What Do Senior Cops Do?

“During the course of these incidents and our investigation Nottinghamshire Police
has been subject to an intense period of change and scrutiny. We have been reassured
by the force that lessons will be learned on this occasion and I hope, for
the sake of those who need the police’s help, this truly is the case this time.”

The above is flannel from someone paid a lot of money to be an IPCC commissioner.  It’s schoolgirl stuff, typical of a game of doctors and nurses rather than the tough action of a world with real consequences.

The report it’s from contains no references to any Nottinghamshire senior officers.  One wonders what these officers get paid for.  The absence from the report is such that I would consider sacking them all.  In the absence of any report to the Home Secretary asking for more power to deal with such ‘invisible man’ corruption, the IPCC Commissioner should go to, instead iof making such vapid statements as above.

Across the board we see senior figures taking gazumped salaries, bonuses and having no clue when things go wrong on their watch.  In this case I can’t even find mention of anyone above the rank of sergeant.  Police inspectors are paid more than university lecturers these days – what for?  We know the IPCC is a shambles that couldn’t investigate its way out of a paper bag and can’t see how pathetic and biased it is, but what on earth has it done here?  Sure the Plods have behaved just as any victim still living would expect – like a bunch on incompetents – but this went on and on and on with no supervision stepping in to sort it out.  There is no investigation into what matters, only some puny attempt to find scapegoats at the bottom.

These domestic violence come “neighbour dispute” cases are often more difficult than murder enquiries yet the most inexperienced cops are dispatched to deal with them.  I had not only no training to deal with them but operated in a cynical culture concerning them.  As far as I can find now, this situation pertains, though high-level rhetoric has changed, paralleling political correctness.  Untrained, inexperienced cops are being sent into situations with little power to resolve them and every encouragement to write them off so they can get to the next job.  A case of no real change in 30 years and perhaps even a worsening despite new rhetoric.

This case should have gone down the route of ‘Williams is a dangerous bastard Boss, I need help to sort it out’.  The IPCC never get to the question of why this didn’t happen. Underlying this is the widespread understanding in police ranks that victims like the woman concerned don’t matter.  The cops on the ground blundered – but frankly almost anyone would.  Some of them lied or were totally incompetent on vital evidence too – but don’t con yourself that you wouldn’t have – they were acting as expected.

So where were the senior officers who trashed the useless domestic violence policy and didn’t replace it for 18 months and where were those who should have picked up on this long-running case?  What does a senior cop do?  The only obvious answer is that they stay away from any flying shit that might stick to them and they cloak themselves in invisibility and take high salaries for little evident work or accountability.  In this case the accountability appears to be to another highly paid IPCC slacker whose rap on the knuckles is to “hope” they learn the lessons they didn’t learn, as promised,last time.  This is like the hope of the mother of a teenage recidivist.

We need to stop seeing matters like this a police problems needing external review through feeble bodies like the IPCC – this route of what is really self-regulation (for many reasons the “independent” is a con) is failing everywhere from banking to government.  The IPCC has merely found what a decent sergeant or inspector should have been on top of in routine supervision.  This is key – if the supervision didn’t find this case in time how many more are going bad under their watch?  This one only came to light because of a death – dead victims have more ‘rights’ than living ones.

Decent senior cops doing what they are paid for would be finding these cases before the deaths and where there aren’t such final consequences.  They should also be pressing for such matters to be out of police hands at an early stage for resolution.  Instead they let victims live in fear and blame it all on the evil poor like Gadget.  Gadget is right on much of what goes on, but hapless on solution.  This is for the worst of reasons and amounts to giving up to the current situation in which many have to live with the consequences of “policing failure” – a failure which is much more generally systemic and buries the real problem.  That the IPCC has replaced what should be routine supervision suggests our senior cops are obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception just by turning up at work, and that IPCC management is puny.

We have seen recently that half of the complaints made against teachers are malicious or groundless.  I would have expected a higher figure and would in complaints against police. Standards in both organisations have been dropping for years and this is the case across our society.  Nurses chat idly as patients need care, doctors strike patients off for having the effrontery to complain.  I suspect a widespread collapse in responsible supervision.  As an academic I could once advise good students to get to an appropriate university.  Now this advice would probably be a discipline breach if it was to advise on a different university than the one I teach in, despite the advice being in the interests of the individual.  The relation to the public we serve has gone.

