‘On A Mote Of Dust, Suspended In A Sunbeam’

The most distant photograph of the Earth (about 2/3 of the way down the image in the light brown band) taken from beyond the planet Neptune – about 3.7 billion miles – by the Voyager 1 spacecraft ….

Pale Blue Dot“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate.

Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Carl Sagan, ‘Pale Blue Dot’ 1994

(With thanks to Dave Powell who sent me this and who has been an arch supporter.  It does make you think that we are on the cusp when it comes to the future of mankind.  On that note I really must stop fiddling with the blog as our impending move is now getting to be an imminent move.  If I am not careful I will be having more comebacks than Frank Sinatra) ….   Smile

New ‘direct entry’ police superintendents will break 180 years of tradition

Candidates are poised to become first officers to enter police at senior rank rather than working their way up from constable

SuptA civil servant, a bank worker and a member of the armed forces are among the first ever fast-track recruits into senior police ranks.

The College of Policing said 13 candidates had passed a rigorous assessment process to become superintendents.

If, as expected, they complete the final stages the nine men and four women will become the first recruits will break more than 180 years of tradition by entering the police at a rank higher than constable.

The College said 13 out of 40 candidates who took the assessment for “direct entry” were successful, a lower number than anticipated, and their ages range between 30 and 48.  At a time when the ethnic breakdown of the police is under continuing scrutiny, the College said two of the applicants going forward to the next stages are black or Asian.

“The successful candidates come from a wide range of professions including finance, media and creative industries, the armed forces and civil service,” said a spokesman.

“They include four women and two people from a black and minority ethnic background.”

Ten were referred by the Metropolitan Police and one each from the Avon and Somerset, Sussex and North Yorkshire forces.

The 10 Met candidates are due to undergo one-to-one interviews with Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner, later this month

Those who are offered jobs will start 18 months’ training in November.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall, the chief executive of the College of Policing, said: “We have always maintained that this would be a tough programme to be accepted onto because the development programme and the superintendent role is so demanding.

“The assessment centres have identified some exceptional performers who we believe will be able to rise to that challenge over the course of their training.”

Chief Constable Sara Thornton, the director of Police National Assessment Centres , said: “We’re looking for outstanding leaders to come into the service through this programme and we have seen some excellent applicants perform well in these tough and testing four day assessment centres.

“The process was deliberately demanding so that we could find the candidates with both leadership qualities and the ability to bring in new ideas around efficiency, effectiveness and make a positive impact on the culture in policing.

“A total of 13 applicants passed the national assessment centre and while this is a lower number than hoped I am confident that they all have the potential to make a tangible impact on policing and ultimately, the service delivered to the public.”

The decision to open up the police to direct entry, abolishing the traditional system of all officers working their way up from constable rank, has been controversial.

It was opposed by the Police Federation, which represents 125,000 frontline officers, as “elitist” and potentially damaging.

Some officers said it had been a point of principle established by Sir Robert Peel, the founder of modern British policing in 1829, that all officers began as constables.

But Mike Penning, the police minister, said: “The future success of the police is dependent on attracting the brightest and best to careers in the force.

“The government introduced direct entry to open up the senior ranks of the police to people with new perspectives and expertise.

“Direct entry is a demanding challenge and it is right that applicants should go through a robust selection process to make sure only those who can meet the high standards required to complete the training programme and become excellent police leaders are appointed.”

Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, vice-president of the Police Superintendents’ Association, welcomed the announcement and said the process had been a “rigorous examination of the candidates’ abilities and potential”.

New ‘direct entry’ police superintendents will break 180 years of tradition

See - Direct Entry Superintendents

Updates On Surrey Officer Jailed for Fraud

There have been a few developments since the story of former Chief Inspector Tanya Brookes being jailed for two and a half years for fraud in May.

Tanya

Firstly the sentence has been appealed and reduced to 18 months. The appeal judges thinking around this was that there was no need for a deterrent element when the officer had already lost their job and had not actively used her role as a police officer to assist with her offending. There is more about it here. http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/former-surrey-police-chief-inspector-7534878

Secondly, two men have been charged with harassment of Tanya Brookes. This is sub- judice but I understand that it relates to an allegation that some written material was sent to her address and to neighbours while she was on bail. http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/tanya-brookes-fraud—two-7543432

Thirdly, the Surrey PCC, Kevin Hurley, has been admonished by Surrey’s Police and Crime Panel Complaints Sub-committee for remarks he made following Tanya Brookes sentencing. Following the original sentence of 30 months in May, Mr Hurley said ” Ms Brookes had “lost the respect of her family, friends and public” and added: “She will not have a nice time in prison. That seems appropriate to me.”
A complaint was made regarding the comments, which were regarded as “inaccurate and upsetting” by Ms Brookes’ family and friends. The complaint was upheld by the Committee.

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/police-chiefs-remarks-over-jailed-7284599

Tanya Brookes’ family said in a statement: “We are pleased with the findings of the police and crime panel complaints sub-committee meeting, which ruled that Kevin Hurley’s comments were inappropriate and unacceptable for someone who holds the public office of police and crime commissioner.”

Mr Hurley confirmed he would write to the complainants.

