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
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 “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, 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’

PCCs: Public should have power of recall, suggests May

Lizzie Dripping… errmmm, I mean the Wicked Witch… seems to have lost the plot completely (again!) over PCCs. Having dreamed up this farcical and appallingly expensive replacement for police authorities in England and Wales, and brazened out the public fury over the hilarious and shambolic elections for PCCs, during which polling figures set new record lows and at least one polling station dealt with no voters AT ALL, she now seems to see no problem with having to enact new legislation to remedy the consequences of her first attempt, now that it doesn’t suit her political whims. And given that such proposed legislation would irrefutably be nothing but a legislative vehicle to get rid of Shaun Wright, then – bearing in mind that Wright was elected to this post by virtue of legislation that specified unambiguously the sole circumstances under which a PCC could be dismissed – I don’t think that the Courts would need much convincing that it would be wholly unlawful if she tried to make new legislation retrospective.

Whatever any of us might think about Wright’s moral position, he has nevertheless decided to stay put – he now has nothing to lose by doing so. Quite simply, Lizzie Dripping and her Conservative cronies have been well and truly hoist by their own petards! If the child abuse scandal wasn’t such a serious issue, this whole sorry story would be the funniest thing that the Home Secretary has done for many years, and personally, I think this is going to run and run and run… Wright is likely to dig his heels in, and Vazeline and the Wicked Witch are going to have to huff and puff until they can think up a “cunning plan” to wriggle out of the mess that PCCs have become, without looking like the complete pillocks they now appear to be.

Home Secretary Theresa May has indicated that she is in favour of a “power of recall” for Police and Crime Commissioners.

She told the Police Superintendents’ Association conference that there was a “debate to be had” about recall. Currently, voters can get rid of PCCs only every four years at elections.

Mrs May’s comments come amid calls for the South Yorkshire PCC to resign over the controversy surrounding child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. Last month, Mrs May called for the PCC, Shaun Wright, to stand down.

Before being elected as Commissioner, Mr Wright was Rotherham Council’s cabinet member for children’s services between 2005 and 2010.

An inquiry released in August revealed that at least 1,400 children had been sexually abused in the town between 1997 and 2013. Although Mr Wright resigned from Labour – after the party said it would suspend him – he has continued as PCC for South Yorkshire.

South Yorkshire PCC Shaun Wright has resisted calls to step down

He can only be suspended if he is charged with an offence punishable by at least two years in prison.

At a briefing after the PSA conference, Mrs May acknowledged that discussions over the recall of PCCs followed a debate over introducing similar powers in relation to MPs.

Mrs May she said she had been an “early supporter” of the recall of MPs.

‘Not the answer’

The Home Secretary also rejected calls for the government to merge police forces in England and Wales. On Monday, the president of the Police Superintendents’ Association, Irene Curtis, said it was “increasingly obvious that we do not need 43 forces”.

Mrs May said she would consider a “coherent and comprehensive” plan to merge forces with local support. But she told the conference that no chief constable or police and crime commissioner had come forward in the past four years with a proposal to merge.

“I applaud the efforts of chief constables and police and crime commissioners to work together so far, and urge them to go further – both between forces and with other emergency services. But the evidence is clear – big, top-down restructure is simply not the answer.”

In June, Labour said it was “nonsense” to have 43 forces in England and Wales, calling the system the “enemy of efficiency”.

BBC story

Gay police officers dealt with ‘discriminatory enforcement’

The Police Service has in the past been institutionally prejudiced against gay officers wanting to come out, a senior officer has argued.

Sussex Chief Constable Giles York said that historically those from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities were “singled out” and discriminated against by officers via “discriminatory enforcement”.

For example, officers targeted public lavatories and “public sex environments” to catch individuals who were trying to keep that part of their life secret.

Addressing delegates at the 61st Police Superintendents’ Association’s annual conference in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CC York also said the Police Service must adopt a different approach in order to attract people from all sections of the community to the job.

He added: “We have got to be different. There are some fantastic people out there who can make our work a lot easier and we have to become an employer of choice for those sorts of people.

“We are not balanced yet – why are there so many people who are not willing to share their sexuality with us?

“We gain trust through transparency – I think, historically, we prejudiced coming out in discriminatory enforcement behaviours.

