Man’s Inhumanity To Man

Three of the eighty children lost on the Malyasian flight

Three of the eighty children lost on the Malyasian flight

This Is What War Looks Like

Gaza – This Is What War Looks Like

Man was made to mourn: A Dirge

Many and sharp the num’rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And man, whose heav’n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, -
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

Robert Burns

Not surprisingly we get – “Police reform is working and crime is down by more than 10 per cent under the Coalition Government.”

The Police Federation has warned against an “over-reliance” on the latest stats showing crime is down after a government minister used them as proof that police numbers could be cut without compromising safety.

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker told the BBC that the apparent fall in crime “has an impact on the number of police officers you need on the street.”

In an official statement from the Home Office, he added: “Police reform is working and crime is down by more than 10 per cent under the Coalition Government.”

However, Police Federation representative Paul Ford said there were “well documented issues of confidence” in crime statistics, adding that they may not “match reality.”

Mr Ford said he wanted to see “a move away from the current over-reliance on crime stats as the main gauge of policing effectiveness.”

Sex offences

The Crime Survey for England and Wales figures showed sexual offences recorded by the police rose by 20 per cent in the year to March.

The Office for National Statics (ONS) said the rise was attributable to the Jimmy Savile inquiry and Operation Yewtree, adding that more victims were coming forward.

Improved compliance with the recording standards for sexual offences in some forces may also be a factor.

Earlier this year senior officers and crown prosecutors committed to successfully progressing more rape cases through the courts.

Some forces had faced criticism that they were not taking allegations seriously enough.

The focus on sexual offences is happening at the same time as a crackdown on child sexual abuse, as demonstrated the National Crime Agency’s announcement this week that more than 650 suspected paedophiles had been arrested as part of an operation targeting alleged online offenders.

Overall drop

Survey results also showed fraud offences rose significantly in the year to March – a rise possibly attributable to more accurate recording.

Crime levels overall dropped by 14 per cent – reaching their lowest level since 1982.

The decline fits with a pattern of falling crime across many western nations – a phenomenon that has baffled experts who have cited factors ranging from the rise of smartphones to reductions in the use of lead in petrol as possible explanations for it.

Figures from a separate ONS publication show police officer numbers are down for the fifth consecutive year.

From Police Oracle

Police ‘not solving half of crimes’

Police are failing to solve half of crimes, including nearly three quarters of cases of theft, criminal damage and arson, figures suggest.
Data from 28 police forces in England and Wales, excluding the Metropolitan Police, showed that in April and May this year 52% of crimes were classed as “investigation complete, no suspect identified”, meaning that the case is closed unless new evidence comes to light.
This happened in 73% of criminal damage and arson cases, 72% of theft and 56% of robbery, according to figures released by the Home Office, which stressed that the investigations could be reopened later.
Adam Pemberton, assistant chief executive of Victim Support, said: “It is alarming that so many serious crimes remain unsolved. Victims want to know that the police are doing all they can to investigate the crime committed against them.
“Investigating a crime is a matter for police, who also have a duty to keep victims informed and explain decisions made about an investigation. This obligation is set out in the Government’s Victims Code.”
Today the Office for National Statistics also revealed that crime has fallen to its lowest level since 1981, according to a national survey, but that police figures had remained level for the first time in a decade.
The latest data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that there were 7.3 million crimes in 2013/14, down 14% on the previous year and the lowest since 1981.
But police figures showed no change compared to the previous year, with 3.7 million offences recorded in the 12 months to March. Before this, data from the forces had shown year-on-year reductions since 2002/03.
This follows changes made after concerns were raised about the poor quality of the way police record crimes, and the figures being stripped of an official gold standard.
The latest data showed that sex crimes were up by 20%, with rape rising by 27%, hitting its highest level since 2002/03.
There was also a rise of 26% in sex crimes against children compared with last year, with 13,610 sexual offences involving a child under the age of 13 in the year to March 2014, the highest level since 2002/2003.
Jon Brown, NSPCC lead for tackling sexual abuse, said: “While the recent focus has, quite rightly, been on historic sexual abuse, these shocking figures show that many young children continue to be at great risk right now. It’s horrifying that every day around 30 children under 13 are being sexually assaulted and starkly illustrates what a huge job we have to keep children safe.”
Yesterday the National Crime Agency revealed details of a major crackdown on several hundred suspected paedophiles, including doctors, teachers and former police officers accused of accessing depraved images of children online.
NCA deputy director-general Phil Gormley warned that the scale of the issue is so vast that law enforcement cannot be expected to tackle it alone.
The agency has previously estimated that 50,000 Britons are involved in sharing images of child abuse online.
Mr Brown added: “Wednesday’s police raids revealed the vast scale of the child abuse images problem which is an abhorrent crime that cannot be solved by law enforcement agencies alone.
“We need the continued help of industry to identify those producing these sordid pictures and block their distribution, as well as public education to change the warped and distorted attitudes of some individuals.
“And of course there must be more services to provide therapeutic treatment for the victims.”
Figures from the survey also showed that there were 1.3 million violent incidents, a drop of 20% on the previous year. This is the equivalent of two in 100 adults being victims in 2013/14, compared to five in 100 in 1995.
However, according to police figures, violence rose 6%, by around 33,000 offences, although the number of recorded homicides was 537 – down by 21 from the previous year and its lowest since 1978.
Deaths by dangerous driving rose sharply to 282, up from 174 the previous year.
Mark Bangs, from the Office for National Statistics, said: “Part of the rise in sexual offences is related to the effect of the Operation Yewtree investigation which has brought to light a large number of historic sexual offences.
“The increase is also likely to reflect a broader Yewtree effect whereby more victims are coming forward to report sexual offences to the police.”
When figures from around half the forces in England and Wales were analysed, it was found that most of the rise had come from sex offences alleged to have occurred in the previous year, 60%, while 40% were said to have happened more than a year before.
Among all the 43 forces, 36 had seen a rise in shoplifting, including 18% in Merseyside and 17% in Humberside.
Fraud was also up by 17% according to police figures, and analysis showed that 5.1% of bank or credit card users were victims of card fraud, up from 4.6% the previous year.

