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30/11/2005

Muddy the Waters


Following the shooting dead of Jean Charles de Menezes the day after the second terrorist attacks on London, an enquiry was launched by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The final report is due for completion at the end of December 2005. It will not be made public at that time but will be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a decision to be made whether any criminal charges will be brought.

Following the incident, a great debate took place about an alleged shoot-to-kill policy and the nature of suspected suicide bombers. The key argument was that such a momentous policy decision should not have been reached by the police alone. This furore gradually receded, as does any news event. It was helped on its way by the magnificent police work that led to a number of potential suicide bombers being taken alive.

The publication of the IPCC report still hovers on the horizon. December is a key date. Although the report is not to be made public, its passing to the CPS will be newsworthy in itself. The CPS will be required to provide a date for a decision to be reached. Whatever this decision is, it will be the greatest political challenge to the Metropolitan Police Service since the Macphearson Report.

It is therefore interesting that another IPCC investigation is to be launched into the behaviour of Sir Ian Blair around the time of the shooting. He is alleged to have made mis-leading statements to the family and media. The enquiry is apparently in response to a formal complaint made by the family of the deceased. The IPCC chairman, Nick Hardwick, has said that this investigation is not intended to distract from the main task of finding out how and why Jean Charles died.

The new investigation cannot fail to distract from the main enquiry. The nature of the incident itself, and the surrounding arguments concerning shoot to kill, cannot exclude the role of the Commissioner. To make him subject to a separate enquiry with only a month remaining before the completion of the key report seems somewhat unusual.

The actions of the Commissioner will be criticised, but it would not be politically expedient for a serving Commissioner to suffer formal discipline proceedings. A lower ranking officer will be called to account for the press statements of Sir Ian. This is made clear by a statement made by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates: "We wish to make it clear that whilst the further complaints raised clearly involve the commissioner, they are not solely about him. They specifically ask that the IPCC investigate where any misleading accounts relating to the tragic events of July 22 originated from, and how and why they were put into the public domain."

This will have the effect of drawing attention away from Sir Ian's part in the main report, and will add fuel to the conspiracy theory fires.

The Delicate Art of Diversity

Race and diversity continues to be one of the major issues facing modern policing. Two recent events have re-inforced this. The racist murder of Anthony Walker in Liverpool brought back memories of the killing of Stephen Lawrence in the mid-1990s. This was followed by race riots in Birmingham

What interests me is the role of the police in each incident. The police in Liverpool have clearly learnt the lessons of Lawrence, and immediately declared the murder to be racially motivated. They acted quickly and intelligently, making a number of expedicious arrests and keeping the media updated on a regular basis. This had the dual benefit of displaying how seriously the murder was being treated, and preventing any allegations of a cover-up. The most important achievement of Merseyside Police in this case was the retention of the good will of Anthony's family. In cases such as these, there are various agenda driven parties always attempting to alienate the families from the investigation.

The riots in Birmingham, unlike a number of historic incidents of major disorder, arose from inter-community hostility. The actions of the police before the disturbances have not been cited as a contributory factor. As can be seen from the Guardian report linked to above, a series of rumours fueled by stereotype and mutual distrust led to disorder. This in turn led to the death of one young man. The truth has become a victim of bigotry, and may never be established in this case.

Throughout history, English society has excluded one or more groups. According to the Commission for Racial Equality travellers are the identifiable group most likely to suffer discrimination today. They follow a noble line that has included West Indians, various Asian groups, the Irish, Catholics and so on. Such groups have historically become the demons of popular imagination.

Groups naturally gravitate together, often into the poorer and less desirable areas. They work together and send their children to the same schools, often to learn in a religious environment that is alien and contradictory to the host culture. The ideas of bigotry flourish in such circumstances. It is a lot easier to preach racial hatred to others who have little personal knowledge of the minority group in question. It is adversely a lot harder to hate your neighbour than someone you only encounter via the bias of your own community.

