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Found 31 results

  1. 'Fair, robust and transparent' model which was proposed in 2015 has not been introduced but officer who would have felt biggest impact says he doesn't lose sleep over issue. The outgoing chief constable of the force which was set to gain the most from the botched reform of the police funding formula, says he wonders if its effects will ever be felt. Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon, who retires next week after almost ten years in charge of the force, was asked by Police Oracle if he felt his constabulary had been affected by the abandoned changes. In November 2015 the Home Office withdrew changes which it had earlier said would make central government funding “fair, robust and transparent”. Under the first departmental proposal Derbyshire Constabulary would have been around £20 million a year better off, under the second they would have had a £7 million boost. CC Creedon said: “It doesn’t cause me sleepless nights but if you’re going to have a funding formula, implement it. “Do I worry about it? If I’m cynical it’s not going to ever happen, so let’s get on and not try to have a spending profile based on ‘it might happen’. “If it ever gets done and Derbyshire comes out to the positive it will take so many years and it will be damped over about a decade that the benefits will be marginal. “I think the problem with the police funding formula is that it’s a reduced cake, and there’s always going to be people who are winners and losers.” He pointed out many parts of “critical infrastructure” which are done on a cross-force basis through collaboration don’t have secure funding, unlike forces and national agencies and that this is lacking in discussions around the formula. CC Creedon also highlighted the contradiction between the government’s introduction of police and crime commissioners, and a cap on the amount they can raise local taxes by. He said that in force areas like Derbyshire a 2 per cent increase on council tax counts for far less than in force areas where house prices are higher. “I think it’s a nonsense for national government to give freedom to PCCs who are elected democratically by local people but they are not given freedom about what they can do with their budget. “The model as described to me was: that they are elected, they are accountable and the ballot box will be their sanction. So if they raise the precept [by more than 2 per cent] and the public don’t like it they’re held to account through the ballot box, and by the police and crime panel. “I think the truth is that there are some forces better funded than others and that’s not acceptable to me. It can’t be right that if you’re in Essex you have a certain level of policing, in Hertfordshire you have another and Bedfordshire you have another.” In a separate interview Derbyshire PCC Hardyal Dhindsa told PoliceOracle.com: “I hope under the new government the funding formula is delivered and we do get a better deal for Derbyshire. “We haven’t historically. The last funding review we’ve still not had the full dampening effect of that done away with, and we’re still underfunded.” In January Policing Minister Brandon Lewis told Parliament that PCCs and chief constables were “very happy with the process we are undertaking and the timescale we are working on and I don’t intend to rush something, I want to make sure we get right”. But Mr Dhindsa said: “That is not true. He certainly wasn’t talking about me, for a start. There are winners and losers, so I’m sure there are certain police and crime commissioners who would not want it to be rushed because whichever permutation they look at they may lose out.” He added that all PCCs in the East Midlands are keen to have the changes “progressed as speedily as possible”. Mr Lewis also said in January: “The Home Office is undertaking a process of engagement with the policing sector and independent experts on reform of the Police Core Grant Distribution Formula. “No decisions will be taken until Ministers have considered the outcome of the Review. Any new formula will be subject to public consultation before implementation.” View on Police Oracle
  2. New ONS stats show more violent crime alongside 5.4 million fraud and computer misuse offences. Posed photo by Katie Collins/PA Wire Knife and gun crime incidents recorded by police rose by more than 10 per cent last year compared with 2015, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said. Police recorded 32,448 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in 2016 - a 14pc rise on the year before - bucking a recent trend for falling knife crime. These include rapes, sexual assaults and robberies in which knives or sharp instruments were used. Firearms offences increased by 13pc to 5,864, largely driven by a rise in crimes involving handguns. Overall, police recorded 4.8 million offences in 2016 - a 9pc increase from the year before, which was "thought to reflect changes in recording processes and practices rather than crime". However, the ONS said there had been "smaller but genuine increases" in homicide and knife crime. Overall, there were about 11.5 million incidents of crime in England and Wales after fraud and computer misuse offences were included for the second time. It makes 2016 the first calendar year to include fraud and computer offences, making up 5.4 million of the total, meaning year-on-year comparisons cannot be made. Stripping out the two categories gives a tally of 6.1 million, which the ONS said was not a "statistically significant" change from the previous year. Even though they had "substantially increased" the total, it was still 40pc below the 1995 level when crime figures peaked at 19 million, the ONS said. Rachel Almeida, head of policy for the charity Victim Support, said the figures made "startling reading". She said: "The latest crime survey for England and Wales shows 21pc of the population fell victim to crime last year, that 800,000 of these are children, with more than half suffering violent crime, and that gun and knife crime have seen sharp rises. "More must be done for victims of crime and that is why we are demanding all political parties seize the golden opportunity of the June 8 snap election and put victims at the centre of their policies for crime and policing when they release their manifestos." The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for crime and incident recording said the figures showed crime levels were "broadly stable compared with recent years". Chief Constable Bill Skelly added: "There are some genuine increases that police forces across the country are responding to, particularly with regard to a 14% rise in knife crime and 13% increase in firearms offences. "The trend - which had been declining for many years but has now begun to climb more sharply - is a key priority for the police service. "Forces will continue to target habitual offenders and conduct wide-ranging proactive operations to seize thousands of illegal weapons before they can be used to cause harm." View on Police Oracle
  3. Chairman of the Scottish Police Federation described the payments a "significant issue" for members The Scottish Police Federation is challenging Police Scotland over special payments to armed officers who protect the royal family on holiday. Police Scotland stopped enhanced payments to officers for the previous two summers for protecting Her Majesty The Queen and the Royals while they holidayed in the Highlands. In the past the force made the payments due to officers being far away from friends and family and remained “on call”. However, the “held in reserve” payments have been ditched as Police Scotland attempts to close a £190 million funding gap by 2021, according to the Sunday Post. The situation has resulted in an officer, backed by the fed, initiating a judicial review of the decision at the highest civil court in Scotland, the Court of Session. The officer bringing the case is one of many who provide protection for the Royals costing an estimated £100 million per year. Prior to the unification of Scottish forces providing protection for the Royals was the responsibility of the eight regional forces dependent on where the Windsors were. This meant officers were able to return home after being on duty and, as such, did not qualify for the payments. Police Scotland argue the officers based at Balmoral do not qualify for the payments despite them being enshrined in rules by the Police Negotiating Board. A decision on the matter is expected in the next few weeks and general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation Calum Steele says they had “little option” but to pursue the matter legally. He said: “This is a significant issue for our officers. “The force has changed its approach to the reimbursement of officers and we are challenging it. “We have tried to resolve this long before the Court of Sessions action but feel little option but to go down the legal route.” A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “We will not comment on this as it involves an active legal case.” View on Police Oracle
  4. Yes, policing has seen stability in this parliament – if your idea of stability is to be left constantly questioning what is going to happen and when things are going to get done, writes Ian Weinfass. Less than a year after becoming Prime Minister, the politician who had been the longest serving Home Secretary of modern times has called a general election in order to “guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead”. "Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership, and since I became prime minister the government has delivered precisely that,” she proclaimed. The 2015-2017 Parliament will be the shortest since 1974 – but what certainty has it given to the country’s police officers? About the only one I can think of is that next to no one expects a pay rise of more than one per cent ever again. On so many other issues, nothing but questions remain. Former Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement that police funding will be protected in this parliament now reaches its expiry date in seven weeks. Will it now be discarded, preserved or, like new chocolate bars, made even smaller while pretending its the same size? Police funding rises to the top of the political agenda following terror attacks but then always disappears from view faster than an NPCC discussion about compulsory severance. So, will it even get a look-in during the campaign as Brexit, the NHS and education take centre stage? The waiting game Around three times as long has now been spent revising the police funding formula to try to remove the errors from it than was spent consulting on its first draft. “Demographics and demands on policing have dramatically changed in parts of the country and policing in general is completely different” since the formula was last revised – the then-Policing Minister told me in early 2015. His job has since been expanded to cover the fire service - and taken from him and given to someone else. Yet the wait for fair funding based on the modern world goes on. I’ve previously drawn a comparison between the failure to negotiate a funding formula from a budget entirely controlled by government (responsibility of T May), and the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. And those will need a higher level of technical knowledge in discussions with 27 other countries (responsibility of T May). If the latter goes as well as the former, we may as well quit the negotiations before they begin. After all there is only a 24-month time limit for Brexit, whereas at this rate the police funding formula consultation will probably be retired