Wednesday, 21 September 2011

British Justice System Executes Criminal

Well I was anticipating my next post being a blow by blow account of the Dale Farm eviction. A judge has decided that they can have another few days respite while he considers their case in more detail. If he allows them to stay it is yet another blow for justice. Does the law apply equally to all or does the law not apply to minorities? That is the only decision he has to make. If he allows the eviction to go ahead, the blow by blow account will follow next week.

Raymond Jacob

You may have read about the case of  Raymond Jacob, 37, who was stabbed to death during a burglary at the Bramhall home of businessman Vincent Cooke. It turns out that Jacob has a long history of offending dating back 20 years. Mr. Cooke was arrested on suspicion of murder but now been released on bail.

Jacob has dozens of convictions and was first sent to prison in 1995 for theft of a car. Since then he has served seven other custodial sentences, in between community penalties and suspended sentences, for numerous offences of theft, burglary, assault and robbery.

Jacob was jailed for 18 months after beating up a stranger during a night out in 1999. He admitted grievous bodily harm when he appeared at Mold Crown Court following the incident in Handforth, near Wilmslow. He served 8 months.

His longest sentence was 30 months for a burglary. He was also separately given eight weeks in jail for theft, five months for robbery, five months for assault, four months for burglary and another four months for burglary. He served less than a year.

Yesterday Jacob's alleged accomplice, Michael Anthony Thorpe, 33, of Outwood Road, Heald Green, appeared before Stockport magistrates accused of aggravated burglary at Mr Cooke’s home on Saturday night. He was remanded in custody and the case was sent to Minshull Street Crown Court for trial on December 2.

The role of the police within the justice system is quite rightly scrutinised and investigated. If we make a mistake or do anything wrong the IPCC or CPS will direct charges or discipline. The multi agency 'lessons learned' committee will give us the benefit of their wisdom having stuffed itself from the trough of hindsight.

The judges who dealt with Jacob's, The Prison Service, The Probation Service, The Crime and Disorder Partnership, The Prolific and Priority Offender Team, those responsible for writing the farcical sentencing guidelines, the Parole Board and the Government who approved the ridiculous early release programs to reduce our prison population are all responsible for his death. If Jacobs had been given appropriate sentences for his previous offending; if any meaningful rehabilitation existed in our prisons, Jacob's would still be alive. There needs to be a Royal Commission regarding our joke of a justice system.

My congratulations to Mr Cooke for defending himself, his home and his family so robustly. I apologise on behalf of our pathetic justice system that you will have to live with this for the rest of your life.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Tough on Immigration?

I have had a couple of experiences recently with the UK Border Agency or Immigration Department as they used to be known. My experience confirms that our country's border controls are nothing short of a joke. There is little control over immigration and there is systematic abuse of our laws which we seem incapable of overcoming for fear of legal action and particularly the Human Rights Act.

One sunny morning this summer, some of my officers assisted the UK Border Agency executing a warrant at a local business premise. The result is that five Pakistani men were arrested. Each of the five had entered this country on six month visas allegedly to visit relatives whilst on holiday. All five had stayed in this country for between two and five years and were living and working here. They were brought to the local police station where they were interviewed . It was established that they had all overstayed their visas and were working in this country illegally. They were then removed to an immigration detention centre.

You may be forgiven for assuming that all five would be put on a plane back to Pakistan within days. I assumed that is what happened, but I bumped into one of the Border Agency officers and got an update. At the detention centre all five applied for leave to remain in the UK and appealed against their deportation. One was given leave to remain, the other four were released and told to report to their local police station daily until their appeal was heard. The four disappeared and have have not been seen nor heard of since.

More recently I spent two days at an international airport working with the UK Border Agency. I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing. We have people arriving in this country every day who are obviously intending to stay or work. We interview them. They lie. They are evasive. But nine times out of ten we let them in anyway as we cannot prove what we believe. Occasionally we refuse them entry and sometimes they demand asylum. Sometimes they appeal against refusal of entry and we just let them in anyway because the appeal process is expensive and loaded in favour of the immigrant.

