Go Go Gadget Cloak of Invisibility

I know it’s old news Gadget is gone.  I didn’t like the blog, if often in agreement with some of the better contributions.  Gadget’s books reminded me of ‘all in a day’s work’ from more than 30 years ago.  The problems he partly identified are as old as the hills and like the blood-sucking economics of the last three hundred years, still with us.  We see this across our society from Hillsborough through Baby P, MPs’ expenses and on to dismal performances in care, hospitals and banks.

One sees this on the micro scale of cops (even the good ones) unable to protect victims from crass repeat offenders, ludicrous miscarriages of justice like Nico Bento (innocent guy convicted of a murder that didn’t even happen) and right up to the grim global scale in which a tiny few corner nearly all usable resources (and hence politics) and let others die in squalor on a massive scale.

Currently, I can point to our local bobby and CPSO (along with other agencies) trying to do a good job with a local scumbag – only 15 but committing blackmail – and finding very little in our legal system that allows proper action.  I’ve known the kid since he was in nappies wandering down our street.  Our economic system is broadly about looting, the crooks hiding behind ‘too big to prosecute’ and threats the sky will fall if we do anything about them.

In all this mess we have no sensible politics – except, perhaps Beppe Grillo.  Some claim what we need is to replace management with leadership – but this is an old claim with no substance.  “Leadership” is the problem – it’s much more important to be able to control leadership than who actually does it.  The pressing problem is to make our democracies real.  I doubt that would be on my mind in circumstances like the one in which I was told to hand over the bullets for my gun and then walk into a line of potential fire – we need to keep idiots like that out of harm’s way.  I ignored that order and lied later – as one does.

I suspect there were as many problems when I was a cop as now.  I’d like to believe blogging could help expose the issues but don’t.  We need the right information in public scrutiny, but the problem is we lack the institutions of public scrutiny.  What we have are institutions embedded in past privilege.  These seem to have borne down on the good Inspector (Sgt. – telephone operator whatever he/she was) and shame on them.  I’ll raise a glass to him tonight.

If blogging worked (other than as another chattering device) we would have seen changes to all kinds of corrupt and skilled incompetence.  Any of thousands of bank workers could have told us they were being forced to sell dud insurance never expected to pay out and interest rate swaps that were a shifting of risk from banks to customers and so on.  We might have a higher education system that doesn’t force massive debts on graduates in circumstances of more or less no job market through which they can repay.  Nurses would have been able to stop massive scale ignominy in the NHS.  We might have been able to stop a great deal of the child abuse in the news now.

I’m ‘attending’ (it’s on line) an economics conference discussing such matters as an ethical code of conduct for economists and haven’t noticed anyone clued up on the fact that all the bodies regularly in the news for corruption already have these and investigatory bodies complicit with the problems (IPCC, FSA etc.) – blogging has almost no chance because anything real gets buried in misinformation.  The situation reminds me of tht generally pertaining on making a complaint about criminal neighbours, sexual abuse and dismal employers – one complains in a pool of malevolent complaints and risks not being protected (and worse), having a grudge or axe to grind and being palmed-off as a false complainant.  The shame of Gadget’s blog is he reinforced these problems – though even in this one has to say the problem of malevolent ‘suit’ needs more understanding and exposure (Ambush Predator regularly reveals the issue).

The big problem facing us concerns setting our society straight and making it much more difficult for repeat offending – this means keeping proper records – something we fail to do across the board, partly for correct reasons concerning the misuse of such records.  This is true from the generational crime families all cops know about through to complex and unreadable financial recording through which a few loot the many.  the vast majority of my police work ended in NFA (no further action – some lodged in collator reports) and this included dealings with Jimmy Saville and some related creeps (two recently nicked).  These days I write up what took 2 minutes in assessment in reports that take a couple of hours and I truly hate databases that consume vast input time and produce little on interrogation. Investment bank and hedge fund accounting are classics – all I want to follow is the money and this is precisely what they are designed to prevent.  Our current chief constable (who comes over as a nice chap) is still complaining about lacks in a national database many years after we could have had one working (recent television).  Gadget always complained to the paper-work snow and he was right.  The question is why we end up with so much unnecessary dross, useless ‘training’ and at the same time need more focus on what matters and recording that so a case can be progressed.  In one personal example, I ripped up a thick file on 26 Duke Street after discovering it had been bombed in WW2.  In another, the flat door I unhinged with my size nines having been told it had been under 24/7 observation for 6 months, did not have the heavily observed career criminal behind it.  He hadn’t lived there for more than a year.  The career abusers had no career because we didn’t record it – but we were not advised evidence we did collect that would not be enough to convict could be used in future trials (as in current CPS analysis).  Some of us took matters into our own hands – others more literally so than I – and I can’t in all honesty condemn.

