guide the difficult decisions that everyone in policing has to make every day of the week.”

From Police Oracle

Cabinet reshuffle

Cabinet reshuffle – OUT Damien Green Policing Minister.

Out Damien Green

So who will be IN?

So who will be IN?

Let’s hope it is not -

Please no?

A new policing minister is due to be announced after Damian Green was surprisingly removed from his post during a government reshuffle.

Having held the position since September 2012, the Conservative politician (pictured) oversaw the first elections for the posts of police and crime commissioner and had been active in shaping the direct entry to superintendent recruitment scheme for forces.

Before becoming minister for policing, criminal justice and victims, he was immigration minister and had also been shadow secretary of state for transport, immigration and education.

He is one of many Conservative cabinet ministers who left their posts on the evening of July 14.

His replacement has not yet been announced, although some political websites are predicting Redditch MP Karen Lumley will take over.

Mr Green said on Twitter: “To those kindly inquiring I am out but not down. Still believe everything I believed yesterday and will carry on fighting for it.”

Steve White, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, tweeted: “New police minister will have a job on their hands. Falling numbers, falling morale, rising work. The Federation will be sending strong message.”

The Kent Police Federation tweeted: “(…)@damiangreenmp loses role as police minister. Having met him a number of times I think that’s a shame – lost a voice of reason.”

In 2008 Mr Green was controversially arrested and his office searched in the House of Commons over leaked Whitehall information. No action was ultimately taken against him.

From Police Oracle

Turkeys do not vote for Christmas

MPs’ standards: independent watchdog has ‘grave concerns’ on blocked debate

Commons leader Andrew Lansley clashes with watchdog over proposals to make MPs accountable to parliamentary committee

Andrew Lansley, leader of the House of CommonsCommons leader Andrew Lansley says there is no point debating the proposals because MPs had previously vetoed the idea of being investigated over anything to do with their personal lives

The leader of the Commons, Andrew Lansley, is blocking a debate on whether to make MPs accountable to the parliamentary standards committee for exceptional wrongdoing in their “private and personal lives”, triggering a clash with the commissioner responsible for overseeing MPs’ standards.

Lansley has argued there is no point debating the proposals, recommended in a report by the Commons standards and privileges committee more than 18 months ago, because MPs have previously vetoed the idea of being investigated over anything to do with their personal lives – even if the wrongdoing could bring parliament into disrepute.

If the proposals went ahead it could have allowed the committee to hold an inquiry into the sexual misconduct of suspended Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock.

Lansley’s refusal to allow a debate on the report, first published in December 2012, has caused Kathryn Hudson, the independent commissioner on standards, to express “grave concern” in her annual review published on Monday.

“It is extremely disappointing that time has not been found for such a debate, not least because the new rules are considerably clearer on certain issues, including some which have been the subject of inquiries this year,” she said.

“If there is disagreement with some of the Committee’s proposals, MPs would be free to amend them in debate and leadership may be shown by addressing issues transparently and honestly, rather than by avoiding difficult discussions. In my first annual report I expressed my disappointment that the House had not found time to consider the changes. Another full year has now passed without such a debate and decision on the rules.”

Kevin Barron, a Labour MP and chairman of the standards committee, said he fully endorsed the commissioner’s concerns about the need for a debate.

Some members of the Commons standards committee have privately expressed disquiet that they were not able to accept an investigation into Hancock, the suspended Liberal Democrat MP who has now apologised for sexually inappropriate behaviour towards a vulnerable constituent with mental health problems.

The complainant has said her accusations were ignored by the Lib Dems and parliamentary authorities, forcing her to take legal action in order to gain redress.

Following the trial of Nigel Evans, who was cleared of rape and sexual assault, there have also been concerns that people can only take allegations about inappropriate personal behaviour by MPs to police or the whips, who have long been accused of trying to brush claims that could damage their party under the carpet.

The Commons will on Monday debate a new grievance procedure for Palace of Westminster staff to take action over bullying or harassment by MPs, but this will not cover their own researchers and secretarial teams, who are directly employed by them.

