Friday, May 04, 2012

Delicate Toes

I am always gratified to see comments on the blog and the police one below has attracted a good few. All comments are welcome, and I only remove the blatantly offensive ones, but why is it that my post, the gist of which is that I don't like police to dress like Robocop unless it is unavoidable, has produced a flood of rubbish about how I hate the police, have an anti-police agenda and so on?

As I have said before, I am on cordial terms with a few serving officers as well as some retired ones. I have been a lunch guest at Scotland Yard (years ago).  I have a relative who is a ranking officer, and a young friend who has just been accepted for training. They would  laugh in anyone's face if they were told that I had an anti police viewpoint.

Lighten up, chaps.


  1. Why is it? Because sadly some people read into something what they want to believe and they would of course never let things like facts intervene.

  2. I like this blog because of its broad church approach. Yes, as few contributors can get their knickers in a twist from time to time but you would think they could at leat keep it polite :-)

    Carry on..............

  3. But BS, this blog is in the public domain, and, well, it's /all/ about the perception; regrettably, at present, the police seem to be under some sort of sustained attack by the right wing press. I hold no brief for the police, but I can spot a government preparing the electorate for the filleting of a public service (I have, after all, lived in this country for many years).

    I suppose the police generally expect some support from 'decent' types - which includes JPs. And people who are under attack and who then feel traditional allies are deserting them get upset - hence the comments you dislike.

    Incidentally, BS, surely you are aware the 'some of my best friends are...' argument was exploded long, long ago. Next thing you'll be saying the wife got herself an operation from a police officer the other day and the NHS depends on them.

  4. Even more unfortunately, when there is the feeling of being under siege, there is a corresponding defensiveness, which leads to any criticism being taken as another attack.

  5. rex_imperator4 May 2012 18:42

    The police, at all levels, are used to being under attack. I take consolation in the fact that we are concerned about what they wear - not whether they are corrupt, pick on people for skin colour or can lose the prosecution file because my uncle is the next door neighbour to the minister's piano tuner.

    Of course some of that goes on - any professional standards department will confirm their caseload (information in the public domain) but still we worry about the appearance. Priorities?

    I am much, much more concerned about the number of private sector organisations which equip their staff with uniforms which very closely resemble police uniforms. At the London marathon a couple of weeks ago, many security staff were wearing jackets and flat caps with blue chequer markings looking exactly like the police (I know, I have been one, take an interest in this staff and should get out more). No SIA passes on display. On this occasion they were helpful to the large crowd and those I heard speak to the public were polite. But this is not always so. The long-serving store guard at my local WH Smith branch wears the same outfit and is a discredit to any employer. chews gum, grunts rather than speaks and leers at girls in short skirts. But alas, the police service has left it oo late to do anything about this. There is clear law about impersonating a police officer with uniforms (Police Act 1996 S90(2) - summary only). Never seen it in court, nor heard of a case.

    1. Simon Hammond5 May 2012 11:38

      I have heard of a case:

      To be arrested 22 times without any convictions does suggest something of a vendetta by local police thought.

    2. It concerns me even more that the Home Office dresses up PCSOs to look like real officers despite neither training nor paying them to the appropriate standard.

    3. Worse than PCSO dressed as police officers, one of my friends used to be a "police officer" employed by the London Borough of Dagenham and Redbridge. He wore a police uniform, drove cars marked as "Parks Police" and had a warrant card proclaiming him as a police officer. He had two-weeks "training" provided by the council. He arrested people and acted just like a policeman but with none of the training or experience.

      Neither he nor I could ever work out under what authority a council could raise a police force.

      Naturally when the recession hit the first thing to go was the council's police force, which was suddenly deemed unnecessary.

      My friend now works for a proper police force that required him to undertake many months of training before joining as a probationary office... strangely enough the real police force he joined refused to accept that the Dagenham and Redbridge "Parks Police" was a proper force and thus would not treat him as transfering from another force.