“This is an active process and we need to do something positive. This is not a passive process or a responsibility to be delegated.”

During the ‘Taking the Uniform Out of the Closet’ session Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of equality group Stonewall, revealed that two-in-five LGBT officers are not “out” in their working environment. In addition, she said that there are “acute issues” for male officers.

She said: “There is something about how men in traditional male industries have a barrier about coming out.”

Influential role models

Norfolk Constabulary Inspector Louis Provart criticised the fact that there is no national policing lead on LGBT. He said having senior role models is key.

Insp Provart added: “There are a distinct lack of visible role models in policing. That is a significant problem. There are barriers to progression into the superintendent ranks and above.

“Culturally we should be well ahead of where we are sitting.

“We need to get our houses in order before we can have a more inclusive service in the future.”

As previously reported, a survey of superintendents and chief superintendents revealed that four-in-10 lesbian or gay senior officers claim they have experienced discrimination in the police workplace during their careers.

In addition the study revealed that officers fear the negative impact their sexuality could have on their career prospects in the future.

Delegates heard from several officers who have “come out”, including West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent Sally Bourner, who admitted that before she revealed her sexuality, it was “exhausting to constantly check yourself”.

Chief Superintendent Mike Gallagher, LGBT reserve officer for the Superintendents’ Association’s National Executive Committee, said that when he joined the service in 1987, society’s view on sexuality was significantly different.

“I am very proud of the organisation, but it can do more,” he added.

Police who died in line of duty honoured

Not forgetting our colleagues from Scotland

Tenth anniversary of Scottish Police Memorial at Tulliallan Police College marked by visit from Princess Anne and Chief Constable Sir Stephen House.

Police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the public have been honoured at a memorial event in Scotland.

The Princess Royal and Police Scotland’s Chief Constable Sir Stephen House marked the tenth anniversary of the Scottish Police Memorial on September 3, which carries the names of all 255 Scottish police officers who have died in the line of duty and includes the names of officers dating back to 1812.

Names added this year include those of four officers who have died in the last 12 months – Constable Mark Murtagh, Constable Tony Collins, Constable Kirsty Nelis and Captain David Traill.

Christine Fulton, Co-Founder of the Scottish Police Memorial Trust, said: “The memorial is a tangible reminder to the families that their loved ones’ names will never be forgotten and will live on not just for this generation but for every generation to come.

“We are honoured that HRH The Princess Royal was able to join us again. Her support for the families and recognition of their loss is much appreciated.”

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said: “Police officers are committed to serving their local communities, protecting the public and keeping people safe.

“The officers we are commemorating today made an important contribution to the communities they served. It is right that we should honour them and that their names be added to the Scottish Police Memorial, a fitting reminder to us all of their contribution to the service and to Scotland. Our thoughts are, as always, with their families and friends.”

The memorial is located at Tulliallan Police College, Police Scotland’s national headquarters, near Stirling.

From Police Oracle

Home Sec: ‘Integrate police, fire and ambulance services’

Home Secretary calls for closer working across emergency services during speech in which she also pledges renewed efforts to ‘sort out’ police procurement.

Integration of the police, fire and ambulance services alongside extensive use of body worn video will be integral to a future, cash-strapped policing landscape outlined by the Home Secretary.

Theresa May (pictured) gave scant detail on the proposal in a speech in London to members of think-tank Reform, but reinstated her intention to use the Police Innovation Fund to reward endeavours to merge some functions of the blue light services.

She said police and crime commissioners (PCCs) had “shown their reforming power by sharing core services with other forces, other emergency services and other parts of the public sector.” She added: “In policing in the future, I believe we will need to work towards the integration of the three emergency services.”

Mrs May also pressed the case for in-depth research into what she called “the drivers – not causes, as somebody once called them – of crime” and again defended the controversial reform agenda the Coalition Government has pursued.

But she added that there was still “gritty and unglamorous” work to be done around “sorting out” police procurement and making national digital networks more effective to meet the challenge of borderless internet crime.

“We’ve still got a long way to go,” she said. “The price forces are paying for items like boots and handcuffs still varies enormously and police ICT is going to take a long time to fix – but we are at least on the way.”

‘Hands off’

Though she made few direct references to police and crime commissioners – a reform that has again attracted flak in recent weeks – Mrs May outlined a vision in which the Home Office would maintain its “hands off” approach to local and regional policing while building a stronger relationship with the new National Crime Agency (NCA) and setting the wider, strategic tone.