Speaking to a new parliamentary inquiry on MP ethics, Lansley said MPs have already voted against being held accountable for actions in their private and personal life in March 2012 and there was no need to revisit the issue.

“An amendment was passed that precluded certain investigations,” he said. “The issue was, in effect, within what I would regard as the same time frame – certainly within the same parliament, with effectively the same members being asked to have the same debate on the same issue, with an expectation of a different result … The house was not in any position – I wasn’t in a position – to expect a different result.

“In terms of allocating time, it is not my objective to allocate time for a debate that, in itself, does not move the position forward.”

Asked about concerns that some MPs were getting through a lot of staff and did not know how to treat them properly, Lansley resisted the idea of a compulsory induction programme.

“The idea that you can make things compulsory is inherently difficult with members of parliament, because although they are subject to the whip, beyond that they are strictly speaking completely free to determine their own responsibility,” he said.

Angela Eagle, his Labour shadow, also warned there was little point reviving the issue of holding MPs accountable for “personal and private” actions, saying it had “caused a lot of worry for many, many members, which is why that amendment to the suggestions was made”.

“Should that come back to the house, you would get the same result unless much more work was done to try to reassure members that this is not overly intrusive into their purely private lives. I think even MPs are probably, under human rights law, allowed at least a tiny bit of private life. There are worries among members about what that might mean in the kind of context within which we all operate.”

The inquiry into reforms of the MP standards regime by a parliamentary subcommittee was set up in the wake of the scandal over former culture secretary Maria Miller’s mortgage expenses. This saw the independent investigator’s conclusions that she should repay £45,000 watered down by the Commons standards committee of 10 MPs and three lay members, who said she should repay just £5,800.

After that, David Cameron conceded that there might be a case for reforms to the system to combat the public perception that MPs were still policing themselves.

Under the current system, an independent commissioner investigates complaints and makes recommendations to the standards committee, which draws conclusions and recommends sanctions. This is then brought before the House of Commons for approval.

Lansley said he thought there should be an equal balance of MPs and lay members on the standards committee.

He also said it could be written into guidance that these lay members effectively have a “veto” on any report by the MPs with which they disagree, as they can express a contrary opinion.

However, he said it would not be right to give these lay members any actual voting rights, meaning MPs would still have the final say on whether to recommend sanctions on their colleague under investigation.

Unelected people could not be allowed to “reach into” parliament and overrule its authority as that would contravene the principle of privilege, he said.

“The House has privilege and we cannot have other people simply reaching into the House of Commons and upsetting that,” he said.

Instead, Lansley proposed that he could, as leader of the Commons, bring forward the opinion of the lay members to parliament. Lay members have never yet disagreed with the MPs on the standards committee about a decision.

See also - Child abuse inquiry: Theresa May under fire over Lady Butler-Sloss

Home Secretary accused of failing to do her homework after resignation of woman appointed to chair child-abuse inquiry

Butler-Sloss resigned after admitting that she had failed to take into account the fact that her brother, the late Sir Michael Havers, served as attorney general in the 1980′s when reports of child abuse were allegedly not examined properly.

Butler-Sloss said she had been honoured to be invited to chair the inquiry. But she added: “It has become apparent over the last few days, however, that there is a widespread perception, particularly among victim and survivor groups, that I am not the right person to chair the inquiry.  It has also become clear to me that I did not sufficiently consider whether my background and the fact my brother had been attorney general would cause difficulties.”

Shift patterns ‘force police to sleep on streets’

Changes to working patterns mean some officers are resorting to sleeping on the streets because they have no means of getting home to bed after finishing late shifts, a Police Federation official has warned.

Deputy General Secretary of the Metropolitan Police Federation Dennis Weeks said officers were bedding down on benches, under bridges and in train stations after finishing shifts in the early hours of the morning after trains had stopped running.

“Officers are not allowed to sleep in police stations, so they are going to train stations and sleeping there or on benches near the station so that as soon as the first train leaves they can go home,” he said. “It makes them vulnerable to being criminally assaulted, the impact on their health is extremely bad and bad weather can make it difficult.