    4. My local authority dresses up its Civil Enforcement Officers (Parking wardens) in quasi-paramilitary gear. Hat complete with headcam to catch motorists who feel they've been trapped (another story), and wearing a utility belt that just tops off the 'tough guy' image which is thankfully muted by the fact that none of them are taller than 5'5". There's absolutely no need for the gear as there's plenty of suitable PPE available that doesn't look at all intimidating, but somehow I don't think that's the point.

    5. Patrick Brompton6 May 2012 12:21

      Just to add a 1970s historical perspective, when television’s ‘Starsky and Hutch’ was first broadcast Manchester’s Chief Constable, Kenneth Oxford, commented that “police on duty were adopting sunglasses and wearing their gloves with the cuffs turned down. They also started driving like bloody maniacs”.

  6. The police commentators were prickly because of the apparent 'Daily Mail' style slant on your original post. For example, you stated that you sympathised with the concern regarding 'the increasing trend for some police officers to dress up like something out of a Hollywood movie or a video game.'
    This ignores the fact that you will not see police officers generally patrolling the streets dressed like this. These officers have been placed in an area to deal with a specific situation and are either equipped to do so or equipped to protect their identity.
    On more than one occasion you have suggested that the police were wrong to have shot Mark Saunders. There has been an underlying tone in your comments that suggest shooting a barrister (mentally ill, drunk and firing off shots at the police) was unnecessary because he was an intelligent and decent chap. Can you search your conscience and say that if the police had shot an unemployed oik in the same circumstances you would have the same concerns?

    1. Execution of an unarmed and innocent civilian on a South London tube train is more egregious than, unfortunately, having to neutralise a clear and present danger of a nutcase using firearms.

    2. Execution? You appear to have overlooked the fact that that the various inquiries and inquest into De Menezes tragic death found their was no evidence to prosecute any person. The inquest returned an open verdict, NOT unlawful killing. The Met was prosecuted for Health and Safety violations. The death was largely the responsibilty of some incompetent management not the fireams team on the ground who, incidentally, were not wearing anything that might upset BS.

    3. Whether it was management and/or the front line cops, that particular shift of the armed division of the Met (or whatever it is called) deliberately killed De Menezes. They then lied about what he was wearing, and that he was a terrorist threat. Inability to pin the blame specifically on one or more officers, management or the front line cops, does not relieve that particular crew of that responsibility. The various court outcomes quoted illustrate only the pathetic response of the law to that travesty, and is a whitewash. Those who maintain that killing De Menezes was lawful or accidental are either delusional or themselves have something to hide, in my view.

      In comparison, the nutcase barrister was armed and firing on civilians from cover at an elevated position in an urban area. Unquestionably, that Met crew got that one right, in my view.

    4. Well, at least we are agreed regards Mark Saunders.

      What is unpalatable regarding your thoughts around De Menezes is that the law allows thousands of offenders to walk free lest one innocent person be found guilty of an offence. Society, and particularly the would be Wolfie Smith anarchists out there, accuse the police of fit ups etc. every time one of their ilk is acquitted. When it comes to the police however there is no benefit of the doubt and we are guilty until proven innocent and then still guilty.

    5. @Tony Frost; Do you remember the background and context of De Menezes shooting. Something to do with bombs going off on the tube ring a bell?

      The officers on the ground were told this was a terrorist, likely already armed with a bomb, and they ran towards him to prevent another atrocity.

      Yes, they shouldn't have been put in that position by the half-arsed surveillance and intelligence, but they went in there thinking there was a good chance they were going to be blown to bits.

      I do like your mis-information, it's ironic. The stories about what he was wearing, and him vaulting the barriers turned out to be what eye-witnesses told the media.