I am not against all immigration. Our transport system, our health service and, more recently our service industry have been saved by immigration. It is just a shame that we have more than one million unemployed who do not have the social skills, or any other skills, to fill these gaps.

Currently, for every illegal immigrant the UK Border Force detain only one in three is actually deported. The rest are given asylum or permission to remain or just disappear into the black economy.

If we are going to get tough on immigration we need a very simple system. If we think you might be bogus you go back from whence you came. No appeal, and no asylum, unless you are from a country on a list with serious human rights issues. If you overstay your welcome, you are on the next flight home. No appeal, no discussion. The current system is a complete joke and is being abused and capitalized upon.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Elf and Safety

I have mentioned before that my job involves attending a lot of meetings. I came to realise that many of these meetings are a complete waste of time. I stopped attending many and nothing happened. I had more time to do my job and focus on policing. The service we provided did not suffer. I thought I was not missed.

My boss recently told me that I had not been attending the Town Centre Management Group meeting. I had been missed and they would like me to attend. So I attended. The agenda had nothing on it that I thought need my presence but clearly I was wanted. Item 7 on the agenda was the turning on of the Christmas lights in the High Street. I was excited to hear that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be the pantomime at the local theatre this year and the actors taking part will be invited to turn on the lights. The actors will stand on the first floor balcony of the town hall. Concern was expressed that people would not be able to see the dwarfs on the balcony. A suggestion was made that the dwarfs could stand on a bench so they could easily be seen. There was then concern that the dwarfs might get caught up in the excitement and fall off the balcony. The solution: We can stand the dwarfs on a bench but have them all wear harnesses and tie them to the building so they cannot fall.

So, nearly two hours into a meeting that has no relevance to the police at all, we have discussed for nearly half an hour whether some dwarfs from the local panto can stand on a bench and whether they should be harnessed and tied to the building to ensure they don't fall off the balcony. I kept having to remind myself, this was not a dream and this discussion was really taking place. You couldn't make it up!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Questions For the New Met Commissioner

Bernard Hogan-Who?

Well Bernard Hogan-Howe is the new Met Commissioner. What we know about Bernard is that he is pretty straight talking and doesn't mind ruffling feathers. We also know that he thinks he can run the Met despite the cuts that are coming. He is obviously not going to ruffle the Governments feathers regarding their proposed cuts to the police service. We also know that as the Chief Constable of Merseyside he cut back room functions and focused on the front line and reducing crime. Taking on criminals and gangs is his focus and we should applaud much of what he achieved in Liverpool.

The Guardian has spoken to a number of individuals and asked them what they want the new Commissioner to do. Her are a few of them.

Lee Jasper: ex-equalities adviser to London mayor
He should immediately request the prime minister to announce a royal commission into all suspicious deaths in police custody. I would also hope he would immediately seek to massively reduce the over-representation of young black people in stop-and-search figures. And finally they should abolish the 12th-century office of constable, which gives rise to so much discretionary policing that is not capable of judicial or professional challenge. We need a 21st-century conception of policing not one that relies on feudal law that is completely unsuited to modern times.

Pam Hothi: manager at Chaos Theory, the gang violence prevention charity

I'm a strong believer in building community relations and, given the recent riots, the Met have got a hard task in starting again. Without those relations, you're not going to have positive outcomes in getting people to engage … particularly gangs.
You need to work for and listen to your community that you serve. Zero tolerance policing won't work. Enforcement alone cannot solve the problem. You need a strong balance of enforcement and intensive welfare support. You can't lock everyone up. You'll only end up further marginalising that community.

Jody McIntyre: who was manhandled by police during student demonstrations last year (The Guardians words not mine)

The priorities for a new commissioner should be to end the complete culture of unaccountability that exists within the police and challenge the double standard that is clearly in effect. The police might be there to enforce the law but they are also subject to that law so, if a police officer is suspected of killing someone or mistreating someone in their custody, then they should face the punishment for that crime just like any other member of the public.