From Yahoo News

Crime falls 14% in England and Wales to reach lowest level in 33 years

Authoritative crime survey of England and Wales finds 20% drop in violent crime, 17% fall in criminal damage and 10% fall in theft

A record 14% fall in the last 12 months has taken crime levels in England and Wales to their lowest level for 33 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Crime has fallen across most types of offences, according to the authoritative crime survey of England and Wales with the largest falls in the 12 months to March including a 20% drop in violent crime, a 17% fall in criminal damage and a 10% fall in theft.

The figures also show that the number of police officers has fallen by a further 1,674 over the past year to 127,909, bringing the total cut in police numbers to 15,825 since 2010. Ministers linked the fall in police numbers to the fall in crime, saying that fewer officers were needed on the street.

The overall fall in crime has been accompanied by a 20% rise in sexual offences recorded by the police with the ONS putting the increase down to a surge in victims of historical sex abuse coming forward in the wake of the Jimmy Savile case and Yewtree investigations. A record 13,610 sexual offences involving a child under 13 were also recorded.

The overall police recorded crime figures show no change in the 12 months to March 2014 – the first flat year after 11 years of continuous falls on this measure.

The police figures include a 7% rise in shoplifting offences – one indicator of a growing austerity gap. The ONS said the rise to 321,000 cases a year was particularly concentrated in northern force areas including Merseyside (up 18%), Humberside (17%), Derbyshire (17%) and Durham (15%) but there was also a 16% rise in the West Midlands. London saw only a small 1% increase. Shoplifting now accounts for 9% of all police recorded crime.

The official statisticians said anecdotal evidence showed that the shoplifting figures represented a genuine increase in crime while a 6% rise in violence against the person and a 2% increase in public order offences were the result of better counting methods in the wake of major rows over the integrity of the police crime figures which have lost their “official statistics” status while an integrity inquiry is carried out.

Separate research published on Thursday into the “outcome” of crime investigations showed that no suspect is identified by the police in 52% of cases reported to them.

The crime survey of England and Wales, which is based on interviews with 10,000 people about their experience of crime, estimates there were 7.3m crime incidents involving households and adults over 16 in England and Wales in the year to March 2014.

ONS said this was 62% below the level in 1995, when crime peaked in England and Wales.

A further estimated 810,000 crimes were experienced by children aged 10 to 15, with 55% involving violence and 40% involving theft of their personal property.

The 20% rise in sexual offences recorded by the police includes a 27% rise in the number of rapes – an increase of 20,725 offences. The figures also show there were 13,610 sexual offences involving a child under 13 – an increase of 26% – and the highest reported total for at least 10 years.

“These increases should be seen in the context of the Operation Yewtree connected with investigations into Jimmy Savile and other celebrities,” says the ONS report.