He said: “[Ms Brookes’] actions had disappointed and saddened me, and more importantly let down the public of Surrey. I made reference to the distress that this would have caused her family. I was, of course, thinking how I would have reacted if a member of my family had behaved quite so criminally.

“It’s unfortunate if the words I used to describe how the family feels about Tanya Brookes did not accurately represent their feelings.”

But he stood by his comments about her treatment in prison.

“That still is a correct comment,” he said. “Prison is about punishment and she should not enjoy the experience.

“However, it would be wrong for anyone to believe that I would condone any form of bullying or victimisation to any serving criminals. People in prison should not have a nice time. I stand by that comment.

“But I don’t condone any type of mistreatment.”

And don’t come back

Some 5m Britons live abroad. The country could do far more to exploit its high-flying expats

Don't come back

WHEN British politicians talk about winning the “global economic race” (as they often do) they have athletes like Gregor Wilson in mind. Mr Wilson taught himself to code as a child. He started and built his first company while at university and sold it on graduating. His second venture, a software firm, is booming and will soon be ready to take on more staff. He is also preparing to leave Britain for good.

In the popular imagination, British expats are leathery retirees in the Mediterranean. But from 2006 onwards the weak pound, the bursting of Spain’s property bubble and rising taxes in France made the costas less attractive. The number of old Britons emigrating annually has more than halved since then. Dean Blackburn, head of HSBC Expat, part of the high-street bank, says that a different breed of emigrant is now on the march: the ambitious graduate bound for North America or Asia.

The sharpest rise has been among those moving to the glittering East (see chart). Mr Wilson will build his business in Hong Kong. The web, along with the reach of the English language and the cachet of a British degree, gives young people like him opportunities undreamed-of by their parents’ generation. They are also untethered for longer: on average, they buy a house and form a family later in life than did previous generations. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, since the eve of the economic crisis, emigration is down by 19% overall but up by 8% among 15- to 24-year-olds.

High housing costs help to drive young folk abroad. For the monthly rent on a rabbit hutch anywhere near central London, graduates live grandly elsewhere. “We can afford to travel around Australia, rent an apartment with a sea view and save some money,” explains Emma, a publisher and recent Oxford graduate who moved to Melbourne last year. Those with advanced degrees are especially likely to leave for countries where pay and research facilities are better. Emigrant Chart

This is regrettable. Britain’s productivity rate is puny; firms and factories badly need such skilled employees. But it is also an opportunity—which the country is squandering.

According to the World Bank, the British diaspora (at nearly 5m people, roughly the size of Scotland) is the largest of any rich country and the eighth biggest overall. Britain’s many expats could strengthen its trading links, channel investment into its economy and generally burnish the national brand. But Britain’s government seems to have “no coherent strategy” for engaging with them, says Alan Gamlen of the Oxford Diasporas Programme, a research unit at Oxford University.

Of 193 UN member states, 110 have formal programmes to build links with citizens abroad. Britain is not one of them. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s database of Britons abroad is patchy. Of all the high-flying expats with British passports your correspondent asks, only one—Danny Sriskandarajah, a migration expert based in South Africa—has had any contact with local embassies or with UKTI, Britain’s trade-promotion body. And his Indian friend has received much more attention from his consulate.

Indeed, India is a trailblazer in this field. It has an entire ministry for its emigrants. Mr Gamlen says it partly has this to thank for the success of its IT industry, built by Indians lured home from Silicon Valley and Europe. Other countries are similarly welcoming. Italy and France even reserve parliamentary seats for their diasporas.

The British government would probably have to work harder than most to sustain ties with the country’s expats. Britons are relatively good at melting into other countries without trace. They are a individualistic bunch, have Commonwealth links and a native language that often makes it easy to integrate.

Kiwi seeds

New Zealand offers a good model for Britain’s hands-off diplomats to emulate. Wellington has spent 30 years encouraging firms and philanthropists to root out Kiwis abroad. Its proudest achievement is the Kiwi Expat Association, a public-private partnership that supports and connects overseas New Zealanders through social media and networking events, and helps them return home if they so wish. Britain might also make it easier to bring spouses into the country. Expats who want to move back with their non-British partners often collide with their home country’s ever-tougher immigration regime.

If Britain does not want its talented globetrotters, others do. Germany actively recruits Britons to take apprenticeships there. Middle Eastern governments tour British universities doling out visas. Mr Wilson was contacted out of the blue by the Chinese authorities, who invited him to relocate his firm and offered to pay for his flight. “America and China seem really keen to attract us,” he says. “Britain just doesn’t seem that interested.”

From The Economist

Dumb And Dumber

Cuts plan: Neighbourhood officers ‘will not investigate crime’

Leicestershire outlines measures to cope with a shrinking budget including home working and outsourcing.

A force has announced that its neighbourhood police officers will no longer investigate any crime.

Leicestershire Police has outlined plans to cope with £15 million of cuts before March 2017 in a wide ranging blueprint.

A document jointly drawn up by Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader and Chief Constable Simon Cole states that the force will introduce measures including having neighbourhood teams focused only on “community problem solving, engagement, proactive patrol, tackling anti-social behaviour and managing offenders”.