I believe senior cops are:

1.no longer cops

2. overpaid

3. self-serving mortgage serfs

4. bureaucrats charged to cover-up serious failings

5. take no responsibility that matters

6. need the cost-saving knife.

I would welcome an explanation of what they do.  I can find none in any IPCC report and plenty of evidence they preside over a system that fails us more than it helps.

 

Casey Brittle Case And Hapless Policing

The IPCC has produced a mildly critical report on the death of Casey Brittle at the hands of her dangerous ex-boyfriend.  The guy was clearly a total shit and not fit to be on our streets.  One wonders how many more like him there are and why our CJS can’t deal with them.  I am not aware of any case studies of successful police and legal action in dealing with this kind of scum.  One would expect such material to be collated and in use in training.

The IPCC report is tiresome and lacks any self-criticism, or criticism of the system-level. The cops put up for minor disciplinaries are all constables or sergeants – this despite the Nottinghamshire force having form for such failure and having no domestic violence policy in force for more than a year.  In defence of the IPCC, one can say there remit is woefully inadequate, but they’ve been around long enough to protest this and get it changed and have, instead, been led by inadequates drawing massive salaries who couldn’t say boo to a goose.

The report gives us no idea how rife (or otherwise) the problem is.  My own experience indicates the problems are extensive and policing of them hapless.  The issues are not merely policing ones – our CJS (indeed wider legal system) is not fit for purpose. Resources are committed to clown libel cases or interest only to the rich and the feeble-minded who gawp at such stuff through the ‘mejar’ (a far more appropriate term than media, suggesting narcissistic voyeurism).

The systemic failures are not correctly pinned on Response officers, dud as these often are in effect.  My guess (fairly reasonably informed) is that this case is the tip on an iceberg.  I believe the actual problem is that we don’t equip our cops with the tools to do the job and actually skill the incompetence they and other agencies demonstrate,  The IPCC make several references to forms not being submitted to a domestic violence unit working 9 to 5 (well almost).  Piss-poor bureaucratic solutions will only lead to clown form-filling that will only help in cover-up.

What’s needed is a system that drags these bastards in front of a court straight away, much as the night courts rustled up to deal with the recent rioters.  Police officers are being asked to deal with questions they can’t answer and which it would be wrong to give them personal power to deal with.  Sure there were officers who ‘dealt’ with these incidents on “area search no trace” form – but this is the ‘record’ of most Response policing (including mine 30years ago).  No solution that doesn’t recognise the mostly young, inexperienced and wet-behind-the-ears Response cops (some remaining this way for 20 years) aren’t Solomons will work.  They need somewhere to ‘bag-off’ these problems and this place should be ‘judicial’ and the bastards (and some innocent parties) need to be taken there, and directions given for proper investigation under which all parties are made aware of consequences, and resources allocated.

There are glaring faults in the policing in this case, yet we keep coming back to the same old story, most of which is cover-up with each case dealt with as though it is separate from the actual and much wider problem.  This problem is that our justice system is run by the rich for the rich and is too slow to have much deterrent effect amongst the repeat offending scum whose presence dominates the CJS and policing.

Much policing actually works on the basis of keeping people out of court because this costs so much money.  I think it’s time to reverse this and get more of these problems into a courtroom as they arise, with courts issuing injunctions with powers of arrest as soon as possible with the effect of a binding over and directed police and other agency investigation.  This would bring about ‘partnership working’ far more directly than current pontification about it.

We should be looking to improve police work, but as with 50% of our kids who can’t benefit from education designed for the intelligent, we can’t keep on pretending we can make cops just out of training school into Solomons capable of solutions none of us could manage and they are expected to deal with because white collar people and all kinds of stuffed shirts want their weekends free for ‘golf’ or fear they would turn to dust if forced to venture into the 24/7/365.

In terms of resources, I think we could design out the CPS, the need for the judicial element to consist of expensive lawyers, use this element instead of elected police commissioners and remove many senior police ranks, the IPCC and look to further savings by a less adversarial CJS and reliance on dated concepts in evidence such as ‘credibility’ and in some cases ‘proof’ through a more discursive yet binding approach.

One thing clear in the IPCC report is the absence of senior officers (amazing given the lack of a domestic violence policy for 18 months) giving advice or being available to give any.  Several should be sacked and the disciplinary record of the poor sods trying to actually do the job, however badly, expunged.