“An officer might end up finishing at 1am and missing the late train, meaning they cannot get home because night buses only go within London. There used to be police section houses with accommodation for officers all over London, but now there is just one.”

No accommodation

The peak time when officers are needed in London boroughs is between around 7pm and 1am, but after this time crime tails off, meaning keeping officers on overnight would be inefficient.

Met officers who live outside of London often commute dozens of miles to work by train even if they are motorists because of a scarcity of spaces caused by sell offs of police car parks and strict restrictions on parking in some areas.

Westminster, Camden and Kensington and Chelsea are among the boroughs where the problem is most acute, Mr Weeks said – but he stressed officers who were sleeping on the streets did so on a “sporadic” basis and not for long periods of time.

He added: “During the Olympics we had officers sleeping under bridges. The organisational ability to house people in emergency situations has been depleted.”

Asked whether any off duty officers found sleeping rough had been moved on by their on duty colleagues, Mr Weeks said: “Our people can be moved on from places the same as anyone else.”

He also highlighted “anti-homeless” metal spokes which prevented people – potentially including sleeping policemen – from catching forty winks.

‘Heard stories’

At a London Assembly Police and Crime Panel meeting this week, panel member Len Duvall told Met Police Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey he had heard about police sleeping on the streets of London.

“I have heard those stories as well,” the Deputy Commissioner replied, “but certainly (I have heard about) sleeping in police stations and all those things that we do not want.”

DC Mackey said the Met faced a tension because “work demand” meant officers “finishing at 2am or 3am” and the fact that in some London boroughs “for anyone who does not live in that borough finishing at 3am (poses) real practical things like they cannot get home if they have not got their own transport.”

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe added: “A lot of our people live outside of London and have to travel a distance. If the transport stops and they cannot bring a car in, it causes a tension. We realise that and are doing our best to resolve it, but it is not straightforward.”

From Police Oracle

Met police ban recruits who live outside London

Police chiefs hope move will help double the proportion of minority ethnic officers in the force.

Met Helmet platePolice chiefs hope the plan will help double the proportion of minority ethnic officers in Britain’s biggest force, which has faced criticism for being too white compared with the city it serves. Four in 10 Londoners are from an ethnic minority, compared with 11% of Met officers.

Of recent intakes, about 10% of new officers from outside London (who make up 60% of new recruits) are from ethnic minorities. In contrast, of the 40% of the new intakes that come from London, 30% are from ethnic minorities.

Boris Johnson’s deputy mayor for policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, said he was concerned that too many Met officers did not know the diverse communities they policed because they did not live in the capital.

Greenhalgh, who has daily oversight of the Met, said: “We have got to recognise that having a majority of your workforce that travel in very large distances to come to work, do not even live or have never resided for any period of time in the city, cannot be healthy.”

Greenhalgh said the scheme was not about race or quotas, but about how to police an increasingly global city with hundreds of ethnicities and languages spoken: “The focus must be on competence not colour … the focus must be on cultural competence.”

He added: “If you come in and you don’t know anybody it’s very hard to be an effective officer.”

The mayor’s Conservative administration backs the plan, as does the Met and Home Office. The policing minister, Damian Green, said: “The police need a workforce with a good understanding of the diverse communities they serve. “Officers must be able to gain the trust and support of those communities to report crime and work with them. A workforce which is drawn from and reflects the communities it serves is an important element of fair and effective policing.”

From 1 August new recruits must have lived in London for at least three out of the previous six years. Those behind the scheme believe it will survive any legal challenge.

The Met is aiming to recruit 5,000 officers by 2015/16. The 1999 Macpherson report into Met prejudice that let the racist murderers of Stephen Lawrence escape justice led to the force being set a target of having 25% ethnic minority officers within a decade. Not only did the Met miss the target by a large amount, but London’s ethnic population increased to 40%.

