Wednesday, 20 August 2014



The Tories and the Police: Robin Aitken examines the apparent close relationship between the Conservative Party and the police force. A relationship which was cemented with an unprecedented pay rise in the 1970s by Margaret Thatcher. A relationship which has soured over recent years culminating in a damning speech by Theresa May to the Police Federation conference earlier this year. Robin Aitken talks to Conservative politicians who have been key players in the story of this marriage of law and order over the last four decades including former Home Secretaries Ken Clarke and Michael Howard.
Former PC James Patrick, (who exposed the police recorded crime scams) also contributes to the 36 minute BBC radio documentary. Well worth a listen.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Reporter who outed police blogger cautioned

Newspaper claimed it had unmasked 'NightJack' via legal means - but his identity was later found to have been revealed via hacking.

A former Times journalist who admitted illegally hacking into the email account of pseudonymous police blogger NightJack has been given a police caution.

Patrick Foster hacked into the Yahoo account of the highly acclaimed blogger in 2009 to establish that he was Lancashire detective Richard Horton.

Detective Constable Horton went to the High Court to try and prevent the paper from outing him. At the time lawyers for The Times claimed the officer's identify had been uncovered via legal means, and the newspaper subsequently unmasked the detective - leading his force to take disciplinary action against him.

In 2012 Foster was arrested at his home.

Police caution

In a statement released via Twitter, he said: "The past two years of this unnecessarily heavy-handed police investigation have been a nightmare. I have been unemployable, but have had to bear the cost of substantial legal fees. 

"I have co-operated with the seemingly never-ending investigation at all times. In order to bring this regrettable episode to an end I have accepted the offer of a police caution for committing a technical breach of the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

"I cannot say how likely it is that I would have been charged, had I rejected the caution. In 2009, when I committed this technical breach, I was acting on the understanding, common across Fleet Street and amongst journalists and lawyers, that I would be able to rely on a public interest defence. That understanding was wrong."

Operation Tuleta

Gregor McGill, a senior lawyer at the Crown Prosecution Service, said, “In April 2014 the CPS received a file as part of Operation Tuleta. The file concerned allegations against two individuals of perverting the course of justice and perjury, and an additional allegation of unauthorised access to computer material against the second individual.
"In relation to the allegations of perjury and perverting the course of justice, it has been decided that no further action should be taken, as there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for any offence.

“Any decision by the CPS does not imply any finding concerning guilt or criminal conduct; the CPS makes decisions only according to the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and it is applied in all decisions on whether or not to prosecute.

“In relation to the allegation of unauthorised computer access, that individual has been cautioned for an offence contrary to Section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act 1989.

“The evidence was considered carefully in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the DPP’s guidelines on the public interest in cases affecting the media.

“In accepting a caution an individual accepts responsibility for the offending set out.”

Thin Blue Line Comment:-

One of the first and most visited police blogs was authored by a Lancashire Detective, Richard Horton, who in 2008 started blogging under the pseudonym "Nightjack". Recognition for his writings came in the form of the Orwell Prize in February 2009. Richard is the first to admit that some of his posts had taken on a harshly political edge. Winning the award threw him into the spotlight and he lost his cloak of anonymity when the Times newspaper traced him and sent photographers around to his house. The result was that he felt pressured by his force to close the blog and cease his writings.

Pc Stuart Davidson served as an officer in Staffordshire police and his "Coppersblog" site was among the first to expose the problems that had beset UK policing. Blogging as PC David Copperfield, his true identity was discovered by his force and as a result, he felt compelled (or was pushed) to close down the blog and is now a serving police officer in Canada.
In a sad indictment of modern policing, one of the best-known anonymous police bloggers Inspector Gadget quit writing after seven years of sharing an officer's eye view of the world of policing.
This country's police were once the envy of the world; now they struggle to retain the confidence of their own people and have long since lost the support and confidence of the British public. Weighed down by political correctness, burdensome targets, excessive paperwork, non-core police activity and incessant government tinkering, fewer officers than ever are seen on the streets. Everyone knows that policing needs a root and branch overhaul – not the structural reform so beloved of the Labour government, but a cultural rejuvenation that restores to trained professionals the freedom to take their own decisions.
These were the subjects that Gadget, Copperfield & Nightjack focused on. The job they and we loved so much has been eroded so dramatically, it no longer bears any resemblance of the police service that was once so deserving of the world’s respect. Gadget implored the outside world to recognise what was happening to the service in the hope that someone, somewhere, somehow would listen and take steps to returning the service to a world of common sense and justice. He wrote about the malaise affecting the British Justice system, the ridiculous and strangling bureaucracy that pervades in the job to this day, the mindless target driven culture among Chief and senior officers that obstructs frontline and response officers from doing their job moist effectively, the endless fudging of crime statistics and the political interference in the everyday operational duties.
Those close to the Gadget say he grew frustrated at the cuts to the police service and felt he was unable to enact any change through his writing. It is not known whether he was directly warned off by senior officers in his force but he quit at a time when those officers who were tweeting under pseudonyms say they were being intimidated off social media by their bosses.
"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Fran├žois-Marie Arouet a.k.a.Voltaire
Whilst we have not always agreed with everything Inspector Gadget wrote, he made some very relevant, important points. If he was shut down because of paranoia in the upper echelons of policing, this must be seen as a backward step in the honest reforms so badly needed for UK policing. 
"All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke (British Statesman and Philosopher 1729-1797)"
To Quote From Gadget :- My message to the government is this; ignore all the vested interests and the claptrap. Give us some old school traditional police front line leadership and we will deliver where others have failed. Although you might not be able to count it in the same way.