I believe our cops are much worse than our general public image of them – they are much more unpopular amongst people with recent experience of problems needing police support.  That a statement like this is so often received as criticism of all officers is also a statement of the paranoid-schizoid position cops take too easily.  Police always make out their job is very difficult, but rather than using this as an excuse, we should be looking for the reasons why the job is so difficult and solutions to it.

Even in proposing immediate referral of many street issues to an investigative court, I’m aware that the worst court in Britain is the Family Court and this is stacked out with professional advice.  This court is so bad it keeps its proceedings secret.  We need something quick with follow-through, using mediation with enforceable arbitration.

The Secret Life Of The Evil Poor (part deux)

The story really starts 35 years ago.  I was working Old Trafford and got a call to another beat.  It was a favour from Panda control  The complainant was apparently very tasty.  I found a couple with a young baby driven out of there wits.  The problem was an old woman next door (terraced housing).  There was nothing I could do at the time, other than establish the old dear was barking.  I said I’d be back to help and it was clear the young couple didn’t believe me.  They’d been let down by at least ten other cops, including one I was going out with.

I went back three times to collect evidence from other neighbours over the week. Rumours my interests were only in the guy’s wife abounded, as they do.  The evidence amounted to discipline charges against fellow officers – they had had plenty of scope to act and had not.  It was enough to satisfy me something had to be done.  Putting together 40 pages of documentation that would make a case and drop my colleagues in the proverbial wasn’t much of an option.  I tried social services and got the usual fob-off.

The easiest route was to lock the mad woman up for something solid.  I didn’t regard her as criminal, but she was doing stuff like hurling roof-slates at kids,playing blaring music and banging on doors, walls and ranting.  I took a few statements that left the other officers out and went to tell her a few things, knowing she would get irate.  It worked and she hit me – totally ‘unprovoked’.  She I nicked her for police assault.  This was around tea-time on a day I’d started at 6 a.m.  She was squabbling along with her husband and clearly giving me a hard time.  Another young couple stopped and asked if they could help.  They parked their car (they were just passing) and stayed with me until the van came – for moral support.  My mate the van driver rewarded them by running into the back of their car – just a light lens broken.  The charge office sergeant wasn’t happy with a police assault charge, but we did a breach of the peace thing and I had thus to go to court the following morning. Another job kept me up all night.

The court appearance saw the old dear get the social services’ help she needed and I have to say after this all parties, including her and her husband got the peace they needed.  People involved were decent enough to thank me, including the now none mad old dear.

‘My case’ starts in this series of incidents because the response of GMP more than 30 years later was as piss poor as in the old case until I arrived on the scene.  Much worse when one considers the perpetrators were vile, thieving, child-abusing drunken recidivist scum.  The very idea that police and other authorities have learned lessons is bunkum – they were worse more than 30 years on, with all kinds of new legislation and alleged partnotship notworking.

Like other cops I went to many domestics and neighbour disputes and often did not much because not much needed or could be done.  Some complainants were just ‘complainers’, and I saw women egging their partners on to hit them so I’d arrest them and they could then demonstrate their love by refusing to give evidence.  Squalid crap mostly, though the clear problem was our lack of power to do anything in clearly dangerous or severe nuisance situations.  A lot of cops share my view that we were trained in nothing that mattered other than by more experienced cops and a sense of morality.  One night, with twenty rioting yobs advancing on us my mate asking if I was any good at fighting.  He wasn’t, he said after I’d mentioning playing rugby..  One other officer had run away and my mate Ken was bruising away in the distance.  We charged through the mob to join him. The three of us and two more from Traffic arrested 15 or so, back-to-back at one point.

That night we were supposed to do observations on a house a woman with an injunction against her husband was living in.  None of the section were on patrol,everyone dealing with prisoners.  I did the charge sheets because I was the only one who could type at any speed.  The house was on my beat, so when a 999 call came in, I dropped everything and raced off to my Panda car.  My old mate Bill followed, as fine a human being one was likely to meet.  We got there in time and arrested the vile husband under the injunction.  I near thing, you might think – but think on – the injunction turned out to have no power of arrest and he was released later in the morning and nearly killed her in the afternoon.  Bill and I knew there was no power of arrest.  We acted illegally and knew.  So did the bastard.  We ‘Rag and Flocked’ him for drunk and disorderly (£10 fine).  One got used to the law being an ass.  Of course, it still is.  He was released without any power of arrest being added to the injunction.  One might wonder what barking use one is without one.