Greenhalgh hoped the new plans would boost confidence in the Met, which he said was good in some areas, and particularly poor amongst black Londoners: “The driver of boosting public confidence is critically how you engage with communities who are getting increasingly diverse and also the just use of authority and legitimacy.”

Privately some police chiefs fear a damage to the legitimacy of policing by the continuing race gap in the ranks.

The Met commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has favoured a positive discrimination plan where one minority ethnic officer would be recruited for every new white officer. But this would require a change in the law, and the plan was received coolly by the Home Office. Supporting the London recruits scheme, he said: “With London’s population increasing and becoming even more diverse it is essential that our workforce is able to maintain the trust and confidence of London’s communities.

“Recruiting constables with a knowledge and understanding of this reality through living in the capital makes sense to help us achieve this aim. They will have a better understanding of local issues, knowledge of local communities and an inbuilt insight into London’s varied cultures.”

Met police ban recruits who live outside London

Historical abuse cases ‘diverting attention from children at risk’

Leading psychologist says police officers investigating historical cases are at breaking point with exhaustion and stress

(Click here or on the cartoon for some interesting case law on stress)

Police officers investigating hundreds of child sex abuse cases are at breaking point psychologically with many suffering exhaustion, secondary trauma and stress, a leading psychologist has warned.

Dr Noreen Tehrani, who advises specialist child abuse detectives in the Metropolitan, Surrey, Thames Valley and Hampshire forces, added that pressure from Westminster politicians forced police to divert attention from children at risk to historical cases.

“They are just completely inundated with work, they are beginning to collapse. What I am getting are more and more exhausted officers. There aren’t enough officers in these specialist teams and they are overwhelmed,” Tehrani said.

Tehrani said officers were on the point of collapse, with many going off sick as a growing number of historical claims of abuse increased pressure on already busy teams. She told the Guardian that she would be writing to David Cameron and Theresa May, the home secretary, to express her deep concern at the pressures the teams are under.

The psychologist’s work means that she sees six officers a day, four times a week, in work that is seen as a necessary support for police officers handling what are often traumatic child abuse cases. She said that she was speaking out because the officers were not able in the current climate to talk themselves of the pressures they were under.

Tehrani said: “I am seeing officers with secondary trauma, with PTSD [Post-traumatic stress disorder], with stress. They have to interview vulnerable children or adults, they have to go through all of the physical details of what has happened to them, they have to test the evidence. These are the people that politicians are demanding more and more of, and I don’t know how much more they will be able to take.”

This week May said the police were investigating a shocking number of child abuse claims from across the country. Allegations have increased dramatically following the exposure of celebrities such as Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris and Stuart Hall.

Officers are dealing with hundreds of cases involving abuse in the past in institutions including schools, churches, children’s homes and a number of allegations relating to high profile people. Their workload is likely to increase further with the establishment of the wide ranging inquiry led by Lady Butler-Sloss, announced by ministers earlier in the week.

Tehrani said many had spoken to her of their concern at being diverted from current cases of abuse to investigate historical cases as a result of clamour from politicians and the media over rumours of an alleged network of powerful abusers who operated in the past.

Statistics show that the vast majority of child sexual abuse takes place in the home.

Strangers are responsible for approximately 10% of child abuse cases, while 30% of abusers are related to the child – mostly father, stepfather, uncle or cousins. About 60% of abusers are other acquaintances of the child.

Tehrani added that officers felt “considerable frustration” because the political climate meant that important current cases could not be dealt with because “they are being diverted to dealing with these historic cases. The thing about historic abuse in the main is that the abuse has stopped, there are not children at risk now who need to be removed from the situation.”

One senior source close to the Met child abuse command said: “They are under considerable pressure with the increase in workload and the whole command suffers because of it. But as long as victims are still getting a good service I think the officers will manage.”

Two weeks ago Tehrani stepped in to help an officer who was suffering secondary trauma from the work he was doing, and was unable to give evidence in person in a sexual abuse case.

The psychologist persuaded the judge to allow the officer to give his evidence without being present in court.