The groups that perceive they are the victims of racial hatred react by withdrawing into themselves. A climate of distrust which breeds hatred develops within their own community. The vicious spiral begins again. It may seem obvious, but lack of understanding of different cultures breeds the examples cited above. This is the biggest challenge facing civil society today.

See my previous post This is Racism for an example of racism in action.

25/11/2005

Rape and the Power Complex

A recent court case in Wales has brought the issue of rape and informed consent to the fore again. This follows hot on the heals of recent research by Amnesty International which suggests that certain members of society think intoxicated females should accept a certain degree of responsibility if they are raped.

It is deeply disturbing that such views have risen again. A number of years ago, a judge commented that the length of a victim's skirt could have provoked her attacker. I believed that such ignorance had died away. It appears not.

Rape is thankfully still a rare crime. To be raped by a stranger is rarer still. Rape is a crime of violence and power. It has little, if anything, to do with sex. It is a crime predominantly committed by men against women.

Our recent training told us that consent given while in a position of vulnerability, ie drunk, was not satisfactory consent. This differs slightly from the recent case where the alleged victim could not remember whether she had given consent or not. This area is a legal minefield. Our legal system as it stands will not allow for this issue to be decided upon to the satisfaction of all interested parties.

Rape is, by it's nature, often an offence that is only witnessed by two parties: the victim and the aggressor. Consent is the natural defence of the accused. The balance of proof lies totally on the prosecution. They must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence charged. This is the same for every offence from not wearing a seatbelt to murder. This is the very basis of the legal system in this country. Although not satisfactory in the case of rape, any changes would lead to false convictions. It is a sad fact that people are convicted on the basis of lies, and that guilty people avoid punishment for a variety of reasons.

I would argue that the only solution lies in the attitude of society to women. Many cosmetic changes have been made in the last few decades, but women remain disadvantaged. In many areas of this country, both within the home and without, women remain subservient to men. Their lives are controlled in various ways, from their manner of dress to the type of employment they adopt (if any) to the friendships and associations they form.

Power is exerted in several ways. Male dominance of women is the exertion of power. The acceptance of this attitude, whether subliminal or complicit, causes wider problems in our society. It leads to physical and mental abuse which by default leads to and encourages the offence of rape.

If society can tackle this issue, rape will be tackled. Then the issue of informed consent will be one for the history books.

String Em Up!!!

Once again, following the death of a police officer, some elements within the media think it is time to debate the re-introduction of the death penalty. Sir John Stevens, recently retired Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has added to this call when the victim of a murder is a police officer. John is currently a News of the World columnist.

Police officers represent civil society. Their role is to act as guardians and physical enforcers of the law as laid down by the legislature. The murder of a police officer represents a deeper attack on common values. The robust response to events in Bradford reflects this. Pictures of armed police officers at the scene are clearly meant to reflect the power of the law in the wider context. I doubt their deployment was to deter armed robbers from returning to the scene.

The response to the terrorist activity in July was a similar response to an attack on civil society and values. I personally have never seen so many police officers deployed in high visibility roles. They were there to reassure the public and deter terrorists. The chances of a committed suicide bomber actually being deterred by a yellow jacket are unlikely, but it was the power of the state being displayed that was of wider significance.

these examples show that the values of our society run deep. This is why the death penalty should never be re-introduced. I have yet to find any satisfactory argument for the assertion that one death allows another death in revenge. Life imprisonment causes the dangerous members of society to be securely kept from potential victims, to receive treatment, and to have access to proper educational facilities. This course of action is moral and right.

What if the wrong person is convicted? Does society allow for another bite of the cherry? Should another suspect be found, could they be killed as well?

I was once engaged in a murder enquiry where a young lady had been brutally slaughtered in her flat in a tower block. Her on / off boyfriend had been arrested. He had recently been seen hanging her from a window, and had a history of violence against her. CCTV showed him entering the block at the relevant time, and leaving 45 minutes later. He could not account for what he had been doing in that time, other than he had popped around to see her, and had waited outside her flat when she didn't answer the door.