More than 30 years later it is reasonable to think no lessons get learned by our authorities gone mad when they still issue injunctions without powers of arrest, and they do.  You will also discover victims have no support from any ‘Victims’ Code’ until they are dead.  The woman with the injunction was supposed to be visited regularly on the afternoon her violent husband was released, but I know she wasn’t and that the relevant log was altered. Two off duty cops attended the house meaning to suggest one of them stayed the night there. Otherwise she’d be dead.

The evil couple I came to know much better than I wanted to were in a more or less constant state of domestic violence or feuds with other families.  This was the case over the twenty years before I was fated to meet them.  They still are.  They do the same things they did when they were teenagers in trouble, relying on the same lies and posturing to keep themselves ‘out of trouble’ – which means always in it.  The question, as we explore their lives in part three, is why no one is really interested and prepared to prevent the injustices done in the lives they blight or admit the problem as everyone is affected by it.  I met plenty similar in the 1970’s and believe more help was available all round then.  I won’t be considering the economics, but I’m sure the leaching of cash and wage decimation is a key background cause.

Wandering through our town centre with an old mate over from the States, we laughed between ourselves watching some of our white urban poor.  We might have been crying, but we ain’t men that cry.  Many of the problems are obvious, so obvious you can see them on a trip from one pub to another.  We needed none of the sociology we teach (mine is ‘post-industrial’).  The old white working class isn’t working and no one gives a damn. We were once of it and able to leave.  The supply of tickets is long used up.  Part of the problem is that we left.

 

Domestic Violence and Death

Domestic violence is a bigger problem than most who don’t suffer from it know.  The way it’s dealt with is a disgrace, but this is nothing new.  It’s very difficult for those of us who won’t use violence to understand at all.  We should operate a zero tolerance policy in respect of DV – but we have little clue of what this would mean.  We don’t even generally know what DV is, often limiting our view to that of a bloke knocking his wife about.

There are big questions as to whether police cold be doing a better job or whether we need to change the whole system.  And it’s hard to know whether we make anything better or worse through intervention.  Most of us like the idea of our homes and lives being private, so any intervention needs to be considered.

Hogday has posted recently on how dire getting involved in these matters as a cop was and no doubt remains.  I can only add to this in extreme.  A patient was lost on my watch.  Back then, I’d arrested the culprit beforehand, only to discover I had no power of arrest under the relevant injunction (swift change to police assault) and he committed the murder whilst on police bail.

When I first arrived at a domestic’s door, I had no clue they took place.  In my family they had been no more than raised voices and sulking.  I had no relevant training, even in self-defence (other than from the rugby field).  Initially, I thought I had brought about a ‘cure’, but I was back next shift.  Advice given by more experienced officers was broadly not to get involved – she’d only retract any statement after being given a ‘good servicing’ or threats we could do nothing about – this was pretty accurate advice, fitting maybe 85% of cases.  The victims were nearly all women, nearly all poor, thick and either drunk or victims of drunkenness.  The worst cases were generally father an son (step-children as a rule).

One could lump neighbour disputes in with domestics – again 85% were just a waste of time.  All one could do was try to restore the peace.  I don’t remember any referrals to other agencies – these were either non-existent or hapless like social services.  Occasionally, a decent social worker might be involved, and we might make a joint visit, but this was very rare.

As Gadget and contributors are prone to point out, there were many threats and death threats – so familiar you could more or less ignore them with impunity.  One night, a Xmas Eve and snowing, I arrived at a domestic’s door.  ‘What the fuck do you want short-arse’? was the response from a massive loon, body-sculptured from time in a marine gun crew.  He wasn’t going to let me in.  Too many kids to count and his wife could be seen inside the filthy place, all scared.  Dreams of a meal with my own wife faded.  It was already being kept warm as I was filling in after 2-10 for an absent night shifter, as were two more of my crew.  The bloke tried to push me, so hard he fell into the snow when he missed.  Inside, I found a complete mess and his wife in need of hospital.  I called an ambulance and for assistance.  Our shift was so thin the assistance cal went to Traffic and the panda control  guy said he’d come out.

The story could make a book.  I had to fight the ex-serviceman, to a point I could hardly hit him again because my knuckles were bleeding and bruised and I’d dislocated an ankle throwing him to the ground.  A female member of the ambulance crew finally rendered him unconscious with the wrong end of an oxygen bottle.  It turned out to be his brother’s house (real pleasure in nicking him for burglary the following week) and the wife and kids were thrown out into the snow.  Social services refused to attend until threats to call the Daily Mail – the kids ended-up at my house eating my dinner at one point, plus getting whatever else was in stock and Xmas presents for my nieces.