If the leadership of the police cannot bring itself to accept, openly and honestly, that reforms are needed at all levels within the service, then once again, we the British public will be hoodwinked and conned into believing that all in the police garden is rosy, which it clearly is not.

Never has true Leadership been required in the service more than right now. Lord Dear (former Chief Constable of the West Midlands and perhaps one of the last real Leaders in the service) said it so well in his recent Times article.

What the job desperately needs now is Leaders NOT managers. The service doesn't seem to know the difference. Sadly, Leadership is not the only element lacking at the top. Public confidence and that of the troops will never fully return until there is distinct evidence that the Chief Officer standards and qualities are beyond reproach. Over as many months, 18 Chiefs and SMT ranks either disciplined, arrested, or dismissed for unprofessional and even criminal conduct is an indictment of how so many clearly feel they are above the law they are meant to uphold.

How do you instil moral compass values in a hierarchy that doesn't seem to know the difference between crooked and straight?

All Nightjack, Copperfield and Gadget wanted was their beloved police force back to the way it used to be and the public to be the major beneficiaries. Patrick Foster and his ill advised strategy to "out" Nightjack, inadvertently silenced 000's of officers who may have come forward to confirm what we all know is ailing the service. To make matters worse, when Richard Hortons appeal against disclosure case was hear before Justice Eady, no mention was made about how Foster had hacked the e mail account to identify Nightjack. Had this information been disclosed, the outcome for police bloggers may well have been more favourable.

Former PC James Patrick was the first whistle blower to go public shedding any anonymity, exposing the rot in police recorded crime that resulted in PRC losing it's ONS badge of respectability. The met hounded him mercilessly until eventually, he too was forced to leave the job he loved.

Whatever has become of our wonderful service, where some no mark reporter can cause such an avalanche of travesties? The service has always had its issues, but at least the bloggers and whistle blowers act with the best of intentions, to restore the service to its rightfully respected position in society.

Friday, 15 August 2014


The ACPO Ostrich

Reprinted from the Police Oracle'crisis'-claims-dismissed_85076.html

Police leadership 'crisis' claims dismissed

Media and politicians have created a perception of a worsening situation, say commentators.

Public concerns of a perceived "crisis" in police leadership are emerging as the media spotlight focuses on the numbers of chief constables under investigation, it has been claimed. 

Analysts have suggested that press and broadcasters have put the issue firmly on the radar of the public - even though nothing has yet been proven against any individual.
Academic Dr Tim Brain said he feared the altered nature of the role of chief constable - which now makes them far more personally accountable - and the increased pressures of the role are resulting in some gifted candidates to avoid applying for top jobs.

Ongoing investigations

As reported on, two chiefs are currently suspended pending the outcome of probes against them while three others under scrutiny remain on duty.

The latest concerns were raised as local MPs ratcheted up the pressure for Sir Peter Fahy to be suspended after the GMP chief became the latest to find himself under investigation.
The watchdog served the senior officer with a criminal gross misconduct notice over matters relating to an alleged poorly-handled investigation into a suspected sex offender.
Two serving officers and a retired officer are being investigated as part of the same investigation.

But GMP Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has declined to suspend Sir Peter, highlighting that there was currently "no case for asking the chief to stand down".
He has also called for the IPCC to conduct its investigation quickly and thoroughly.

'No crisis'

While accepting that a number of chief constables were under investigatio, Dr Brain - a former chief constable of Gloucestershire - did not believe there was a crisis of leadership.
Dr Brain added: "However, it is true that there is now a crisis of perception out there - and this has been created by a combination of media hype and political momentum.

