Keystone Cop Discipline?

The ‘Enfield Serious Crime Squad’ (or whatever) recently caught demolishing a Mini with laughably ‘non-issue’ baseball bats has rather sadly been disbanded.  Current cops shows lack the edge of ‘The Sweeny’ and this lot promised yo add Keystone humour and farce to our lives.  A better punishment than the slapped wrists and demotion of the obviously heroic detective sergeant running the show would have seen them followed everywhere by a documentary team led by Ricky Gervais.  At least the suspect, if not the one they invented, was in this Mini – in my days they shot one up and killed people only to discover the one they were after wasn’t in the car at all.

There was a time when the Met’s version of shock and awe involved 50 Bobbies wading ashore to ‘invade’ Anguilla – I believe some were sensible enough to stay.  Compared with the Stockwell fiasco this was underkill by the Enfield Crew.  Once again supervision seems to have been entirely absent and the IPCC looking on burning money to no effect.  It’s time to be rid of that organisation.  The cops did a fair job investigating themselves – the problem being the discipline isn’t transparent.

What’s being missed in discipline cases is that the police officers and the forces generally lie and don’t seem able to come clean.  Some poor sod at the bottom may get the push, but generally the problems are being covered-up – including the pressures on officers and the cultures in which they are under-performing.

The key area in need of investigation are broad miscarriages of justice in the CJS in terms of victims’ and complainants’ perceptions and what carte blanche investigation could discover.  This needs to be national and properly independent.  It certainly doesn’t need to be about nailing cops to the wall, but it does need to be an open process.

What I’m seeing is probably decent cops ending up in discipline trouble and little happening on the incompetence, inadequate management and changes in the dud CJS system that doesn’t help with many of the problems.  Recent promises on 120,000 dud families by the Home Secretary may as well come from the nether end of Tony Blair and the same useless bureaucrat he used is still making the same false promises (Louise whoever).

The aim in police improvement is somewhat of a paradox – we need cops with more discretion and less clown bureaucracy who don’t do the gaming that is destroying all credibility – and for these cops not to abuse this legitimate authority.  I would say at the outset you can’t design a system on the lines of anti-corruption through bureaucracy – if you do the job itself can’t be done.

The IPCC is little use because it was not given the remit needed on discipline and has ended up as Bandaid -a typical British watchdog with no teeth.  This was predicted by Graham Smith.  I knew as soon as I saw the kind of investigations they were doing – despite some good people, they mostly waste time on dross.  Softcock – the former Chair was an obvious disaster.and was quickly defending hopeless systems like local resolution on the grounds everyone was unhappy with it.  The lack of balls was obvious at Stockwell where he should have gone into the scene straight away with his investigators or got locked up trying.  Plenty of information is going into the IPCC on widespread corruption and incompetence yet there is no sign of them doing anything with it.  The lack of statistics on complaints (not weasel numbers) is as appalling as the regular gaming figures forces issue on crime itself.  What we need to see is the anatomy of police action that causes complaint and what in that process makes people feel justice or otherwise is being done.  Instead, we have to rely on ‘Panorama’.

The probllems are clearly wider than policing.  The CJS remains a dated mess lawyers and a wad of other ‘professionals’  make money from.  Courts often get round to hearing cases over a year after offences are committed – and I’m not talking complex cases.  If the riots demonstrated anything, it was that we can cure this, And I’m sure most of us still trust cops ahead of banksters and politicians.  Proper work opportunities would cure a lot too.

The “answers” I hear are 100 years past sell by, yet politicians still puke them and the only view on television and most main stream media is undergraduate piss (useful only for drug testing).  How anyone can say, after 60 years of universal education and more training than you can shake a stick at, that more of this is any answer eludes me – and I’m an educationalist.  Just as many cops I meet despair of being able to sort out ‘problem families’ (IQs maybe at 380 for a family of five) or protect victims from them but won’t tell the truth on this openly, I know many academics who won’t let their own kids build up a £50K debt going to a second class ‘university’ who are ‘quiet’ too.  From a currently cursory look, police discipline hasn’t changed much over 60 years and the IPCC has the same problems as previous bodies.

My guess is the first problem is that we can’t see the wood from the trees.  Research shows that people in the UK and US believe society is much fairer than it is, wealth shared much more than it is – and worse that their ‘ideal’ is massively more equal than the current situation and more like 1970 – an era in which we believed we were making progress on this.

Part of the answer on policing is to make the job better.  Neville Evans was good enough to send me a copy of his book on this,  My solutions would be more radical than his, but I share his analysis on there not being enough care about for officers and that this is largely ignored.  It may seem strange, but I share with Joseph Wambaugh (who did 16 years) the feeling that civilian discipline would actually help with that.  In the meantime,Nigel’s book might bring some help and solace to those officers not pretending to be John Wayne.

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