One hopes things have moved on.  I know all kinds of rules have been brought in, including special DV teams, taking photographs of injuries and so on.  I also know that much has stayed the same from personal experience of hapless policing of an evil poor family moved in next door, that was never resolved, now continuing a mile away.  We even have DV courts in some areas and I have organised and attended conferences on the same.  The experts talk a good job, but I saw it all fail next door, until she tried to fire-bomb a house round the corner.

The Xmas Eve job wasn’t the one that ended with a death.   He was charged with police assault, despite my injuries and those of his wife.  You may not think this fair, but he never re-offended and was contrite, humble and deeply shocked at his own behaviour the following day.  It was my decision and that of his wife.  Social services found them a house, a dire shit-hole they made into a palace.  I did a morning with a wheel-barrow there when I turned up to check they were doing more than playing happy families.  Thank the lord I didn’t have to fight him sober!  This guy looked much more of a threat than my former neighbours, yet they were far more dangerous despite looking much more petty.

The experts are fairly good at establishing what the problems are and some of the causes.  I did attend cases where the victim was the husband, but am surprised that 30% of those needing casualty treatment are male – though I believe this and it fits.  Some of the women ‘ask’ for what they get, though this hardly excuses the violence.  What does is a vile sub-culture in which violence is lauded, and little is done to penetrate this culture and its ‘non-values’.  There is no real excuse, though many of the victims and perpetrators are hooked in a system close to madness or mad.

Many of the people involved make threats they have no intention of carrying through, but what should be learned from this (and is) is not that such threats can be safely ignored.  The real victims are often the poor sods living next to a family out of control.  They see nothing happening after call after call to the cops and other agencies.  The real problem is what can be acted on as evidence and lack of the means and often enthusiasm to get it.  Times have changed, but most arrests during domestics in my time were for assault on police – because we could arrest and get convictions for that, rather than the sorry messes we ended up with trying as the law supposed was possible and wasn’t.  I even remember getting a mad old woman to assault me to get matters to court.

The real problem is two-fold.  First, police have inadequate powers to deal with breaches of the peace that keep repeating, and second that a whole flux of squalid false complaining, threats and other matters obscure the cases that lead to severe violence and murder.  Other matters, including police incompetence, make this worse.  Over-arching this is a fatal nexus in this country of denial and exploitation of the real issues by the relevant authorities, including politicians.  Their performance management may as well be theatre, for it is not concerned with doing a better job on the problems, but in making personal capital out of them (from lawyers taking actual coin to politicians votes).  Closure is often brought about by claims to be ‘learning lessons’, but we never get to know just how these have been learned, just of the ‘next Baby P’ or ‘death in Essex’.

A key technical problem in dealing with these matters is ‘stereotyping’ – a word we hear but rarely understand – not least in that we all do it and can’t be rid of it.  This is one of the reasons for the dire ‘diversity management’ that makes most who have to suffer it suspect whoever organised it of racial bias against ‘ordinary white folk’.  One could re-write Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin these days to discover the vile ‘nigger references’ in polite society merely transferred to other groups not considered quite human.  What many politicians, judges, lawyers and senior people can’t get is that they stereotype as surely as those put up to demonstrate the puerility of racism by Harriet.  Some of Gadget’s contributors may well think Harriet Harmon wrote the book (me stereotyping them if you get the drift).

You can’t stop people stereotyping – it’s a form of learning.  Cops learn what works and what doesn’t in their own culture just as surely as lawyers learn what pays them, or evil poor what works in their culture.  Academics stereotype themselves into postmodern essays as surely as Finn the Burglar slips your television under his arm.  My domestic calls were well into the hundreds before someone died, I had never taken anyone to court other than for assault on me, and I’d heard a couple of dozen death threats.

I can arrange for you to hear death threats if you are prepared to do a few weeks of rough drinking with me.  I won’t be able to hack the pace, but we’ll find what I mean.  First we have to find some Hillbillies in some number and a bad mood.  It’s advisable to ignore sex offers with jocularity.  Enough drink inside (you may have trouble holding yours there) and they’ll get ‘talking family’ – don’t expect cute pictures.  Soon one of them will be threatening to ‘do’ some boyfriend or shagger rival.  It may even get real in front of us until the landlord does his work.  It’s often one of these people who need protection.