"Although we know that there are chief constables under investigation, we do not know many details - and we have not been told of any outcomes. It is easy to make an allegation."
Dr Brain said that - in some cases - the allegations against the individuals were made against them while they had been chief constables.

In addition, with IPCC resources stretched, Dr Brain highlighted that officers who were suspended were now faced with months of uncertainty - and careers are suffering as a result.
The academic said that anecdotal evidence suggested some chief officers were shunning top jobs, with recent recruitment exercises attracting few candidates.

New skills

Dr Brain said: "The skills required by a chief constable are now a combination of corporate management - with partnerships and collaboration - while taking on more personal responsibility.

"There is increased scrutiny and greater accountability on the individual - the relationship that they have with PCCs is also very personal and different from that of the police authority."

Meanwhile Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, also denied suggestions in the media that there was a crisis in senior leadership.

Sir Hugh added: “Chief constables are required to make difficult, complex decisions daily, often under extreme pressure. Making these decisions involves balancing risk and acting on the information available with the intention of protecting the public.

“The five chief constables under investigation are all very different cases. It would be wrong to suggest that they are evidence of a crisis in police leadership.  

"These cases demonstrate that our system is effective at investigating complaints and transparently holding police to account."


ACPO as an organization and as a collective of those most senior in the service, has been on the ropes for too long, both financially and in terms of its integrity as a so called professional body. The rank and file have lost all confidence in them. The public and media mistrust them. Accusations of scurrilous disloyal conduct have been too many and too visible to ignore. The Coalition merely tolerated them. The Conservative Shadow cabinet under David Camerons direction accused ACPO of giving “political cover to the Labour Government repeatedly and consistently” and engaging in “gratuitous photocalls” with Gordon Brown and other ministers. It went on to say it “showed almost no criticism of the current Government”.


If ACPO had been allowed to continue, despite their weak protestations to the contrary, the "Us and Them" culture would pervade and decimate the service. Many times this has been evidenced in the private sector, where powerful Governing bodies have been able to "divide and conquer" opposing views from organisations. The police service is no different. Whilst ACPO played the political game, (yet all the time insisting they want to rid the service of politicisation), every Government used the division between the ranks as a lever to extract what THEY want from the situation. Only when the division no longer exists and the service is once again united, will it regain its strength and bargaining power.

It is totally right that the combined experience of police leadership should be utilised to add value and optimise the service provided to the public and the rank and file. However, any ACPO MkII must look to proactively avoid the horrendous historical mistakes of the past.

Anyone that declares the leadership is not in crisis is guilty of the ostrich mentality typical of Chief Officers of recent years. Bury their heads, pretend it isn't happening and DENY, DENY, DENY!

Lord Dear, former West Midlands Chief Constable had it right with his letter to the Times. To quote "Not so long ago misconduct by a senior police officer was rare and newsworthy. Not Now.

Too many top-rank officers are in trouble in the courts and serious doubts are being cast about the trustworthiness of the service at all levels – the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 disturbances, Plebgate, phone-hacking, Hillsborough, the apparent politicisation of the Police Federation and so on. Certainly the police can point to falling crime rates and great success in preventing further terrorist attacks since 7/7, but their response too often appears to be disconnected from what the public expect.

The basic problem is leadership. The service has created, trained and promoted to its top ranks managers, rather than leaders. The roots of this go deep, certainly to a decision taken at the Police Staff College in the early 1990s to drop the focus on leadership on the grounds that it was “divisive and elitist” and concentrate instead on management. The police, like much of the public sector, remain preoccupied with the management ethic, ignoring the words of Viscount Slim p a noted leader in both the army and the commercial world – that “managers are necessary, leaders are essential”.

Hardly surprising that Sir Hugh Orde vociferously defended the ACPO ranks, turkeys don't vote for Christmas and they have too much at stake personally, with gold plated pensions, whopping salaries with all the frills and their glorious fiefdoms to protect.

Is the leadership in crisis? Ask the public and the rank and file who were unanimously critical of their leaders in recent surveys. 

And Oracle Readers added:-

Sir Hugh added: “Chief constables are required to make difficult, complex decisions daily, often under extreme pressure. Making these decisions involves balancing risk and acting on the information available with the intention of protecting the public, WHILE SITTING AT A DESK, while the lads and lasses(particularly firearms officers)have to make similar decisions out on the streets, on the hoof, they don't have solicitors and advisors with them when they make those decisions. Could Fahy please tell us which great complex decision he had to make recently, whilst under great pressure.

