Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Pink and Fluffy

Sorry this post is a little late. It's been business as usual: ticking boxes, updating spreadsheets to cover my boss's backside, and being forced to work late shifts even though most of the work happens behind a desk.

The Guardian: Police Officer Shot

So, another British police officer has stopped a bullet fired by a thug brandishing a gun. A scumbag has so little respect for society that, to him, it's acceptable to kill cops. Thankfully the officer survived.

However, why are the streets not filled with people up in arms about this?

That's what happened in 2011, when a man with a history of violence and criminality refused to cooperate with police and was shot by an armed officer who had reason to believe he was in possession of a gun. Most of our violent and drug-dealing criminals then rode the wave of chaos by running amok in the streets.

Policing has its upsides, but it can be a dangerous occupation. Even during my career I have known two colleagues killed on duty.

Part of the problem is that British police officers are expected to be all nice, pink and fluffy. We can't use the robustness that, frankly, is the only thing the worst criminals respect.

We arrest violent offenders, and yet the Crown Prosecution Service is always reluctant to charge unless the evidence is overwhelming.

A colleague recently caught a drug dealer in his house surrounded by crack cocaine and cash, yet the CPS refused authority to charge, telling the officer, “But how can we prove that it belongs to him?”

Tell you what, Mr CPS, how about letting it go to trial and giving the judge and jury a chance to make that decision, instead of you?

There is good reason why we call the CPS the 'Criminal Protection Service'.

Those rare occasions when an offender is actually charged and convicted by a court, he might be awarded a sentence of two years for a knifepoint robbery, but he'll always be out within a year.

The sentence is usually halved, or less, ultimately because of the scarcity of prison space.

The drug dealers know this, and they smile at us in court, tacitly mocking everybody present – the jury, the bench, the police, society.

If it wasn't for the cost of trials, and the entrenched CPS target culture, I could well imagine that the conviction rate would be much greater.

Many is the time I've heard people tell the police that we're useless. Well, I always like to remind them of two things:
  1. We catch nine out of ten murderers.
  2. We put so many behind bars that the prisons have to let them out early.
I am not hopeful for the future safety of the public. One reason is the current police training regime, whereby new police recruits, in the College of Policing, are taught that they should lay hands on a person only as a very last resort.

The reason for this attitude: senior officers' fear of criticism by the media and the public.

If officers go into every situation having already decided that they won't put hands on a person, this creates a serious risk for us. Each person on the streets is an unknown risk to me. If he appears to be concealing something, it could be a knife or gun. It's therefore imperative that I grasp his wrists immediately and, if necessary, handcuff them. Then the person can be searched calmly, without using force, and without him suffering an injury.

This might occasionally upset lobby groups, who like to think that when an innocent person has been stop-searched, something deeply unfair has happened but, if I follow police corporate policy and give the person the benefit of the doubt, it is only a matter of time until I am stabbed.

A police officer will speak with thousands or tens of thousands of people over her career, so it's a numbers game. If you take risks there will be a near certainty that you will eventually be assaulted, injured or killed.

I have been slapped and punched, but fortunately never stabbed. I'm aware of the threat all officers face, so when I'm in uniform on the streets, my eyes continually scan the people around me. We can't afford to ever truly relax, once we've left the safety of the police station.

The responsibility for the disease of this self-deluding pink and fluffy attitude doesn't like only on the shoulders of our senior cops. If the media and the public didn't reflexively criticise the police, but instead supported us, the senior officers wouldn't feel such pressure to create their bizarre policies preventing constables from using force.

Police management are now desperate to replace every experienced cop with a brand new, cheaper, recruit. Response teams and Local Policing Teams seem now to be staffed entirely by 21 year olds. The pink and fluffy disease is now the norm.

Let me paint a picture, so that you might understand some of the people we deal with. In one part of London there is a canal where most nights you will find five or six lads skulking in the shadows. If you are foolish enough to use the towpath, they will jump down and ask, “What have you got for me bruv?”

They'll then punch you and take everything you have. Just for fun, they might slash your face with a knife.

If you're a female they'll instead say, “Walk with me,” and will march you to a bedroom where you'll be raped by each of them.

They'll wear condoms, but not through gentlemanly concern. It's because they know police forensic processes.

To one of these guys, you are no more than an object he can either rob, stab, or insert his penis into.

Meanwhile these people will be running a drugs distribution system that earns them thousands of pounds a week. And when they feel like a change of pace, they'll knock on doors and rob residents at knifepoint.

We identify and arrest them from time to time but, because the Crown Prosecution Service are so ineffective and hidebound, the suspects are more often released than charged.

Being drug dealers, the suspects' mobile phones are seized and their contents downloaded. Officers sort through the data downloaded, and some truly appalling material is often found. There might be footage they've taken themselves, and other little films copied from the internet.

Amongst the media files downloaded from drug dealers' / gang members' mobile phones, we find beatings, rapes, and African warlords executing prisoners by blowing their faces open with shotguns.

Presumably this sort of video titillates London's violent criminals.

The officers who investigate drug dealers have to sort through this kind of material, and it isn't healthy viewing. Likewise material relating to child abuse, animal cruelty and all manner of other human foulness.

Cops are normal people, and at the end of a shift we have to return home to our loved ones and our cats and try to forget about this, even though we know that the next day we will be back in the fray.

This is of course the origin of the famous police black humour, shared also with undertakers and medical professionals. It's also why experienced police officers often display an absence of emotional affect.

To combat this gang drug-dealing and violence, countless hours are spent by cops and council community intervention officers. Police officers visit these gang members weekly to check on their welfare, and to try to draw them away from criminality. The gang member / drug dealers are told:

“We can help you.”

“Is there anything we can offer you?”

The council gives them holidays abroad, recording-studio time, youth club membership, motorcycle maintenance courses and anything else you can imagine. This is called 'Engagement', and is obviously purchased using public money.

Steering groups and committees are formed: Bronze Groups, Youth Intervention Support Panels, and others, where each teenager or twenty-something, is discussed regularly.

We talk about them being 'victims of their circumstances' and 'trapped by their friendship groups.' All the numerous professionals involves are concerned with designing a 'pathway out of criminality.'

These criminals are listed on spreadsheets. They are telephoned daily by numerous professionals: social workers, case workers, psychiatrists, counsellors, child sex-exploitation workers, and others.

Should we really be humouring these criminals with all of our time and resources? Those gang members and drug dealers who genuinely want 'Out' simply make the decision to leave. They don't let their 'friendship groups' trap them.

But as for the others, public money is hurled at them, and all we can do is cross our fingers and hope they will decide to leave their multi-£1000/week lives as drug-dealing gang members.

This is the pink and fluffy nature of 21st century policing in Britain.

I'm not suggesting we should ever use anything other than measured and proportionate force. But really, haven't things gone too far?

No wonder these people laugh at us.