Well, Lee Jasper is going to be disappointed. Pam Hothi doesn't seem to understand what the function of the police is. Intensive welfare support is the function of other public services who are failing miserably. Jody McIntyre's comments just confirm what an ignorant bigoted cretin he is. The police have never been more accountable. And as far as I am aware if police officers kill people or mistreat them they are subject of the law. But unlike everyone else, police officers, as enforcers of the law, are subject to far more robust investigations than the public and far more serious sentences on the rare occasions they do break the law.

I have one question for the new Commissioner. At the peak of the riots in London, Jody McIntyre urged people everywhere to rise up and riot in their area. Specifically his post on Twitter said. 'Be inspired by the scenes in #tottenham, and rise up in your own neighbourhood. 100 people in every area = the way we can beat the feds.'

Since then he has tried to say that the tweet was made before the riots and he wasn't inciting people to riot. This is a lie. His tweet was made at 10.02 pm on Saturday 6th August. This was well after rioting started and had been posted all over Twitter and the television. We know that McIntyre will lie to try and substantiate complaints against police and now he is lying to try and escape justice.

I made a complaint to the Met police that McIntyre had committed the offence of incitement to riot. I know others did so too. I have contacted the Met and no one can tell me whether this crime has been recorded or whether any investigation has been carried out or completed. Can anyone in the Met tell me?

My question to the Commissioner is. "If you are going to be tough on criminals. If you are going to be brave and rise above the adverse media that will inevitably arise out of this case, when is McIntyre going to be arrested and charged with this offence?"

Friday, 9 September 2011

Mark Duggan Buried

I was dismayed to see the funeral of Mark Duggan today. His family insist he was no gangster but we had a funeral akin to one of the Krays.

I was pleased to hear some of the church leaders involved in the ceremony speaking out against violence and recriminations.

I am not surprised at all that David Lamentable, the disgraceful MP for Tottenham, is still blaming everyone else for the riots. His attention has turned to the IPCC. He now states that if the IPCC had dealt with the family and community differently all the rioting could have been avoided. If the IPCC had made clear to the family that they were independent of the police and if they had held a press conference assuring everyone that a thorough inquiry would be carried out none of the rioting need have happened. Isn't the clue in the name? This pathetic, apology for an MP will never ever suggest that some of the people of Tottenham were wrong to start rioting because the IPCC hadn't given them enough respect. Innit.

The IPCC do have some questions to answer. How did they manage to put out a press release stating that Duggan died in an exchange of fire with police? Why did the IPCC not tell the family that Duggan had been shot and killed? Calls for the disbandment of the IPCC are ridiculous. Whatever organisation or process is put in place to investigate police action will never appease some.

I am disappointed that the family, and some of those that latch themselves onto families in these circumstances, are still making ridiculous speculative comments regarding the circumstances of Duggan's death. According to some, the police now have a shoot to kill policy. Duggan's fingerprints are not on the gun found at the scene and so it must have been planted by the police. Duggan was an ordinary family man who was hoping to get a job with London Fire Brigade.

We should, of course, wait for the result of the inquiry but these ridiculous allegations deserve a response. For an unemployed man Duggan had a lifestyle way beyond a person in receipt of benefits. The gun found at the scene was loaded and capable of being fired. The gun was in a sock. This is a well known method for  criminals to avoid leaving fingerprints and other forensic evidence. The inquiry may reveal that the police had intelligence that Duggan intended to shoot the person who killed his cousin, Kelvin Easton. He had been stabbed during an argument about a woman and drugs. The police were following Duggan and made the decision to intercept him. What threat Duggan posed to justify being shot is the only real question. If the officer felt he was at threat from the weapon that should be the end of it.

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Trouble With Travellers

My Force has been asked to assist with the Dale Farm Traveller site eviction and I am getting briefed on the role of our PSU teams. I have read some of the recent rhetoric on the subject. From the right we have calls to bulldoze the site and throw them all off into the sunset and from the left we have calls for compassion, human rights and understanding of the honourable nomadic people. The cause is now being taken over by the usual anti establishment leftie brigade who are rushing to the scene. The proposition of a chance to bash a few coppers is too much to resist.

