Another Police Shooting Goes Wrong

I’d like to see a good percentage police patrol vehicles carrying a rifle and someone trained to use it.  In a better world I’d rather see an unarmed police force, but we’re going from bad to worse.  The basic idea is to give officers and the public confidence the right kind of back up can be brought in quickly when nutters of criminal and terrorist varieties kick off.

There’s a sad history of shootings going wrong.  Duggan and Grainer look to be part of this, but so was the awful accident in training that killed Ian Terry.  There is always a price to pay in practical matters.  Many believe we can’t properly arm our police for fears of escalation – but this ignores the stresses of working as a cop, or being innocent participants in some killing spree, without speedy containment.  There is a wider story than the odd sequence of bungles.

The Grauniad has just produced this piece of dross on Grainger – – and much of the problem from Stockwell, through Duggan and on to this concerns utterly false reporting and the lack of ability to state the honest case quickly, for a variety of legal and PR ‘reasons’.  Our sub-judice laws are antiquated and based on silly ideas of what will prejudice a fair trial – as in Leveson and the Akers’ testimony.

Justice delayed is justice denied and we should allow quick and accurate reporting – indeed insist on it – and ensure we have jurors capable of making decisions on evidence in court, rather than turkeys swayed by earlier barking rot in the media or for that matter allowed in court as in Nico Bento and the well-known Irish cases.  The current system encourages gossip and for police and public bodies to engage in secrecy under the claim they have to wait for the day in court.

We don’t know why Grainger or Duggan were shot or even de Menezes.  We do know GMP even killed one of its own in training and along with a catalogue from around the world know officers are ramped up and will make mistakes.  In one incident, a black detective was shot 13 times by his own (he lived).  I was involved in some very farcical activity myself and have no faith a court and jury could understand why a weapon might be wrongly discharged and  what the pressures of not taking a shot can be.  Can one, for instance, shoot a terrorist running away, in order to protect the public in the future?

Our laws need bringing up to speed in a number of areas to include the necessity of quick statements of facts within days of incidents that cannot be ruled as  prejudicing future trials.  The trials of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four were clearly prejudiced by Irish hysteria and god knows what happened in the Bento case  in which judge and jury were convinced by claptrap expert non-evidence.  This had nothing to do with the press reporting facts in an early delivery of what the prosecution case was.

If Grainger has survived, could he possibly face a fair trial given his record has been made public?  Can the others arrested given we know this was a suspected armed robbery?  The answer is ‘yes’ – and so can various journalist managers after Akers.  There either is evidence or not.  That many people have no clue what evidence is and believe gossip, religion and other rot is always a matter for a court – sadly our courts aren’t particularly good at determining evidence themselves, with judges who would  struggle with O level chemistry poncing on about which forensic evidence to believe.  Denning called utterly crap evidence good against known standards and he is hardly alone.

My contention is our cops are being put through fear on a regular basis that wouldn’t be there if we had a more honest system and could trust to wider firearms issue.  In the way of this is the fear of telling the truth quickly when something goes wrong, including the ludicrous story of shouting ‘armed police’ at Stockwell and the branding of at least 17 witnesses as muppets incapable of hearing it — when the obvious need was for quick shooting to prevent a terrorist pushing the button rather than giving him reason to do so – except he was just an innocent man hyped by a trail of incompetence into what he was not in the shooters’ minds.  The focus on the shooter is a mistake and full of gossip-based idiocy.  We need a very different debate.




Keystone Cop Discipline?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning Lessons From The Mark Duggan Killing

A number of weeks after Mark Duggan’s death we know little of the case.  There are no lessons to learn on the police and IPCC communication following the shooting.  This followed a standard cock-up line that is all too familiar, from which lessons should have been learned in the past and new procedures should already have been in place.  The big lesson to be learned is that the ‘learning lessons’ excuse is just an excuse.  The IPCC has been in place about 8 years and only gross incompetence can be responsible for its repeated failures at Stockwell, the Tomlinson incident and the general course of the discharge of its duties.  It is not trusted by anyone needing recourse to it or the police. Eight years on, it still recruits police to its investigation teams.

