Sunday, 24 January 2016

Met Cops Are Taught No Criminal Law

The Metropolitan Police – the one that all the others look up to, right?

It seems that almost any absurdity you can imagine has been perpetrated by the Metropolitan Police. Conjure something crazy to mind, and well...the Met management has probably already implemented it...quietly...

Especially if it saves money in the short-term.

So what's the latest?

Until recently student officers spent their first year, on and off, learning law and procedure. In my day it was a twelve week residential course followed by six months of intermittent courses. We were totally immersed in learning during that period.

And there's a lot of material – I had to absorb something like the contents of a six inch pile of A4 paper. Some people actually failed the exams.

And what is it like today, dare we ask? My friend Steven has recently been through the process at world-famous Hendon.

“On the first day,” he told me, “the instructor said 'Don't expect any input on criminal law.'

“Those were the first words that came out of the instructor's mouth.”

“We weren't exactly impressed,”
he continued. “What then followed was weeks on victim care, diversity, and a whole load of other nonsense likely to be useless on the streets.”

“We were told that as specials we should already know the legislation, even though we were taught less than half of the relevant material in our special training. As a special I worked only two or three shifts each month, and needless to say, I used very little of that knowledge. The staff even admitted that this was poor, but told us 'Shut up and get on with it. You chose to be here.'”

Steven told me that there is even talk of offering specials direct entry into the regulars – with no extra training:

You've done two hundred hours as a volunteer. Well done! Here is a proper warrant card. You're now a full-time constable.


I would hope that police officers know their powers – that they know when they can and can't arrest, otherwise, what is the point? Will we see a rise in arbitrary arrests for made-up offences? By junior officers who aren't certain of their powers?

It would appear that Met senior management have twigged that most applicants are former specials – volunteers – who must have received a rudimentary coaching in the basics of criminal law (theft, assaults, criminal damage), although years before.

Sir Bernard and his entourage have realised that this might be an opportunity to save a few pennies on training.

Bringing specials in directly, with zero extra training, would certainly reduce costs.

From the point of view of senior management, it makes sense to emphasize diversity and victim care, and de-emphasize the need to know your grounds to arrest.


Because arresting criminals is a source of criticism and complaints. And police bosses cannot abide criticism.

Prisoners routinely claim they have been assaulted, wrongfully arrested. They claim that officers have lied or stolen from them.

Therefore new coppers are taught to avoid getting hands-on and only stop-search when it can't be avoided. Sir Bernard and his team are desperate to avoid complaints and media attention.

Hence the abundant training in victim care and diversity. It's an arse-covering and craven methodology of police training. It is training with the purpose of winning popularity contests, as if cops are sales assistants.

Incidentally, police specials do a great service. Full-time coppers appreciate having a second pair of eyes, hands, and a different brain focused on a problem. Specials work for free, so they are motivated and keen by definition. Additionally, I always enjoy the opportunity to chat with a person from the outside world, fresh and lacking a copper's cynicism.

Even within the mindset of police bosses, a new generation of constables are on the streets now, who have less knowledge of their powers and responsibilities than ever before.

Every day I see this change in the rank-and-file: the young boys and girls now out there are full of enthusiasm, but they know they'll only stay for two or three years. The pension is poor – they would have to chase drug dealers until the age 67 before they can collect the pension – and their starting pay is so low they may as well work in Burger King.

Under Sir Bernard's Local Policing Model, every Local Policing Team sergeant is actually a constable acting as a sergeant, hoping for promotion. And many are under 25 years old.

Last week I overheard one of these acting-sergeants running his team's morning briefing. He seemed more suited to leading a boy band than a police team. His people spent more time talking about WhatsApp, and the pretty girls and boys they're stalking on other teams via Facebook, than about policing.

We're looking at a scary future: management have dispensed with experienced cops, and replaced them with completely new and, most importantly – cheaper, officers fresh out of school or university. Although enthusiastic, they receive little or no training in criminal law, and plan not to stay longer than a year or two.

I've seen many quit after only a few weeks on the streets. They are graduates and expect supervisors to treat them civilly. Quite reasonably they expect the policies and guidelines to make sense. But it doesn't take them long to realise that they've been conned by the Met's marketing department.

And so they resign. Often.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

My Sergeant Shot Me

So, we're back on the subject of increasing the UK's armed police officers.

Guardian: Met Police adds 600 armed officers

I really do think Met Police senior managers are glad for the relief provided whenever an issue like this arises. They get a little respite from the criticism and constant embarrassments of target culture, figure fiddling...and so many other avoidable problems that I can't be bothered to list.