The evidence against him seemed fairly strong, and a charge was likely... This was until a male contacted us and told us that his friend, also an associate of the victim, had admitted the offence to him. The CCTV was reviewed, and there was the new suspect going into the block and leaving ten minutes later. This happened a short time before the first suspect arrived. The new male was arrested and charged. He was committed to Broadmoor Hospital by an Old Bailey judge.

What would have happened if he had not been identified? The first male, although a deeply unpleasant individual, would have been charged. If the death penalty were available, he would have been killed.

P.S. The convicted male was taken to hospital with two medical staff in a taxi. But that is another story...

23/11/2005

Guns

Following the tragic events that have unfolded recently in Bradford, the media and political circus has swung into action to establish what must be done. As is always the case following a high profile incident, the media demand answers and someone to blame, while the political classes offer legislation.

Once again, the issue of arming the police has risen it's ugly head. The UK police are unarmed. That is how it must stay. We police by consent and not force which is a delicate balance that would be forever lost should firearms be routinely issued.

Should the use of firearms by police be increased, as no doubt it will, strong legislation is needed. I cannot imagine that in other countries where the police carry guns daily such in-depth investigations are conducted following every shooting. The armed officers we currently have walk a very thin line between use of reasonable force and murder. An officer that has cause to shoot a suspect has very little support both from within the police or in statute. This is not to say that the police should have the right to randomly shoot people without question. I am merely asking for exact guidelines for what happens post-shooting. This policy must be clear, unambiguous and open.

20/11/2005

The Supreme Intellect of Sir Ian Blair



As has been recorded at length elsewhere, Ian Blair, my beloved master, recently gave a speech where he lauded his own intellect by damning himself with faint praise. He suggested that people were surprised that such an intellectual colossus as he should join the understairs ranks of the police service.

Ian Blair has consistently made comments and introduced policies that are at variance to the opinions of his underlings. He was responsible for Police and Community Support Officers for a start. He is also blatantly political, which is a shocking deviation from the traditions of the police in this country.

Aside for all that, the one comment that sticks in my mind is his suggestion that middle-class drug users should be targeted by the police.

My views on crime and the middle-classes are based on two tests: is anyone else hurt and do their actions cost more to the economy than they personally contribute. Now, I realise that drug use may hurt others several times removed from the purchaser, but to cut to basics - snorting a line of coke only really hurts your nostrils. Most middle-class drug users are in full-time employment and support their habits by legitimate means. They should not be a policing priority.

Interesting that this policy of Blair's never seems to have come to fruition...

A Quick Question...

Many of you will follow news reports about deaths in police custody and police shootings. One of the most notorious is the case of Harry Stanley. This man was shot by two Met officers after brandishing a table leg in a bag. The officers believed he was armed, having been called to that location by a member of the public who stated Stanley was in possession of a gun.

Since this incident took place six years ago, the sequence of events has been tested and examined by several hearings and courts. This culminated recently in Surrey Police further arresting the two officers concerned. They were subsequently informed that no further action would be taken. What a surprise. The thrust of the campaign against them seems to suggest that two officers would have decided between themselves to go out on the street and gun someone down for no reason. Take it from me, such actions do not tend to have a positive impact on your life or career.

Despite the fact that these two officers have been treated in a manner that would never have been allowed of the most vile rapist, nobody seems to have asked the question that plays on my mind....Stanley was apparently in possession of a table leg in a bag because he had had it repaired. Now, I have asked around and done all the usual research, but I have yet to find anyone else that has ever had a table leg repaired. They are solid objects usually attached to the rest of the table. I am at a loss......

Child Support Agency

The CSA are getting new powers to obtain money from fathers who are not paying their bills. I fully support this, but wonder - what about the drug dealers and assorted criminals who have a selection of 'baby-mothers' scattered around the estates? I imagine they will be put in the too-difficult tray.