5 out of 43 under investigation that is about 12% if 12% of constables were under investigation it would be a crisis.

I was wondering how long it would be before some media spin appeared. Here it is.

Well, I have to be honest. When ACPO are getting served papers at the rate they are, I see it as a crisis. In know the fed had a vote of no confidence in ACPO a while ago. If the same percentage of officers were getting papers, I have no doubts ACPO would view this as a crisis. The difference being a PC wouldn't get the PCC speaking out in their support or asking for a proportionate investigation. The PC would be left to fend for themselves.

When I was an officer the more senior the officer in the witness box (Sergeant/Inspector), the stronger the case. Thankfully you don't see too many ACPO officers in the witness box!!!!

The recent increase of ACPO officers under investigation is just symptomatic of the people now filling these posts. They are too close to Politicians, Media and Personalities and care too much about QPM's and knighthoods. They are nothing like the old Chief's who steered clear of the 'P's'......Press, Politians, Politicians.....and now PCC's

Ask yourself if everyone above the rank of inspector didn't come to work for a month would the front line, where the workers are, even notice?
The answer is NO.
The job gets done regardless of these ranks.
Now ask if PC's Sgt's and Inspectors didn't come to work for one day what would happen?
Think we all know.


David PAGE
User Group Expander (Part-time contract) at University of Warwick

I share your concern, if not dismay with the current police leadership. Personally I would not give them the title leaders.

How can the profession have a senior ACPO officer subect to an investigation in a serious miscarriage of justice case get a promotion and then another - whilst CPS ponder if a prosecution is warranted? Would this happen to an officer outside the ranks of ACPO?

The recent news that a small, significant number of ACPO are being investigated; with two chief constables suspended, is "another nail in the coffin".

Part of the problem with the leadership of the police service is that the Home Office, ACPO and a few others have created a mould for leadership which produces managers first. Men and women who do not inspire those they command. Who often use various forms of bullying and spite against those who disagree with them. As for their attitude towards "whistle blowers" just look at PC James Patrick, now ex-MPS.

I do not doubt they have hard decisions to make, although whether those are daily operational decisions is a moot point.

Anyway what does the public think? YouGov polling gives a clue. have look at:

Polling found in October 2013 the % who trust the following to tell the truth:
Local police officers 66%
Senior police officers 48%

So yes there is a crisis. Just don't expect any answers to come from ACPO. Nor the politicians, who scored even lower in the polling.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Police Reform — Theresa May Statement heard in House of Lords

Pretender to the throne?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Conservative)

My Lords, with the leave of the House I will now repeat a Statement on police reform that was given earlier today in the House of Commons by my right honourable friend Theresa May, the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about our ongoing work to ensure the highest standards of integrity in the police. I have always been clear that I believe the vast majority of police officers in this country do their job honestly, and with integrity. They fight crime in our villages, towns and cities. They deal with dangerous criminals, strive to protect the vulnerable, keep our streets safe and have shown that they can cut crime even as we cut spending. Under this Government, crime is down by more than 10% since the election, proving that it is possible to do more with less. But as I have said before, the good work of the majority threatens to be damaged by a continuing series of events and revelations relating to police conduct.

That is why, over the last 18 months, the Government have been implementing a series of changes to improve standards of police integrity. The College of Policing has published a new code of ethics, which makes clear the high standards of behaviour that are expected from all police officers. A national list of police officers’ pay and rewards, gifts and hospitality is now published online, and their final list of business interests will be published for the first time later this summer. A national register of officers struck off from the police has been produced and made available to vetting and anti-corruption officers in police forces. The Government will legislate later this year to ensure that officers cannot resign or retire to avoid dismissal in misconduct hearings. We have beefed up the Independent Police Complaints Commission so that, in future, it can take on all serious and sensitive cases involving the police. In addition to these specific measures, many of our other police reforms—the creation of the College of Policing; direct entry into the senior ranks; the election of police and crime commissioners; the changes to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary—will make a positive difference when it comes to police integrity.

Since I began the Government’s programme of work to improve public confidence in the police, further events and revelations have reinforced the need for reform. We have had reports on the misuse of stop and search, and the poor police response to domestic violence. We have had the findings of the Ellison review, which examined allegations of corruption during the initial deeply flawed investigation of the murder of

Stephen Lawrence. We have had Sir David Normington’s review into the Police Federation, which recommended change ‘from top to bottom’.

