Categories
Ealing and Northfield Policing

Ealing police station found wanting again

Ealing resident and journalist Yasmin Alibhai Brown played a key part in the chain of events that have led to disgraced BBC presenter Stuart Hall’s downfall. In her account she gives a glowing account of Lancashire Police. Unfortunately her account of Ealing police station will not come as a surprise to many of us:

So, I went to my police station in Ealing, sat for almost two hours waiting to hand it [a letter] in and feeling a bit foolish. The small reception area was crowded that day with victims of robberies and assaults, some addicts and a couple of drunk bores. I almost left a couple of times because it was taking so long and because I wasn’t sure what they would do with an anonymous letter. When, finally, it was my turn, the officer recording the “incident” looked uninterested.

Ms Alibhai-Brown half excuses Ealing police with the phrase “crowded that day” but my own experience of Ealing police station has always been as she describes. A badly signed, dirty, unfriendly environment where one officer uses one workstation to go through an incredibly long process whilst people have to wait for an unacceptably long time.

There is no excuse for this level of service. It discourages the reporting of crime and is simply an insult to peole who are trying to do the right thing. Luckily Ealing Police did pass the letter on to Lancashire Police so the system worked. But, part of that chain was the awful “screw you” culture of the front desk at Ealing police station. If Yasmin Alibhai-Brown had been one millimetre less the good citizen that she clearly is then Stuart Hall might still have an unstained reputation today.

Ealing police station’s front desk must get a lot better.

Categories
Policing

New Telegraph Police commentator complaining not informing

It looks like the Telegraph has taken ex-Met Assistant Commissioner John Yates on as a regular commentator on policing affairs. He wrote last Friday and this week. Last week he was praising policemen and warning about elected police commissioners. This week he is on about cuts. Yates sounds like too much of a spokesman for police producer interests and not enough like an independently minded commentator.

He points out that the Met has to deal with making cuts of £769 million. Yates fails to put the £769 million in the context of the Met’s overall £3.7 billion spend. This is 20% of their overall spend like many other parts of the public services. The deficit has to be tackled. End of.

He points out that most of their budget is manpower. The way to tackle it is to deal with staff terms and conditions.

Why is it the Met get free use of public transport in London but don’t travel to work in uniform when they use it? Free, visible policing.

Why not close police canteens and get the police using restaurants and shops like the rest of the working population (most policemen work 9 to 5 like anyone else)? Free, visible policing.

These two proposals on their own give you your 20% back.

Has the Met closed its in house uniform tailoring service yet? How many drivers and limos are still in use? How many residential properties and executive dining rooms? Time to clean house.

Categories
Ex-Mayor Livingstone Mayor Johnson Policing

The Met repudiates Livingstone Safer Neighbourhood Team pledge

One of Ken Livingstone’s six main pledges, made last Wednesday, relates to policing.

Boris Johnson has admitted cutting 1,700 police officers. If I am elected, I will reverse his cuts. And I will reinstate sergeants to all 600 Safer Neighbourhood Teams, more of which will be beefed up to a minimum of nine officers.

Livingstone in particular made much of last year’s decision by the Met to pull 150 sergeants out of their Safer Neighbourhood Teams. This affected Northfield ward. When our wonderful Sergeant Gergory Fox retired last year he was not replaced. Instead the sergeant running the Ealing Common team took over ours. Of course we would have liked to have kept our sergeant but the police decided that they wanted to use their sergeants for other roles. Labour have tried to dramatise this as a decision by Mayor Boris Johnson. Of course it was not. It was an operational decision taken by the Met.

Livingstone is simply not entitled to make his pledge on SNT sergeants. It represents operational interference with the police. In any case where would he magic experienced, trained sergeants from? The Met is entitled to make the decision that the traditional SNT sergeants have too small a span of control and can often easily manage two five man teams as our new sergeant does.

One week after Livingstone’s pledge the Met made an announcement about beefing up Safer Neighbourhood Teams after the Olympics, see here.

At the end of his remarks Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne, head of Territorial Policing, confirms that it was the police that took out the sergeants, not the Mayor who has no power to impose operational changes on the police. He also makes it clear that the changes will stick in spite of Livingstone’s promises. To me this press release looks like a specific repudiation of Livingstone’s policing pledge just one week after he made it.