Make failure to support your own children a criminal offence. This would be another weapon to attack the have-nots with. Remember how Al Capone was brought down?

Young, Gifted and White

A recent news story reveals that Abigail Witchalls has recently returned home having given birth.

My beef in no way lies with Mrs Witchalls or her family. She was the victim of a horrendous attack, and I wish her well. I do have a beef with the media interest in this case. To put matters into perspective, the last time I was posted to work at a weekend, I came into work to find three stabbings had occurred overnight, all with crime scenes (taped off areas awaiting forensic examination) and three people seriously injured in hospital, all from separate incidents. Although busy, this state of affairs is not unusual. Murders happen on a fairly regular basis, as they do in any busy inner-city area.

What separates the victims of the above to Mrs Witchalls is their personal circumstances. Mrs Witchalls is young, middle-class and from a nice area of Surrey. She is also white. Unprovoked attacks are not supposed to happen to such people. Such a person is a member of 'the haves' (See my previous post re haves and have-nots here) She shares her circumstance with those who create the media agenda.

Thankfully, unprovoked attacks are rare, no matter where you live, but they do happen, and not only to nice white people with a bit of money in the bank.

Community Leader Wanted - Immediate Start

As can be seen from any news story where there has been a bit of aggravation in our communities, the police always seem to appeal to community leaders. Said community leaders often either appeal for calm, or accuse the police of something unpleasant. They willingly provide interviews full of righteous rhetoric and accusations of failure. This seems a fine and responsible position to fulfill in life. So, how does one become a community leader? I have searched the internet and my local library without success. Do these fabled beings follow the traditional democratic route? No. Are they carried through the streets as on-lookers demand leadership? No. It seems they become community leaders by saying they are community leaders. Not a bad number.

There was a murder investigation several years ago, where the victim was killed in a park frequented by the gay community. A gentleman approached police and claimed to speak on behalf of the users of the park. He became a liaison point for the enquiry team, and obtained Met Police headed letters thanking him for his work and so on. All well and good until he used the letters as a reference to obtain a job with Social Services. He was arrested a few weeks later for indecently assaulting a young male.

19/11/2005

London's Finest In Corruption Shocker!!!!

Not so long ago, I was 'chatting' with a member of the dark side, otherwise known the DPS. These people are basically those who watch us while we watch you. They come in various levels. The basic lot deal with minor complaints against officers. The middle lot deal with deaths in custody and so on. The top lot pro-actively target corrupt officers and those who try to corrupt officers from outside the service. There is also another secret unit that does not exist. Or so I am told...

Apparently the nature of police corruption has changed. It is no longer the sole responsibility of regional crime squads and other elite units to bring the service into disrepute. This delightful role has now become popular with divisional uniformed PCs with 2-4 years service. Oh yes. The PC who may or may not turn up to report your burglary is now the most likely member of the police family to be bent. These comments brought to mind the following tale.....

I once had the (mis) pleasure of working with two young police officers who had the (mis) fortune of being arrested by what was then known as CIB. It appears they had been robbing drug dealers. As is more or less automatic following arrest, both officers were suspended from duty pending further enquiries. One of these traveled back to his northern homestead and settled down to ponder his fate.

Whilst there, an armed robbery took place at a service station. Shots were fired into the roof, although, thankfully, nobody was hurt. The Mets finest suspended PC decided to do himself a favour. He approached the enquiry team, and offered himself as a witness to said armed robbery. However, being the top detectives they obviously were, they felt he knew a little too much about the robbery, and arrested him on suspicion of conspiracy to rob. He pleaded mitigation in that he was a soft southern cop who had made a mistake and wanted to help himself out etc etc. This cut no ice with the northern police however. Whoops!

In the meantime, the London detectives had gathered enough evidence to charge both PCs with aggravated burglary. This is one of the most serious offences you can get, and is made worse when committed by serving police officers. This case went to trial at the Old Bailey. Both officers mounted what is called a 'cut-throat' defence. They blamed each other. The jury, displaying the wisdom for which they are well known, decided that both were not guilty.