The measures we have introduced are vital, but we cannot stop there, so I want to tell the House about my plans for further change. I want to open up policing to the brightest and best recruits. The Government have already introduced direct entry to open up the senior ranks of the police and bring in people with new perspectives and expertise. In London, the Metropolitan Police received 595 applications for between five and 10 direct-entry superintendent posts. Some 26% of the applicants were from a black or minority ethnic background, compared with 8.6% of traditional recruits, and 27% were female. In addition, using seed funding that I announced at the Police Federation conference in May, the Metropolitan Police is setting up “Police Now”, the policing equivalent of Teach First, which will attract the brightest graduates into policing. However, I want to go further. The College of Policing will undertake a fundamental review of police leadership. The review will look at: how we can go further and faster with direct entry; how we can encourage officers to gain experience outside policing before returning later in life; and how we can open up the senior ranks to candidates from different backgrounds. The review will start immediately.

In addition to these reforms, I also want to ensure that the systems and processes that deal with misconduct by police officers are robust. That means, where there are cases of wrongdoing, they must be dealt with effectively, and, where necessary, appropriate disciplinary action must be taken. In March I announced I would be creating a new offence of police corruption through the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, but this alone is not enough. The police disciplinary system is complex. It has developed organically rather than been structured to fit its purpose. It lacks transparency for the public, it is bureaucratic and it lacks independence.

So today I can tell the House that we will be reviewing the whole police disciplinary system from beginning to end. This review will be chaired by Major-General Clive Chapman, an experienced, independent and respected former Army officer, and I want it to draw on best practice from the private and public sectors. I have asked Major-General Chapman to look for ways to ensure that the disciplinary system is clearer, more independent and public focused. I intend to consult publicly on the policies that emerge from the review later this year. In addition to the review, I want to make some specific changes to the police disciplinary system. In particular, I want to hold disciplinary hearings in public to improve transparency and justice. I will launch a public consultation on these proposals later this year.

In my Statement on the Ellison review on 6 March, I said I would return to the House with proposals to strengthen protections for police whistleblowers. Police officers and police staff need to know that they can come forward in complete confidence to report wrongdoing by their colleagues. So the Government will create a single national policy for police forces on whistleblowing to replace the current patchwork approach. This will set out the best principles and practices on whistleblowing, and ensure consistency of approach

across all forces. Following the publication of HMIC’s integrity inspection, I am prepared to consider putting the whistleblowers’ code on a statutory basis. We will also require forces to publish more information on the number of conduct issues raised by officers and the action taken as a result. From 2015 onwards, the Home Office will collect and publish data about conduct and complaints brought by police officers and police staff about their colleagues. But I still want to go further, so in the autumn I will launch a public consultation on police whistleblowing. The consultation will look at a range of new proposals to protect police whistleblowers. For example, I want to consider how we can introduce sealed investigations—which prevent both the force and suspects learning that an investigation is taking place—into serious misconduct and corruption by police officers.

I also want to take an in-depth look at the police complaints system. Last year, I announced reforms to the IPCC to ensure that all serious and sensitive cases are dealt with by the IPCC. This included the transfer of resources from the police to the IPCC and measures to ensure that the IPCC has the right capacity to deal with demand. As I told the College of Policing conference in October, this work is on track and the IPCC will begin to take on additional cases this year. But now is the time to build on those reforms. Public satisfaction surveys on the handling of complaints show that satisfaction levels remain consistently low. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, less than a quarter of those who complain to the police are satisfied with the outcome of their complaint. The overall number of complaints being handled independently is still far too low. This year, a review undertaken by Deborah Glass, the former deputy chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, found that 94% of cases referred to the IPCC in 2012 were referred back to be dealt with by the police.

Police and crime commissioners are locally developing new and innovative approaches to police complaints. In Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld has announced a complaints, integrity and ethics committee to provide scrutiny on how the force handles complaints. In Greater Manchester, Tony Lloyd has appointed an independent complaints ombudsman to resolve complaints before they become part of the complaints system. We need the police complaints system to keep up with the changes we have seen in police structures, to reflect the changes made locally by PCCs and chief constables, and to meet public expectations. So today I will launch a review of the entire police complaints system, including the role, powers and funding of the IPCC and the local role played by police and crime commissioners. The review will look at the complaints system from end to end, examining the process every step of the way and for all complaints from the most minor to the most serious. The review will commence immediately and conclude in the autumn this year. It will include a public consultation on proposals for a system that is more independent of the police, easier for the public to follow, more focused on resolving complaints locally, and has a simpler system of appeals.