By removing any investigative element from the teams, which have seen reductions in the number of police officers within them, the document estimates that an extra 42,000 officer-hours can be dedicated to their “core functions”.

Elsewhere the document promises an increase in outsourcing, 251 more PCSOs, the closure of some “large” stations and encouraging more people to work from home.

The plan states: “Between 2010 and 2013 the force has already removed £20 million from the budget. By March 2017 we need to save a further £15.4 million from our current budget of £172.6 million.

“Over 80 per cent of costs are ‘people’ so we have tried to reduce non-staff costs as much as possible. We have made significant savings through collaborative working, major crime, HR and legal services.

“We cannot make the necessary additional savings without transforming how we (will be) delivering policing in the future.”

Further reductions

The force will also cut its number of local policing units from 15 to eight, and crime will be investigated through [sic] only by detectives, police officers and investigative support assistants through three investigation hubs under the force’s crime directorate.

It is setting up a new Investigation Management Unit to allocate reports of crime or anti-social behaviour to the right department.

Tiffany Lynch, Chair of the Leicestershire Police Federation, said: “We do not want to see any changes that have an impact on the ability of our members to meet the needs of their communities.

“Of course, we fear police officers could be under increased pressure as they try to deliver the same service with reduced numbers of sworn officers and less support from police staff whose numbers have also been cut in recent years.

“However, we all have to be realistic. The funding is not there and the force has to provide the best service it can with the resources it can afford.

“We will continue to work with the force so that it can balance the books, provide savings and deliver effective policing services to the public.

“We appreciate that the force has announced its outline plans and we await more detailed proposals as the force continues to work on this project.”

The lamps go out all over Britain as nation recalls debt to the dead in a candlelit vigil

Lights out++++++++++++++

++++++++++++++

Dreamers

Soldiers are citizens of death’s gray land,
Drawing no dividend from time’s tomorrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds, and wives.

I see them in foul dugouts, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.

Siegfried Sassoon

++++++++++++++

 

They shall not grow old…..

As we commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War when Britain and her Empire went to war – Surrey Police Officers who had been in the Armed forces were rejoined or were recalled to their former regiments. Four Surrey Constabulary and two Guildford Borough Police Officers died within the first four months of the conflict. In total 15 Surrey Constabulary Officers and 3 Guildford Borough Police Officers lost their lives.

PC 14 William George Deacon – Guildford Borough Police – died 14th September 1914 – Remembered on the La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial
PC 257 Henry Edward Thomas Bullen – Surrey Constabulary – died 26th October 1914 – buried in Zantvoorde British cemetery
PC221 Ernest William Brattle – Surrey Constabulary – died 31st October 1914 – buried in Boulogne Eastern cemetery
PC 20 Sidney Charles Macey – Guildford Borough Police – died 2nd November 1914 – Remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
PC 66 James Freemantle – Surrey Constabulary – died 11th November 1914 – Remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
PC 150 Thomas Freemantle – Surrey Constabulary – died 11th November 1914 – Remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

RIP all of you


From Christen Duckett – well said Christien.

Police files reveal ‘endemic corruption’ at the Met

Documents show how organised crime networks were able to infiltrate the force ‘at will’

 Scotland Yard holds an astonishing 260 crates of documents on police corruption in one corner of London alone – and very few of the rogue detectives have ever been successfully prosecuted.

A review led by one of Britain’s most senior police officers has unearthed a mammoth amount of intelligence spawned by Operation Tiberius, a secret police report written in 2002 that concluded there was “endemic corruption” inside the Metropolitan Police.

The file found organised crime networks in north-east London were able to infiltrate the Met “at will” to frustrate the criminal justice system.

The huge number of crates, revealed in a letter by Craig Mackey, (pictured), the Met’s Deputy Commissioner, indicates the scale of criminality inside Scotland Yard’s north-east London units, which appears to have gone almost unchallenged since Tiberius was compiled 12 years ago.

Research suggests that only a tiny number of the scores of then-serving and former police officers named as corrupt by Tiberius have been convicted.

In a letter to Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, Mr Mackey warned that the mountain of evidence against his officers is likely to continue growing. He said: “This number [of crates] is likely to expand as linked operations are identified.”

Following a series of scandals surrounding the Stephen Lawrence and Daniel Morgan murders, the news will renew fears that the Met remains unwilling to confront corruption in its ranks.

Daniel Morgan Daniel Morgan In correspondence published quietly on the parliamentary website, it emerged that Scotland Yard had handed only six heavily redacted pages of Operation Tiberius to the committee, following a request from MPs for the controversial report. Its full length extends to about 170 pages.

None of the sheets released to the committee mentioned the “endemic corruption” inside Scotland Yard – or any of the shocking details of how organised crime syndicates bribed scores of former and then-serving detectives in order to access confidential databases; obtain live intelligence on criminal investigations; provide specialist knowledge of surveillance, technical deployment and undercover techniques to help to evade prosecution; and take part in criminal acts such as mass drug importation and money laundering.

In his letter, Mr Mackey said: “In my view, the release of the documents held for … Operation Tiberius at this time would not be in the public interest.”

Mr Vaz said: “I am deeply concerned by the sheer amount of evidence relating to corruption in the Met. While I understand the need for sensitivity regarding current investigations, I find the amount of redaction in the reports sent to the committee baffling.