Last year we announced changes to the number of sergeants on Safer Neighbourhoods teams to make the supervisory ratios more inline with other police forces. Our new model now increases the number of police officers in local communities at a time when the MPS is facing budget challenges so this step is a clear statement of our commitment to local policing.

Categories
Ealing and Northfield Policing

It has been riot week this week

On Tuesday the killer of Richard Mannington Bowes was named as Darrell Desuze. The teenager lives in Hounslow and has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

On Wednesday the Metropolitan Police Service (the Met) issued their final riot report. The report has largely been ignored by the media or where it did appear journalists only wanted to talk about water cannon and rubber bullets. The Evening Standard ran with ‘Riot officers “feared for their lives”‘. The Telegraph chose to highlight Twitter in their headline. The Guardian was fixated on rubber bullets. The BBC ignored it altogether. Locally the online ealingtoday.co.uk news service was taken by talk of CS and water cannon but the Gazette failed to notice anything.

I spent a couple of hours reading the report last night. The report does say some sensible things about speeding up the Met’s mobilisation process and increasing the number of TSG (Level 3 riot trained officers in the Territorial Support Group) by 200 or 25% from 800 to 1,000 and increasing the number of Level 2 shield trained officers by 1,750 or 50% from 3,500 to 5,250. The report shows little sign of wanting to tackle terms and conditions of officers or provide a mechanism for calling up off-duty officers in emergencies.

The Met seems intent on sticking to a model where officers turn up for work following immoveable shift patterns and then officers deploy to trouble spots as required (but form up into their equivalent of platoons called PSUs at “forward mustering points” rather than at their home bases). The Met has tagged the words dynamic, agile and flexible to its “Service Mobilisation Plan” without changing very much at all.

Disappointingly in my view the MPS report fails to identify the total number of rioters – probably in the order of no more than 5-6,000. The Met itself employed 31,478 sworn police officers, 5,479 Special Constables and 3,832 non-sworn Police Community Support Officers as at the end of October 2011. That is a total of 40,800 frontline police officers. The report fails to adequately explain how a force of this size was bested by 6,000 youths (the report says that only 8% of those arrested were over 35).

Next week Ealing’s own cabinet will discuss the final version of Ealing’s own riot report. The cross party scrutiny panel that produced it had no problem putting their political differences aside and coming up with some sensible recommendations. Our first recommendation was:

The Panel recommends to the Metropolitan Police that it urgently reviews its deployment procedures to deal with fast moving multi centre public order events. The MPS must develop the capacity to expand rapidly, mobilising large scale resources at short notice to maximise visible Police presence. This review should include all aspects of current working conditions and practices.

Regrettably, the Met have failed to address this point properly.

Categories
Policing

Plan B: Rich little poor kid

As a rule when musicians enter the public debate they do so at a pretty superficial level. Plan B (real name Ben Drew), spokesman for the $2.869 billion per annum Warner Music Group empire, released this video at the start of the week. Entitled “Ill Manors” it doesn’t take the debate much further than blaming the riots on the David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Read the reports. They are way duller, but more useful.

Categories
Ealing and Northfield Policing

We only get office hours from Ealing police

I have just followed the new @EalingMPS Twitter feed from the Ealing Borough Command of the Met. It is great that the police are reaching out but I do despair of the line “This site is staffed Mon-Fri 8-4. “ We really need 24/7 policing and only being told what is happening during office hours is really not on.

In a sensible world the borough commander, Chief Superintendent Andy Rowell, would have the Twitter app loaded on his mobile and would be able tell us what is happening if anything big does happen in the borough. Last August all we had from the Met was silence and it was up to the leader of the council to try to fill the void. Not good. Must do better.

Categories
Policing

“I know how frustrating it can be to see headlines and not necessarily find what lies beneath them.”

Yesterday the cultural left got in a free hit with a three pronged attack by the Guardian, LSE and BBC working together to push a line that the police were essentially to blame for the August riots.

The headline of the LSE’s press release was:

LSE and Guardian study finds anger with police fuelled summer riots

They back this up with the stat:

Of the people interviewed, 85% said policing was an important or very important factor in why the riots happened.

The subtext is that the police were essentially to blame for the August riots. This is an outrageous position to take which is unsupported by facts. It is certainly unsupported by published facts as the LSE don’t propose to publish their “report” until 14th December. Any analysis of the actual report will get lost in the Christmas holidays. The headline, disembodied from any facts or logical arguments, can have a life of its own.