The measures that I have announced today will ensure that we are able to examine the entire approach to cases of misconduct, improper behaviour and

corruption. But in working to ensure the highest standards of police integrity, I want to leave no stone unturned. This year, I commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to carry out a review of anti-corruption capability in police forces. HMIC is also carrying out an inspection of police integrity as part of its planned programme of inspections for 2014-2015. In addition, I have agreed with the chief inspector that HMIC’s new programme of annual inspections of all police forces, which will begin later this year, will look not only at a force’s effectiveness and efficiency but at its legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Every annual inspection will therefore include an examination as to whether each force’s officers and staff act with integrity.

Together these measures represent a substantial overhaul of the systems that hold police officers to account. They will build on our radical programme of police reform and they will help to ensure that police honesty and integrity are protected, and that corruption and misconduct are rooted out. That is what the public and the many thousands of decent, dedicated and hardworking police officers of this country deserve. I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

And some interesting responses...

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour)

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement. Most of us at some point in our lives have contact with the police: as witnesses—not as victims, we hope—reporting a crime; and in their community role, which at its best is excellent and at its worst is minimal. At its best the British police are rightly held in national and international high regard. They are praised by communities and they encourage and justify public confidence.

However, we have also seen evidence of policing going wrong, when its integrity cannot be relied on and public confidence is not justified. Issues such as the Hillsborough disaster and the investigation into Stephen Lawrence’s murder—and the appalling police actions following those shocking events—make it clear that a new framework is needed. The IPCC has too often done too little too late.

From talking to police officers, it is clear that they themselves feel the criticism of their profession more acutely than anyone else, because all the professionalism and integrity on which they pride themselves is undermined by the actions of a minority. We have already initiated a review of ensuring stronger actions on standards in policing. The noble Lord, Lord Stevens, led the independent commission that made a number of recommendations: a new stronger police standards authority, replacing the IPCC and HMIC with the power to initiate investigations; chartered registration for all police; ability to strike officers from the register; and high professional and ethical standards for all officers.

I had hoped that we would have seen some of those issues incorporated in today’s Statement and an indication that some action is taking place. Instead we are going to have a review of the police disciplinary system and a public consultation on disciplinary hearings; as well as the existing Ellison review we are going to have

another consultation on whistleblowing; we have got a review on police leadership; and we have a review on the police complaints system, including a review of the IPCC and the role of the police and crime commissioners. Just to confirm in case I have got it wrong, I count that as three reviews and four consultations. I am not necessarily against these reviews in areas in which we want to see progress, but so many reviews and consultations are a poor excuse for little or delayed action. How many reviews do the Government need to tell them that the IPCC is not working and that a piecemeal, sticking plaster approach to reform is not what is needed?

The Statement begs far more questions than it gives answers. We shall come to some of them today but I hope that at some point we can have a longer debate on this issue. I am sorry that I find the Statement disappointing. It does not give me confidence that the Government will tackle the failures in the system with any sense of urgency or understand the scale of reform that is needed. So many reviews seem to indicate that the plan is to kick reform into the long grass well beyond the next election. The public and the police deserve better.

Yesterday in the Moses Room we debated the Government’s proposals relating to the by-election following the tragic and untimely death of Bob Jones, the police and crime commissioner in the West Midlands. Despite some worthy candidates and officeholders, there is little interest in and support for the role of the PCCs, with humiliating turnouts—just 14% across the country—in the 2012 elections. The cost of those elections, and the by-election in August, would have paid for hundreds of police officers at a time when every police force is facing swingeing cuts. One has to ask whether this is value for money.

I am sure the noble Lord has spoken to police officers, as I have. They have told me that the thin blue line is getting thinner and thinner. They feel they are unable to do their job as they want to and should be able to. The reforms that we and they expect seem no nearer with so many reviews and consultations. Those delays hit their morale, especially when they see convictions falling.

For example, in my home county of Essex, the investigation into the Colchester murders is drawing officers away from other parts of the country. They are having to leave the policing and investigations in their areas to undertake mutual assistance in Essex to ensure that they can effectively investigate these dreadful murders and police the area in Colchester. I have been told that this has meant that some officers have been on permanent 12-hour shifts for three weeks. That has taken its toll.

I do not know whether the Minister has seen the sickness figures for Essex but, in 2009-10, Essex Police lost 27,654 days to sickness. In the last year to April 2014, with fewer officers in Essex Police, that has risen to a staggering 41,251 days. Is the Minister as shocked and as worried as I am that the sickness levels in the Essex Police—and I have no reason to expect that Essex is different to anywhere else—have risen so dramatically since this Government have been in office?

We are right to expect the highest standards from the police, but does the Minister agree that the police also have a right to expect the highest standards from the Government in tackling police reform issues more quickly and in making effective use of resources?