“While some of these increases will be a direct consequence of the crimes reported as part of Operation Yewtree, there is evidence to suggest that there has been a wider ‘Yewtree effect’. This refers to an increased willingness on the part of the victims to come forward to report both historical and recent sexual offences.”

Norman Baker, the crime prevention minister, said that crime was down by 10% under the coalition government on both crime measures.

“This is further good news for England and Wales,” he said. “I am very encouraged by the continued significant drop in crime survey figures, a survey regarded internationally as the ‘gold standard’.”

He said that there were fewer demands on the police as a result of falling crime

“Crime goes down year on year so in that sense there is less for the police to do. Clearly that has an impact on the number of police officers you need on the street.”

Ch Con Jeff Farrar, spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the rises in sex offences, violent crime, fraud and public order, were the result of increased confidence in reporting crime, proactive policing and better recording practices.

From the Guardian

Former Surrey police officer Salim Ismail to face sex assault retrial

A police officer accused of attempted rape and indecent assault is to face a retrial after jurors failed to reach a verdict.

The Guildford Crown Court jury hearing the case against Salim Ismail was discharged and a new trial date set for May 2015.

The offences are alleged to have taken place in Surrey.

Mr Ismail served as a police constable in Surrey between 1993 and 2002, and is now serving with West Yorkshire Police.

He is currently under suspension pending the outcome of legal proceedings.

From the BBC

‘Make sacking officers easier to protect PCSOs’

Think tank calls for ‘cultural transformation’ to help cut crime in wake of cuts.

It should be made easier to sack officers so that forces can continue to make savings in the face of government cuts, a think-tank has argued.

A new report by Reform called The Expert Citizen analyses how forces can deal with budget cuts now that the “easy gains” have been made.

It states: “Forces’ ability to manage savings in this way has been hampered by workforce restrictions which make it very difficult to fire underperforming officers. This means that in some cases a less effective and more expensive segment of the workforce has been retained while cheaper and more adaptable PCSOs have been cut back in large numbers.

“Relaxing these restrictions and allowing forces greater control over their workforce will enable them to better control their costs while maintaining a high standard of service delivery.”

Lead author Clare Fraser told PoliceOracle.com: “We’re not saying that PCSOs have more skills than PCs, but within the context of neighbourhood policing, to meet needs around confidence, PCSOs definitely have a role to play.”

She added that being able to “fire underperforming officers” would help to bring about a “more productive workforce”.

Elsewhere the report calls for a “cultural transformation” whereby the police work with the public as a means to cutting crime – the engagement of the so-called ‘expert citizen’ being key.

It notes the impact that car and burglar alarms have had on cutting break-ins and burglaries, and argues that the expert citizens could reduce the burden on the police.

The report states: “The expert citizen would call 101 in a non-emergency in order to ease the pressure on the 999 emergency number, would volunteer information, act as a witness and proactively engage with the police… be equipped with an understanding of the crime in their neighbourhood and the role that they are able to take in anti-social behaviour and low-level criminality.

“Ideally, they would contribute to cohesion and social order in their community by volunteering either in a formal role within the police or as part of an asset-based development programme.”

It goes on to note that “police reform is working” and recommends that consumer relations experts from the private sector be hired to help with engagement.

When asked if there was really a public appetite to take on work carried out by officers, Ms Fraser told PoliceOracle.com: “Certainly, the Casey Report (2008 Cabinet Office report) found that 66 per cent of the public could play a role in reducing and tackling crime, but in many cases they wanted more information – they were just waiting to be asked.”

To read the full report click here.

From Police Oracle

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Perverse’

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

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

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

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

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

‘Weeks of anguish’

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

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

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

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

BBC story

Schools top source of police concern over radicalisation

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From The Guardian

Fed reform ‘now on course’, says Home Secretary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public ‘surprised by officers’ ethical dilemmas’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Police Oracle

Cabinet reshuffle

Cabinet reshuffle – OUT Damien Green Policing Minister.

Out Damien Green

So who will be IN?

So who will be IN?

Let’s hope it is not -

Please no?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Police Oracle

Turkeys do not vote for Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shift patterns ‘force police to sleep on streets’

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

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

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

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

No accommodation

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Heard stories’

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

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

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

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

From Police Oracle

Met police ban recruits who live outside London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Met police ban recruits who live outside London

Historical abuse cases ‘diverting attention from children at risk’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Historical abuse cases ‘diverting attention from children at risk’

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

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

Police officers must swear to be polite

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

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

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

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

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

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