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31/08/2010

Notting Hill Carnival


Notting Hill Carnival has once again been hailed a success. The Sunday, apparently 'family day', saw 73 arrests and a couple of stabbings. The main event on the Monday saw around 250 arrests, two stabbings and the recovery of a firearm. Thousands of police officers were deployed at public expense leaving local areas with below minimum numbers. The main carnival area was patrolled by riot trained officers. Here is the experience of one:



"We were ground assigned at 2pm. At 6pm we changed into our riot gear, but kept our flat caps on. We carried our riot helmets (called Nato helmets) but were not allowed to put them on without the authority of senior officers. We had heard on our radios that there had been disturbances at a nearby sector, with groups of 60-70 youths steaming through the crowds and throwing bottles at police. A woman had been stabbed near Rampage. Rampage is a sound system which attracts gangs from across London who seek to control the territory there. The London Ambulance Service refused to go there due to the high risk of injury to their staff.

We ended up near the carnival route. Around 7pm, we noticed a large group of 40-50 surrounding our serial. Seconds later, one of them waved a bandanna in the air, and we were attacked with bottles. We put on our Nato helmets and drew batons as the glass rained down on us. We were supported  by another serial and managed to push the group back. My main memory is of a senior officer turning up and screaming at us to take our Nato helmets off. That's the real face of carnival."

This event costs millions of pounds. The vast majority of people that go there go for the right reasons, however it attracts every tin-pot gangster in London who are intent on attacking the police. The police are expected to take this, and risk injury in the name of public relations. In times of financial hardship, there can no longer be a justification for such a huge drain on public resources.

28/08/2010

Is it over?

For the majority of my service, the police have crumbled under allegations of racism. The taint of racism is impossible to refute, particularly when it comes in the guise of 'institutional' or other such complex descriptions. Much of the pressure came from the Home Office under the previous administration, , with Ian Blair being an enthusiastic supporter of every ridiculous diktat that landed on his desk. Blair ended his service under allegations of racism directed at him from his most senior colleague from a visible ethnic minority.

Blair's period as Commissioner saw the race industry run amok, with police managers capitulating to even the most insane demands to prevent the career-wrecking whiff of racism. This period also saw the Black Police Association develop a level of power and influence that reminded me of the trade unions of the 1970s. People from visible ethnic minorities were given huge amounts of support to join the police or get promoted. Many decent officers of colour would have no part of this. Others, of a more cynical outlook, took full advantage. This has led to several being promoted way beyond their ability, which has had a devastating effect of those that have had the misfortune to work under them. They saw racism behind every corner, in every comment they decided was critical, and in every failed attempt to progress themselves.

This all came to a head with the case of Ali the criminal. This man had risen to a very high rank, and surrounded himself with like-minded people. The police service had got to the stage where it could no longer cope with such individuals. In the case of Ali the criminal, it was the allegation of a member of the public which led to his downfall. He continues to allege racism against the prison service.

The remainders of his type continue to infest the police service, however it seems that they no longer wield the power they once did. Promotion across the board is becoming harder and harder to obtain, and it seems that those of Ali's ilk are also suffering. Some have been removed from the positions and placed out of harms way. This is a positive step, and shows that their power no longer excerpts the fear it once did. We appear to be slowly going back to a position where perceived racism no longer prevents poor performance being addressed.

Racism is a cancer. The way race has been used by corrupt self-serving individuals in the police service is a disgrace, and has set back race relations twenty years. Good officers from an ethnic background still fear the suggestion that they have only succeeded due to the colour of their skin. Good candidates will no longer consider the police as a viable career option for this very reason. This is the legacy of Ali and his cohorts.

17/08/2010

Papery!


During a idle moment recently, I remembered that I was brought up as a catholic. I can't remember who told me this, but it seems that merely having nothing to do with the Pope and co. is not enough to get away from them. I therefore researched how you can officially leave the church without being thrown out. My enquiries merely came up with hundreds of other people asking the same question. I have therefore e-mailed the Pope at benedictxvi@vatican.va

This is the text:


Dear Pope, (Sorry I don't recall the correct terminology)

I have been christened and confirmed as a Roman Catholic. I don't remember where I was christened being too young to give competent agreement to the act at the time, but I would imagine it was in Luton England where I was living. I was confirmed at St Edmunds Church in Wellingborough Northamptonshire England. I recall this as I was forced to wear a red bow tie and flared trousers. Everyone else got away with a tie. It would have been in the early 1980s.

My schooling was Catholic all the way. I learnt many clear and balanced views of life, mainly that everything was my fault. During this time I was forced to attend church and listen to a series of men who had little if any grasp of reality drone on about issues that took place some two thousand years ago many hundreds of miles away, and attempt to connect this to the lives of the congregation. A number of said members lapped this up, but I imagine in hindsight that was due to their age and fear of impending death. My last two visits to church resulted in my being physically sick. This was no doubt due to the cider in the park the night before and not demonic possession.

I have spent the last 20 years of my life working as a police officer. I have seen the most appalling sights, murders, rapes and brutality, and this is in a so-called first world country. I hope the victims of these crimes will take solace in the allegation that they will get their reward in heaven, although I doubt it. Superstition and fear are little comfort.

I would like to formally be removed from the Roman Catholic Church and request information as to how this is done.

Thanks.

Hopefully if he's not too busy covering up child abuse, he'll get back to me!

03/08/2010

Renew the Passion


The new government are seeking a change in the direction of policing in this country. Gone will be the focus on the myriad of performance targets, gone will be the priority of detecting crime after it has happened. We are looking at a brave new world of prevention, working together to stop the descent into crime by diversion and other long term measures. The police will no longer be shackled to desks, sweating over endless spreadsheets and pie charts to satisfy some mandarin in the Home Office.

Really?

I am a firm supporter of diversion. I work with young people, and they are not demons and ogres. Not all of them are the hooded assailants lurking in the shadows awaiting the next vulnerable victim. Many in inner city areas come from seriously chaotic backgrounds, where crime, benefits and self-interest are the norm. Many do not achieve in school, and often drop out at around 13, to be lost to the system, next appearing before the local magistrate. Should they be condemned to this life or offered a second chance? Because someone does not achieve at school does not make them less intelligent than their middle-class neighbour. Inspiration is often lacking from their lives, along with self-worth and the understanding that they can achieve if given the right opportunity. Different learning styles often suit those will poor literacy, and the ability to suddenly achieve something, however apparently insignificant to the rest of us, can have a serious impact on them. Give people hope, and they will no longer be drawn to crime.

The police is a conservative organisation. The senior managers have come through and used a system drenched in performance targets and the blame culture. This is their life blood. They cannot exist without it. To go from short-term quick fixes with a view to promotion and movement to a system of long-term prevention is a huge change I am not convinced many police managers will wish to support it. Prevention is extremely difficult to measure, especially within one financial year. How can success therefore be checked?

Prevention has always be treated with suspicion in the police. It is seen as the realm of crime prevention officers giving advice on locks, and safer neighbourhood officers holding public meetings with concerned local worthies. It is not the world of The Sweeney. This is the world many police officers joined the organisation expecting to be a part of.

Will the new direction work? I hope so, but I doubt it. Shame.

Peace

I am the master of lives. I have smote mountains, swum through rivers and destroyed. I have passed the Kings down in the gutter, driven assunder the princes and generals.

Is it better to have lived than never lived at all?

Peace.