“London’s police force are seen as the gold standard for the rest of the UK. It is vital that we understand the full facts in order to root out corruption in the police. I look forward to receiving the information on the numbers of officers who have been convicted in relation to these operations, as promised by Mr Mackey.”

The police chief also revealed that the Met’s discredited 2012 review of the Stephen Lawrence murder had “input” from the Scotland Yard press office prior to publication, but was “ultimately endorsed as suitable for public release” by the former head of the anti-corruption command, deputy assistant commissioner Patricia Gallan.

Stephen Lawrence Stephen Lawrence In March, a major review of the Lawrence case concluded that Scotland Yard had provided “misleading reassurance” over police malpractice in the Lawrence inquiry and found the 2012 Met report to be “ill judged”.

The memo detailed that intelligence was inexplicably shredded by the Met in 2001, including evidence that officers stole and trafficked illegal drugs, shared rewards with informants, faked applications for more payouts, sold confidential information to criminals and accepted bribes to destroy and fabricate evidence.

However, the Met was criticised earlier this year when it emerged that the review, written by Detective Superintendent David Hurley, had not made it clear that it could not find the intelligence as it had been destroyed – triggering amazement from a senior police officer who had presided over the original £8m investigation, codenamed Operation Othona.

In a statement released following Mr Mackey’s appearance in front of MPs, Scotland Yard said: “In hindsight, the MPS accepts Mark Ellison’s view that this report was produced in too tight a timescale, which was unrealistic and ill judged, leading to the view that the MPS was attempting to provide false reassurance to the Lawrence family.”

Police files reveal ‘endemic corruption’ at the Met

Facebook goes down, people dial 911

Police appeal for calm – yes, seriously

Facebook’s servers fell over today – with users on the US east coast, and in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, complaining of outages.

Facebook outage mapOh noes! Circles mark areas of connectivity problems.  Source: IsItDownRightNow.com

According to IsItDownRightNow.com, the downtime appears to have kicked off at 7am Pacific time (3pm UTC) and many peeps are still having problems. Facebook has acknowledged the outage, but has given no reasons for it as yet.

“Earlier this morning, some people had trouble accessing Facebook for a short time. We quickly investigated and are currently restoring service for everyone. We’re sorry for the inconvenience,” a spokeswoman told El Reg in an email.

While Facebook going down is a good thing as far as office productivity goes, it’s clear that some addicts aren’t happy: police in California got so tired of getting calls about the outage that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s public information office was forced to take to Twitter to tell off people for wasting police time.
FacebookThis is the second outage in the last few months for Zuckerberg and Co. In June the firm’s servers took a dive, reported as the longest in its history, although service was resumed reasonably quickly.

This latest outage now appears to be coming to an end, so everyone can now stop panicking and get back to looking at pictures of cats, other people’s food, and astonishingly ugly newborn babies.

Facebook goes down, people dial 911

Police Reform — Statement

Pretender to the Throne?

This does go on a bit but it, and the responses are worth persevering with.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Conservative)

My Lords, with the leave of the House I will now repeat a Statement on police reform that was given earlier today in the House of Commons by my right honourable friend Theresa May, the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about our ongoing work to ensure the highest standards of integrity in the police. I have always been clear that I believe the vast majority of police officers in this country do their job honestly, and with integrity. They fight crime in our villages, towns and cities. They deal with dangerous criminals, strive to protect the vulnerable, keep our streets safe and have shown that they can cut crime even as we cut spending. Under this Government, crime is down by more than 10% since the election, proving that it is possible to do more with less. But as I have said before, the good work of the majority threatens to be damaged by a continuing series of events and revelations relating to police conduct.

That is why, over the last 18 months, the Government have been implementing a series of changes to improve standards of police integrity. The College of Policing has published a new code of ethics, which makes clear the high standards of behaviour that are expected from all police officers. A national list of police officers’ pay and rewards, gifts and hospitality is now published online, and their final list of business interests will be published for the first time later this summer. A national register of officers struck off from the police has been produced and made available to vetting and anti-corruption officers in police forces. The Government will legislate later this year to ensure that officers cannot resign or retire to avoid dismissal in misconduct hearings. We have beefed up the Independent Police Complaints Commission so that, in future, it can take on all serious and sensitive cases involving the police. In addition to these specific measures, many of our other police reforms—the creation of the College of Policing; direct entry into the senior ranks; the election of police and crime commissioners; the changes to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary—will make a positive difference when it comes to police integrity.

Since I began the Government’s programme of work to improve public confidence in the police, further events and revelations have reinforced the need for reform. We have had reports on the misuse of stop and search, and the poor police response to domestic violence. We have had the findings of the Ellison review, which examined allegations of corruption during the initial deeply flawed investigation of the murder of

Stephen Lawrence. We have had Sir David Normington’s review into the Police Federation, which recommended change ‘from top to bottom’.