after 30 years. Elsewhere, former Prime Minister David Cameron’s review of protections for firearms officers was ordered in December 2015 after fears that those who used their weapons in order to protect the public would face increasingly face criminal investigations. He departed a few months later, but we have been told that the review continues. The recent heated-debates-via-public-statement between the IPCC and the NPCC, Police Federation and others about post incident procedures may have overshadowed the fact that we are still waiting for clarity from the top on the central issues. A national armed police force was mooted in 2015, producing uncertainty at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, MOD Police and British Transport Police. While quietly advising that no full-blown merger would take place this parliament, the government said it would continue to work across Whitehall to “integrate infrastructure policing”. What now? There are many other issues which we simply do not know the likely trajectory of beyond the next couple of weeks (direct entry for chief officers, counter-extremist legislation and potential electoral fraud prosecutions among them). So yes, policing has seen stability in this parliament – if your idea of stability is to be left constantly questioning what is going to happen and when things are going to get done. View on Police Oracle
  5. In response to the stats, the Home Office claims its reforms are working. Britain's largest police force has recorded a surge in violent, gun and knife crime in what officers warned is a national phenomenon. Scotland Yard registered annual rises across a number of serious offence categories in the last 12 months, following several years of falls. There were jumps in robbery, theft, violence, gun and knife crime in 2016/17 in London and police say the pattern is being replicated around the country. The disclosures will reignite the debate over resources following warnings from a string of senior figures over the impacts of further budget squeezes on forces. They also come weeks after watchdogs issued a stark warning over the "potentially perilous" state of British policing, and lay bare the challenges facing new Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick. Statistics published by the Metropolitan Police show that: Gun crime increased by more than two fifths (42%) year-on-year with 2,544 offences recorded in 2016/17 Knife crime jumped by almost a quarter (24%), with more than 4,000 offences involving blades resulting in an injury The total number of offences recorded by the force rose by nearly 4.6% from 740,933 to 774,737 Violence against the person crimes were up by 4.7% while there were also increases in robberies (12%), sex offences (9%) and theft (7%) There were 110 homicides - one more than the previous year Sanction detection rates - the proportion of cases where action is taken against a suspect such as a charge or caution - were down across a number of categories As the figures were released, officers raised the alarm over a shift in knife crime which has seen the proportion of youngsters carrying blades who are affiliated with gangs fall from around a third to approximately a quarter. Officers reported an increasing trend for youths in the capital to keep blades on them for protection rather than in order to carry out crime. Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said: "Young people carrying knives are doing so for a variety of reasons including status, criminality and self-protection but only around a quarter are affiliated with gangs. "There is a phenomenon of people feeling that you need to carry a knife to be safe. There is a lot greater sense that 'I need this to protect myself'. The problem comes when you then get a confrontation." The Met has launched investigations into three separate fatal stabbings in the capital since the start of the week. On the overall crime figures, Mr Hewitt insisted that London is "one of the safest global cities in the world". He said: "Similar to the rest of England and Wales, crime rates in London are rising, but many of these are still at a much lower level than five years ago and are against the backdrop of significant reductions in resources." The force has closed dozens of police stations and lost hundreds of staff as it made savings totalling hundreds of millions of pounds since 2010, although officer numbers have remained broadly steady at around 31,000. Deputy London Mayor for Policing Sophie Linden, said: "These figures are deeply disturbing, and a stark reminder of the enormous pressure our police are under every day as they work so tirelessly to protect us." In response to the worrying figures the Home Office highlighted improvements in violent crime rates elsewhere but acknowledged more had to be done. A spokeswoman said: "Police reform is working, with the latest ONS figures showing crimes traditionally measured by the (British Crime) Survey have fallen by a third since 2010 to a record low, with over 370,000 fewer violent crimes a year. "Every violent crime is a significant concern and this Government is taking action to tackle it and keep our communities safe, including through actions set out in our Modern Crime Prevention Strategy. "Last year, we banned zombie knives, extended our work with retailers to prevent underage sales of knives and supported police in a week of action where they seized more than 1,200 weapons and made 300 arrests. "We know there is more to be done. We will continue to work with the police, retailers and voluntary groups to tackle knife crime and ensure support is available for victims of gang violence and exploitation." View on Police Oracle
