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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query augean stables. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query augean stables. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, 15 June 2021


Salami slicing is a well trodden phrase used originally to describe the subtle reduction by the very thin slicing  of a piece of  sausage or a large piece of meat.  Of course now that phrase can be applied to many areas of our lives but in the context of government policies it means the subtle reductions in financial support to a public policy.  Nowhere is this more obvious than it  is to our justice system in its widest context. From Kenneth Clarke at the Ministry of Justice in 2010 when he proudly announced that he was the first cabinet minister to announce his department`s budget reduction of 23% until the present time when a compulsive lying prime minister has proudly announced the recruitment of 20,000 police officers which was exactly the number his predecessors over the last decade had sacked, our system of justice has been reduced from a beacon to the wider world to a system not fit for purpose.  Nowhere is this hiring and firing been more apparent than in the policy or non policy of stop and search which has become a totem of those who accuse the Metropolitan Police of racism.  There is no doubt that the Met itself has been under fire for its apparent failure to weed out and actually punish officers for gross misconduct often during stop and search actions. Indeed only six officers have been disciplined since 2014 out of over 5,000 complaints.  But that does nothing to disguise the fact that young black males are the main victims of black perpetrators.  A government with confidence in its own policies would provide not just funds to operate an efficient policing system but would also argue that the facts on knife crime require more than rhetoric which is a recurring feature of every Justice Secretary in living memory. A Freedom of Information answer from Scotland Yard might be of interest. 

There is no doubt that notwithstanding superficial improvements there is systemic failure within the police to investigate and punish their own officers.  That corruption is endemic from top to bottom  has been made front page news today 15th June on the murder of Daniel Morgan.  There is no doubt that the Met needs systemic investigation and also that the Augean Stables of the Home Office including its current boss need a thorough clean out.  Huffing and puffing by the current Home Secretary has to be met by truth, truth more truth and nothing but the truth. At a lower level amongst the hundreds of cases involving serving police officers is that of ex PC Oliver Banfield.  His unlawful actions have been repeated countless times with little punishment for those culpable. 

Sometimes I wonder at the lack of common sense amongst senior police officers.  Such an example is Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Cox the national leader for fatal collision investigations.  He has equated speeding with knife crime. He has said that reckless middle class motorists should not be treated more leniently than youths with weapons. Notwithstanding the fact that badly or recklessly driven vehicles can kill I doubt many drivers start their cars with that possibility at the back of their minds.  For those whose driving is found to be careless or dangerous and/or compounded by alcohol, sanctions have increased in the last decade to punish those responsible. Knife carrying is a statement of intent.  It is both amazing and depressing that such a senior officer can make such a crass remark but what is of more concern is if he can harbour such a public opinion and influence policy what is going on behind the scenes that we might have imposed upon us at some future date.

It is no surprise to all court workers that there is an enormous backlog of cases in our courts.  Obviously the pandemic has exacerbated what was a disgraceful situation where the acronym CJSSS;    Criminal Justice: Simple, Speedy, Summary was introduced in 2007.  In many ways this so called simplification was just a new way of applying rules that were already in place.  The introduction of the controversial Single Justice Procedure in 2015 was also another way to overcome what were considered obstacles to early guilty pleas. There is no doubt that the closing over the last decade of half the country`s magistrates courts has been a major contribution to the current backlog combined with the failure to improve recruitment of new magistrates resulting in an unprecedented advertising blitz to overcome the deficit the result of which has in all probability reduced the intellectual fitness required for decision making.  Currently there are 56,000 cases outstanding in crown court with some timetabled for 2023. 

Amidst all forms of judicial statistics, thinking and programmes there is a complete absence of joined up thinking. Policy therefore seems to belong to those who shout loudest in the required direction of those with the biggest ears.  That is how justice is administered in 21st century England. There is, however, one ray of hope for this writer who has been advocating for a decade that drug users should be put on a medical pathway and not a criminal pathway to rehabilitation and reform.  MP Dr Dan Poulter has lobbied for change. Perhaps he might be pointed to this blog and write workhouse in the search box for my suggestions. 

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.