“The judge asked if I wanted to say anything, and I told him we have got some really dedicated officers doing some of the most difficult police work that there could be, and we need to look after them. I think someone has to speak out.”

Historical abuse cases ‘diverting attention from children at risk’

See also - Stress: Officers now at ‘breaking point’

In the meantime let us hope that officers under this sort of strain can keep their cool otherwise -

Police officers must swear to be polite

Every police officer will have to commit to treating the public with ‘courtesy and respect’ and swear to be sober under a new code of ethics published next week

The codes sets out 10 standards for professional behaviour, including authority, respect and courtesy, honesty and integrity, fitness for work and the use of force.

As part of their authority, respect and courtesy standards, police officers will be required to perform their roles in a “diligent and professional manner”.

They will have to “remain composed and respectful” and avoid behaving in an “abusive, oppressive, harassing, bullying, victimising or offensive” way.

“If officers breach the code of ethics a range of sanctions are available. Officers may simply be given a verbal warning or moved to another team, but more significant failures will require formal investigation and may result in an individual losing their job“.

Police chief accused of sexually harassing four young female colleagues now in leak inquiry

  • Nick Garagan is accused of sexually harassing four young female colleagues
  • Now he is at centre of criminal inquiry into claims he leaked ‘personal data’
  • Evidence that he may have sent ‘emails concerning police business… to individuals unconnected to the force’
  • Mr Garagan vehemently denies the sex harassment allegations
Nick Gargan

Nick Gargan

A Chief Constable accused of sexually harassing four young female colleagues is now at the centre of a criminal inquiry into claims he leaked ‘personal data’.

Nick Gargan, head of Avon and Somerset Police, is to be interviewed under caution over allegations he may have breached the Data Protection Act, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said.

The IPCC said it had uncovered evidence that he may have sent ‘emails concerning police business, some of which contained personal data, to individuals unconnected to the force’.

IPCC deputy chairman Rachel Cerfontyne said: ‘On July 8 I formally brought this matter to the attention of the police and crime commissioner for Avon and Somerset who referred Mr Gargan’s conduct to the IPCC the following day.

‘Mr Gargan has now been served with a notice informing him that this aspect of his conduct is subject to a criminal investigation.’

The watchdog said investigators are continuing to analyse the material they have gathered and are finalising arrangements to interview Mr Gargan over allegations of gross misconduct as well as the criminal claims.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: ‘The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has made me aware of new evidence in their ongoing investigation into the conduct of the Chief Constable.

‘I have referred the matter to the IPCC to investigate and the Chief Constable remains suspended.’
Father-of-two Mr Gargan, 47, vehemently denies the sex harassment allegations.

Mr Gargan was appointed Assistant Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police in 2006 before being appointed chief executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency in 2010.

In January of last year he was appointed Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police.

Police chief accused of sexually harassing four young female colleagues now in leak inquiry

Police leaders ‘must be willing to change failing systems’

College chair says that cultural leadership change is needed to alter practices and take risks.

Senior police leaders must accept the value of evidence based policing to change systems that have proven ineffective in order to make the discipline work in the service, it has been claimed.

College of Policing Chair Dame Shirley Pearce (pictured) said that senior officers must be willing to accept challenges to change from lower ranks based on evidence of which policing tactics are proven to work.

Dame Shirley said that there is a lack of understanding about the value that evidence has in policing practices and policies, and that cultures needed to change to embed the principles of evidence into the service.

She said: “Unless people in policing understand the value of evidence and have some skills to assess the evidence we won’t get evidence into practice.

“Everybody needs to know that evidence and research are valued across policing. There needs to be in policing a culture of leadership which is able to change in light of evidence.

“Leaders need the ability to constantly change in light of the evidence. They need to take risks about changing and good evidence needs to help in this area.

“There needs to be a culture change about willingness to change.”

In addition Dame Shirley, who was taking part in a wider debate about how education can contribute to lead police experiments, said that the knowledge pool policing draws upon needs to be expanded to include other disciplines such as sociology, finance and technology.

She also suggested that the policing environment needs to be more accepting of officers who want to test the fundamentals of policing practice.

