Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Increasing Ethnic Diversity By Narrowing The Pool Of Applicants!?

The Guardian: Met police bans recruits from outside London

Sir Bernard has decided to allow only applicants to the Met who have lived in London for three of the previous six years. In essence he is trying to restrict applicants to London only. He wants a greater proportion of London residents in the force.

This follows his action a year ago, taking away the travel concession from new recruits to encourage applications from London residents. His claimed justification for these actions is that they will increase the number of Metropolitan Police constables from ethnic backgrounds.

This makes no sense whatsoever. Surely, if you want diversity you must attract applicants from as far and wide as possible? How can reducing the pool of applicants possibly help?

I have several colleagues who arrived in the UK from other nations, some very distant non-white countries, notably in the Caribbean and Indian Oceans, Africa and Poland. English wasn't their first language, but they nevertheless joined the Met straight off the plane. However, under this new recruitment policy they wouldn't now be able to apply. And yet Sir Bernard states that his new policy will increase ethnic diversity.

Met officers who live outside London probably know the city better than many residents, but wouldn't be eligible to apply, if they weren't already in the job.

I know officers who appear to be white Anglo-Saxon, but actually have international parentage – one has French and Egyptian ancestry. He has never lived in London and so wouldn't now be able to apply.

Sir Bernard implies that those of us whose appearance is white Anglo-Saxon aren't capable of policing ethnic communities. That is ridiculous and insulting. What have we been doing all these years?

There are simply endless ways to argue that Sir Bernard's latest brainchild is absurd nonsense, but the real point is that this diversity-based justification is a lie. An insulting lie because of its underlying presumption that constables and the public alike are stupid.

In the 21st century any reasoning that can in some way be attached to the notion of diversity, no matter how implausible, is used to gain a degree of credibility. It's to this bandwagon that we see Metropolitan Police senior officers hitch their fortunes time and again.

Disappointingly, large organisations always behave in the same way: there are the stated objectives, and the REAL objectives.

What is the real motivation? : the Met wants an excuse to withdraw the railway concession and so save money. Diminishing numbers of officers resident outside London will eventually allow them to take it away. But this cost is a burden the Met need never have incurred: the concession was brought in a decade ago because the MPS wasn't able to hold on to its officers: they couldn't afford to live in London and left for county police forces. The railway companies offered it to police officers for free, but the Met management insisted to paying something. The fee has since increased and now the Met doesn't want to pay it.

However, the officers of several county forces bordering London, such as Thames Valley, are granted free travel into London simply because their federations simply asked for it. This benefits both the officers and the railways companies. See my post discussing how the police provide free security on trains:

Commuting Officers Provide Free Security On Railways

Given that salaries have been frozen for three years and pension contributions are the highest in the public sector at 14%, guess what will happen when our travel concession disappears? Officers will leave the Met and transfer out to county forces again – as was normal in the 1990s. Deja vu!

Why is it senior officers can never think through the likely consequences of their actions?

If the MPS doesn't have enough ethnic minority officers, it must logically be because either they aren't applying or they aren't passing the recruitment process. Either way, narrowing the pool of applicants isn't going to solve the problem.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

New Trick For Massaging The Stop-and-Search Figures

I know of a highly productive hard-working officer, renowned for his success in taking drug dealers and burglars off the streets. Met commanders recently summoned him to Scotland Yard – not to thank him, or perhaps to request he spread his skills through a training package – but for a telling off.

They impressed upon him that he must reduce his search figures, explaining: “it's upsetting the community.”

That's fine, but how about a consistent story? Our sergeants and inspectors still push us for performance indicators: they demand arrests, penalty tickets and searches. They create naming-and-shaming lists.

Sir Bernard has introduced regular Met-wide operations purely for the purpose of generating statistics for the media – Op Cubo and Op Big Wing, for example – where the purpose is simply to arrest as many as possible, then send out a press release the next day, saying what a great job the Met's doing.

On the one hand, the Met tells the public and the media that it is striving to reduce the numbers of searches, whereas away from the public eye the team managers constantly harass the officers for ever more arrests and searches.

County forces and the Met have recently developed a number of clever strategies to reduce their stop-search figures. The background is that the senior officers – Sir Bernard primarily – are running scared after the most recent round of police-bashing, when media attention focused on claims of excessive stop-and-search.

As usual, senior officers have put no effort into finding a genuine solution – perhaps reducing the number of searches, or better targeting? – but into changing the way searches are counted.

If this doesn't feel like deja vu please read my posts about the figure-fiddling techniques commonly used by police management:

Meaningless UK Crime Statistics

Arbitrary Crime Recording

Part of a recent training session was used to indoctrinate us with senior management's latest idea for improving public satisfaction. Let me explain.

The most common search power is s.1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), used in searching for weapons, stolen items or equipment used for breaking into a property, or under s23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act for drugs.