Dale Farm is green belt land which is occupied by Irish Travellers. The land was agricultural land which has been bought  by some of the travellers. All over the country the same thing is happening. There are three illegal encampments in the area I work. The Council are in the process of taking similar enforcement action against two of the sites. The third, they tried to take action but the Court decided that no eviction could take place as there is an elderly lady living there who is ill. When she finally pops off the Council can try again, but if history is anything to go by there will be a pregnant mother or sick child who cannot be moved for one reason or another.

What do I know about Irish travellers? Well when I attend diversity training a Christian traveller lady comes to talk to us. She tells us about the history, the culture and the morality of the traveller community. She talks about the work they do, the travelling and of her own Christian travelling community.

Like nearly all police officers I have had many dealings with travellers over the years. I remember the first non payment of fines warrant I ever tried to execute. It was at the home of a settled traveller family. I knocked on the door and an upstairs window was opened by the person named on the warrant. I explained why I was there and he shouted "Fuck off." No power of entry for a fines warrant, so I did.

Most traveller families keep themselves to themselves and are no different to any other community. A significant number however are criminal and antisocial and have also settled green belt and common land. The travellers sites in my area have never ending piles of tree cuttings and other rubbish dumped on the roads near the site. The Council spend a fortune cleaning up after the few who give the majority a bad name. If we attend the sites we always have to have extra officers to guard police vehicles or they will be damaged. Artifice burglaries are almost exclusively committed by Travellers.

The romantic notion of the community travelling on the open road is pure bunkum. Some Travellers attend the odd fair and visit family occasionally but the vast majority do not move from one year to the next.

I have also learnt that Traveller children generally attend junior school and then most drop out. The girls leave to help mothers look after younger siblings and the boys go to work with their father's. Very few traveller women work. Their role is to cook, clean, bear children and look after their men and children.

It is children that are the main issue with the Traveller community. Most of the girls are married before 18 and they have large families. The Traveller community is therefore growing at a significant rate. If we accept the male dominated, sexist culture that brings this about then we are either going to have to allocate more traveller sites or accept that more an more green belt land will be occupied by Travellers. If the latter happens then there may be more and more Dale Farms to deal with.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Bleating Magistrates

Some Magistrates seem to be miffed that they didn't get to hear some of the cases against the rioters. From the comments on their blog we should all be grateful that they did not or they would all have been bailed and given community sentences.

 The city riots were an extraordinary event and warranted extraordinary action by the police and judiciary. I have explained in my previous post why I do not believe that the sentences being given to those involved in the disturbances are excessive.

The concern now turns to bail. I think it is naive to simply say that now the police have put sufficient officers on the street the likelihood of re-offending has gone. The vast numbers of officers put on the street to quell the disturbances was a very short term solution and those numbers cannot be maintained for more than a few days. If suspects/offenders were not incarcerated there is still a significant risk of further disorder. District Judges made the right decisions regarding bail and set the right tone and example which helped abate the disturbances. Thank God for District Judges!

To suggest that swift justice cannot be fair indicates that the author has fallen for the spin of the lawyers that bleed our legal aid system and denies justice to victim’s day in and day out. I am not suggesting for a minute that defendants should not get proper legal advice and representation, but 25 years ago the vast majority of defendants pleaded guilty on their first appearance and were dealt with. Charge to sentence within 48 hours was not uncommon.

Even in straightforward cases, what we now see are adjournments for legal advice, adjournments for disclosure, more legal advice, interviewing witnesses, mitigation etc. Etc. Often, the defending solicitor has no interest in justice for the individual, simply of extracting as much as possible from the legal aid budget, which has tripled over the same period. (I know many solicitors will howl with rage at the suggestion, but I know some who boast that this is what they do. Others would never admit this but follow the same practices.)

What one Chief Constable was suggesting is that we revert to a system where if you are guilty, you plead guilty at the first appearance and mitigation and sentencing can follow and you are given credit for a very early guilty plea with a reduced sentence. If you want to look at how good the case against you is before you plead; if you want to give it a run and see if the witnesses turn up, or your mates can intimidate them in the Court: if you want to just mess everyone about, hope the CPS lose the file or just assist your solicitor bleed the legal aid system, fine, but if you are convicted, you should have a sentence that deters such behaviour.