Friday, June 26, 2009

Dc Horton hears a who?

It has been the hot topic among the bloggers recently- a Times journalist took it upon himself to out the Nightjack blogger.

Motivations for this remain unclear. The most simple being envy- Dc Horton winning prizes for political writing, having half a million views on some of his posts; the journalistic challenge of finding out who it was; a sense of injustice of how posts about actual cases and therefore the suffering of others was bringing unjust reward. Who knows. I've had enough of searching through the website to try and find out why it was felt of sufficient merit to warrant the expense of going to the High Court. (Having said that, it appears it was an effort to establish that he really was a police officer and not someone faking it, according to their chief leader writer, although that doesn't answer the question of once they found out he was genuine, why they felt it necessary to go through to the High Court to fight for the right to name him)

What is clear is the spectacular backlash at their efforts- link here. This shouldn't come as any surprise to Mr Foster, as his own colleagues would have been able to tell him. I ought to make it clear I don't advocate any kind of harassment campaign though, as meeting one apparent injustice with another doesn't help anyone.

This ruling by the court has prompted the pre-emptive shutting of other blogger sites- Plastic Fuzz feels it necessary to shut up shop, and it would appear to be permanently this time. I sadly think it is a matter of time before Inspector Gadget finds himself unwillingly named.

It inevitably leads me to think, once again, why am I doing this. I think by blogging standards I'm (deliberately) quite tame, and as a result I don't attract the readership levels of Gadget, Nightjack et al, but by the same standard I don't think I particularly want to. I generally use this as an outlet to vent frustrations about what I read in the papers.

I usually stop myself posting about jobs I've been to, as I regard blogging is a bit like what someone once told me about batting in cricket- you will eventually, one day, be out(ed). (although in actual cricket, I would be measuring this in minutes, not hours!) I am therefore just a touch paranoid about what I write. I've a way to go to retirement and something like this showing up on my discipline record is not a good career move.

I usually take care not to mention other officers, even senior ones, by name. Politicians are excepted. I have no issue in lambasting politicians. I'm not allowed to join political parties and probably just as well- I make no attempt to hide the fact I distrust most of them.

I might actually post in full the guidelines I set myself another day. But for now, the rain has stopped and despite my back garden being barely big enough to pitch a tent in there's always a hundred things to do in it....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Taking liberties

I don't know how many people saw this article the other week. I know this old news now but I've been a busy boy!

Families of two persons incarcerated by the fellows over at GMP are suing them over this:

You see, despite all the media coverage of the trial and verdicts, apparently it is one step too far for the families to allow GMP to show mock ups of what these two would look like when they are finally released from prison. Never mind the rights of all their victims, it is a breach of their human rights now that GMP have put up a poster to remind those on the edge of violence there can be long term consequences.

Liberty are supporting this. I think I personally would have a lot more time for listening to Liberty if I was hearing reports from Tehran or Saudi Arabia, somewhere there is a real need for someone to be outspoken and brave on human rights issues, not living a comfortable barely threatened existance with quasi-celebrity appearances on Have I got News For You.

I agree there is a need to keep an eye out on these kind of issues here. But I think there needs to be some kind of acknowledgement too about how actually we do do some things better over here. Perhaps there is, but I've never heard it. Even go to mainland Europe and find yourself in the slammer, you'll be hoping you can afford to pay for your own interpreters and legal fees. And there's no 24 hour limit in police custody over in Italy, I can tell you.

As for the efforts to sue GMP over this poster, I do hope it falls flat on its face. There was wide coverage on local and national media, with the faces of those two plastered all over, but no protestations from Liberty then.

However, GMP are seen as an easy target. At least that what it seems like.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Prisoners, Property and Water

Just when you thought the dust was settling, the Met have managed another media headline spectacular. Waterboarding suspects? Handily, the Times point out, in case you were confused with the other Metropolitan Police in the UK, this is London's Metropolitan Police.

There are two branches of this story, one of which I sadly don't find surprising, the other I find incredulous.