    6. Here is the last paragraph on page 94 of the Stockwell 2 Report, as one example:

      "Once the MPS knew that Mr de Menezes was innocent on the morning of the 23 July 2005 they should have refrained from publicly discussing the shooting until such time as the facts had been fully established. Whilst the MPS admitted to having made a tragic mistake they continued to try to justify the
      shooting by referring to Mr de Menezes’ own actions and clothing."

    7. Yes, they stated in several press releases that "his clothing and actions heightened their suspicions".
      They never, at any point, stated what the clothing or actions were.
      The press did that, and they were repeating eye-witness testimony that turned out to wrong.
      Describing it as a lie is disingenuous and attributing it to the Police when the facts are in the public domain means you've not bothered to research it properly, or there's an agenda.

    8. Please separate reality from your wishful thinking. There was nothing at all suspicious about this victim's clothing or actions. The MPS knew it. But they continued with the fiction in official press releases. Hence the Inquiry's finding.

      By the way, the same goes for press releases and the Commissioner's verbal statement that 'he understood that' the victim was challenged and refused to co-operate before he was shot. That was complete fiction, too.

    9. Ed (not Bystander)9 May 2012 20:46

      Tony, naturally you have solid evidence that "[t]here was nothing at all suspicious about this victim's clothing or actions". Please share it with us.

    10. It Is positively disturbing how frequently the word 'nutcase' (and similar substantives denoting those he deems to be suffering from mental health issues) crop up in TF's posts. What is it specifically that makes him feel compelled to dismiss or disparage people in such terms? And does this not betray a certain mindset on his own behalf?

    11. I am sorry that you are positively disturbed.

      Nutcase is admittedly non-PC, and I would not use it in a clinical environment. You can think of it as short-hand for 'person with Mental health issues'. Note that neither suggests a precise psychiatric diagnosis.

      Unless you mean that you think a barrister taking pot shots at civilians in an urban area is possibly consistent with him being a psychologically healthy, well-balanced, and rational individual ?

    12. I am sorry that you are positively disturbed.

      Nutcase is short hand for person with mental health issues. Admittedly it is not PC and I would not use it in a clinical environment. Neither nutcase nor PWMHI is a precise psychiatric diagnosis.

      A barrister taking potshots at the public is what makes me disparage him as a nutcase. Or do you think that sort of behaviour is possibly consistent with a person that is without mental health issues ?

    13. Apols double post; the system led me to think the first attempt had failed.

    14. Ed (not Bystander):

      The Stockwell 2 Report has all the evidence on that aspect of the inquiries.

    15. Anonymous #612 May 2012 15:03

      I'm sorry that MotVG is disturbed, too. At least it was positively.

    16. Good point Anonymous #6 - positively or negatively, if he is disturbed he must be a nutcase too!

    17. Ed (not Bystander)25 May 2012 02:46

      TF, I am certain that you will provide representative quotes (with references) from that report.

  7. Obviously the armed division intended to kill De Menezes at the moment of the shooting. 7 hits in the head and one in the shoulder don't leave much doubt there.

    But I would hope that it's equally obvious that the police would not have shot him if they had not mistaken him for a terrorist at that point in time? To my mind, clearly the shooting was a horrendous mistake. At least that is what I think, and I don't think that I'm delusional, or that I have anything to hide.

    De Menezes was shot 15 days after the 7 July bombings in London (48 fatalities - I am not counting the bombers), and the day after the attempted bombings on 21 July. That everyone in London at the time was somewhere on the spectrum between highly nervous and terrified is not an excuse for killing an innocent man, but it does *help* explain people's actions.

    It's a disaster for someone innocent to get shot anywhere. I find it incredibly disturbing to have it happen in my home town, in an area I know very well. There was incompetence, and arse-covering on the police side, in some quarters at least - how could it be any different, given what had happened? But surely no-one thinks that the police are going around executing people at random?

    Personally I'm more exercised about UK complicity in people getting tortured overseas. That's not confined to one horrendous screw-up, but has been going on for a while. A good friend deals with some of the results directly. Now that's something that makes me ashamed to be British.


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