Anyway, Sir Bernard is riding the tide of media opinion by creating more armed officers. But hang on, until 2012 didn't we already have a thousand more armed cops than at present?

Which, according to the article linked to above, means that we're now going to spend £25million that we wouldn't have had to spend if Sir Bernard hadn't decided to penny-pinch in 2012.

Those firearms officers we 'lost' those after the Olympics: what happened?

The moment the event finished, the Met's reserve of local firearms officers were thanked for working 100-hour weeks, then disbanded.

The Met had spent millions training those officers, and maintaining their proficiency, only to discard them. And now Sir Bernard is talking about creating more firearms officers...

Well we probably do need more armed cops, yes, but it might be nice if they were allowed to perform their jobs without the certain knowledge that they will be arrested for murder the moment they make that critical decision to shoot a suspect.

Their split-second decisions will then be picked apart very carefully, over months and years, by barristers earning hundreds of thousands of pounds for the privilege.

But for a change, let's talk about another question:

Should all British police officers be armed? This question keeps cropping up.

“Do you know why we aren't routinely armed?” asked my first Officer Safety instructor, back in the county force where I began my police career. We were in the gym and had just finished handcuffing drills.

“How many of you have used your spray?” Most of us raised our hands.

“And has anybody used his spray and not accidentally sprayed a colleague in the face?”

We all lowered our hands. Everybody had managed, at some point during a scuffle, to give a friend a dose of chemical in face.

“That my friends,” he said, “is why we are not routinely armed...”

I'm not trying to argue in favour or against, as I don't know how it works in nations where cops are routinely armed. I simply want to present some points that, as is normal, are omitted from the usual emotion-charged newspaper articles.

I was recently talking to a detective about his time in the Flying Squad many years ago.

“We kept our pistols in our desk drawers. It was a good time in my career.”

I asked him why he left the Flying Squad.

“My sergeant shot me.”

The sergeant had been playing with his pistol which had turned out to be loaded. The bullet had bounced off the ground and gone through his leg.

Admittedly some cops are simply infantile idiots who act without thinking, who believe they're still in the school playground. But this happens in any workplace.

Training an officer to handle a firearm takes weeks and costs a lot of money. Half the Met's firing ranges have been closed in recent years, to save money. It would take 5-10 years to train up every constable in London, never mind the rest of the UK.

Many would not want to carry a pistol, and some would not be capable of passing the course, which is extremely hard work and very challenging.

If politicians apply pressure to create more armed cops, of course our senior managers, like Sir Bernard, will give in and make it happen, whatever it takes. It seems likely that recruiting 600 more will be achieved in the normal way - by lowering the standards.

In the same way that the fitness test now consists of reaching level 5.4 on the bleep test – effectively a gentle jog. There are now no tests for strength. Those might exclude women, and...well, anybody with insufficient strength to pass the test.

And if the decision is someday taken to arm every bobby, I for one do not want to be shot by my manager.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Scratchings in the Dark...

I don't know whether blog etiquette allows me to mention my book, published last week, but I've been blogging since August 2013, so perhaps I've earned the right?

Please indulge me. It's amazing what fifty chimpanzees can achieve if they spend a decade hitting random keys...

Those apes - perhaps representing my own personality disorders :-) - have managed to create a 330 page frolic through my police career. The Accidental Copper

This is how the book was born:

When I was a new recruit I saw systemic dysfunctionality that was obvious to anybody with half a brain, and I quickly realised that the job was nothing like what I'd been led to expect.

Over the following months and years, as the job closed around me – micromanagement, obsession with performance figures, aggressive and dimwitted bosses, hundred-hour weeks, no control over work load, sleep deprivation – I began keeping notes of everything I found amusing, angering, bizarre, inspiring or sickening.

It was my coping mechanism. Most cops have one.

I knew that normal people had a right to know to how things go wrong (and right) in policing. And to understand how hard their police officers work, and the impossibility of them maintaining any sort of a normal life.

Police management are in no hurry to raise the issues, nor to allow officers to speak freely. I had always enjoyed writing, and it now became my purpose to compile my scribblings into a book, and to blog.

And so I strive to put the facts out there in an entertaining fashion - to make people laugh and open their eyes.

Do please click on the link and tell me what you think. My purpose certainly isn't to make money - I've priced it almost as low as Amazon will permit, and have already written off thousands of pounds spent on bananas...

Think of police managers as greedy bonobos throwing their excrement at each other. My fifty simians are on the side of truth and integrity.

Enjoy the book!

It's for you.