GMP and Town Halls Are Still Killing Us (slowly if we’re lucky)

Greater Manchester Police have referred the Askew case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.  The IPCC is ‘independent’ only in name and there are internal rumours that its Chair, Nick Hardwick was hauled in front of the Home Office and warned off investigations that would expose police wrongdoing and corruption.  Some of its investigators had wanted to take a much more forceful line in investigating bad cops.  A report by the CHRE found that the social work equivalent of the IPCC was bent beyond measure with its CEO actively preventing enquiries and social workers clearly unfit to practice staying in position for months and years after they should have been put out of their ways of harm, including paedophiles.  GMP also has form for not responding to judges’ statements that one of its officers was lying (the Shipman case) and incompetent, even re-hiring the individual as a civilian and not acting until the Manchester Evening News revealed the scandal.  Disciplinary charges were never brought against this individual as too much time had elapsed.

The recent HMIC report on ‘antisocial behaviour’ took the unusual step of actually asking victims about their experience.  Its conclusions are damning, though at this stage it has not led  to an examination of the lying it is reasonable to suppose must have been going on for a long time to cover-up incompetence and lack of accountability.  GMP’s former Chief was referred to even in the broadsheets as ‘Shagger Todd’ and there are now rumours another member of its senior management team is ‘at it’ in police blogs.  The report, sadly conducted by a police officer, into Todd’s activities has not be made fully public and the current Chief, Peter Fahey, is making statements about continuing on the sound basis left by Todd. One can only hope this is not true, given the official reports of GMP’s poor performance (in contradiction to past and regular lying about improvements) and Fahey’s own contradictory statements that he has had to take great strides to improve from the ‘sound base’.  He has just been on television claiming the HMIC report is out of date and there have been massive improvements in his 18 month reign.  If Todd had been doing such a great job whilst ‘doing’ so much not to do with police work, one assumes the HMIC would not have had reason to be so condemning or for there have been so much need for Fahey’s ‘improvements’.  Mr. Askew is now dead, rather than merely a daily victim like so many bothers across this force area, hardly an improved condition!  He was not a victim of ‘antisocial behaviour’, but of sustained crime, most of which is very unlikely to have been recorded.

Fahey and one of his divisional commanders have been on television giving excuses that everything possible was done and trying to lay off the blame onto the housing authority, a common tactic amongst his officers.  Town Hall authorities are part of the problem as are our elected ‘representatives’, but GMP officers regularly lay claim to ‘excellent’ partnership arrangements with them, arrangements so ‘superb’ they can’t even get a family in Mr. Askew’s plight re-housed despite a probably 20 years of harassment.  The Chief Constable and Chief Superintendent made me sick to the stomach as a victim through the attitudes they displayed.  It’s good to know we still have cops prepared to help disabled people clean up their house (one has to wonder why this was necessary and what the ‘excellent’ partners were not up to), yet looking back to the Cochranes (GMP – burned to death some days after petrol was found on their front door after being terrorised for months – a matter subject to a hapless IPCC enquiry which may explain GMP’s referral of this matter to them for another whitewash), it’s clear officers tried to provide personal assistance (mobile numbers) only to be disciplined for not using the obviously inadequate ‘system’.

Todd was very keen to make statements that his officers needed no further powers to impress his Nulabour masters, yet after all Fahey’s ‘improvements’ and the claimed good work of his officers, Mr. Askew is dead and CCTV and covert observations from inside his house seem only to have contributed to this and become part of the excuses churned out.  I’ve been to GMP-Town Hall ‘crime fighting’ conferences at which ‘success stories’ are monotonously sung from the hymn-sheets of positive gloss, at which the voices of victims are routinely excluded.  I could barely stand being present.