Horray and hoorah said one officer. The second, despite avoiding ten years plus in prison, still had something else on his mind. The officers 'up north' who were investigating the robbery had failed to find any evidence against him in relation to the robbery, so they charged him with wasting police time. He was duly found guilty of this, and sacked by the Met Police.

This must be the first and only example in police history of a serving officer being required to resign having been found guilty of wasting police time.

17/11/2005

Rude Boys

The anger of some 'youth' is astounding. They are angry at life. From petty theft, through street robbery via a quick dabble with drug dealing the story remains the same. Anger and lack of respect for themselves causes anger and violence to be projected outwards. Some young people find mutual support in the surrogate family of street gangs. Honour is determined by a twisted code of ethics. This covers the area the particular gang 'control' and predictably involves drug dealing and routine violence. To the relief of 'the haves' this activity remains within the streets and estates of 'the have-nots'.

The young man who follows this route only becomes respected when he becomes armed. He gets a gun and becomes a main player in his area. His conflict with other groups rises as a result. He ends his days in a pool of blood on a dark city street. Police cordons stretch around him, while dis-interested cops mill around for a few hours. His body is then carted of and eventually buried. Another statistic. Society doesn't really give a shit.

16/11/2005

The Intellectual Capacity of Drug Dealers

When someone gets arrested for a variety of offences, the duty Inspector can authorise a search of the address they have given at the police station. This is under no circumstances whatsoever in any way shape or form no sir no sir oh no it's not a fishing expedition. When the person lives a good way away, the searches can be carried out by another force.

So it was that we were asked to carry out a search armed with a blurred faxed bit of paper. Once we had persuaded the occupant, a well-known robber / gunman that his close relative had in fact been arrested, he became very upset and cuddled his newly purchased kitten! We decided afterwards that should he have produced a gun, we would have seized the cat....

After the search I spoke to the officer who had arrested the drug dealer. Apparently they had been searching a flat when the buzzer went. The officer answered and a female asked if he was Alan. The officer, using cunning that cannot be purchased, said "yes" The female then came up to the flat and gave him 30 rocks of crack! Great!

15/11/2005

He's Crashed It! He's Crashed It! He's Crashed it!


I recently had the misfortune to crash one of our unmarked police cars. Whilst in high-speed pursuit of heavily armed criminals who were attempting to shoot at us, an old lady stepped......well....... actually I crashed into the back of another car that had stopped at traffic lights. What is amusing is that he then bumped forward and hit another car in front of him. The driver of this car got out, spotted that we were the feds, got back in his car and drove of at speed taking his booty / shooter / fake tax disc with him.

The driver of the car I hit was a reasonable person. He had not been drinking, had no previous convictions and was of good character (I checked in case I needed to undermine his account at a later date) He even shook my hand when the traffic officer had finished with both of us.

The plot thickened when he reported the accident to his insurers. I subsequently received a letter from a firm of solicitors accusing me of a variety of traffic offences and general negligence. This matter was brought to mind during a recent house search. I had cause to look at a letter our suspect had received from a solicitor. This also related to a traffic accident, but included pen pictures of what happens to your head and neck when hit by another vehicle. It listed every possible combination of medical problem you may suffer as a result. The solicitor asked that the recipient identify what may have happened and give them a bell.

I do appreciate the need for solicitors to protect the legal rights of the weak and vulnerable, but the blatant encouragement of the compensation culture, and the idea that everything is always someone else's fault has been encouraged by the legal profession purley for financial benefit. It is basically sharking and leeching and any other suitable term you may be able to think of. Best stop now, my neck is beginning to hurt.......

12/11/2005

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time many years ago, I was a young PC out on patrol in the early hours when I found a house on fire. My colleague and I led five people to safety but had to watch as two others died. We were driven back by smoke. One slid away from the window back into the room and was never seen alive again. The other, a young woman, stood at the window about thirty feet above the pavement. Despite our calls that the fire brigade were on their way, the crowd implored her to jump. She chose to follow their advice and jumped. She caught her foot as she came down and landed headfirst on the pavement. The sound of her skull exploding is one that will stay with me forever.