She said: “The department needs to provide a combination of policy work, operational support such as the provision of legal warrants, and oversight of the NCA.”

The Home Office had also established a “knowledge hub” to identify ways of preventing crime using new technology, she revealed – and she called for closer working with private companies around “designing out” crime.

But her comments came under attack from the Shadow Policing Minister Jack Dromey, who accused the Home Secretary of living in a “fantasy world”.

He added: “Police and crimecCommissioners – seen as her flagship reform – have been roundly rejected by the public with only 10 per cent voting in the recent by election in the West Midlands.

“It is right that the Home Office should do more to cut crime but the Tories have no answers to the explosion of new types of crime, such as fraud and online child abuse.”

Fed’s view

Steve White, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “We are pleased to see that the Home Secretary has taken notice of some of the core issues we have been raising for a number of years and we support anything that aims to improve the 999 emergency response services.

“No one is more keen to see the policing service improve than the officers delivering the service on the frontline.

“There is no doubt that more could be done to improve police procurement, IT strategy and collaboration but whichever way you divide it up the most important part of all is the amount of funding available.

“Despite the best efforts of those officers, the public is feeling the effects of the funding cuts of the last four years. If the Home Office is saying it no longer runs policing, it is imperative that ministers identify where that responsibility lies.”

Mr White added: “Protecting the public is the foremost duty of any government and therefore providing the most effective, not necessarily the cheapest, emergency services possible should be top of the government’s priority list.”

From Police Oracle

Police workload and welfare: Officers must take responsibility

Senior officers must take some individual responsibility for their own welfare and workloads – it has been suggested – as a survey reveals forces have a varied approach to managing these issues.

A poll of more than 1,000 superintendents and chief superintendents has highlighted that in some cases, senior operational officers are suffering from unmanageable working hours, high stress levels and anxiety.

Of those that took part in the survey, 77 per cent reported regularly working in excess of 50 hours per week while some regularly work more than 70 hours per week.

The full survey results will be revealed and discussed in a dedicated session at the Police Superintendents’ Association’s annual conference in Warwickshire from September 8-10 called Command Resilience: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

However, Merseyside Chief Superintendent Stephen Richards, who leads on command resilience for the Association, said the survey showed some forces are working hard to improve the way they take care of the welfare of their senior officers.

He hopes the study, the results of which have been placed in a graded matrix system to rank forces that are perceived by senior officers as being either good or bad in managing welfare and workloads, will be used to help chiefs improve practices.

Worsening results

In an interview with Ch Supt Richards said that while forces must ensure they support their personnel, officers must also take responsibility.

He added: “Compared to the last survey we did in 2011, overall the results are worse – this does not come as a big surprise knowing what the service has been through with budget cuts and a 25 per cent reduction in the number of superintendents over the last three years.

“Working hours are a concern for us and we know that many people are working in excess of 40 hours a week. However, we have to take into account that there is a perception element to this.

“People are working rest days and what we are saying to forces is that while we understand and accept that there are times of need and crisis, if it continues week-in and week-out then at some stage it will show on the individual. Not only that but it will negatively impact the force and the wider community.

“To forces, we are saying don’t work people into the ground. To individuals we are saying they should take some responsibility and manage their time as best they can and try and work reasonable hours to balance their work and home life.”

Matrix system

Analysts took data from 30 questions and assigned the answers with a score, which was used to determine a single figure for the force.

Occupational Therapist Emma Donaldson-Feilder, who analysed the data, will discuss the matrix system and the analysis during the session at the conference on September 9.

In addition, Deputy Chief Constable Andrew Rhodes will also detail the good practices at Lancashire Constabulary, which were praised by some participants in the survey.

Ch Supt Richards added: “People are the most precious resource in policing. Some forces in England and Wales are good when it comes to looking after their officers, whilst others are not.

“We need to focus on what forces are doing to improve the resilience, health and well-being of their superintendents so that best practice can be shared.

“Almost all of our members look upon policing as a vocation. The survey shows that the vast majority of superintendents and chief superintendents get a ‘buzz’ from coming to work.

“They love their jobs but this does not mean that they should not be able to enjoy a proper work/life balance. This is in everyone’s best interests.”