The release of misinformation that police had been involved in an exchange of fire and lack of decency by police and IPCC in regard to Duggan’s family is standard fare, as is the press reporting of the dead man as a gangster.  We need better rules for the media and on case material disclosure to ensure a good form of public scrutiny – rules that won’t compromise the prosecution of a case and will help to prevent people gathering round police stations and the sparking of riots.

Currently it is possible to suspect police officers involved of anything from incompetence to murder, as well as the opposite in that they may have been bravely doing their job.  This is all down to lack of information.  There are rumours that the non-police gun found ‘near the scene’ may have been planted, that the taxi in which Duggan seems to have been shot left the scene  and returned, and there are unanswered questions about how the false information on an exchange of fire arose.

We now know the converted starting pistol has no traces of Duggan on it and that the taxi was stopped in an intelligence-led operation.  The cops involved may be guilty of something, but the statistical likelihood is that they aren’t – but they are subject to protracted stress.  The Duggans feel police are operating a shoot to kill policy; unlikely, yet this is not to deny substance to their feelings.  How they come to feel this and be suspicious of the IPCC needs to be brought into the open and compared with others dissatisfied with police complaints.  The non-IPCC story on this is utterly unsatisfactory, as is their engagement in gaming performance management.

The lack of forensics linking Duggan to the converted starting pistol is disturbing.  Crooks, if he was such, are usually careless, and only a fool would chance his arm with such a weapon against the real thing.  Clearly, if this is either a murder or a conspiracy to cover up a cock up we don’t want disclosure that would prejudice future proceedings; yet 3,000 people may turn out to the funeral today believing the worst.

The mistake we’re making is in the belief that information has to be kept from the public domain to allow a fair trial and that this is possible in the modern world,or even desirable. Harwood cannot now receive such a ‘fair trial’, but would not be facing trial were it not for the public scrutiny that forced a proper investigation which police clearly tried to suppress.

It is miserable in extreme that police officers should find themselves under suspicion when they may have been acting diligently and bravely.  I’ve been in the position myself and it still rankles.  My guess is we can’t get round the problem, but could make it more open and get matters over more quickly through procedural changes and a change in attitude on disclosure before trial or likely trial.  The real problem is dated attitudes towards sub-judice and press reporting based on ‘salation’ rather than facts.  This allows the kind of secrecy that leads to conspiracy and potentially, riots.

We might also wonder, in this case, on how easy it was to arrest and imprison a nurse at Stepping Hill on almost no evidence, and the treatment of the officers involved in considerable discourtesy to the Duggans, the issue of misinformation, a man dead and millions and lives lost in ensuing riots.

In circumstances like this, officers involved should not be allowed to collude and should be subject to recorded question and answer as soon as possible.  A long and dark story on police evidence and its place in our system of evidence is involved here.  When officers collude, they produce  versions on the same story, accurate to a degree never found among other witnesses.  This is regarded favourably in court, against all scientific sense which would expect some differences.  Thus we have a court system based on evidence that cannot be accurate and is known to be based on collusion.

All the issues arising in the Duggan case should have been fixed from ‘lessons’ allegedly learned by police and IPCC on many occasions before.  The key lesson is they use learning lessons as an excuse and do little about it.  Another is the issue of police collusion on evidence – the IPCC has been against this since its inception and failed to get change.  Another may be the disdain shown by police and IPCC – an important cultural problem.

I have no faith in the IPCC and most people trying to complain have none.  It’s time they were gone.  We’d be better off with cops under elected control and outside standard operational police work doing the job.