It is an insult to refer matters to the IPCC (or local government ombudsmen and the rest) when we can have no faith in them and only apprehend further injustice.  I doubt any of these bodies would survive a CHRE-style review and all of them evade evaluation of victim experience and honest and confidential research into what their street-level operatives believe the problems to be.  Sarah Payne’s report identifies the need for a single point of contact for victims (the blinding obviousness of this makes one worry), but even this critical report fails to notice that one more or less has to be dead to be considered a victim under Human Rights legislation and any variety of victims’ codes.  The IPCC, LGOs and complaints systems generally are part of the problems, not their resolution.  They don’t look at facts revealed through independent investigation, don’t support victims in an acknowledgement of their lack of representation and the unequal power relations brought about by their individuation against the bureaucratic evasions and bullying known to be characteristic of the big battalions.  Victims can only apprehend bias, a point made by the Police Action Lawyers Group, INQUEST and from within consideration of natural justice and Public Law.  It is more or less impossible to redress this through Judicial Review or by going straight to court action, through lack of funding and the non-availability of genuinely independent investigators and frustrations in disclosure.

What is needed is for victims to be identified, brought together in an action group, and for cases to be subject to full, publicly scrutinised criminal-level investigation, with a damages and compensation scheme established to change the nature of ‘resourcing’ decisions made by the authorities to stop them concealing the problems and their inadequacies in dealing with them.  The idea would be to get the authorities doing the job they have laid claim to be doing for years, get proper admissions they have been failing and compensate victims to help their suffering and stop the routine fobbing-off and exacerbations of their trauma by the very people supposed to help who often make matters much worse.

It’s time those responsible for the deaths of victims and the continuation of thousands of unnecessary miseries were brought to book.  It isn’t just the vile perpetrators who need to be stopped.  There is a fatal nexus of politicians, overpaid bureaucrats and attitudes which discount victims because they are powerless that must be taken on.  I would name my own MP, David Crausby (Bolton NE) as part of the problem.  A decent man would fess up to what he has  done and resign.  Our local paper carried a letter this week, suggesting we could do with being rid of the main parties and get some independents into our local council.  Nulabour is part of the problem too, but the alternatives are really putting forward no viable alternatives.  One can see the problems every time a scandal is sufficient to generate media interest. Baby P, the Pilkingtons, the Cochranes, Edlington, Stockwell (none of 17 witnesses heard police shout warnings) and the rest.  Yet the real problem lies in those still suffering as the late Mr. Askew did for years, not yet sufficiently abused to get the media involved, a matter that condemns our fourth estate as well.


Complaining about the police

I tend to see complaints systems as about creating and maintaining quality.  I would.  I’m an organisation theorist; but don’t expect me to drone on about TQM, ISO 9001, Baldridge Awards and such.  This stuff is part of the problem, though I suspect policing and the public sector generally is so bad managerially that any implementation would be counterproductive.  They are across all sectors.  The stuff is a disease.  IiP stoops low, but this is an area where, thinking you have hit rock bottom, you find you are just falling off a series of cliffs.

Cops hate the complaints system.  One can discover this across a myriad of police blogs, potentially part of putting things right.  They hated it when I was a cop 30 years ago, though my memory has it that bullying managers and a sadistic internal culture preyed more on our minds than members of the public.  I lied once to protect a colleague from a perverse public complaint.  He had ‘stuck the nut’ on someone and was a bit prone to fight in this manner, but it was justified in the near riot circumstances.  We were heavily outnumbered amongst a scrote drinking party that that exploded into the street.  His action was brave and clinical.  I lied to tell the truth, because I thought no one would understand.  He was a mate, but also a rival for a lady’s attentions at the time.  Shame, in retrospect, he didn’t win that one!  He retired as an inspector a few years back and was well-respected by most who served with him.  I was put under no external pressure to do what I did.  Other colleagues took a ‘blind eye perspective’, though I know they saw what I did.  If I had told the ‘truth’ there is little doubt he would have been sacked.