From Police Oracle

CSOs ‘replacing officers in crime investigation’

PCSOs are being used to carry out the duties of warranted police officers and pressed into action to investigate crimes such as assaults and burglaries – resulting in no further action being taken.

A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found that in 17 of the 43 forces in England and Wales, PCSOs were being used “inappropriately” for response and investigative policing.

In these forces, the staff were being used daily to not only respond to the initial report of a crime but take on the case and, in effect, investigate it.

In addition to being asked to deal with “volume” crime, HMIs found evidence that PCSOs are being asked to deal with house burglaries and assaults – which should be dealt with by warranted officers.

In an interview with HMI Roger Baker said PCSOs were being inappropriately used because leaders do not have a basic understanding of their demand and the capability of their staff in terms of ability and their physical output.

He said: “Why are you using untrained staff to go and try and do their best when you have got lots of police officers?

“If you are going to use them then they need additional training in investigations and they need their powers extended.

PCSOs are being used well beyond their powers and their roles – they are being asked to be detectives, but they are not trained or skilled to carry out the role.

“I don’t see that demand is outstripping supply for warranted officers – so why are they not being used?”

The report found that PCSOs were still being sent out regularly to certain incidents relating to antisocial behaviour and other neighbourhood problems – in keeping with their role, profile and training.

The report recommends that all forces, by the end of December, should not be using PCSOs to respond to incidents and crimes beyond their role profiles, where they have no powers, or for which they have not received appropriate levels of training.

Mr Baker said: “Local policing should include both staff and warranted officers.”

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor said: “England and Wales has 43 police forces. There are not, and never have been, 43 best ways of doing something.”

Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis, President of the Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, said that the report makes for uncomfortable reading.

She added: “Forces have made significant efforts to save money and have continued to reduce crime as well as doing their best to protect the frontline.

“But the report indicates that while this has been going on, some of the basic functions of policing appear to be slipping through the cracks in some areas.”

Widely reported, this from Police Oracle

See Also Victims ‘are being told to investigate crimes’

Victims ‘are being told to investigate crimes’

Some crimes are on the verge of being “decriminalised” – it has emerged – after an inspection report revealed that call handlers are encouraging victims to carry out initial investigations themselves.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s report into crime prevention, police attendance and the use of police time found that when crimes such as house burglaries and robberies were reported there was clear evidence of police investigative activity and supervision.

But crimes reported over the phone in some force areas showed little evidence of investigation, the report stated.

Some call handling staff were observed by HMIs encouraging victims to conduct their own initial investigations – including suggesting they ask their neighbours if they had seen anything, that they check CCTV in the area and research second hand shops to see if their stolen property was being sold on.

Victims were given a crime reference number and asked to contact the force again if they discovered new evidence.

‘We have almost given up’

The report states: “Placing the responsibility for the investigation entirely on the victim is completely inappropriate.

“In addition to not providing an adequate service to the victim, opportunities are being lost to establish characteristics of these crimes that could contribute to a comprehensive picture and better understanding of crime in an area, enabling a more informed crime prevention response to be devised.”

In addition, when crimes were dealt with over the phone in this manner, there were examples of crimes being recorded, closed and filed the same day – sometimes within minutes of the initial report. In most cases, no further contact with the victim was made.

HMI Roger Baker said: “There seems to be a mindset of not dealing with it. A number of crimes are on the verge of being decriminalised.

“It is not the fault of the staff – it is a mindset that has crept in to say we have almost given up.

“Leadership is key in this. This issue pre-dates the Comprehensive Spending Review budget cuts – it has evolved over the years.

“Leaders need to establish who is doing what – basic management and leadership underpinned by simple process can help.”

Elsewhere, HMIs found that the appointment system for victims of crime was being exploited and that appointments were being made for the convenience of the police – or when an incident should have been dealt with immediately.

“The use of appointment systems in these ways is neither appropriate nor acceptable”, the report stated.


One of the 40 recommendations in the report was that by September 2015 all forces should ensure that their officers and staff involved in the investigation of crime over the phone have received the appropriate investigative training.

By the end of this year forces must have produced clear guidance on the types of crime and incidents that are not appropriate for resolution by way of appointment.

