Has Home Secretary May lost the plot?

Chiefs , Police Commissioners and now chaps from abroad?!

No wonder ex police chiefs are queuing up to get their letters of protest printed. So much is going on in the police service to sound warning bells and to ask who on earth is advising the Right Honourable Lady? I accept that a pay cut for new recruits sounds a bit harsh but after the lean pay years of the 70’s when bobbies were pushed into moonlighting, the starting salary rocketed and police pay became very good indeed But too much now for these impoverished times!

But what about the crazy “Police Commissioners” scheme which has created a whole new meaning for ill thought out, unaccountable Quangos? The cost to elect them is a scandal and since the former legal fat cat of the Welsh Assembly, one barrister Winston Roddick, got the job, what has he done? Where is his office and how can he be contacted? His first major gaffe was to tell the public he did not consider the job to be full time? Who checks what he does and how much per hour will his services cost us? Dreadful error, Theresa! I know that failure of Police Authorities to supervise their forces effectively and had wool severely pulled over eyes by artful senior officers, was maddening but what have you got now? In North Wales our Commissioner, a man we rarely saw in the Assembly as he seemed completely invisible but his salary and legal title put him high into the Assembly stratosphere. He’s now his own part time, unsupervised boss as well. Wow!

Soon, the next Council tax bill drops on the mat. Check carefully what’s the cost of running our police force and is the cost of “ Mr Part Time” added too? I await my council bill with interest.

Chief officers’ impact on their force is huge. They are demi gods and lower ranks work hard to please. So,ditching years on the beat and recruiting a new breed of either foreigners or those with absolutely no police experience into the top of the British Police Service is plainly daft! I was a product of two statutory years on the beat that gave me invaluable training to learn operational skills, honing my experience needed to take charge, make arrests, give evidence in courts and generally taught me to deal with people together with coping with that ever important public order problem. To miss this basic grounding is perilous.

Bill Braton was successful in New York because he swamped the streets with thousands of extra hands and zero tolerance worked. Try swamping just one small police area in this country to deal with a real menace of a problem. We get “Displacement”. The trouble makers buzz off from the hot spot and start again afresh where policing is less intense.

The various fast track promotion courses, in my day, Special Course, through to Senior Command Course have cost millions and were considered to be the best way to select our senior officers. With many exceptions of course; the weak link is the selection process of our senior officers to allow them to climb up to their top jobs . Why do some forces get it wrong over the years? S Wales, Merseyside, the Yorkshire Hillsborough débâcle, the selection of that Greater Manchester chief found frozen stiff up Snowdon with a bottle of booze by his side some years ago. Promotion from the Met with a seedy, sexed up shortcomings history. I bet the Met were overjoyed when they could off-load this walking disaster to another force before the balloon went up over his unfitness to hold high rank was discovered.

My own former Merseyside chiefs were examples of a dreadful selection process. One was an arrogant bully who spent much of his week in London. Could those riots be attributed to his abrasive management style? Who knows. And under the watch of his successor, in my battle for equality in the 90’s my office files were doctored and minutes changed to rubbish me and my few brave witnesses.

The Eddie Gilfoyle travesty of justice also happened in the 90’s on this man’s watch when apart from doing nothing to help with the follow up by Eddie’s lawyers, he dismissed disciplinary charges against the officers who the Gilfoyle family knew had had behaved inappropriately. Nice , all embarrassing word that!

The force seriously “cocked up” the investigation into Eddie’s hanged wife, dismissed evidence of witness that could have cleared Eddie and then withheld a damning disciplinary report into how Merseyside officers behaved so incompetently. Even when the chief was pushed by the Police Complaints Authority into holding a disciplinary tribunal against these culpable officers, following the Supt. Graham Gooch report; who believed Eddie innocent, Merseyside’s top cop waved two fingers to justice. He cautioned one and let the rest go free. Some were promoted, just for good measure. What message did that give to a family in trauma with a member consigned to prison for life. Did Home Office ask questions . No they turned a blind eye.

18 years Eddie Gilfoyle spent in prison for a crime he did not commit whilst the man who so badly damaged my career was knighted and has been happily hoovering up big pension and bigger remuneration for being the Countess of Chester Hospital big Administrative cheese. Will his knighthood be withdrawn? No!

What did Home Office think about the 25 year Hillsboroughs’ victims wait for justice? . No quiet digging behind the scenes to find out the truth and what was the message from politicians over this dreadful cover up? Did Home Office also not ask why Sir Norman Bettison, deeply seemingly implicated in the Hillsborough affair when he too had been in charge of Merseyside, should be allowed to retire unchallenged? He was just allowed to slink away on another fat pension. The Home Secretary is the final arbiter over a chief; is my understanding. Far from challenging poor behaviour at senior rank under their noses, the option is go for outsiders. Hmm. Not good for career development within the ranks.

Home Officer must find better ways of ensuring that people like the Manchester, the Hillsborough Force chiefs and certainly the Merseyside chief all flawed in various ways: never again get to the top. Far from hankering after different leaders beyond the British Police they should analyse the present section system and work out why so many failures get through the selection net. There must be a way.

The ever growing loss of confidence in how the police behave must be addressed but not by the Bill Braton’s of this world and certainly not by our recently elected Police & Crime Commissioners. Could there be concerns over some of the elected commissioners, given the furore over some of the dubious records of several candidates, who were obliged to withdraw from the contest. Learning that the North Wales commissioner is only part time, is worrying. Home Office has almost as much to answer for as some of the failed chiefs. Even when the promotion system seems so flawed, rather than look at it again Home Office continues to behaves like an ostrich!

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