One possible alternative to ‘Gadget’ would be open, on line discussion of our problems and the ability to blog on them free of employer sanction by law.  In the meantime, I think of a fish (a perch) that can render itself invisible (and unsmellable) to prey.  I like the idea of Gadget hiding in plain sight.  I rather suspect those lurking in the shadows will be from force PSD.  In a real democracy it would be a criminal offence to shut Gadget down.  It’s later than you think.

Reasons for blogging

I wanted to have a look at whether blogs provide much of a difference to the views generally in front of me in mainline media and what I churn through as an academic.  The answer on both counts is ‘not really’.

In looking at the above I did find sites of interest (Inspector Gadget, Ambush Predator, David Malone – plenty other others) and a lot to agree with, make me angry and enjoy.  Not whatever it was I hoped for, but I’m much more likely to get my laptop out on a train or in a hotel bedroom than bother with a newspaper of television news.  A touch of Hogday or Dickiebo does you good.

My own blog has been done with little thought.  It’s a bit like the wall in front of you teaching.  You get to feel it isn’t worth the effort a lot of the time.  I’ve long been convinced we are over concerned with words and need a new technology of production more can understand for a ‘university of life’.  Blogging lacks what can happen in a classroom engaged with itself – hardly surprising when most of being human flows well underneath words.  The ‘Penelope On The Toilet’ of the blogosphere is as distressing as ‘Cheryl In The News’.

I usually find my plans have nothing to do with what I find and that action reveals more to me about myself than anything else.  I am now revolted by the world I live in and the difficulties of doing any more than act in it rather than change what  can be done.  Finding the technology we could already be using to change away from a politics like grim Pot Noodle advertising already subsumed in the same is disappointing, but hardly surprising.  Today, a new university for people who can afford to get their non-scientific kids educated has been announced – not ‘a university of hyperspace’.  This is very sad – though maybe it will be able to afford me!

What I have picked up (apart from the pleasure of agile brains at work) is that some kind of genuine hyper-text is possible.  One could write and produce video in this medium with a great deal of referencing layer below – and in principle this could be really accessible to all – though there is no business model of this and it would run against existing publishing interests.

To give the briefest idea of this, imagine I’m arguing that the Falklands’ Fandango was never about the islands themselves, but part of a neocon strategy in which Argentina’s military strength was degraded over several years and our military used for the purposes of securing financial gains in Argentina, its drugs’ trade and future access to the resources in the Antarctic.  No need to agree.  I could cite a couple of hundred references to this – in the new system they wouldn’t be dead on the page or cost thousands to get hold of.  They would be available ‘hyper’, linked to my core argument.  The whole argument would be linked to its critique too.

This is very much what does not happen now.  Whilst I’m thinking very technically here (if not writing so), one could imagine a statistical version of Ambush Predator.  JuliaM finds many examples of inane public administration – it’s possible to imagine the databasing of her anecdotal approach done in such a manner that would let us know what real processes her sharp eye and wit reveal (not AP’s – the state of our administrative processes).   My research does not find competence as our base, but incompetence, but to get at this in a statistical manner (which isn’t about numbers as in official crap) we need widespread, collated work.

Currently, any half-assed prat can be an ‘expert’ through our university or pundit system.  You must have seen them.  The ‘psychologists’ who come on and tell us teenagers get pregnant because they are driven to sex.  Supreme Court judges with definitions of objectivity so inane they claim to be ‘of the people’ whilst declaring ‘resource poor’ childhoods that included public school.

Our ejukation system is now so good you’d expect no one to entertain the expense of sending their kids to public school – yet this is on the rise, as is buying houses to get kids to the right school.  A university for posh kids opens.  Of course, it offer bursaries for the ‘poor’ – it would – it’s buying bright kids to help ejukate the richer ones.  It’s observations like this, or AP’s ‘there goes another one’ that should be the base of statistical reasoning – not bloated government claims produced in ‘quartile-speak’ by functionaries.