  6. Oversight of second emergency service will transfer to the politicians if approved by Home Office Nine police and crime commissioners have been given a share of £1 million to help with their proposals to take over local fire services. The money comes from the Home Office, which will also have the final say on whether the hoped-for takeovers can go ahead. PCCs for Sussex, West Mercia, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire and North Yorkshire have been granted a slice of the cash. Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Brandon Lewis said: “PCCs taking on responsibility for fire and rescue services will lead to the same level of public accountability for both services. “I am pleased to support those PCCs who are developing proposals to take on governance of local fire and rescue services.” The Home Office says the money “will ensure that the work and knowledge gained is properly disseminated amongst the policing community”. But not all of the PCCs who are being granted the cash are fully committed to taking on fire service governance. Gloucestershire’s Martin Surl has previously told PoliceOracle.com that he has a “genuinely open mind” and wants to commission research on the issue. Others such as Essex’s Roger Hirst and Hertfordshire’s David Lloyd have said they want to take over from fire authorities, and have already set out their plans to do so. View on Police Oracle
  7. The 11-year-old police-mad boy managed to raise £150,000 for Brain Tumour Research before he died. The force surprised the family of Finlay Church at his old school with the pooch A new West Midlands Police dog has been named in memory of a boy who dreamed of becoming a police officer. German Shepherd Finn is named after 11-year-old Finlay Church who managed to raise over £150,000 for Brain Tumour Research and Birmingham Children’s Hospital before he died from brain cancer in November 2015. The boy, who had a passion for policing, organised a series of fundraisers after his diagnosis including achieving a world record for the longest line of teddies. After making an “unforgettable” impression on staff when he achieved a long held ambition to spend a couple of days with the force, they decided to name one of their latest crime fighting hounds in his honour. Police staff surprised Finlay’s family by arriving at his old Alvechurch Middle School with the 12-week-old pup last Friday while they were organising a fundraising Wear A Hat Day in aid of brain tumour research. Finlay’s mum Penny said: "This is the most wonderful gesture to have a police dog named in honour of Fin. "West Midlands Police has always been incredibly supportive of us and our fundraising work and to keep Fin’s legacy alive in this way is very humbling. “He loved dogs and desperately wanted to be an armed response officer so this really is a fitting tribute. “We can’t thank the Dogs Unit enough for enabling police dog Finn to live out Fin’s aspirations." Family, friends and the force have carried on raising money for Brain Tumour Research and last year West Midlands Police hats helped to set an unusual record relating to headwear placed in a row as part of their efforts. Sergeant Phil McMullen, who took part in some of the charity events, said: "Finlay was an aspiring police officer and we were all deeply saddened when he passed away. "He wanted to help others which is one of the greatest qualities a PC can have "We had discussed the idea of naming a police dog after Finlay and this seemed a nice time to surprise his family. "Finn the dog struck up an instant bond with them and we hope he will soon be out on the beat to help the public - just like his namesake." Read on Police Oracle
  8. A mental health practitioner will accompany police officers to incidents involving mental health issues under the scheme. A previously successful trial where nurses pair with officers responding to calls involving mental issues is returning to Kent. The pilot by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) and Kent Police will run in Thanet over the next few months when demand for attendance at mental health related incidents is high. Kent Police detained 1,256 people under section 136 of the Mental Health Act in 2016 and chief superintendent Rachel Curtis hopes the triage team will help officers make “informed decisions”. She said: “The street triage scheme will mean a qualified medical professional attending mental health related incidents in Thanet that have been reported to the police. “Our police officers receive mental health training the same way they receive first aid training but they are not medical experts. “The pilot will mean those in crisis will receive qualified medical help and the officers will have on-the-scene advice from an expert to make informed decisions. “The number one priority here is making sure those suffering a mental health crisis get the most appropriate care and treatment.” The street triage scheme is the latest in a number measures KMPT and Kent Police have put in place to address mental health in police incidents in the county. KMPT’s Director of Transformation, Vincent Badu, said: “We are delighted to be involved in the delivery of this pilot scheme, which will offer a local response to anyone in crisis. “The scheme demonstrates the importance of partnership working and, through the Concordat, we have agreed joint outcomes and measures which will enable us to capture all the improvements achieved.” Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott says he will be “keeping a close eye” on the progress of the initiative. He said: “Cases involving mental health now amount for around a third of Kent Police time. “I am pleased to see the return of a street triage scheme. “I will be keeping a close eye on the scheme to see whether it helps deliver against the priorities set out within my Safer in Kent Plan. “I also continue to welcome bids to my Mental Health and Policing Fund from projects which free up police officers’ time while also ensuring that people in mental health crisis get the right support from the right person. “The increased time police spend dealing with mental health is unsustainable nationally so I will be discussing the triage outcomes with my fellow PCCs and Government so that other force areas can decide whether they wish to replicate this scheme in their own communities.” View on Police Oracle