The measures we have introduced are vital, but we cannot stop there, so I want to tell the House about my plans for further change. I want to open up policing to the brightest and best recruits. The Government have already introduced direct entry to open up the senior ranks of the police and bring in people with new perspectives and expertise. In London, the Metropolitan Police received 595 applications for between five and 10 direct-entry superintendent posts. Some 26% of the applicants were from a black or minority ethnic background, compared with 8.6% of traditional recruits, and 27% were female. In addition, using seed funding that I announced at the Police Federation conference in May, the Metropolitan Police is setting up “Police Now”, the policing equivalent of Teach First, which will attract the brightest graduates into policing. However, I want to go further. The College of Policing will undertake a fundamental review of police leadership. The review will look at: how we can go further and faster with direct entry; how we can encourage officers to gain experience outside policing before returning later in life; and how we can open up the senior ranks to candidates from different backgrounds. The review will start immediately.

In addition to these reforms, I also want to ensure that the systems and processes that deal with misconduct by police officers are robust. That means, where there are cases of wrongdoing, they must be dealt with effectively, and, where necessary, appropriate disciplinary action must be taken. In March I announced I would be creating a new offence of police corruption through the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, but this alone is not enough. The police disciplinary system is complex. It has developed organically rather than been structured to fit its purpose. It lacks transparency for the public, it is bureaucratic and it lacks independence.

So today I can tell the House that we will be reviewing the whole police disciplinary system from beginning to end. This review will be chaired by Major-General Clive Chapman, an experienced, independent and respected former Army officer, and I want it to draw on best practice from the private and public sectors. I have asked Major-General Chapman to look for ways to ensure that the disciplinary system is clearer, more independent and public focused. I intend to consult publicly on the policies that emerge from the review later this year. In addition to the review, I want to make some specific changes to the police disciplinary system. In particular, I want to hold disciplinary hearings in public to improve transparency and justice. I will launch a public consultation on these proposals later this year.

In my Statement on the Ellison review on 6 March, I said I would return to the House with proposals to strengthen protections for police whistleblowers. Police officers and police staff need to know that they can come forward in complete confidence to report wrongdoing by their colleagues. So the Government will create a single national policy for police forces on whistleblowing to replace the current patchwork approach. This will set out the best principles and practices on whistleblowing, and ensure consistency of approach across all forces. Following the publication of HMIC’s integrity inspection, I am prepared to consider putting the whistleblowers’ code on a statutory basis. We will also require forces to publish more information on the number of conduct issues raised by officers and the action taken as a result. From 2015 onwards, the Home Office will collect and publish data about conduct and complaints brought by police officers and police staff about their colleagues. But I still want to go further, so in the autumn I will launch a public consultation on police whistleblowing. The consultation will look at a range of new proposals to protect police whistleblowers. For example, I want to consider how we can introduce sealed investigations—which prevent both the force and suspects learning that an investigation is taking place—into serious misconduct and corruption by police officers.

I also want to take an in-depth look at the police complaints system. Last year, I announced reforms to the IPCC to ensure that all serious and sensitive cases are dealt with by the IPCC. This included the transfer of resources from the police to the IPCC and measures to ensure that the IPCC has the right capacity to deal with demand. As I told the College of Policing conference in October, this work is on track and the IPCC will begin to take on additional cases this year. But now is the time to build on those reforms. Public satisfaction surveys on the handling of complaints show that satisfaction levels remain consistently low. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, less than a quarter of those who complain to the police are satisfied with the outcome of their complaint. The overall number of complaints being handled independently is still far too low. This year, a review undertaken by Deborah Glass, the former deputy chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, found that 94% of cases referred to the IPCC in 2012 were referred back to be dealt with by the police.

Police and crime commissioners are locally developing new and innovative approaches to police complaints. In Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld has announced a complaints, integrity and ethics committee to provide scrutiny on how the force handles complaints. In Greater Manchester, Tony Lloyd has appointed an independent complaints ombudsman to resolve complaints before they become part of the complaints system. We need the police complaints system to keep up with the changes we have seen in police structures, to reflect the changes made locally by PCCs and chief constables, and to meet public expectations. So today I will launch a review of the entire police complaints system, including the role, powers and funding of the IPCC and the local role played by police and crime commissioners. The review will look at the complaints system from end to end, examining the process every step of the way and for all complaints from the most minor to the most serious. The review will commence immediately and conclude in the autumn this year. It will include a public consultation on proposals for a system that is more independent of the police, easier for the public to follow, more focused on resolving complaints locally, and has a simpler system of appeals.

The measures that I have announced today will ensure that we are able to examine the entire approach to cases of misconduct, improper behaviour and corruption. But in working to ensure the highest standards of police integrity, I want to leave no stone unturned. This year, I commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to carry out a review of anti-corruption capability in police forces. HMIC is also carrying out an inspection of police integrity as part of its planned programme of inspections for 2014-2015. In addition, I have agreed with the chief inspector that HMIC’s new programme of annual inspections of all police forces, which will begin later this year, will look not only at a force’s effectiveness and efficiency but at its legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Every annual inspection will therefore include an examination as to whether each force’s officers and staff act with integrity.

Together these measures represent a substantial overhaul of the systems that hold police officers to account. They will build on our radical programme of police reform and they will help to ensure that police honesty and integrity are protected, and that corruption and misconduct are rooted out. That is what the public and the many thousands of decent, dedicated and hardworking police officers of this country deserve. I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

And some interesting responses…

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour)

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement. Most of us at some point in our lives have contact with the police: as witnesses—not as victims, we hope—reporting a crime; and in their community role, which at its best is excellent and at its worst is minimal. At its best the British police are rightly held in national and international high regard. They are praised by communities and they encourage and justify public confidence.