It’s encouraging that people can blog material as good as and better than mainline media.  My disappointments may lie in wanting too much.  I want to bring down the mainline and not see it replaced – at least not directly.  There is now an alternative currency (Bitcoin) of hyper-space.  My guess is more is changing than I’ve spotted.

Bitcoin might be a way of paying each other and developing a blog economy, though if it works beyond its current stage it will be crushed.  Interesting though that even such stuff as money could be destroyed through hyper-connection, if only in principle for now.

I guess too that much of blogging is to do with not having to put up with the real-world equivalents of spam, violence and needing to drink a lot to put up with the company.

It would be a mistake to believe I think much will happen as a result of blogs.  Argument has gone nowhere for millennia.  We are too self-interested for argument to work without some kind of of testable outcomes.  I rather hope we are so brainless that technology will change our reliance on it, which is generally puerile whether philosophers are counting angels on pin heads or politicians appealing to our dolt notions of economics and cures to social problems.

Argument is so brilliant we get a Human Rights Act that has outcomes in protecting shagging footballers and sending us to jail for gossiping about them.  We’re giving up newspapers, but not really finding ways to replace the editorial control, perhaps discovering a little where it lies in the play of appeals to one set of ignorance or another.

In the end, blogs are much like everything else -little I want, much I want to exclude.  I’m off now to see if my friend Francis has some thoughts on offer.

Vapid Police Management

There is a report out on our vapid police forces today.  I would hope our average cop will not rush to the conclusion I think he or she is vapid.  It’s more a lions led by donkeys kind of thing.  The best press summary is in the Telegraph at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/7899007/Just-one-in-ten-police-free-to-fight-crime.html and the full report at http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/nationalstudies/communitysafety/policevfm/Pages/default.aspx

There are two reports actually, one called ‘Valuing the Police’ and the other ‘Sustaining Value for Money …’ – both obviously bullshit positives.  12% of the central police budget is lost because the pathetic chocolate-dipped strawberry eaters running their own shows can’t get together to buy equipment and the rest.  A load more is lost by keeping overpaid warranted officers in offices doing clerical work.  They can’t organise a piss-up in a brewery, still incapable of making sure officers are available when it’s likely to be busy, and having plenty around in the middle of a quiet Monday night.  The reports are tedious reading, full of donkey-management terms like ‘silo’ and no doubt the ‘desiloisation’ favoured by the woman behind the Baby P fiasco.  I didn’t bother after a few pages.  The story is one of chronic mis-management.  They can’t even count beans.

Part of the methodology of these studies is one I have advocated for many years and practised in business.  We could call this business process analysis.  The best known patent version is Hammer and Champy’s ‘Business Process Re-Engineering’.  I mention this only to point out the bullshit is old and as a marker that any fool can get into the jargon, the basic problem with any management analysis.    You can get the gist of what was found at the Telegraph.  Reading between the lines you will find our police forces being run by vapid jobsworths who can’t even organise buying fleet cars.  My Panda car was a Vauxhall Viva and across the county divide they were Ford Escorts – that kind of thing. Later my sergeant and I (we outweighed the Pontypool front row at the time) were expected to travel in a Mini.  It is not a new story, but one management has failed to deal with for over 35 years.  This suggests very deep wuckfittery is in long-term action.  I think it is time we shot some of the Admirals.

The basic idea of business process analysis is to avoid what Hogday calls ‘the long screw-driver’- trying to tune a moving radio on the ground with a long steel instrument suspended from a helicopter.  Instead, you get in amongst the action and detail what is being done.  This is bloody tedious and not done for fun.  The idea is to find out how many processes it takes to get anything done, with the aim of reducing them and costs.  A ‘success example’ is reducing an accounting department of 400 down to 4 and a few computers that work.  I have no sense of fashion or sartorial elegance and want none.  I would thus buy my sweat-shirts by pre-arranged manufacturer in a sweat-shop in Burnley by the dozen at less than the cost of one in a retailer, but at twice the price the retailer pays to salve my conscience about sweat-shop labour.  The snag, possibly, being the creation of a redundancy pile of retailers.  Techniques involve such matters as Boeing having Internet auctions for tenders to supply their parts.

The idea in policing would be to get officers out and about more visibly, smoting scum and lobbing their unconscious bodies directly into skips for transportation to Devil’s Island, itself a self-administered correction facility.