  9. NPCC Chairman, writing exclusively for Police Oracle, says balance between full investigation and fair treatment of armed police officers must be found. Police officers who serve as part of firearms units are volunteering themselves for an immensely difficult and dangerous role that will put them in harm’s way. While the rest of us take cover, armed officers rush into the face of danger. They deserve more than just our thanks and respect. To do their job, armed officers need our active support. At Chief Constables Council which I chaired last week, we discussed current draft statutory guidance submitted by the IPCC for handling incidents when a weapon is discharged causing death or serious harm, all ‘key policing witnesses’ – including officers themselves – should be separated from one another. While we understand that in some circumstances this might be required, this will frequently be unnecessary. DCC Simon Chesterman, our national firearms lead, has been working with the IPCC on these draft procedures. He has publicly raised our concerns about the draft guidance on our behalf. He does so with my full support and the total confidence of all chief constables. Post-incident procedures must strike a balance between robust investigation by independent bodies and fair treatment of officers involved. It is not necessary to always separate officers from their team during what is a traumatic experience. Under existing College of Policing guidance, the officers are under constant supervision by an appointed senior officer and their sole purpose is to prevent any conferring. The IPCC also has the right to be present and observe all the post-incident procedures to verify their integrity. The Court of Appeal has recognised this guidance as providing reasonable safeguards against collusion. I wrote to the Home Secretary about these concerns last year and cited a survey conducted by the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime in which 82 per cent of surveyed armed officers were not comfortable with these proposed changes. These changes could make it more difficult to recruit more volunteers to take up an armed role. In this uncertain climate and severe risk level we need more trained armed police officers to tackle the threats we face. We intend to keep working with the IPCC and Government to find the right balance and ensure that our processes reflect the support that our officers deserve. View on Police Oracle
  10. Thousands of officers pay respect to their fallen colleague. Tributes have been paid to PC Palmer across the United Kingdom Heroic PC Keith Palmer has been laid to rest following a full force funeral in central London. A black horse escort, fronted by the Met’s Mounted Branch led the procession along a ceremonial route through the capital from the Palace of Westminster to Southwark Cathedral. Thousands of officers lined the route, the National Police Air Service staged a helicopter flyover and a two minute silence was held at 2pm. Colleagues and friends of PC Palmer acted as pall bearers and conveyed his coffin into the cathedral once the procession had arrived. Officers and police forces across the country shared their tributes to PC Palmer earlier today. PC Barry Calder of the Royal Protection command posted photos of his formal dress, including shined boots, white gloves and service medals, on Twitter. "It's going to be a very emotional day but I'll be proud that I wear the same uniform as Keith did," he wrote. PC Calder, who has served with the Metropolitan Police for 25 years, told Press Association he arrived at Westminster just ten minutes after the attack on March 23. As he gathered with other officers on the streets of south London, he said: "I've never seen so many police officers in smart dress as there are here today". PC Steve Richardson, a senior section officer with West Yorkshire Police, travelled down from Leeds to attend the service with 35 other officers. He shared photos of his preparations and pictures of himself with PC Molly Carnall when they arrived in London. "It's a sense of pride to support your colleagues at this sad time," PC Richardson told Press Association. "It's quite difficult stuck up north when this happens in London. You feel powerless and want to help but you can't, so coming down means a lot. "The thin blue line may be slightly thinner, but it certainly can't be broken." Police forces around the country also shared their tributes. In Gloucester, the city community policing team published an image of an officer lighting a candle at Gloucester Cathedral in memory of PC Palmer. "Taking a moment to remember" while out on patrol, the accompanying text read. The Horncastle Neighbourhood Policing Team posted a picture of a rose left outside Horncastle police station with a hand-written note saying "In memory of PC Palmer". "A fitting tribute at Horncastle Station for #PCKeithPalmerRIP #StandForKeith by a member of the local community," wrote a member of the team to accompany the photo. The official account for the Cheshire Special Constabulary published an image of scores of officers in formal attire lining Southwark Bridge Road, a few blocks from Southwark Cathedral, where the funeral took place. "Standing Ready to #StandForKeith," read the tribute. View on Police Oracle