When I say ‘no external pressure’, this isn’t quite true.  The culture and loyalty exert their own pressures.  Looking back, I did the right thing, even though I detest ‘dirty hands’ excuses for action in the moral maze.  I can only wish for a simpler, cleaner world.  If I could have trusted the bosses and magistrates and wider public opinion, I would have told the truth.  The guy should have been commended, not racked with months of stress.  My job was on the line too.  Generally, we lied fairly routinely to keep supervision off each others’ backs.  In teaching management, we often ask classes to name great leaders.  Lists including Churchill, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Christ, Alexander and others always emerge (internationally, this just changes with culture).  My own has charge office and patrol sergeants in it, not these hopeless, paranoid types.  Much above this rank (which equates to maybe Chief Inspector now) one can only say ‘everything solid melts into air’.  You were very lucky to get a decent inspector.  Moral capacity seem in inverse proportion to rank, something that remains a general rule across the population.

Just before writing this, Inspector Gadget rolled out a classic police story of two complaints.  One complaining about a speeding police car, the other about the poor response time to an incident.  Very droll, and part of the information we need if we are to get anywhere.  Very much only part of the problem though.  The IPCC (Incompetent Poodles of Constabulary Corruption) uses the same story in wider remit to justify its quite pathetic failings.  We’d be better off with Gadget running this organisation.  Elsewhere across the blogs, down the pub and talking with people generally, reading academic reports and books, the dire reality is more shocking than I can say.  I’m just looking at transcripts of some of the public statements of the IPCC Chair.  These are beneath contempt, but he seems to be getting away with it.  I’ll return to this in deeper analysis.  IPCC investigators say he was dragged into the Home Office and warned off doing investigations that would show the police in a bad light.  Our own personal experience is that this is the case.  In another blog (complaining about the police), the woman concerned is talking of three and a half years of suffering with nowhere to turn.  We had more than seven, and our case (fortunately with us not in it as the scum have moved), continues down the road.  I suffered intense character assassination.  A decent mate and his family now have similar problems in an adjoining police division.  A taxi driver says she has just had to move.  Round the corner there has been a spate of racially motivated attacks, with the creeps involved assaulting and bullying our lad not to play with the ‘dirty Paki bastards’.  A decent response officer turns up and tells us it might be better not to pursue the assault complaint, independently witnessed, because the scrote-family will not be moved and will cause further trouble.  We were already getting this anyway, and could really only tell her not to patronise us any further.  She knew all the names, including those of our former neighbours.  I could go on, but the drift is there to see.  A decent cop by the way.  She doesn’t want to be working under these conditions.

In our case, cops have not only bungled on a regular basis, but lied and even tried to set me up with a false prosecution of ‘conspiracy to pervert the course of justice’ to protect their own sorry arses.  Fortunately, they were as crap as this as they were with our former scum next door.  About 200 visits, mostly not at our behest, seem to have produced almost squat all convictions there.  There was a drug-bust and a two year sentence, but they even cocked that up.  This said, and there is much more, I don’t think complaining against the police is the answer, and not just because the system is chronic.  Wider agencies and lying politicians are involved.  It’s hard to believe we would have had so trauma if Gadget had been our local inspector, rather than the lying piecan we had.  Our chief constable through much of this will now be known forever as ‘Shagger’ and we now have another.

The above may seem anecdotal.  I can say as a university researcher, that a sound, general, even statistical case can be made.  There are even statistical issues in what I have said.  Levels of understanding of this across the agencies and political expense fiddlers are dismal.  Sadly, the jumped-up votaries are in control of the resources and access to do the proper work.   They will try to dismiss all we have to say as some kind of juvenile ‘piss-taking’.  This is a standard managerial and political practice.  In fact, the votaries just operate from a paranoid-schizoid position and can take no real criticism.  They try to hide the real information we need to get a proper understanding of what is going on and put it right, knowing the real need is to get rid of them.  They act a bit like the royalty and advisors of the Emperor’s New Clothes; they either know jack-all or couldn’t say boo to a goose.  And we should remember they would slaughter any child pronouncing on nakedness.  Only the fairy-story has a sweet ending.