I was lucky enough a few years back to see what went on in a major criminal enquiry.  The officer running it had ideas on using new technology, but court demands for original statements meant everything was in cardboard boxes.  He referred to ‘quill and pen judges’.  In short, everyone did a great job, but 90% of the effort was wasted.

What’s needed is not police reform – this creates the kind of stupid ‘silo mindset’ the clowns using the term think they can avoid by saying the word over and over.  We need complete reform of the legal system.

One thought experiment here is to get yourself locked up for a minor crime and examine the processes as you travel through the disgusting cells, bail and on through several court adjournments and all the applications for legal aid and the costs  of lawyers, medical and expert evidence and so on.  My ‘guess’ is that we would all find little justice, plenty of crude unfairness, and a money-trail well in excess of 5 times the average wage.  From here, we could up to the case of a couple of recidivist scrotes costing the tax-payer £250K in one year.  We could also imagine (or do by participant observation) living with such bastards and counting up their actual crimes on a daily basis and wonder what alleged crime statistics are about as we discover they commit hundreds of unrecorded crimes the system has no trace of.  This latter might help us understand how a 45% reduction in crime does not translate into what we think or know is going on around us.

Policing itself needs a major adjustment in terms of the response job.  It needs to be made into the job cops want to do, not escape from.  What could be finer than protecting decent people from scrotes and being able to do it effectively instead of fobbing-off all kinds of victims until they die?  There’s a cop on the beat next to ours who is the epitome of what a good officer should be.  Our own beat cop is pretty good too.  Neither will pass the exams (I wish I could transfer my tickets to them) and both are brighter than most I used to sign degree passes for.

One can’t argue in full without massive time.  We clearly need to protect human rights in any changes.  But a real examination of the processes will show our ‘tax dollar’ is not only wasted, but goes to help destroy victims and help the perpetrators and an army of professional slime who live far away from the problems.

This morning’s television news has gobbed-up a chief constable who couldn’t admit responsibility for not making the easy management decisions the report outlines and Louise Casey blathering about victims, also unable to admit she has been a complete failure and promulgated loads of glossy Nulabour distraction from the reality of antisocial crime herself.  These kind of placepeople will say anything, for any master.  No one acts on the basis of integrity and getting back to that would be central to changing the way things get done.  Inspector Gadget is already listing forces that are not trashing the Policing Pledge despite the Home Secretary’s instruction.  We need to shift the bureaucracies that have formed to deal with Nulabour targets, and the only way is out.  The ConDems should resist replacing this kind of managerial garbage; they should destroy it root and branch.

I suspect many who contribute to Gadget and other police blogs could come up with investigation and prosecution processes that would speed convictions and protect anyone falsely accused better than the current system which only ‘works’ on paper.  They would also know how to streamline management and regionalise the police forces whilst leaving us with local constabularies.  Every chief constable, their SMT and PR-statistical lying department has already failed.

Detective Enquiry in Defining Social Problems

I’d need a fee to track Gadget or Ellie Bloggs down.  I’d take the thirty pieces of silver (twice of course, I’m a professional).  It shouldn’t take too long.  Clues are often left in text.  In one James Joyce piece, I forget which and almost certainly didn’t read it, the journey of one character through Dublin is alleged to spell out ‘FUCK OFF’ on the map of Dublin.  One would hope Monday Books is reasonably secure.  I lack the PI charisma that could charm the truth out of a secretary through big shoulders and suggestive eyebrows away.  The key would be mapping any truth in their texts to reality.  Ellie is recently promoted sergeant and the numbers game on this reduces the field considerably.  IG references the Swamp and Reservation, the first indigenous, the latter Afghani, mapping to whatever a division is now to wherever in the rough Home Counties he is supposed to be.  One could go on.  Later we might use known examples of the actual writers’ prose against the books and blogs.  I hope no one gives a damn, for with police resources and authority this looks an easy task if they are ‘real’.  One could say the same about Andy McNab and Bravo Two Zero.