Lord Dear (Crossbench)

My Lords, I welcome the Statement. I endorse its subject matter and I am delighted to see leadership mentioned. It does not get a bold headline but it is in there and Members of your Lordships’ House will know that I have pressed that subject before. The fact that leadership needs ventilation by attachment to outside bodies is well taken. I have two questions for the Minister: one on leadership and one on another matter. Does he agree that, with good-quality, robust, visible leadership, all the issues of probity, ethics, due process, professionalism and so on are almost superfluous because they would flow naturally from it? Without good quality leadership, any of the things I have enumerated would struggle to succeed. Leadership, therefore, needs not only to be endorsed, as it is in the report, but lifted to the top of the list, together with a proper career path for those who are recruited into the service with those attributes. Will leadership be one of a number of issues or is it going to be one of the prime issues that will lead the rest through?

Secondly, if leadership is a key to the door, this is surely a door with at least two locks. We have talked about the first metaphorically. The second key to the door is the structure of the police service. There is nothing in the list we have heard today on structure. There is a balance to be struck which is, sadly, out of kilter at the moment. Wherever I go in the police service or whenever I talk to the many people who are outside the service but interested in it, the question is always why we do not have a national force or a regional force; there are too many forces. I take no view on that other than it needs addressing. I am a great believer in loyalty to cap-badge and locality but the fact that we have the National Crime Agency at one end and police and crime commissioners at the other means there is a great gulf in the middle. So my question to the Minister is: will there additionally be an in-depth review, perhaps along the lines of what has been mentioned in the Stevens report, of the whole structure of the British police service, in which leadership and everything else can flourish?

Well said Lord Dear. As we have said many times from these pages, it is the poor overall Leadership quality within the service that lies at the root of the problems with British policing.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

ACPO Mk1 - R.I.P.

"The best leaders inspire by example. When that is not an option, brute intimidation works pretty well too"
So, it has finally come to pass, that ACPO will be no more...
Readers of these pages will know that we have not been the greatest fans of the ACPO boys club.
The Police Oracle this morning reports:-
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) will be scrapped and replaced with a new co-ordinating body following a ballot of senior officers.

In a statement following a three-week ballot of its membership, the Association said chief officers voted overwhelmingly in favour of the change following a review by General Sir Nick Parker.

The new body will be hosted in – but remain independent of – a lead police force.

An ACPO statement confirmed that just under 65 per cent of chief officers voted in the ballot. An implementation group is now addressing key issues such as developing an operating model, the process for electing a leader, future funding and a new name.

Progress over the change will be discussed at Chief Constables’ Council on July 17-18 and the Association will continue to provide national leadership until the new body is formed.

The statement added: “The coordinating body will help police cut crime and keep the public safe, by joining up the operational response to the most serious and strategic threats.

“Focusing on operational delivery and developing national approaches on issues such as finance, technology and human resources, it will work closely with the College of Policing, which is responsible for developing professional standards.”

The statement added that ACPO’s “core role” of co-ordinating operational policing and agreeing national approaches would be transferred into the new organisation.

The functions of the body will include co-ordination of national operations, delivery of counter terrorist policing and mobilising a national police response across borders.

It will also ensure operational delivery of standards and policy, working with the College of Policing on developing joint national approaches on areas such as criminal justice and human resources.

ACPO President Sir Hugh Orde said: “This is a very positive step and is to be welcomed.

“The Police Service needs its leaders to have a strong coordinating body to help ensure forces work together in the most efficient way possible to keep safe the citizens we serve.

“The change from our current arrangements to those which have been voted in by police leaders will ensure that the expertise of our chief officers is couched in a body which provides not only the best service for our forces but the best service and value for the public.”


The demise of ACPO will not be enough to start the restoration of confidence in the leadership as a group. There must be a definite change in culture if any successor organisation is not to be tainted with the same flaws.

As we approach the end of the ACPO MkI era we should remind ourselves of the challenges that will face ACPO MkII.

ACPO is a self-serving Lobby Group
Many of Labour’s policing laws that remain a legacy were effectively written by ACPO and designed to serve the interests of ACPO’s elite against the interests of the taxpayer. The Criminal Justice and Police Act (2001) is a prime example: under this legislation, ACPO staff—and remember ACPO is a private company—became entitled to expensive gold-plated civil service pension.

Their lobbying also extended to powergrabs: the Police and Justice Act (2006) mandates ACPO Ltd must be consulted prior to changes in certain police powers. The codes regarding PACE may only be modified with ACPO consultation.
ACPO has millions in cash at the bank and has an income of approximately £10 million per year. It has various commercial activities: it accredits burglar alarms, sells (and promotes) its own accreditation service for the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme and makes a profit each year in excess of £300,000 by holding an annual conference.