“There needs to be an environment that welcomes trials and experiments in order to make predictions and get evidence about what works,” she said.

“We have some way to go with that.

“There needs to be to a willingness to accept that evidence comes from all over the place and not just academic houses. We must create a culture where it’s welcomed that someone asks ‘why did we do it like this’.

“I appreciate how difficult it is to change, but I am so encouraged by the amount of people who want this change.”

Chief Superintendent Angela Williams, of West Yorkshire Police, said that a certain amount of officers are needed to give evidence based policing the traction it needs.

She said: “We cannot continue to do what we have always done because we don’t have the resource or budget.

“We need a critical mass of people in the force to take this forward and generate interest because it can be difficult otherwise if you are one of a few pushing this.”

Jo Rowland, of Hampshire Constabulary, said that there is a challenge about how evidence based policing is presented to “the mass of policing”.

From Police Oracle

Force rejects all direct entry applications

The number of superintendents recruited through the first round of direct entry recruitment looks set to be extremely small – with one force having rejected every single application to the role.

West Yorkshire Police, who wanted to hire one individual with leadership – but not policing – experience to the role found that none of the 47 people who applied to the job met all their criteria for the shortlisting process.

PoliceOracle.com can also reveal the numbers of shortlisted candidates at the other forces involved in the scheme.

Avon and Somerset Police have chosen just four out of 83 people to pass to the next application stage, to fill their three intended positions.

Nine candidates have passed the first stage to the one post at City of London, eight have been shortlisted in North Yorkshire for two positions, and four for one post in Sussex.

At 72 shortlisted candidates, the Metropolitan Police’s figures are significantly higher than anywhere else. The force is recruiting between five and 15 direct entry superintendents and received seven times as many applications as the next nearest force.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe recently told PoliceOracle.com he was “impressed” by the calibre of the candidates.

The Met’s candidates could boost the overall numbers of recruits as unsuccessful candidates from one force at national assessment stage could be recruited by another.

Figures for British Transport Police were not yet available as this article went live. The force only received 18 applications for its one post.

West Yorkshire Police say that despite their rejection of all candidates they were pleased with the applications and are willing to take part in future rounds of recruitment through the process.

High calibre

Human Resources Director Hilary Sykes, said: “We received a high calibre of applicants, with all demonstrating considerable success in their careers to date. Unfortunately, we have not been able to identify a candidate that met our rigorous high standard right across a full spectrum of competencies, so on this occasion we will not be progressing applications to the next level.”

This recruitment process in West Yorkshire is part of a national programme, which is still ongoing, and we may have the opportunity to consider more applicants arising from that. We will also welcome future interest in the next round of direct entry.”

However, Ned Liddemore, Vice Chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, said: “How much has it cost them to try and recruit those 47 people when officers and staff are losing their jobs? Yet after they can’t find any suitable candidates, they’re willing to spend the same amount of money doing the same again.”

College of Policing lead for direct entry, Chief Superintendent Nicola Dale, said: “The direct entry programme is challenging with a rigorous assessment framework which must be passed to succeed.

“Where candidates do not meet the entry criteria it is right for the force and the applicant that they are not taken further through the recruitment process.

“The College of Policing will continue to work with police forces taking part in the programme to help them attract talented leaders from outside the service and support them to make a difference to policing and the communities that we serve.”

A Home Office spokesman stressed: “The future success of the police is dependent on attracting the best and brightest to careers in the force. Direct entry at superintendent level is a very demanding challenge.

“Forces have been working with the College of Policing to put in place a robust selection process to ensure that only those who can meet the high standards required are successful.

“It is right that forces only consider those who they are confident can complete the demanding training programme and go on to be excellent police leaders, bringing a fresh perspective and benefitting their colleagues and the public.”

From Police Oracle

Research: ‘More PCSOs leading to crime increase’

Evaluation of the mix of PCs and PSCOs on neighbourhood teams reveals more personnel leads to an increase in recorded crime.

The number of PCSOs on neighbourhood policing teams has a significant impact on recorded crime levels, new research suggests.