In my old case, the victim was a ‘fragrant women’.  She had moved well away from the ex-husband – which most Hillbillies can’t.  There was an injunction (useless as he was just released when we nicked him).  We did take it seriously, sadly because she was so middle class.  She was killed on another shift.  He gave himself up, armed with a shotgun, at my house.  He’d threatened to ‘do’ me and at least found my address.  Instead he was on my front lawn, with the barrel in his mouth.  I was ex-NI by then and didn’t answer the door, I leaned out of a bedroom window.

What we need, rather than all the defensive stuff about how the hell we are supposed to sort the wheat from the chaff (which still needs to be said), is the ‘technology’ to do the job  as right as it can be done.  This would have to be a kind of public scrutiny we don’t have at all.  First of all, we have to stop blaming the system as though we aren’t part of it and actually form a worthwhile public.

We need to realise that what investigations there are into our CJS are not bringing results in terms of real change.  The underlying key is secrecy.  What we need to know is how current serious problems are being dealt with and the problems found in doing this, not reviews around dead people.  One can see problems in this, but I can see ways of doing it that maintain confidentiality as we need it.  If, incidentally, cops and other agencies were really concerned to learn the real lessons, then we’d find them discussing cases in which they’d failed with victims who haven’t died.  They don’t.  This hasn’t happened with my partner and I or any of the other 50-odd cases of victims who have been in touch with me.  Our case fortunately (for us) continues without us in it, a young boy and his two sisters ruined and a family fortunate not to have been burned to death.  No one in the other cases has had resolution without having to move.  These are just people peripheral to the actual DV, often associated with crime and anti-social behaviour of other kinds.

A mother-in-law joke shared with my local inspector (fortunately Gadget-like), that we’d have been better off if I’d killed my neighbours and done the time (ridiculously true) was taken as such.  Such is the defensive hostility of many of the agencies who should do the job towards victims who complain they don’t, they are more likely to treat such matters seriously than spot what needs to be done.  No one was at fault over the death 30 years ago, but I suspect the reasons in Essex will not be so different.  Reasonable law would have prevented the deaths, we just don’t have any.  I’m guessing on Essex, but other cases from 30 years ago, despite all the changes, would be indistinguishable from today’s.  This hardly suggests ‘lessons learned’ other than in bureaucratic excuse rhetoric.  We may as well hope, as I’m sure Hog doesn’t, for the arrival of Caribbean truncheons applied to all parties.  I’d have taken this if it had stopped the vile parties next door.

The Death of Maria Stubbings

The following is the tail end of the IPCC (Incompetent Poodles of Constabulary Corruption) report, two years on from the murder of Maria Stubbings, killed by a violent man with a previous conviction for the murder of a girlfriend.  The first part of the report deals with idiot law which means a conviction outside the UK doesn’t really count.  No note is made that police, knowing this, should not give up, but take more steps to protect vulnerable people in such circumstances.  Any ‘we could do nothing because the conviction was in Germany’ is pathetic – having identified idiot law, police should have taken reasonable steps to protect Maria, including injunctions or an ASBO to allow him to be locked up anywhere near the woman or her family.  Of course, they could really do with substantial powers beyond such measures, and the feeble ASBO has now gone.

The IPCC investigation also found that a combination of factors including human error, missed opportunities and individual failures in performance or duty by Essex Police officers and staff led to a serious failure to provide an adequate response to a vulnerable woman.

When Maria called police to report Chivers had been in her house without permission on 11 December 2008, the initial call taker failed to record the correct address for Maria, which meant that any alerts or flags attached to Maria’s address were not accessed. No further checks were undertaken, and the call was wrongly treated as a report of a burglary rather than a domestic violence matter. Had all of the information been gathered then, Maria should have been assessed as a highly vulnerable victim of domestic violence, and received the immediate response required. The IPCC has concluded that the call handler should face action for poor performance. It has also recommended that Essex Police examine and review their policies and procedures with regard to call handling, call grading and call taker identification of domestic violence incidents. It should be reiterated to call takers the importance of identifying risk factors to enable further questions to be asked and an appropriate risk assessment to be made. In particular, any information that could relate to domestic abuse or a previous history between individuals should trigger appropriate background checks to be made to equip attending officers with all known information that would assist in their response.

The next day a Police Community Support Officer found Maria’s 15-year-old son during school-time in a car at a park with Marc Chivers. On returning her son to Maria’s house, police officers witnessed Maria’s shock and distress, and her say to her son ‘you know what he’s done’. The following day Maria informed police that she did not want to pursue the burglary report, but the allegation later came to the attention of a detective inspector who was rightly concerned.

Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said: “An important issue here is that women fleeing domestic violence have many reasons why they may withdraw statements, and it is important that police do not draw a conclusion from the woman’s actions, but rather proceed accordingly on the basis of the evidence.”

On 17 December a police visit to Maria’s home to check on her welfare did not take place because the female officer said she could not find any other officer to accompany her. The IPCC investigation concluded that, having assessed the risk to herself as too great to visit alone, not attending Maria’s house that night was a failure in duty to properly consider the immediate risk to a highly vulnerable woman and her son. This officer therefore has a case to answer for misconduct.

At around 7 pm on 18 December two police officers, including the officer who failed to attend the night before, went to Maria’s house and were invited in by Marc Chivers. He said Maria was away staying with friends and he was looking after the household. Despite Maria’s car being on the drive, the officers accepted Chivers story and left. The IPCC concluded that action for poor performance should also be considered against these officers.

Rachel Cerfontyne added: “I am unable to make sense of the ease with which two officers were fobbed off by Marc Chivers at the house when they turned up on 18 December. They were far too easily persuaded by the account of a man they knew to be a convicted murderer that Maria had gone to stay with friends – far more probing questions of Chivers should have been asked.”

On hearing this information the next morning, the detective inspector was not satisfied and sent officers back to the house. While searching the ground floor, a detective constable opened a door in the hallway and, pulling away what appeared to be a pile of coats, discovered Maria’s body. Her son was not at the house and safe elsewhere. A post-mortem established the cause of death as strangulation.

My first question would be ‘why two years’?  That’s two years in which this kind of crappy cop performance could repeat, and almost certainly has.  This was going on when I finished, 30 years ago.

Next would come – ‘why are you dealing with this case in isolation? – there are regular incidents like this and claims to ‘learn lessons’ – it should be in the IPCC remit to look at this – why has nothing been learned?

This looks like a case of dire supervision.  The investigation does not seem, to raise these issues.

A number of plods are recommended for discipline.  This is two years on and they appear to have acted like gawps.  Why did their own supervision not deal with them?

This is very sad stuff and appears to be going on all round the country.  If it’s this bad with a known murderer, what else is going on?  What ‘culture’ allows a police woman not to attend a potential serious crime to protect a member of the public because she couldn’t find anyone to go with her?  If it’s true going on her own would have got her into trouble, a lot of rethinking needs to be done – Maria was being killed, or could have  been.

Where is the investigation of why the dealing cops were so useless?  We all know they deal with loads of dross, but they appear to have no clue on what to prioritise.  Essex PSD should have dealt with the under-performing officers, including supervisors.  The IPCC should long ago have been collating the widespread problems long ago.  Have they done anything useful?  I doubt it.

The failings in these matters are much wider than any police bungling.  Where were the Block sergeants and inspector in all of this farce?  None existent or stuck up old drippers?  Who is responsible for such crap law, or police disbursement and attitudes that are so inadequate?

The need is for a wide investigation into what victims get  when reporting offences and intimidation to police, and what our courts are actually wasting time on, and who is getting the money spent.

Domestic and Community Violence

I wonder when we might get around to working out that many issues like domestic violence have their roots in our ability to pour scorn and moral outrage like oil on troubled waters.  Oil is about the worst thing to pour on water as any number of disasters should tell us.  I really dislike bullying violence, yet still see many situations that are full of it.  We live in peace, as far as we do, under the American military umbrella, and the West generally exists through military might.  The sad state of affairs is that our violence or potential for it is a regulating mechanism.  More sadly, I cannot see a means to rid us of this ‘social control’ easily, whether in Macht Politik or our more day-to-day.

It strikes me that we have little ability to talk sensibly about many of the questions that could lead to a genuinely peaceful society.  There was a murder over Face Book comments round the corner a couple of weeks back.  I have no real understanding why we went into a war with Iraq or why we are in Afghanistan.  My grandson didn’t give evidence in a bad bullying case because we can’t trust the ‘police’ (this should really read ‘legal system’) to give the needed protection.  We have seen Mr. Askew killed as a result of a form of community violence the police could not stop.  He had a mental age of eight and suffered many years.  The Cochranes were burned to death some days after police did nothing over an incident in which petrol was poured on their front door and a long period of terror.  Katie Summers was one of many killed by a partner or ex-partner.  The grim criminal druggies who made life hell for me and my partner carried on their activities over at least 20 years.  In the small square in which my mate and his family lived until they moved, they had a ‘crack house’ next door, murderers who killed someone with a brush stale forced into his lung from the nether regions and bomber-makers a few doors away.  Many decent people who cannot afford to leave have been left behind.