ACPO also has a sizeable property empire but refuses to say how large it is. It is known that a small subdivision of ACPO—the Terrorism & Allied Matters Committee—spent £1.3 million on luxury apartments for its members.
ACPO is highly political

Police officers are forbidden by law from joining a political party and diligently avoid accusations of political bias. The same cannot be said of Chief Police Officers and ACPO.
In an interview on Radio 4′s Today, the President of ACPO, Sir Hugh Orde, threatened to resign if Conservative Plans for elected Chief Constables became law.

In 2007, then-President of ACPO Ken Jones spoke out in support of the Government plans–opposed by the Conservatives–to increase precharge detention beyond 28 days.
This lead to the Conservatives writing in a private election note of ACPO giving “political cover to the Labour Government repeatedly and consistently” and engaging in “gratuitous photocalls” with Gordon Brown and other ministers. It goes on to say it “shows almost no criticism of the current Government”.
ACPO is a Secretive Private Company
ACPO president Sir Hugh Orde has acknowledged that its role as a private company was “uncomfortable” and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, the police watchdog, has said its ‘status as a private limited company ‘cannot continue’.

Despite receiving much public funding, responsible for senior appointments in quangos and helping the state draft legislation, ACPO is immune to Freedom of Information laws and is not bound by the usual rules of the civil service, despite receiving many of its perks.
ACPO using the Home Office and the media to deflect attention away from their own nefarious conduct, submitted a secret document to the Home Secretary suggesting, among forty-nine recommendations, that the pay and conditions of the federated ranks be dramatically slashed. 
ACPO that conveniently didn’t tell the Police Federation that they had submitted the document, leaving no opportunity to consult with the rank and file representative body. It was ACPO that met with the Police Federation and the Superintendents’ Association, pleading for unity to resist the Government’s plans for elected commissioners to replace police authorities – after they had submitted their plans. 
ACPO showed arrogant disregard for the welfare and views of the policing frontline, that they are out to protect their own individual interests before anyone else, including the front line officers and the general public they are supposed to serve. 
ACPO have apparently stated that they believed incentive bonuses to show reduced crime and increased detections to be divisive. Intriguing that the now disgraced police recorded crime statistics have not led to any officer handing back the bonuses paid out on the back of fiddled crime figures.(Despite the fact that many senior officers took bonuses without complaint for many years anyway!). If anyone should know the definition of the word 'devisive" it is those ACPO officers who have participated in this scurrilous, deceitful, secretive act of outright betrayal.
As a group, ACPO have shown that they cannot be trusted to stand alone as the authoritive voice of British policing. Any organisation that fails to listen to the views of its root and branch staff, those who experience the real problems and use their initiative to overcome them, is destined to lose the confidence of their 'customer', in this case the British public. 
Senior Officers and the rank and file must be reconciled as one service. It must not be acceptable that the Federation hear about important decisions from leaked documents or other sources. They must be a visible part of the process, not merely an afterthought. 
This will take a monumental shift of culture from the Chief Officers, to accept that this is an essential element in achieving reforms that will last. If they fail to do this, this Government and the next will spend its administration umpiring the contrary view of ACPO and the frontline.
ACPO as an organization has been on the ropes for too long, both financially and in terms of its integrity as a so called professional body. The rank and file have lost all confidence in them. The public and media mistrust them. Accusations of scurrilous disloyal conduct have been too many and too visible to ignore. The Coalition merely tolerated them. The Conservative Shadow cabinet under David Camerons direction accused ACPO of giving “political cover to the Labour Government repeatedly and consistently” and engaging in “gratuitous photocalls” with Gordon Brown and other ministers. It went on to say it “showed almost no criticism of the current Government”. 
If ACPO had been allowed to continue, despite their weak protestations to the contrary, the "Us and Them" culture would pervade and decimate the service. Many times this has been evidenced in the private sector, where powerful Governing bodies have been able to "divide and conquer" opposing views from organisations. The police service is no different. Whilst ACPO played the political game, (yet all the time insisting they want to rid the service of politicisation), every Government used the division between the ranks as a lever to extract what THEY want from the situation. Only when the division no longer exists and the service is once again united, will it regain its strength and bargaining power. 

It is totally right that the combined experience of police leadership should be utilised to add value and optimise the service provided to the public and the rank and file. However, any ACPO MkII must look to proactively avoid the horrendous historical mistakes of the past.
Will they resist the temptation to make those mistakes again? We won't hold our breath.

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