  11. Changes under the Policing and Crime Act are being introduced today. Forces are preparing for pre-charge bail changes set to come into play today under the new Policing and Crime Act. As previously reported, the new law introduces a presumption to release individuals without bail, with bail only proposed when necessary and proportionate. A limit of 28 days will also be placed on pre-charge bail, with an officer only at the rank of superintendent or above able to authorise an extension. Norfolk and Suffolk Police said suspects can now be “released under investigation” instead of on bail before facing possible charges. Although enquiries will continue as normal, changes will mean that suspects are no longer required to return to a police station and will be issued with a notice outlining offences that could lead to further police action. Suffolk Constabulary Deputy Chief Constable Steve Jupp said the quality of enquiries will not be affected by the changes. “We have spent the last few months preparing for these changes and hundreds of officer across both forces have undergone training to ensure that we are totally ready for dealing with the new process of pre-charge bail when it arrives,” he said. “I would stress that if you have reported a crime to us and a suspect has been ‘released under investigation’, this is in no way a reflection on your allegation. “A suspect who is released under these terms remains very much under our investigation until all reasonable enquiries have been completed.” Both the Police Federation, the College of Policing and the NPCC have raised concerns about the plans, stating that the 28-day limit is “unworkable” and time will be taken up applying for extensions rather than investigating crime. “One problem is that the Home Office does not spell out what is ‘proportionate’. It will be a massive change in custody culture and be a considerable challenge,” said the Fed's custody lead Andy Ward. “Cyber-crime, for example, requires computers to be seized and equipment to be interrogated to gain evidence. The results for detailed forensic tests also take some time to come back.” Other changes coming into force today include a new duty for police and emergency services to collaborate and an increase in the maximum penalty for stalking and harassment offences. View on Police Oracle
  12. Devon and Cornwall Police advertised for a "drone team manager". A police force is to launch a round-the-clock drone unit to help tackle crime. Devon and Cornwall Police advertised for a "drone team manager" to set up and manage an "operational and dynamic drone response" from nine policing centres across the two counties and Dorset. The force began trialling drones in November 2015 to test their operational effectiveness, using four DJI Inspire 1 devices with high-definition cameras to assist officers with police matters such as looking for missing people and taking crime scene photographs. Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, National Police Chiefs' Council lead for drones, said forces were "committed to embracing new technologies to deliver high-quality, cost- effective services and protection to the public". "Drones are one of a number of options that can deliver air support both now and in the future. "They have the potential to change the way we police by working with other technologies and updating traditional methods of foot and aerial patrols. "Trials and consultations are ongoing to develop more guidance for how the police service can use drones to help keep people safe." Mr Barry added: "Deploying drones is a decision for individual chief constables who ensure that they are used appropriately in the interest of public safety and efficient allocation of police resources." Around 21 police forces are experimenting with the technology. Chief Superintendent Jim Nye, strategic alliance commander for operations in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, said the drones would be a "significant piece of kit", which would provide an "opportunity to improve technology available to police to better do what we do". Earlier this year, Labour MP Nick Smith said police should consider using drones to track down off-road bikers who are "vandalising" the mountains of Wales. During Home Office questions in the Commons, he said: "Because off-road bikers often go where the police cannot, can the Home Office look into providing resources, agreement and licencing on the use of drones to help us tackle this problem?" View on Police Oracle
  13. Tool has been removed for officers in England and Wales. The Home Office is considering bringing back a pensions calculator to demonstrate to officers in England and Wales the outcomes of paying in. Earlier this week PoliceOracle.com reported the Scottish Public Pensions Agency is to launch such a tool following the revelation that ten per cent of officers in the country are not part of the scheme. Scottish Police Federation chairman Andrea MacDonald revealed the statistic regarding the 1,600 officers not paying in for a pension. She said UK Government changes in 2015 had put people off, but encouraged them to sign up for “the best investment you will ever make”. A spokesman for the Police Federation of England and Wales told PoliceOracle.com yesterday: “We are aware a calculator is going to be available for officers in Scotland. We are actively encouraging the Home Office to look at providing a pensions calculator for use by officers in England and Wales.” Figures for the current scheme take-up in England and Wales are harder to obtain as they are held by each of the individual forces. The Home Office, which previously had such a tool on its website, says it is weighing up whether to do so again. A Home Office spokesman said: “This government is committed to ensuring that public service pensions are affordable, sustainable and fair. “We are considering the merits of and options for a benefits calculator for police pension scheme members in England and Wales, but no decisions have been taken at this stage.” He added the government is working with the England and Wales Scheme Advisory board on the issue. A Police Federation for Northern Ireland spokesman said the staff association is not aware that the PSNI has experienced a similar drop-off in those taking up pensions since 2015. View on Police Oracle