Apparently, this all started with an Enfield drugs bust, and it sounded like a good one, with three in the bin for drug importation. Probably even got a mention in the local rag or the Mets inhouse propoganda journal, the cannily titled "The job". However, thats as good as the story gets.

Clearly, something has gone wrong from then on. The DPS, an alternative acronym for PSD, whichever combination of Standards, Professional and Directorate you care for- the Police police, have got whiff of something rotten.

I think I have a degree of understanding for the officers who felt it not fair that an apparent thoroughly illegal lifestyle of drug importation should result in expensive electro gadget refinery and thought of better places for them. After all, the Proceeds of Crime Act does takes a lot of time and hassle through the courts and this was more effective and satisfying.

However, summary justice like that is only ever going to bring you trouble. There's an old mantra that has been ignored- the three Ps that can get you fired- Prisoners, Prostitutes and Property. As unfair as it seems that the criminal element wallow in bling, theft is theft however Robin Hood esque your motives, especially when you're supposed to be the impartial sheriff.

That side of the story I don't find unbelievable, and reading in one article or the other if the DPS were at the covert surveillance stage then this was not the first time this particular band of 7 pound note cops had had a crafty property bonus and frankly had it coming.

But this waterboarding thing is so far out of left field that I honestly don't think I can accept it as true for the sake of my own professional pride of wearing a uniform saying "Police", however remote and distant Enfield is. The cynic in me reads articles about how difficult it is to prove it took place and equates it to being equally difficult to disprove. The state of the Met as it is today post G20 some commentators will never be shook in their opinion that it took place regardless what any investigation, inquiry or jury may say.

For such an event to have taken place the amount of collaboration going on between so many officers is disturbingly huge. It can only have taken place at the place of arrest as there is simply no way on earth anyone would do such a thing at any custody suite, every angle covered as it is in audio and visual cameras, with any random officer coming in or out to ask the exasperated custody sergeant some banal question.

I just hope this allegation turns out to be somehow irrevocably disproved. If the opposite, then frankly I hang my head in associated shame.

Note - 11th July- I read today in the Metro that the suspects are now claiming compensation- why am I not surprised in the least. Furthermore, apparently the torture allegations involve the schoolyard bullying tactic of flushing head down toilet bowls. Bullying, unpleasant, and utterly unprofessional yes, but waterboarding? No. Yet the media still went with the waterboarding headlines. Why?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Nothing much doing....

Ok so a bit of a lack of inspiration to pen anything of particular controversy of late. I've been let out of custody a bit the last couple of weeks and it has been such a refreshing change I haven't even minded standing on a crime scene- I kid you not.

It was bonkers busy when I did get out the other day- a near fatal road accident which we didn't know about until he turned up barely alive in a taxi at the local hospital; a student who said a smart comment to a group of people who were less inclined to settle disagreements by use of constructive debate; a chap who thought his argumentative co-passenger should be silenced by use of a bottle through the trachea.

My one was the middle one. What a pasting he got. How he was still able to stand I'll never know. He looked like he was growing golf balls in his head such were the size of the bruises. He was almost something out of a zombie movie, slurry mumbly speech, shuffling along missing a shoe, bleeding misshapen head and torn up shirt. I have got to admit though I did have a little less sympathy for him as he clearly didn't get the hint that smart sarcastic comments or to be more accurate, insults- don't win you friends, not even from the people trying to help you. The ambulance crew were sorely tempted to leave him by the roadside.

Tell you what our job can be fairly tedious on a weekend night duty but I'd still rather do mine than the ambulance boys and girls. The amount of abuse they must get. At least we do carry handcuffs and have a number of powers to deal with abusive drunken (insert your own adjective here) whatnots. Granted the consequences rarely amounts to much, maybe a night in the cells and a £80 fine when you're kicked out, but at least there is a degree of self satisfaction in slamming the cell door to the insults and waving bye bye through the wicket. Ambulance crews don't get that.

On a different note- we have another Home Secretary? 4th one in 4 years? I can't even remember this new blokes name. I wonder what harebrained idea is going to come spouting forth in what has to be the Labour Party's desperate last stand.