Our new instructions from management are quite specific: we mustn't ever use our s.1 or s.23 search powers to search. Instead we should arrest the person then carry out a search. If we find nothing, we de-arrest the person. The key here is that the search while under arrest draws on the power of s.32 of PACE, (not s.1 or s.23) and therefore doesn't count as a 'stop-search'.

Clever eh? There might soon be a great deal of unlawful arresting, but at least the stop-search figures will come down. I'm sure the police bosses hope for a reprieve, before the fact of this latest trick leaks out. How stupid do they think the public and the media are?

It seems that Sir Bernard wants this trick used nationally, as county forces have recently introduced exactly the same fiddle.

Let's recap: officers are still given individual performance targets, and driven by these to search as many members of the public as possible. However, management is trying to not count them as 'searches' by having us arrest instead. Isn't this abusing our power of arrest, and treating people's liberty with contempt – using it to help management protect themselves from criticism?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Another Constable Sacked For Tweeting

The Professional Standards department of Avon and Somerset Police have outdone themselves, falling far below the standards of decent society:
  1. Is it right and proper that PC Tony Ryan can be sacked even though Avon and Somerset Police can't prove he wrote these tweets?
  2. Can it be right that police senior can punish one of their employees simply because somebody criticises them online, hurting their feelings?
  3. Is it right to sack an officer for personal opinions expressed off-duty?
Is it only me who feels these police executives are too secure in their ivory towers? Many of them should probably be sacked, and their pensions removed, for their roles in turning the police service into a target-driven absurdity in the course of feathering their own nests.

I agree that tweeted invective like 'garbage' and 'slime' isn't helpful and doesn't contribute to valid debate. However, a few hundred tweets is only a drop in the ocean of Tweetspace. Every day billions of tweets are sent, many criticising all manner of things in society. If police senior officers believe anybody takes notice of a few that criticise them, they have a delusional high opinion of themselves.

These bosses will have to get used to criticism. They've certainly invited it. Their incompetence and venality give officers and the public good reason to be upset and there's little point sticking their thumbs in the leaking dam.

Avon and Somerset Police says the tweets 'undermine confidence in the police'. This is a misleading lie. There are numerous real reasons for the undermining of public confidence:
  1. Bosses terrified adherence to performance targets, in defiance of the Home Secretary's direct order.
  2. Bosses obsession with their own promotions,
  3. Closure of police stations.
But, the main point remains: PC Ryan offered his mobile phone, laptop and email account to his bosses in order to prove his innocence, but Avon and Somerset Professional Standards refused. They denied PC Ryan the opportunity to prove his innocence.

These managers believe themselves so far above the law – have they never heard of 'Unfair dismissal'? Any person in this position would be well within his right to take Avon and Somerset to the cleaners in an employment tribunal. However, there is an ace that police bosses always hold: cops are not 'employees', but officers of the crown, therefore we do not have the same protection of normal employees. Nevertheless, no court could surely hold that Tony's dismissal is acceptable?

Let's hope the Police Appeal Tribunal rectify this disgraceful situation, and cause Avon and Somerset bosses the embarrassment they deserve.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Problem Replying To Comments

Dear readers, thanks very much for reading and for those who have written comments, I'm really grateful for your thoughts.

I haven't so far been able to get the widget working that allows me to reply to your comments. Guys I certainly do want to reply to your comments, so please bear with me.

Whom Do We Serve?

I recently saw a front page advertisement in a local newspaper for Adult Education courses. An email address was given so, interested in IT, I sent an enquiry. The response was:

'Error - mailbox unavailable'. 

I tried a second time, but, yes – the email address was wrong. So, how much business will they lose because of their lack of interest in getting that simple detail correct?

That problem was caused by the fact that civil servants' customers are not the public – the council officer working in adult education is responsible not to the people taking the courses, but to other civil servants. Surely the police has a very similar problem?

Who is our boss? :

1. The mayor's office pays our wages.

2. The Commissioner is our ultimate line manager.

3. The Home Secretary creates policy and the police is within her portfolio.

4. Like soldiers, officers swear oaths to the Queen.

5. The police senior management regularly prostrate themselves before the newspapers, like spineless supplicants, and vow to make whatever changes the media imply is necessary.

6. The performance indicators determine our actions and the level of criticism from our managers.

7. Lastly, it's only the public who actually need and want us.

Of course, it's the public to whom we feel responsible, and yet we are accountable to all these other bodies and persons listed above, all of whom feel entitled to direct us. We are pulled and pushed in many directions and continually given mixed messages. The public and the media have been told there are no individual targets, but that is a lie, as everybody knows.

Sir Bernard, Mrs May, etcetera, could you please discuss amongst yourselves and resolve this problem, then leave us alone and allow us to serve the public?