The “report” referred to today is no such thing. All it is is a flimsy press release from the LSE layered with sided comment from the Guardian. The LSE are refusing to publish any actual report until December 14th. Nick Herbert the Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice was unwise to go on Newsnight last night without sight of any real data. Ex-Met commissioner Sir Ian Blair talked about the quality of the LSE’s research. Had he seen it? No-one else had.

The LSE’s sample is 270 people. As there is no real report we have no idea who they are. Postcodes? Ages? Criminal history? We don’t know what questions were asked to get to the conclusion offered by these “researchers”. Polemicists more like.

Last night’s Newsnight was taken over by a left wing apologia for the August riots. No “report”. Just a highly edited TV polemic. Newsnight accepted a package from a third party that lasted 20 minutes. It was essentially a jazzed up interview with three unrepentent criminals (Alex, Daniel and Jade) presented by Guardian reporter Paul Lewis. Hilariously the vicious Jade, “We enjoyed it. I felt no guilt. Nuffink.”, wants to be a primary school teacher.

I wrote to the LSE’s unacademic Professor Tim Newburn yesterday to request sight of his “report”. His response was:

Dear Mr Taylor,

Unusually for a piece of research the initial findings are coming out in the newspaper. Quite a lot of data and supporting evidence is on the Guardian website for the project:

Please don’t hesitate to get back in touch if you have specific questions or queries – I know how frustrating it can be to see headlines and not necessarily find what lies beneath them.

Regards

Tim

Without irony Newburn tells me: “I know how frustrating it can be to see headlines and not necessarily find what lies beneath them.” Yes. Quite. He is doing a job on us. It stinks.

Categories
Ex-Mayor Livingstone Mayor Johnson Policing

London Police numbers – Labour cuts stories a total joke

Police numbers will be one of the issues of the forthcoming London mayoral election. This table is copied straight from the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) website. The MPA is an independent body and these figures can be trusted by all sides of the debate I think.

Warranted police officer numbers never fall below the level inherited from Ken Livingstone’s administration. PCSO numbers drop 12%. This is more than compensated for by a more than doubling of special numbers. Specials are warranted police officers with powers of arrest that PCSOs do not have.

Adding up total MPS staff inherited from the previous administration and projected numbers in election year next year you will find that overall numbers will be up 10%.

Categories
Ealing and Northfield National politics Policing

The August riots were essentially a police failure

I am hardening in my view that the August riots were essentially a police failure. The bad lads went out looking for trouble as they perceived that the police could not cope. The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel has come close to endorsing this view. They say:

The vast majority of people we spoke to believed that the sole trigger for disturbances in their areas was the perception that the police could not contain the scale of rioting in Tottenham and then across London.

Lack of confidence in the police response to the initial riots encouraged people to test reactions in other areas. Most of the riots began with some trouble in retail areas with a critical mass of individuals and groups converging on an area. Rioters believed they would be able to loot and damage without being challenged by the police. In
the hardest hit areas, they were correct.

The panel also talked about the riot going “viral”. The rioters had the benefit of modern technology and flexible work practices! The police did not. Whilst the rioters were using Blackberry messages to co-ordinate their activities the police could not get off-duty officers out of bed because the personnel people had gone home at 5pm and there was no access to officers’ home or mobile numbers (even if it had been in their culture to go back once clocked off). In London approximately 5,000 rioters humiliated a workforce of 32,000 warranted police officers (not to mention 5,000 specials and 5,000 PCSOs). The Metropolitan Police force’s budget is £2.7 billion per annum.

Categories
Policing

Bell gets his numbers wrong – again

Council leader, Labour’s Julian Bell, is very slapdash with numbers. His tweets above seek to make political capital out of the riots. According to the police they deployed 16,000 on Tuesday 9th August.

The 14,000 number Bell quotes is a Labour party estimate which is of dubious provenance and in any case includes back office staff across the whole country.

Cllr Bell might like to comment on why the Met were only able to put 6,000 officers, out of a workforce of 32,000 warranted officers, on the streets on the night of August 8th. The problem on August 8th was not one of police numbers. It was one of police deployment and work practices. Bell does not like confronting wasteful work practices and has made no progress on the £30 million he could save by reforming Ealing council’s work practices, see here.

Furthermore, the bit of police spending Bell is in charge of has been reduced from £1.07 million to £660K, a budget cut of 38%. The number of officer is due to drop from 43 to 19 or 58%.

Bell is the biggest police cutter.