Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.

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Friday, 29 April 2016


My first memory of being involved with the police was when I was about 12 or 13 years old.  Outside the council flat where I was brought up I idly threw a pebble towards a telegraph pole when waiting impatiently for a friend to turn up.  A police motorcyclist happened to ride by at that very moment and when asked I casually admitted to him that I had indeed thrown the pebble.......about the size of an old fashioned shilling.  He took my name and address.  The long and short of this sorry tale is that I appeared with my father some weeks later at the local police station to be given a stern warning from a sergeant about any similar future hooligan conduct.   The next occasion I had imprinted on my mind about police activity was when shortly after becoming professionally qualified and days  after I had bought but couldn`t afford a shiny new red sports convertible I had to collect it from the local police car pound where it had been taken for illegal parking.  There was a deep ten inch scratch along one side.  When showing this to the officer in charge, who would have put fear into Mike Tyson by his size,  after I had paid to collect it he asked me in a most threatening manner, "Are you accusing the police of damaging your car?"  I declined to answer and drove off.  

We have all read about and sympathised with the Hillsborough victims` families.  Some might have been shocked by revelations of the police actions at the scene and the subsequent conspiracy to cover up their failings. And some including this former magistrate will not have been the least surprised.  In just five minutes cruising the web this morning I have noted six articles which are deeply disturbing and revealing about the current state of policing integrity or the lack of  in this country.  These are concerned with senior officers and officials.  For all ranks the figures are truly eye opening. West Midlands Constabulary eg has sacked 40 officers and staff for misconduct over the last four years. An example of the procedures required when disciplinary matters are considered within a police force is provided by these 29 pages from Derbyshire Police. *Yesterday it was reported that a Borough Commander in the Met Police was under investigation for gross misconduct.  At this point of course it is  solely allegation but the definition of gross misconduct is such as to be interesting. It is defined by the Met as, "Gross misconduct is defined as a breach of the standards of professional behaviour so serious that dismissal could be justified."  Just yesterday after the Hillsborough verdict the newly appointed temporary Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police gave notice of resignation owing to her recent history in Manchester.  Why on earth was she placed in post by the local Police and Crime Commissioner responsible?  Surely her background must have been checked and found wanting and if not the incompetence is breathtaking. And he is not the only PCC to have had questions asked of competence and integrity.  In Hampshire the PCC is facing serious questions also.  Cleveland, the county where its Chief Constable was sacked in 2012, now has its PCC and Police Authority involved in a public dispute relating to matters arising from that dismissal.  Not to be outdone, in Northamptonshire PCC Adam Simmonds is finding it awkward to extricate himself from allegations of illegal leaking of data. 

The recently established College of Policing in its attempt to become a learned professional body such as the General Medical Council or the College of Optometrists has drawn up a working Code of Ethics.  I wonder how long it will be before it is involved in its own controversy?

Over the years there have been public inquiries into many individual actions of police  eg the murder of Stephan Lawrence.  If any other so called profession had a similar history of incompetence, malfeasance and misconduct concerning senior personnel there would have been such outpourings from the great and the good not to mention public pressure that  there would have been established a public inquiry headed by a Lord this or a Lord that into the whole operation of policing in this country encompassing all the strands encountered by the Independent Police Complaints Commission now renamed Office for Police Conduct.  

There has been in recent years a renaming of the Border Agency and Criminal Records Bureau by the Home Office. It is a moot point whether apart from window dressing there has been any worthwhile benefit of such an exercise.  Of one thing there is no doubt.  There is an urgent need to clean out the Augean Stables. 

ADDENDUM 4th May 2016 

* It seems this sorry story has some way to run.

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