I would say again and am not really concerned about the reality of two of my own favourite bloggers, or mean to impugn their integrity.  Panorama, Dispatches and occasionally Newsnight have been far more devastating, though almost to no avail.  Rough Justice, truly scary if hoist on its own petard, is long gone.  Both our blogging friends would be brief martyrs, if exposed.  There have been few scapegoats in Parliament’s expenses thieving and none of them show any sign of going down, other than in public humiliation and remaining the butts of Ian Hislop’s now jaded ridicule.  We somehow expect that when corruption (I mean the corruption partially shown in the blogs) is outed that our system will ensure justice and make its systems better.  We actually get very little of either. I’ve been asking friends and people down the pub what they know of very serious miscarriages of justice and government and can say the absence of knowledge and memory on such is frightening.  I’ve seen academic exposition of the idea that investigation of miscarriages of justice are about ensuring the system is self-correcting, but believe these are simplistic.

What I would like to argue is for arguments that attack assumptions in ways similar to  the manner in which science goes about its business in detailed scepticism.  It hardly matters whether IG or Ellie are ‘real’.  The issues to understand are whether such an attack on them that proved they are not has much, if any bearing on what they and others are saying in the blogs.  I take the view they could be equally or possibly more credible if they are not police officers.  The first scientific question is just what such text is and the conditions of its existence.  Text that looks as though it is the writing of postmodern scholars is at least allegedly be produced by machine.  I can certainly write such twaddle and rely on conference gatekeepers not to think I’m just taking the piss, and there was a wonderful hoax on the journal Social Text by physicist Alan Sokal.  Many of us believe science only looks rational when we have cooled our explanations down with the help of others, after plenty of passion, blood, tears and sweat spent.  Whatever any of us are in trying to get something done about the social mess, it ain’t some cool, dispassionate, objective, utterly reasonable individual.  Anyone claiming this is at the very least playing that language game (Wittgenstein) and is probably lying to us and himself.  Psychopaths (as defined against the standard) are often good at this particular language game and are know to be three times as persuasive in parole hearings than standard goons.  And who is on these parole boards if not a bunch of ‘professionals’ being “objective”?  Just look at the dross politicians take us in through.

We need another way, though hopefully of a kind that is not the ‘fourth way’ that follows the ‘third way’. A way that ain’t the old con in newly fashioned form, or another Ponzi scheme given approval by accountants.  The first thing we might want to sweep away as scientists is “credibility”; mine or anyone else’s.  We need our facts to be demonstrable, not stuff we are persuaded by through ‘charisma’ or easy appeal to our prejudices – which I suggest is sadly the state of our politics.  Wittgenstein suggested and to some extent practised an academic form of this.  Essentially, we need to get far enough down in arguments to see that many apparently opposing sides contain similar assumptions that may well be wrong.  Nothing like this can happen until we have control over the evidence collection so that we can avoid much that goes wrong in ordinary argument because we fall out because simple facts are being hidden from us or manipulated.

There are few intellectual matters involved in thinking and practising our way through the social mess.  What is needed is attention to the rules and the apprehended abuse of them by those in power and a focus on ourselves that accepts we are no damn good at arguing.  In a so-called democracy we have (probably) decent cops who can’t come forward and tell us what is going wrong – I’d say this is across our society and not even restricted to the public sector.  What point Wittgenstein under this level of corruption?  What we need to create is a court of appeal which can get at the real evidence in our interests, not of full of stuffed-shirt interests or controllable by those in power.  I wonder if any of us would blog at all if we had a real Fourth Estate in place of the scandal sheets and shiny-people media.

I know after more than 20 years in research and teaching that the answers are not in classrooms of academe.  I reckon I was able to teach or encourage the development of less than 0ne in twenty of my students into critical reasoners from the ground up.  Most of them don’t even learn how influenced they are by advertising.  What we need to stop is the use of intellect to bent purpose and this includes helping those who have it not to become elitist prigs.  This also means doing something about letting people who can’t see their incompetence causes them to make very bad choices in argument realise those of us who can get it right a lot of the time aren’t going to be allowed just to rip them off.

There are examples in practice of structured self-correction.  Near miss reporting by pilots is one.  This has to be done in real confidence.  The idea here is to avoid the fatal collision.  There are thousands of near misses.    In the social mess of the justice system we seem to end up saying no one could have seen Baby P, the Cochranes, Katie Summers, Mr. Askew and all the others coming, but the truth is we can, simply on the grounds there is no proper management information system of collation of the crimes involved – even a reluctance to crime anything of the massive number of incidents that we become aware of after people officially become victims (i.e. after they are dead).