I remember one group within the crowd. It was 1am. A man stood with two young boys all wearing dressing gowns. Police officers who came to assist us assumed they had been evacuated from the burning building and ensured they were looked after. It was only after the fire brigade had extinguished the fire and all the bodies had been taken away that the man revealed he was in fact a local resident who had brought his two children out to watch the excitement.

Please draw your own conclusions. Those who are ill or injured or dead have a right to privacy as much as you or I. Those people who slow down at the scene of road accidents or crane their necks at the sight of flashing blue lights should examine their motivation.

Ethnic Identity

Whenever anyone comes to the notice of the Metropolitan Police Service their ethnic origin becomes an issue. In fact, their membership of a visible ethic minority. In fact, I can no longer use this terminology. The Home Office have decreed that these words are no longer acceptable. Their replacement is awaited. You are also no longer mixed race. Or dual heritage. In fact, the knots have been pulled so tight, they can no longer be unraveled. So we have given up.

If you meet the police as a victim, witness or naughty boy, you will be asked a number of questions. Name, address and contact numbers are fairly obvious. The police officer will then note what colour you are. They will then ask you what colour / ethnic origin you think you are. You will be presented with a list of options with relevant codes. What you say goes. Should you be a pale Irish ginger haired lothario, you can still claim to be a black African. This will all be entered on police records without complaint and challenge.

Once your ethnic origin has been suitably confused, you will be asked whether you consider yourself to have a disability. This is regardless of your reason for contacting the police. Had your dog stolen? Been punched in the face? Run over? You will be asked whether you are disabled and what colour you think you are.

Expect the baddie to be caught? No chance.

Are the Police Thick?


A recent report from right-wing think tank Politeia has apparently claimed that standards within police recruitment have dropped, training is poor and management is bad. This report was subject of a 'clash' on a radio programme between Chris Woodhead and Jan Berry from the Police Federation. This took place before the report was published.
The Police Federation have vigorously disputed the report's findings, reaching conclusions again prior to publication of the report. A link on our Police Federation website which suggests readers should access the report leads nowhere. Is Big Brother watching me?
Despite all the arguments, the general issue of police stupidity has been missed. We now live in a world far removed from the corruption and violence of the 1970s where men were men and cops were criminals. I now have the pleasure of being a member of the 'wider police family.' This means that police officers, civilians (now known as police staff so they do not feel excluded), catering staff, dogs and horses are all one and the same.
In years gone by, it was necessary to have basic educational qualifications and a certain degree of physical fitness. Recent experience has found that younger recruits are no longer able to complete basic restraint techniques because they are too unfit to complete the manoeuvres, and find the concepts that little bit too difficult to understand. In today's caring sharing world, the powers that be have actually simplified the techniques and made them less stressful to the less healthy so everyone feels included rather than being sacked. There is now a special restraint technique for the less slim recruit!
Educational qualifications and ability have never been a top priority for those who recruit police officers, despite the fact that everything you write may be pored over in the future by barristers or members of an enquiry. This does not seem to be a concern. If you can write both your first and surname you can become a police officer. If you can hold the crayon the right way up, you can become a Police Community Support Officer.
This tirade may seem light-hearted, but it should be of major concern. The standards of police recruitment have dropped dramatically, and policing is being provided on the cheap. This goes hand-in-hand with the introduction of new draconian powers in the form of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Individual police officers will be given sweeping new powers to carry out searches of private property and make arrests. The role of the court has been diluted to accomodate this. I will deal with this issue further in future posts.