However, we have also seen evidence of policing going wrong, when its integrity cannot be relied on and public confidence is not justified. Issues such as the Hillsborough disaster and the investigation into Stephen Lawrence’s murder—and the appalling police actions following those shocking events—make it clear that a new framework is needed. The IPCC has too often done too little too late.

From talking to police officers, it is clear that they themselves feel the criticism of their profession more acutely than anyone else, because all the professionalism and integrity on which they pride themselves is undermined by the actions of a minority. We have already initiated a review of ensuring stronger actions on standards in policing. The noble Lord, Lord Stevens, led the independent commission that made a number of recommendations: a new stronger police standards authority, replacing the IPCC and HMIC with the power to initiate investigations; chartered registration for all police; ability to strike officers from the register; and high professional and ethical standards for all officers.

I had hoped that we would have seen some of those issues incorporated in today’s Statement and an indication that some action is taking place. Instead we are going to have a review of the police disciplinary system and a public consultation on disciplinary hearings; as well as the existing Ellison review we are going to have another consultation on whistleblowing; we have got a review on police leadership; and we have a review on the police complaints system, including a review of the IPCC and the role of the police and crime commissioners. Just to confirm in case I have got it wrong, I count that as three reviews and four consultations. I am not necessarily against these reviews in areas in which we want to see progress, but so many reviews and consultations are a poor excuse for little or delayed action. How many reviews do the Government need to tell them that the IPCC is not working and that a piecemeal, sticking plaster approach to reform is not what is needed?

The Statement begs far more questions than it gives answers. We shall come to some of them today but I hope that at some point we can have a longer debate on this issue. I am sorry that I find the Statement disappointing. It does not give me confidence that the Government will tackle the failures in the system with any sense of urgency or understand the scale of reform that is needed. So many reviews seem to indicate that the plan is to kick reform into the long grass well beyond the next election. The public and the police deserve better.

Yesterday in the Moses Room we debated the Government’s proposals relating to the by-election following the tragic and untimely death of Bob Jones, the police and crime commissioner in the West Midlands. Despite some worthy candidates and officeholders, there is little interest in and support for the role of the PCCs, with humiliating turnouts—just 14% across the country—in the 2012 elections. The cost of those elections, and the by-election in August, would have paid for hundreds of police officers at a time when every police force is facing swingeing cuts. One has to ask whether this is value for money.

I am sure the noble Lord has spoken to police officers, as I have. They have told me that the thin blue line is getting thinner and thinner. They feel they are unable to do their job as they want to and should be able to. The reforms that we and they expect seem no nearer with so many reviews and consultations. Those delays hit their morale, especially when they see convictions falling.

For example, in my home county of Essex, the investigation into the Colchester murders is drawing officers away from other parts of the country. They are having to leave the policing and investigations in their areas to undertake mutual assistance in Essex to ensure that they can effectively investigate these dreadful murders and police the area in Colchester. I have been told that this has meant that some officers have been on permanent 12-hour shifts for three weeks. That has taken its toll.

I do not know whether the Minister has seen the sickness figures for Essex but, in 2009-10, Essex Police lost 27,654 days to sickness. In the last year to April 2014, with fewer officers in Essex Police, that has risen to a staggering 41,251 days. Is the Minister as shocked and as worried as I am that the sickness levels in the Essex Police—and I have no reason to expect that Essex is different to anywhere else—have risen so dramatically since this Government have been in office?

We are right to expect the highest standards from the police, but does the Minister agree that the police also have a right to expect the highest standards from the Government in tackling police reform issues more quickly and in making effective use of resources?

AND FROM THE RESPECTED LORD DEAR ….

Lord Dear (Crossbench)

My Lords, I welcome the Statement. I endorse its subject matter and I am delighted to see leadership mentioned. It does not get a bold headline but it is in there and Members of your Lordships’ House will know that I have pressed that subject before. The fact that leadership needs ventilation by attachment to outside bodies is well taken. I have two questions for the Minister: one on leadership and one on another matter. Does he agree that, with good-quality, robust, visible leadership, all the issues of probity, ethics, due process, professionalism and so on are almost superfluous because they would flow naturally from it? Without good quality leadership, any of the things I have enumerated would struggle to succeed. Leadership, therefore, needs not only to be endorsed, as it is in the report, but lifted to the top of the list, together with a proper career path for those who are recruited into the service with those attributes. Will leadership be one of a number of issues or is it going to be one of the prime issues that will lead the rest through?

Secondly, if leadership is a key to the door, this is surely a door with at least two locks. We have talked about the first metaphorically. The second key to the door is the structure of the police service. There is nothing in the list we have heard today on structure. There is a balance to be struck which is, sadly, out of kilter at the moment. Wherever I go in the police service or whenever I talk to the many people who are outside the service but interested in it, the question is always why we do not have a national force or a regional force; there are too many forces. I take no view on that other than it needs addressing. I am a great believer in loyalty to cap-badge and locality but the fact that we have the National Crime Agency at one end and police and crime commissioners at the other means there is a great gulf in the middle. So my question to the Minister is: will there additionally be an in-depth review, perhaps along the lines of what has been mentioned in the Stevens report, of the whole structure of the British police service, in which leadership and everything else can flourish?