  14. Scottish pensions authority is introducing a calculator to help demonstrate benefits. Nearly ten per cent of police officers in Scotland are no longer paying into the force’s pension scheme, in a move which has been blamed on recent negative changes to the package. Similar negative alterations were made to more than 14,000 young in service officers’ pensions across the whole of the UK at the same time. As a result of the drop in numbers, authorities in Scotland are creating a new pensions calculator in the hope it will encourage people to continue to pay in. Andrea MacDonald, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, revealed the statistic at the staff association’s annual conference. She said: “Like others, our pensions were dramatically changed in 2015 when the UK Government changed the law so that police officers would work longer and pay more for their pension. “We warned at the time that if the cut was too deep, our members would vote with their feet and either leave the pension scheme, or not join it when they were recruited. “In only a couple of years we have moved from a situation where virtually everyone was in the pension scheme to one where hundreds of officers are not.” Mrs MacDonald added that there are now around 1,600 officers who are not in the pension scheme, and that she believes this is because of the expense incurred and a lack of information about the benefits of signing up. She said: “I worry about these young officers and their families. Pensions are not just about retirement on completion of service. The schemes cover ill-health, injury, death in service, spouse and dependant cover. “Doing our job without this cover seems far too much of a risk to me and I urge every officer not in the pension scheme to think again. “The in-service protections and the significant employer's contribution plus financial security for you and your dependants, mean the police pension is the best investment you will ever make. "I know recruits can often be under financial pressure but my advice to them is that whatever they do, join the pension scheme and stay in it.” Responding to her at the conference, Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said that he agrees that the pensions are still hugely important. He added: “I urge the service and staff associations to continue highlighting the benefits to every officer. “To help officers understand what the new scheme will mean in the future the Scottish Public Pensions Agency has commissioned the scheme actuary to produce a specialised pensions calculator, this has been developed to give individuals a clear idea of the value of the scheme and has been produced in consultation with the police pension board which has senior SPF representation on it.” This will be available to officers by the summer, he said. A pension reform calculator produced by the Home Office in 2015 has been marked as “withdrawn” on the UK Government website. Figures for how many officers have left pension schemes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were not available before this article went live. Thousands of officers are taking legal action to challenge the imposition of the CARE scheme and the manner in which it was imposed, but it is not backed by staff associations. View on Police Oracle
  15. This year is the fourth installment of the US inspired fundraiser. Applications are open for the fifth annual Policy Unity Tour bike ride in memory of fallen officers. The tour leaves the National Police Memorial in The Mall and makes the 180 mile journey to the National Arboretum in Staffordshire over a three day event. There are also nine other rides which start out at various locations across the country. Police officers of all ranks, police staff and family members of fallen officers all take part and each rider cycles in memory of a police officer killed in the line of duty. The event was inspired by the Police Unity Tour in the United States which has been running since 1997 and runs from New Jersey to Washington DC. Each rider is given an engraved bracelet depicting the officer they are riding for, which they then present to the family of the officer upon completion of the ride. President of Police Unity UK Tour, Rob Atkin MBE, said: “This is a truly humbling experience and one that our colleague’s families truly appreciate. “The memorial service at the National Arboretum is a truly moving event with all of the 43 UK Police Forces represented and offers a chance for our riders to show their respects and meet with the families to show that their loved one will never be forgotten. “This is a great way to ride in memory of fallen officers and raise money for the charity UK COPS. We would like this year to be our biggest ride ever and really show as a policing family our response to tragedies which involve officers losing their lives.” This year’s event leaves various locations across the country on Friday July 28. More information, including how to get involved, can be found here. View on Police Oracle