An evaluation examining the mix of police constables and PCSOs on three neighbourhood teams in West Yorkshire found that the team that comprised of 80 per cent community support officers saw an increase in total recorded crime during the three month project.

However, no difference in total crime was recorded for teams that had a 50/50 mix of both PCs and PCSOs or had predominantly more PCs.

The types of incidents where recorded crime increased were all deemed “low level” and included anti-social behaviour, some damage and some vehicle crime.

The PCSO-led teams had no significant effect in relation to initial and repeat calls for service. Data from the project, which took place between June and August last year, was compared to data from the previous three months as well as the same period the previous year.

District Commander Angela Williams said, as she presented the findings to the International Conference on Evidence Based Policing that based on those, and from the perspective of her operational role, she would rather have more PCs than PCSOs on neighbourhood policing teams.

She said: “This could shape future blends on neighbourhood policing teams – and it could be that there should be no reduction of PCs on neighbourhood teams with the potential for future increases in crime.

“The evaluation gives a wider holistic view on their (PCSOs) effectiveness on calls for service, repeat calls for service and total recorded crime.

“PCSOs are very effective but as a district commander I would like more PCs rather than PCSOs due to the flexibility of the resource.”

But former West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable John Parkinson, who retired in March 2013, warned: “We cannot jump to conclusions, we need a follow up as to the reasons for the increase.”

In addition to the qualitative results, officers and personnel who took part in the evaluation also completed a survey which revealed that there is a lack of knowledge between PCs and PCSOs, specifically relating to the “blend” of both in neighbourhood teams.

The survey also showed that participants felt that the ideal blend on neighbourhood teams was to have slightly more officers than PCSOs.

The PCSO role was introduced in December 2002 as part of a Home Office initiative to reduce the fear of crime and were paid for entirely by the government to start with before the funding was reduced.

From Police Oracle

Resilience, breaking points and the folly of mutual aid

As another potential deployment to Northern Ireland looms, the suitability of using UK officers to plug the gaps in the PSNI has still not been thought through, says Cliff Caswell.

It is a geographical area of policing that has taken on a new significance for officers from the UK over the past 12 months – Northern Ireland has suddenly become a potential tour of duty, with personnel supporting colleagues across the water in public order duties.

Last year – on July 12 – hundreds of officers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland volunteered for duty in Belfast under mutual aid arrangements as a contentious parade through the Ardoyne area of the city descended into violence. Water cannon and attenuating energy projectile baton rounds were deployed as masonry, petrol bombs and other missiles were hurled at the police lines by troublemakers.

As the same annual event looms this year, the legally binding ruling from the body regulating parades that the marchers cannot complete their return leg along the Crumlin Road has again caused disquiet. As in 2013 when the same ruling was made the move has angered some local politicians – and again the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief constable has said the determination will be enforced.

Despite appeals for calm all the ingredients are now present for the requirement of a major mutual aid operation. Sadly, the same set of circumstances could mean another hammering for PSNI officers, scores of whom were injured in the previous outbreak of violence.

Declining resilience

The requirement for a large scale mutual aid deployment should concern senior politicians who have thus far seemed largely indifferent to the stresses the PSNI has been under.

It would appear that the desire to paint a rosy picture of the achievements following the Good Friday Agreement – and there have been many – has come at the expense of the establishment accepting that there are still elements that want to drag the province back to the past.

Against this backdrop, numbers of officers in the PSNI have now fallen well below 7,000, more are on the cards to retire and the force resilience is being significantly undermined. In parallel, a public order situation that anywhere else in the British Isles would be the subject of crisis talks and debates in Westminster has prevailed while the activities of dissident Republicans have claimed the lives of two PSNI officers and come close to killing others.

This environment should not be taken lightly and requires a keen understanding of sensitivities, an understanding of particular risks and unique skill sets. Yet those embarking on deployments from the UK mainland have so far only received a two-day pre-deployment package in PSNI tactics and equipment, they do not have firearms for personal protection like their colleagues and are not rapidly available if there is an immediate need.