Majority of police officers ‘don’t trust leaders’

Almost 90 per cent of officers could not say they trusted leaders at West Yorkshire Police, a report has found.

The report, commissioned by the force, found that the very low morale and levels of trust are a result of continual budget cuts.

The chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation has said his force “can’t afford to bury its head in the sand” over the results.

In the questionnaire, just 10.5 per cent of those serving in West Yorkshire Police said they trust its leaders.

The same research also found 56 per cent of people would not recommend the force as an employer. The report accompanying the survey claims that this opinion is, in turn, helping to reduce public confidence in the organisation as it is communicated outside the force.

West Yorkshire leaders commissioned consultants to assess its strengths and weaknesses in how it is viewed by both officers and staff.

The force noted: “Eight per cent of leaders and 18 per cent of team members have a level of motivation and engagement so low that it is likely to have a seriously detrimental impact on those around them.”

Comments quoted in the survey include one person saying: “The standard and quality of work of some colleagues due to pressure and weak management mean people come to work unhappy and go home unhappy.”

Elsewhere the study found that pride in working for the organisation was high – with 90 per cent of respondents saying they were proud of the force’s results.

‘Internal and external factors’

Nick Smart, Chairman of the force’s federation said: “It comes as a surprise to no one. The organisation cannot afford to bury its head in the sand on the survey.”

He told PoliceOracle.com that some of the issues were caused by external factors – including cuts and the negative media coverage of police officers.

But he said many issues – including better shift patterns and a reduction in perceived micro-managing – could help improve life.

He said: “Officers understand the need for change but the speed of implementation means they feel it is being done to them rather than with them.”

‘We value people’

Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins said the force was changing more significantly than at any other time in its history.

“As in other organisations that are facing similar austerity measures, staff are doing their best in difficult circumstances, and I understand why some of them feel the way they do,” she said.

“We are not unique in how our staff feel. The same things have been widely reported nationally and internationally. It is perhaps not surprising that morale has been affected.

“We are really keen to continue improving as an organisation and felt the only way we could do this was to take the bold step of seeking an independent assessment of just how our people felt, however painful the results, in order that we could do something about it. It may be a cliché, but it’s true that our people are the most important thing we have and we truly value them.

“So while some of this report makes difficult reading… I am pleased that West Yorkshire Police employees and staff have been confident enough to share their feelings frankly and openly because it is important to understand that this is how we feel about ourselves and our colleagues.”

The chief constable added that work had begun in order to bring about improvements.

From Police Oracle

Armed police threaten to down guns

  • 24-year-old died in Edgware, London, in April 2005 after being shot six times
  • Azelle Rodney was wanted by police over double stabbing
  • Marksman has only been identified as E7 after being granted anonymity
  • Firearms officers said to be shocked at decision and may take stage walk-out
  • Three-month public inquiry into Mr Rodney’s death was published last year
  • Sir Christopher Holland concluded that Mr Rodney’s killing was not justified
  • Have only been two cases when officer is charged with murder while on duty
  • In both cases, the officers were acquitted of the charges after trial by jury
  • Mr Rodney’s mother Susan Alexander says she is ‘pleased’ at decision

Firearms officers are threatening industrial action after a former policeman was charged with murdering a drug dealer during a Scotland Yard operation.

Armed officers are said to be considering a staged walk-out after it was confirmed that the ex-officer will stand trial over the 2005 death of Azelle Rodney, who died in a hail of bullets when his car was stopped by police marksmen.

Rodney, 24, was hit six times, once each in the arm and back, and fatally four times in the head in Edgware, north London.

The man accused of murdering him, only the third policeman to be charged with committing murder in the course of his duties, can only be identified as E7 after being granted anonymity during a public inquiry.

The secrecy order, made in accordance with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act which grants people the right to a family life, could be lifted when the ex-officer makes his first appearance in court in September.

The decision to charge E7 was welcomed by Rodney’s mother, who has campaigned for justice for nearly a decade and may be in line for a huge compensation payout from the Met.

But it has left Scotland Yard chiefs worried about possible ‘industrial action’ by some police firearms officers who might lay down their weapons in support of their former colleague.

Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, the national lead for armed policing, said the move to charge E7 had left officers shocked.

He told The Times: ‘Firearms officers volunteer for the role and many are now considering their future career choices.

‘Officers are not above the law and they are accountable for their individual decisions, but carrying a gun on behalf of the state is a big ask and it just got bigger.’

The decision to charge E7 comes after a three-month public inquiry into Rodney’s death, led by former judge Sir Christopher Holland.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: ‘We have carefully considered the new file of evidence submitted to us and have decided that a former Metropolitan Police officer, currently identified only as E7, will be prosecuted for murder. The individual currently has anonymity.’

The murder suspect will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 10.

Rodney’s mother Susan Alexander said: ‘I am very pleased at the decision to prosecute the officer who killed my son. I have waited a long time to see this day and hope this prosecution will lead to justice for Azelle.’