Many of the recommendations in the report seek to strengthen, improve and create systems for recording aspects of policing to allow senior leaders to make informed decisions over the allocation and deployment of their resources.

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor (pictured) said: “The oxygen of effective policing is intelligence. Information is useless if it cannot be found and used at the time and in the circumstances in which it is needed.

“And in policing, if it is inaccessible to those who need it, great harm may occur which could and should have been prevented.”

Widely reported, this from Police Oracle

See Also PCSOs ‘replacing officers in crime investigation’

PCC’s Being Scapegoated

Police and crime commissioners (PCCs) are being allowed to be used as scapegoats by national politicians to deflect failings in their own actions, it has been claimed.

Jeffrey Harris, the deputy PCC for Surrey, has hit out at the negative headlines around the position – claiming they are “missing the point”.

Mr Harris, a former chief superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, who serves under PCC Kevin Hurley, responded to’s story on August 29 in which analysts called for reform of the newly created roles.

Legislation surrounding the office has been called into question, most recently in light of two cases where PCCs have left or been suspended from their political parties.

The Prime Minister, Home Secretary and many members of the public have called on South Yorkshire’s Shaun Wright to stand down in light of his previous responsibility for children’s services in Rotherham for five years, during a longer period which was heavily criticised in the Rotherham report last week.

Mr Harris would not defend Mr Wright, but said: “I think it’s too early to say whether the legislation needs reform.”

He said that the legislation for PCCs was the same as for MPs and the Mayor of London – who oversees policing in the city.

Domestic abuse offence could cover emotional as well as physical harm

Government launches consultation on strengthening law by explicitly stating that domestic abuse covers coercive behaviour

Domestic violence. A new criminal offence could protect abuse victims whose partners cause psychological harm. Photograph: Pekka Sakki/REX

A new criminal offence of domestic abuse could be introduced to include emotional and psychological harm inflicted by a partner within a relationship.

The government launched a consultation on Wednesday to look at strengthening the law by explicitly stating that domestic abuse covers coercive and controlling behaviour as well as physical harm.

The move comes after the way that police respond to domestic abuse in England and Wales was condemned as “alarming and unacceptable” in a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in March.

The consultation document says that police fail to see abuse, particularly in its nonviolent form, as a serious crime, adding: “Creating a specific offence of domestic abuse may send a clear, consistent message to frontline agencies that nonviolent control in an intimate relationship is criminal.

“Explicitly capturing this in legislation may also help victims identify the behaviour they are suffering as wrong and encourage them to report it, and cause perpetrators to rethink their controlling behaviour.”

The latest statistics reported in the Crime Survey for England and Wales suggest that 30% of women and 16% of men will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime.

The Home Office said the type of behaviour a new law could cover included threatening a partner with violence, cutting them off from friends and family or refusing them access to money in order to limit their freedom. Under existing law, nonviolent coercive and controlling behaviour is captured by the legislation that covers stalking and harassment but it does not explicitly apply to intimate relationships.

The home secretary, Theresa May, said: “Tackling domestic abuse is one of this government’s top priorities. The government is clear that abuse is not just physical. Victims who are subjected to a living hell by their partners must have the confidence to come forward. Meanwhile, I want perpetrators to be in no doubt that their cruel and controlling behaviour is criminal.”

In the introduction to the consultation document, May acknowledges that changing the law cannot be a substitute for improving the police response – HMIC found that arrest rates varied from 45% to 90% across the 43 police forces in England and Wales – but says officers must have the best possible tools to do their job.

Polly Neate, chief executive of the charity Women’s Aid, said the change, if implemented, could help give victims greater confidence to speak out sooner. “This is a vital step forward for victims of domestic violence,” she said.

“Two women a week are killed by domestic violence, and in our experience of working with survivors, coercive controlling behaviour is at the heart of the most dangerous abuse. This move demonstrates a strong commitment from the Home Office to listening to victims of abuse in framing the law that serves them.”

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, welcomed the move but said the coalition had presided over a “backwards slide” in action against domestic violence and support for victims. “Under this government, refuges across the country are cutting services and many are threatened with closure,” said Cooper.

“Prosecutions and convictions as a proportion of recorded domestic crime are falling. And over the last four years over 10,000 perpetrators of domestic violence have been handed only community resolutions, with many simply being asked to apologise to their victim.”

From the Guardian

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