Numbers game

However, while it should be obvious to politicians that a growing threat requires more officers, not less, and that the sticking plaster of surging officers into an unfamiliar place requiring a unique policing style is neither a cost-effective or sensible option in terms of risk, these are basic concepts that do not seem to have been grasped.

The fact is that numbers matter – and a properly resourced, home grown force with the personnel to rapidly mobilise to deal with any threat should be the way forward.

But current plans to take on – at best – another few hundred or so officers are insufficient and the reality that a large scale recruitment campaign is urgently needed must be recognised. The relevant funding arrangements to make this happen should be put in place.

On the mainland UK, it has been a popular mantra of the Coalition Government that there must be more for less, and austerity must remain the watchword. These make fine soundbites, but when they are applied to modestly paid flesh-and-blood officers who are being smashed in disorder and targeted with a murderous zeal by terrorists, they tend to have a hollow ring.

A year has passed since the last July 12 disorder, and nothing has changed. The PSNI has continued to shrink; officers waiting in the wings for a mutual aid deployment that now seems an accepted part of policing have received no extra training or assurances over remuneration. Terrorists groups are active and increasingly well organised and the threat level in the province is still at the upper end of severe.

Action is now needed to address this situation and the government must have a reality check on Northern Ireland, informed by honesty rather than a relying on a blind optimism.

In the words of Police Federation for Northern Ireland Chairman Terry Spence, officers are not cannon fodder. They, more than anybody, are feeling the physical pain of austerity.

Cliff Caswell is the Editor of PoliceOracle.com and a former defence correspondent

Stress: Officers now at ‘breaking point’

Officers are continuing to suffer from stress and ill-health on duty as the severe reductions in personnel numbers take their toll, it has been claimed.

Personnel in more forces around the country are now saying that overwork is now becoming a real issue – and have warned that the next wave of cuts will hit them harder.

Mike Stubbs, Chairman of North Yorkshire Police Federation, has become the latest to voice concern about the situation, warning that more austere times are looming on the horizon.

He said members had seen cuts made to personnel with more set to follow – and predicted large rural forces such as his would suffer as officers were spread more thinly.

Mr Stubbs added: “We have already lost officers and soon the next wave of reductions is going to be hitting us – there are less of us, and people have to take time out for court and training.”

The official was speaking as Steve White, Chairman of the national Police Federation, warned that many serving colleagues were now approaching burnout.

Mr White – who took the helm of the staff association in May – added: “Our members up and down the country are telling us day in, day out [that] they have reached breaking point.

“Forces are now in the position of having to stretch their workforce as far as they can and this cannot be the best way to continue providing a top quality policing service.”

Anxiety increase

As reported on PoliceOracle.com, one large rural force has seen days lost due to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and other mental problems almost double.

Devon and Cornwall Police, which has also just seen a significant reduction in officers, has seen a 46 per cent rise in sick leave taken by officers suffering from mental illnesses.

The force has seen a reduction of officers from just over 3,300 to 2,851, according to its local Fed branch.

Senior officers have disputed the figures, claiming that several sub-categories of absences had been missed from the Federation’s statistics and absences had remained largely consistent.

Problem reductions

However, the number of officers suffering from stress-related illnesses has also gone up at Essex Police, according to the force’s Federation Chairman Mark Smith.

He said: “The cuts will continue, there will be fewer frontline officers, pressure will continue to pile onto officers. Government cuts are the foundation for many problems and the sickness comes on the back of some of the things that have already been created.

“For instance, workload pressure because of falling officer numbers, pressure of not being able to get annual leave because officers are being used in other officers leaving fewer officers behind and sickness levels because when someone does become sick it maybe isn’t being addressed early on. There’s been a lack of investment in occupational health and welfare.”

At West Midlands Police a survey of rank-and-file officers revealed last year they have more than twice the national average stress levels – and one in two PCs wants to leave the job.

The survey showed 38 per cent of constables and 45 per cent of sergeants reported experiencing work-related stress.

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