Rodney was hit by eight shots in less than two seconds from a high-powered carbine at almost point blank range.

The rounds were fired from the open window of a patrol car within a split second of pulling alongside the VW Golf carrying Rodney

Officer E7 claimed he feared Rodney was about to fire a submachine gun.

Wesley Lovell and Frank Graham, the other occupants of the VW Golf, were jailed for seven and six years respectively in January 2006 after pleading guilty to possession of firearms.

Lovell was also convicted of allowing drug production in his Hammersmith home.

In court he claimed that he had let Rodney use his flat as a crack factory to cancel out a drugs debt.

At the time of his death Rodney was wanted over a double stabbing in Ealing.

There have only been two previous cases where police officers were charged with murder. In 1997 Metropolitan Police PC Patrick Hodgson was cleared of the 1995 murder of suspected car thief David Ewin in Barnes, south-west London.

The second related to PC Chris Sherwood, who was accused of murder after he shot suspected drug dealer James Ashley while he was naked and unarmed when officers searched his flat in St Leonards, East Sussex, in 1998. He was cleared in 2001.

Leaders of the Police Federation, which represents more than 125,000 rank and file officers, held discussions about firearms officers conducting ‘unofficial strikes’ when marksmen faced the prospect of being charged with murder in two other cases.

The shootings of unarmed decorator Harry Stanley in 1999 and Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005 were mired in controversy but possible walkouts were averted when prosecutors ruled out murder charges.

E7 has been supported in his legal battle by the Metropolitan branch of the Police Federation, whose chairman John Tully said: ‘Parallels may be drawn with the Harry Stanley case going back a number of years when two officers were arrested.

‘At the time there were concerns about the lack of support from senior management and Government. It’s a very difficult job.’

But he added: ‘I have not detected any similar feelings in the workforce currently. It could have an impact on morale.’

The Police Firearms Officers Association said the case had raised many issues.

A spokesman said: ‘The decision by the CPS to prosecute E7 raises many issues around the role of armed policing and officers having confidence in the law should they be involved in a shooting.’

Armed police threaten to down guns

Land Mark Decision

Police officer who shot dead suspected gangster Azelle Rodney charged with murder

A former firearms officer with the Metropolitan Police will appear in court in September charged with murdering suspected gangster, Azelle Rodney, who was shot dead in a pre-planned police operation in 2005

An armed police officer shot suspect Azelle Rodney six times within a second of pulling up beside the car he was in, an inquiry heard today. A police marksman who shot dead a suspected gangster during an anti-drugs operation has been charged with murder, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced.

Azelle Rodney, (pictured), died after police opened fire on the car he was a passenger in during a ‘hard stop’ outside a pub in north London in April 2005.

The 24-year-old died had been travelling in a car with two other men, who police feared were on their way to rob Colombian drug dealers.

Mr Rodney was hit six times in less than two seconds, taking four bullets to the head.

The circumstances of the shooting were initially investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and first passed to the CPS in 2006.

But prosecutors concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone in connection with Mr Rodney’s death.

However a public inquiry, which published its findings last July, concluded that the firearms officer who fired the fatal shots, and has only been identified as E7, had “no lawful justification” for opening fire.

After re-examining the case, the CPS has now announced that there is enough evidence to charge officer E7 with murder.

In a statement, Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “Azelle Rodney died after the discharge of a police firearm on 30 April 2005.

“Following the outcome of the public inquiry, the Independent Police Complaints Commission re-referred the matter to the CPS, providing us with the evidence previously gathered and the further evidence and material which has emerged since the initial referral.

“We have carefully considered the new file of evidence submitted to us and have decided that a former Metropolitan Police officer, currently identified only as E7, will be prosecuted for murder.

“The individual currently has anonymity granted under section 19(2)(b) of the Inquiries Act 2005, made on 16 January 2012 by the chairman of the inquiry.

“The decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.

“E7 will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, 10 September 2014.”

Mr Rodney’s mother Susan Alexander said: “I am very pleased at the CPS’s decision to prosecute the officer who killed my son. I have waited a long time to see this day and hope this prosecution will lead to justice for Azelle.”

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “The Crown Prosecution Service has today, 30 July, announced its decision that a former Metropolitan Police firearms officer should be charged with murder over the death of Azelle Rodney in 2005.

“The former officer was granted anonymity at the public inquiry into Mr Rodney’s death and was referred to as E7. As criminal proceedings are now active, it would be inappropriate to comment further on this case at this time.

“The MPS runs firearms operations daily to take guns off the streets. Our officers are highly-trained and professional and fire shots only once or twice a year.

We accept that where this happens, our officers will be subject to detailed scrutiny.

“We keep our firearms tactics constantly under review and have accepted the recommendations made by the public inquiry into Azelle Rodney’s death.”

Keith Vaz MP, the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “This is an important step towards justice. No one is above the law and where there is evidence that someone may have committed a crime they deserve to face a full and fair trial”.

“Firearms officers do an incredibly difficult job under extreme pressure but when things go wrong people must be held to account for their actions.”

Police officer who shot dead suspected gangster Azelle Rodney charged with murder

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