Our ex-neighbours practised domestic violence on themselves and children.  In one statement, she claimed he played a ‘full part in a loving home’.  Barely literate, she was still able to learn what social workers and others who routinely fail us, needed her to say.  On the street, drunk and drugged, she was shouting her had been ‘twatting her to fuck for 25 years’ and inciting him to hit her in the face ‘where it would show’.  He once claimed to a passer-by that she had hit him and he was going back into the house to ‘sort his wife out, as any man would’.  The authorities tried a bit, but they were useless.  A really big part of the problem is that those in authority will only admit how useless they are in the anonymity of the blogosphere.   We were even told that police and social workers could find no trace of the long history of domestic violence and intimidation both these vile criminals were involved in, a lie they still don’t admit to even after a mostly successful prosecution over events we were not involved in.

Problems in international violence and community and domestic violence don’t lack independent analysis.  There is a vast literature.  The problem is that this is never honed into education that would be effective at ground level and change our practices.  Our own attitudes and lack of this education are part of the problem.  Very big issues are involved.

The scum who used to live next door had very big problems.  Broadly, I regard them as very dangerous children.  Some of the worst kids round here already resemble them and it can be difficult to tell (quickly) which kids are just being naughty through normal growing pains and those already dangerous.  What we need to address is the system of local violence so we can get into its origins and prevention, and bring about shorter-term measures to bring about zero tolerance of existing behaviour.  Bleats about human rights need to be seen in the light of human rights already being abused.  Bleats from authorities that cannot cope need to be seen in the light of their public claims to be doing a good job.

The truth at the moment is that we are suppressing nearly all the evidence needed to actually identify the nature of the problems.  People in authority turn out to be as brutal as the perpetrators in protecting their own interests, cosy salaries and failures.  There are multiple places to start, but the keys lie in combining passion for justice and independence through openness.  Victims are stymied at every turn by both lurking community violence (very real threats of harassment and intimidation) and incompetent authorities, including hapless and self-serving politicians.  The system is also riddled with false complaints and inadequate investigation based on stereotyping by street-level bureaucrats.  There is no point in having any more officers on our streets skilled only in incompetence and self-assured ignorance, backed only by a system that has already proved itself capable of treating victims worse than perpetrators and which will continue to do so.

The first point of investigation should be amongst victims and this needs to be before they die as so many have before.  When I say ‘amongst victims’ I do not propose a focus on them alone.  Victims are socially constructed rather than people with impediments, though far too high a proportion turn out to be disabled in a more general use of the term (20% in an HMIC report).  My partner and I both feel our treatment by the relevant authorities was and remains scandalous.  These authorities, our MP, councillors, Bolton Town Hall services, Greater Manchester Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and Bolton Council all played a greater role in  victimising us than the assaults, death threats, noise, constant domestic violence and harassment from our former neighbours.  Down-the-line complaints services such as the Local Government Ombudsman and IPCC were even worse.  We feel this despite some genuinely committed action by street-level officials.  Even Bolton Victims’ Support behaved abominably at one point.  No one has been accountable, though one poor police constable (a decent enough lad) was apparently subject to minor discipline because he cocked-up in failing to pursue an Harassment Act prosecution.  Given that his supervisors at the time were still lying to us that this act was only intended for use to protect harassed celebrities, it is hard to believe the fault was his.

The key act in making us victims was made when Bolton Council decided to give the tenancy next door to a quite dreadful woman.  We still do not know how this came about.  No valid risk assessment can have taken place and we were not consulted at all.  We were becoming  vulnerable for other reasons at the time, though our response to this was constructive.  Our lives were shattered by this Council decision and yet eight years on have been given no valid explanation of it, and indeed conflicting stories that insult our intelligence.  The first was that the tenancy was granted because the woman had previously been a Council tenant for five years with no problems and that it was not known that her partner was to live with her and her children.  This was later contradicted when an antisocial support worker told us the woman had never been a Bolton Council tenant.  I don’t believe anyone was lying in the production of these stories.  The key issue was that no one was prepared to tell us the truth, and to establish this to help prevent future mistakes of the same kind and establish an action plan to prevent us being victimised.