My belief is that the situation we are in is is something like being in a team or one of the supporters of a highly underachieving sports team, living in the belief we would start doing OK if only we got the breaks.  The truth is we don’t have a youth policy or system of scouts, don’t do game plans and regularly miss training, but do have a PR woman who writes about the ‘highest professional standards’ in our match programmes.  The fans rarely come out of the social club on match days, but this is due to their alcohol addiction, not our dull play or the fact the last time a 50:50 ball was won by home colours was when the team mascot invaded the pitch after one too many.  There are rumours of a new manager from Real Madrid, and one shows up, turning out to have been the water-carrier from their basketball team.  We initially think there is a communication barrier in explaining the new training regime that has us passing the ball from hand to hand, before the penny drops that he wasn’t expecting to coach soccer.  By the time our kit itself is made in cloth spun from invisible thread, the antisocial behaviour team formed by the PR woman has had anyone who might shout out on our nakedness issued with ASBOs and ground-exclusion orders.  It will only emerge later that she was a non-executive director of the invisible kit company.

There are ways forward, and rather than finding the techniques that would let us hunt down Gadget, we need those of a corruption enquiry actually aimed at exposing the corruption rather than whitewashing it.  It is time for The Untouchables, though we need to remember Eliot Ness was a blatant publicist, dwarfing all of Monday Books’ authors. We need some radical change in order that we can get back to ordinary puzzle solving.

The lesson we might learn from thinking through the idea that Gadget might not be as declared on the tin is about how careful we have to be in setting up the big facts in our lives through which we justify other facts.  I tend to combine foundationalism and modern reliableism in the way I go about this, but we can’t expect people to catch up with the years I spent in academe.  I’ve no doubt some of the professionals in the philosophy would write me off as ;no good at it’.  I want us to be doing more middle-level thinking.  A couple of pints of Ruralshire Bitter after watching IG at work for an afternoon sorts out his identity.  Applying this same ‘demand’ for what I call the ‘tropical fish realist’ evidence to other areas of our mess is what I want to see.  I rarely insist on this form of evidence in current affairs with my grandson (12), but I hope in teaching it as the difference between right and wrong (fairly gently until my patience snaps).  The lack of it in our public affairs is some kind of medieval retentiveness.

The key question becomes what points in our system that we take as factual could be subject to the kind of ‘tropical fish realist’ enquiry that would track down the ‘real Inspector Gadget’?  Can we find system ‘soft spots’ where such enquiry should be possible, but facts seem to be maintained without there having been one that can be replicated (an important scientific feature of demonstration)?  Places where we may be able to bring down the house of cards and begin to build something worthwhile.

Nearly every argument I’ve studied starts with all parties to it getting stuff wrong.  I’ve sometimes been made to feel I have to be perfect before I can contest anything in one.  Given how aware I am of my own imperfections,you’d think this would shut me up forever!  I’m also pretty sure most people become disabled in argument because of hidden and ritually displayed hostility, much as one finds in pack behaviour, with most of the rest politicking as one finds in other primates.  We shouldn’t under-rate these animal effects.  I tend to accept findings that suggest very low average IQ in sub-Saharan Africa.  This would not lead me to want to put my life in the hands of the understanding of the academics who measure IQ or work with its secondary data sets, if I had to lead the Bushmen form of life.  I would trust to their practices and intelligence, as I would offer mine to them in our world.  The average sub-Saharan IQ (75) equips one for a life of truancy, special needs and crime in our society, but not in their own.  The average IQ here of participants in police interrogations is 82 (I think I remember this excludes police officers).  We might rate a good police dog at 80.  Racists should take no cheer from anything like this.  The tropical fish realist needs much more than evidence based on pen and paper tests amongst the pen-and-paperless.

My guess is that our common notions that systems in our democratic country work most of the time would prove groundless if subjected to the empirical tests needed to show Gadget ‘real’.  My guess is that we would find what the undercover documentaries are finding.  Crap,overpaid managers, hand-in-glove with piss poor politicians and QUANGO-types and performance teams, presenting an image of improvement whilst a cowed workforce who can’t stand up to any of this generally don’t get the job done and write it up as though they do.  What we need is proof and the absence of proof is precisely why such a potentially fictitious position as ‘blogger’ interests me.