IPCC Should Go In Police Cuts

The IPCC have pronounced on several of the Met’s now former officers and continue to ferret away on John Yates’ involvement in a job for one of the girls. This is all a waste of money.  There has obviously been a problem at the Met with officers getting involved in selling stories and frames.  This looks much worse when various officers seem rather too close to the media bosses involved further up the chain.  Officers involved in attempts to frame people to discredit them is really bad news.  One hopes there is a real investigation going on into this, done by cops who know what they are doing.  By the time the IPCC were doing their work, those who might have done something had had plenty of time to get rid of any evidence and get their stories right.  The whole of Westminster seems into ‘unhealthy’ relations with media.  No reason really to look at the Met over this.  A ‘clean you act up now’ message should have been enough.

The IPCC is a dismal failure and the reasons generally given for this point to a management failure in our country.  The same failures as in previous revisions of what to do about police corruption and bent cops were built into the IPCC – this reeks for the classic British management disease of repeating past mistakes in apparent change.  The others involve the closed nature of the organisation, restricted remit, lack of power, bureaucracy in extremis, bias towards internal accounts (i.e. police accounts), timidity and with no influence on the kind of change that could make a real difference.  After enough time to be making a real difference (8 years +) the IPCC’s website is not full of competent reports and successful prosecutions, but cluttered with failures like Stockwell and clown performance management.

Compare the costs of a Bill Bratton style “assault” on UK policing with those of the IPCC.  I don’t expect you have these to hand, but the first obvious downer for the IPCC is that it saves no money and is always an added cost.  You don’t need Bratton to ‘do Bratton’  – the management style essentially boots out the ‘LOMBARDS’ at the top, brings in a new top team, cuts our dross (BPR – whatever) and forces accountability (including testing for cheating through statistics) and sponsors action (broken windows is usually team action on genuine problems) rather than ‘cuffing’ on work.  Bratton’s work has happened alongside far more serious arrests and convictions of bent cops than anything the IPCC has screwed up here.  There may be more corruption in the USA, but if not you have to wonder what we are paying our lillywhites for.  The IPCC look ripe to cut because of their success in being unable to find any!

They won’t find any if they keep looking where there is none and where the evidence has already been “routinely” destroyed or left in the hands of the potentially culpable to change or disappear.  They could be cut to provide the running costs of setting up a Bratton type re-engineering of British policing.  We could replace them with 10 regional teams under elected chiefs with a broader remit and more power to do management discipline and proactive anti-corruption work.

In terms of measuring police performance, we could establish a better understanding of why so many of the non-criminal public who come into contact with police are dissatisfied and work through the data for reasons.  On the same theme, we also need reliable estimates on crime costs as well as numbers to enable a better gauge of whether crime is under control or just being diverted.

My guess on cost saving is that 15% could be targeted and that a major part of restructuring would be improving recruit quality and flattening supervision structures (less ranks, less in rank).  The ‘overhead’ on a piece of police action is dire (some of my old research bids were at 60% – I’ve worked recently where they are at 24%).  There are ways to beat this through more focused recruitment, part-timers and specialisation that doesn’t require the current uniform ‘plodding’.  I’m not surprised Bratton says he would love the job.  As a business re-engineering prize it looks as good as the Imperial Group back in the 80’s.

Policing by Consent? Not in my name

I want tougher policing by responsible, decent people.  I believe most crime could be dealt with by local mediation with minimal intrusion by lawyers and with public scrutiny built in (trials open to Internet recording).  Sure, we’d need safeguards and a different route for serious crime.

I withdraw (with a laugh) my consent from what is going on.  It’s bent, run by sold-out bureaucrats and can’t even do anything about thuggery and incompetence.  The killings at Stockwell and G20 are not the problem in-themselves, it’s the response to them and all failures across our systems from Baby P, Askew and the Ripper Enquiry, through to our illegal wars since WW2.  We are now a sad country without democracy or justice.  We are as bad at stopping old ladies and the disabled being tormented by yobs and criminal scum as we are at stopping the Taliban in Afghanistan.  We don’t even know how many Iraqis died at our hands and still allow the vile, actor-idiot Blair to strut about.  I want a flag back I could salute.  Sitting round a table sharing rice and cigarettes with Taliban wannabes nearly ten years ago, trying to dissuade them,my major tack was that their cause was lying to them.  I did not bear arms for ‘virgin reward’ (highly misunderstood here), but for a country worth living in.  Now, like many others, I know I was lied to about this.  The White Cliffs of Dover no longer welcome and are best seen on the way out.