11/11/2005

The Strange Behaviour of the Underclass

I was recently involved in an operation where a flat had been identified as housing a man armed with a handgun. He had recently threatened a fellow member of the underclass with said weapon. Clearly a matter for the police.
As is usually the case, big policemen armed with big guns were arranged. They did a sterling job in entering the flat and detaining the alleged gun wielding lunatic. During the search of the premises I was accosted by the female neighbour. I smiled helpfully expecting thanks and plaudits from a concerned member of the public. I was instead informed that the police with machine guns who had gone through her garden had in fact been trespassing, and should have been in possession of a warrant.
Another member of the underclass revealed! It seems that the intellectually challenged members of society who often fall foul of the law seem to believe themselves experts in that subject. At least they provide entertainment....

10/11/2005

Terrorism Smerrorism

The hot news of the moment appears to be detention time limits for terrorist suspects. The PM has suffered his first defeat. He argued that terrorist suspects should be locked up for three months without charge. The police apparently argued that this amount of time was needed to carry out forensic enquiries and communicate with other governments. Nobody has satisfactorily explained why a terrorist suspect needs to be locked up for three months when your common or garden mass murderer of mafia-type crime boss would only get a maximum of three days before charge or release. It may come as no surprise to learn that other types of criminality involve complexity and time-intensive enquiries post-arrest.
The full case does not need to be collated prior to charge. Should sufficient evidence be gathered to satisfy the CPS, the suspect can be charged with an offence and remanded to prison with the authority of the court. The court is highly unlikely to grant bail to a terrorist suspect. Further evidence can be gathered post-charge and presented at the trial. The role of the judiciary and the police must not become blurred.
Jan Berry of the Police Federation has stated that 'rank and file' police officers are shocked and dismayed that this bill failed. I have no recollection of being canvassed for my views on this. I also do not recall at what stage in history the police became a political organisation.
This matter is currently being examined but I am not holding my breath..

02/11/2005

A Day in the Life of a Robbery Report



At a local level, police management have developed an obsession with street crime, ie mugging. Their performance is measured on the amount of offences committed compared with the previous week, month and year. They are set a maximum numbers of offences allowed, sweating blood when the figures exceed expectations. This affects promotion prospects. Let no man stand between the Superintendent and his robbery graphs...

If you have the misfortune to be mugged, the following will happen:

1) You will call 999 (unless they took your mobile) A BT operator will answer and refer you to a police operator. They will create a computer message and pass it to the local police.

2) Two police officers will attend. Others may search the local area.

3) A crime report will be created. The nature of this report will depend on whether anyone gets arrested. If arrested, they will put on an allegation of robbery - if someone gets charged, this counts as a 'detection'. Bosses very happy indeed. If no-one is caught, it remains undetected - bosses tantrum and make all efforts to change the allegation to another offence, ie assault, public order offence etc etc. The investigating officers will also make determined efforts to establish if you are making the whole thing up. If you have had a drink they will not take a report at the time - go home and sober up! (Hopefully you won't come back - one less robbery allegation)

For a robbery report to be completed, the reporting officer must seek authority from a detective officer. The report is then checked by the reporting officer's supervisor, and passed to the Crime Desk. It is then checked again and passed to a Detective Inspector. He / she checks it again and passes it to a Detective Sergeant. They identify leads, and allocate it to a constable for further investigation. All the above parties are checking to see if the crime can be classified as anything other than robbery.

While all this is going on, the Crime Integrity Team are checking what all the above persons are doing. Alongside this, each morning a meeting is held where the management sit down and go over all the robbery allegations with a fine tooth comb - again trying to alter the figures in their favour. Any doubts about the veracity of the victim will be pounced on.

Should an allegation be suspected to be false, it may be marked as 'No Crime' This can only be done when evidence is found to prove this. The bosses can get round this by noting that the crime will be marked as No Crime whilst being investigated, and can be restored to robbery if no evidence is found that the report is false. The reports are never changed back.

Who actually investigates the robbery? One person with a workload of about twenty other offences.

UPDATE 30/11/2005 - Punters are now required to sign a form each time they report a robbery stating that they are aware that if they are found to be lying they will be prosecuted.