By coincidence, a letter from Louise Casey arrived today.  It’s dire and mass produced.  The new government have made her Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses.  Louise is not a tropical fish realist and I doubt she gives a damn about victims or witnesses.  Like many of the people appointed to jobs like this or IG’s beloved SMTs I have no idea whether she is any good or done anything successful in the past.  About all I can be sure of is that we ‘the living’ never get to know or have a say.  Louise ran an outfit that should have been highly critical of the treatment of the very category of people now put in her hands, and fronted a series of hyped success stories presenting an entirely false picture of fighting crime in our communities.  She commissioned surveys that would help her political cause ahead of discovering how to go about helping victims and stopping people having to live under the misery of violent criminals and their dismal control and policing.  I doubt, as an academic, she can have any clue how to get proper research done, and hope this is the case – she is beyond words if she does know.  My partner and I were victims over and extended period whilst otherwise ill Louise.  You should be talking to people like us – how many years too late is it now?

There is some big social philosophy that might help us form some practical theory.  It’s limited stuff, but might help us move on from dumb notions of a fair world, and the dumber ones of Macht Politik applied to the everyday.  Michel Foucault has been a popular example, along with Gramsci.  Neither help that much, but could help us not to re-invent the wheel too often.  But ask yourself if you really know how to build a wheel.  Most of us have no clue.  Most of us have no clue how to live close to the ground, yet we are prepared to regard those who do as inferior to us on the grounds they aren’t socialised to our form of life.

Gadget’s Swamp is no doubt full of disgusting shits, though in what proportion and how many of them are wife-beaters as he claims?  What kind of questions would we be asking of whom if we really wanted to define our Swamps and the problems on them so we could sort them out?  Around the country, at least 6 people on jobseeker’s allowance are applying for every jobcentre job.  This hardly suggests jobs are growing on trees, or that most people unemployed wouldn’t take one.  Yet there are scum who claim benefits, fill social housing (or otherwise use up housing benefit), hide behind their kids (who are typically out of control), use and distribute drugs, smuggled fags and booze, are loud, make neighbours’ lives hell and are a central part of a violence culture, beating each other and harassing and using violence in many ways (including punishment burglaries, criminal damage and noise) that nothing seems done about, even when there are hundreds of visits by cops and housing workers.  What I think I’ve seen up close and personal is a small number of families leading this and a vast bureaucratic effort that misses them and wastes our money putting victims of these scrote at risk.  Cops and Town Halls can’t take reasonable criticism and from the bottom up they all blame anyone else and would rather beat up victims to keep them quiet than admit professional failings.

The problem I have with the general police blog is that the themes feel part of the cover-up and lack of concern for the vulnerable, almost like a safety-valve put in place to get people to let off steam rather than blab the truth somewhere that might matter.  Authors often cultivate their audience through blogs these days, and there is a ‘groupie’ element.  They read too directly like the existential hero aspect of much fiction.  We forget in this that real cops didn’t work with Jack Regan, but did with the likes of detective sergeant Challinor and his rhino-tailed whip in Leeds.  Most police blogs perpetuate an overly-positive, acritical view of the police, already on view in fiction.

I’d like to see something much more positive and critical.  I once congratulated an academic colleague with very genuine intent that her research reminded me of good detective work.  This was high praise coming from me, but taken as an insult (she didn’t think much of detectives).  I meant good detective work, as opposed to the bungling, whisky swilling clowning of various large-scale enquiries.  When one sees a good one (Morecambe cockle-pickers?) one can only admire the effort, intelligence and team-building that contributes to brilliant, coordinated action over thousands of statements, case collation, presentation and prosecution.  These are rare.  Senior detectives on some enquiries seem to have been auditioning for roles as clowns in drop-your-trousers farces (Yorkshire Ripper, Black Panther,  Soham, Nico Bento, the McCanns, the Detroux farce and maybe what was happening recently on Jersey until a decent detective was brought in.  My guess is, given access, I’d find 70% plus incompetence in police and Town Hall agencies’  investigations.  My personal experience has been worse than this and academics experienced in this field tend to think it’s worse too.  I believe we need some people with carte blanche to do detective-style research across our society.  We can’t just give bags of money to lawyers and let judges take 12 years doing what could be done in months.  Yet we have to guard against known pitfalls.  I’m as sure as I get, on a personal basis, that police, housing and social workers quickly stoop to totally unacceptable practices in their investigations and would guess the big reason for this is they lack self-critical capacity and real empathy to serve, operating as mortgage slaves and without democratic responsibility towards others – professionals in the worst sense of the term.  This said, the best counter-example of this I ever knew was a charge office sergeant.