We know Suez was based on a fantastic ‘policing action’ fiction in which Israel attacked Egypt and we and the French just had 120,000 troops lying about to keep the sides apart.  At least we got to know.  Now we have no real idea why we are fighting wars and can’t do anything about rogue cops.  It’s a case of no progress being frogmarched backwards by spin.  We can’t even get out on the streets and put flowers down gun barrels, though if we could the cops with discipline records longer than their batons would lash us to the ground, bent pathologist lying in wait and prosecution bureaucrats sure any jury of twelve of us would believe bent medical evidence ahead of good, thus rendering no need for justice to be seen to be done.  What kind of public have we become?  The sort that doesn’t notice when the disabled disappear, then the gypsies, Jews and any fool capable of dissent?  Zanu PF Nulabour have been replaced, but it is business as usual in Broken Britain, so just what are we ConDemned to?  We had an election in which the choice was merely between who would slash and burn the public sector, but no one told us this.  What extra civil rights should we be feeling now Mr. Clegg, now it’s affirmed a vandal police officer can club down a poorly old man in full view and face no criminal court?  What waste has been saved by keeping him and those who looked on in pay?  Is it him and the odd disgusting prick over on Gadget laying claim to ‘only following orders’ that you intend to use on us when we tumble your new policies?  I withdraw my consent, noting you have not made it easy for many of us to do the same in a manenr that could have constitutional effect.

This says a lot fairly quickly in describing the problem, but the answers involve getting this accepted and having a plan for change.  We have to get into a situation of open problem review and a scheme for solving the real ones without paying for an army of bureaucrats who redefine everything in their own interests.  We may well need our decent, brave police, but we also need rid of the ones who club an old man from behind when they should just help him home and those who run away as cowards as I have seen.  We need to take our share of the blame, as incapable of standing up to be counted.

There are answers and they all start in easily feasible forms of problem definition, with the baggage that those in positions of power already fail to allow this and pervert resources into false performance management.  They commission mass sample research that will inevitably only reveal expressions of support from people whose lives their organisations have not touched yet and the general inclination to think good of others rather than bad where we have no real knowledge.  Our education system is still churning out people with no idea what evidence is, especially lawyers.

Our legal system is fundamentally not available to most of us because we can’t afford it, and it’s built round this.  All kinds of stuff like he Human Rights Act and Judicial Review, even down to defence evidence and representation in court is really denied us.  Almost inexplicably, we are still paying for this, the money often going to represent utter scrotes against our interests.  There’s a classic Home Office report on the HRA detailing how much it might help us, if broadly adopted.  Farcically, what we have is a system in which all the actors know they can flout our ‘rights’ and get away with it – indeed this is expected of them within the system.  The fear is always that if we really had rights and access to litigation, the floodgates would open.  This fear also states that our public organisations, including the legal system knows they are not working properly, for otherwise there would be no ‘floodgate fear’.

In dealings with local authorities and police, indeed across the legal system, one cannot even hope that records will be properly kept.  One generally cannot even see what is being recorded. reviews the Tomlinson affair pretty well.  It might not succeed as a charge in court, but a serious conspiracy to pervert the course of justice is involved.  That  charges cannot be brought against Harwood lies primarily in the reluctance of the IPCC to get involved.  This allowed cops to bring in the ‘bent’ pathologist.  That the IPCC were reluctant should surprise no one.  They are useless and lack the right kind of expertise, are led by a loon and internal rumours abound that he has been told to back off embarrassing investigations establishing police incompetence and worse.