  16. ACC Berry spoke to PoliceOracle.com prior to latest debates over police access to communications data. The Investigatory Powers Act should be good enough for police forces to use to investigate serious digital crime, the officer who leads in the area believes. Assistant Chief Constable Richard Berry has recently taken over as full time chief officer lead on the digital investigations intelligence programme and communications data portfolio at the NPCC. Speaking to PoliceOracle.com early last week he was asked if the revised version of the Act had done away with the “gaps” which senior personnel had warned would prevent them accessing communications data not directly linked to criminality, when a draft version of the law was unveiled. ACC Berry said: “I think so. Like all things the challenge is for legislation to keep up with the technology and there are provisions within the Act to enable it to do so, so we hopefully we don’t end up in a RIPA situation where it’s kind of patched together just to try and keep pace with things. “For example the provisions around internet connection records and internet protocol address resolution which were key comms data aspects of the IP Act look like they’re going to be resilient but we’ve got a long way to go in terms of being able to deliver the technical capabilities, and it’s very much a dynamic process which reflects the nature of the digital environment. “If we’re not constantly evolving, whether it’s technical terms, legislative terms, operational terms or whatever perspective you want to look at it will become very challenging for us. “I think it will meet our requirements but it’s the need to constantly adapt and the legislation is no different in that.” While the Act has received royal assent, it has still not been implemented, and it faces a legal challenge started by Labour deputy leader Tom Watson and now-Brexit Minister David Davis. Plans for training practitioners to operate under the new legislative framework are being worked out, although are subject to change if the legal challenge alters the review of the law. The challenge has come about after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found the "general and indiscriminate" retention of communications data was illegal. ACC Berry spoke to PoliceOracle.com following the International Communications Data & Digital Forensics Conference which took place in west London. On Sunday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd criticised the companies for creating encrypted messaging services. Media reports have claimed terrorist Khalid Masood accessed WhatsApp shortly before he carried out his attack in Westminster last week. Ms Rudd told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide. "We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don't provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other. "It used to be that people would steam-open envelopes or just listen in on phones when they wanted to find out what people were doing, legally, through warrantry. "But on this situation we need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp." WhatsApp said in response it had been assisting the police investigation. A spokeswoman said: "We are horrified at the attack carried out in London earlier this week and are co-operating with law enforcement as they continue their investigations." Critics of Ms Rudd’s comments have pointed out that encryption is needed to keep any personal data secure from hackers. Others say individuals can develop their own encrypted messaging services without having to rely on commercial apps, and would be more likely to do so if WhatsApp weakened its privacy settings. ACC Berry said the pace of change in technology is one of the biggest challenges facing digital investigators. View on Police Oracle
  17. The original target of £250,000 for the family of heroic PC Palmer was smashed inside 24 hours. A fundraising page for the family of fallen police hero PC Keith Palmer has raised more than £500,000 in less than a day. The JustGiving page was set up by the Metropolitan Police Federation on Thursday and quickly received thousands of donations. Originally the target had been to collect £250,000 for the family of PC Keith Palmer, who was killed on Wednesday in a knife attack near Parliament, but within hours that target was smashed. On Friday afternoon, just 24 hours after the page was set up, it had reached £572,838 and counting from almost 27,000 donors. Chairman of the Met fed Ken Marsh described the ten of thousands pouring in as ‘overwhelming’ and was grateful for the public support. He said: “We set it up quickly on Thursday and we are overwhelmed with the generosity of the public and police family but we are not surprised because we have seen how everyone has come together to support the police (since the attack). “I think that is because we police by consent in this country and the public are aware of the danger we face. “Every day, all over London and the rest of the UK, Police Officers risk their lives to protect and defend us. In the wake of this tragedy our thoughts are with Keith’s family and all the people who are injured have lost their lives. “I would not think for one minute that money is the answer for the family of PC Palmer and what they are going through but hopefully it can help in some small way.” View on Police Oracle
  18. HMIC has raised red flag over the issue. Working as a detective needs to be restored as an attractive proposition again if chiefs want to address the national crisis in investigation skills, the chairman of the Police Federation National Detectives' Forum believes. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary recently warned that there is a critical shortage of investigators in many forces. Martin Plummer, who is also chairman of Cumbria Police Federation, told PoliceOracle.com: “It’s frustrating when you get the HMIC stating the obvious that we have been saying for a considerable length of time. “[But] it’s a very simple equation, if you have 10 people on a team carrying a workload and you reduce that down to six and you increase that workload and something, somewhere is going to give. “We’re now seeing ridiculous workloads, detectives trying to spin so many plates while everything is combusting around them, there’s no financial backing for protracted inquiries. “We still investigate the most serious crimes, still deal with the worst criminals, the burden of proof in courts rightly remains as high as it ever was. But detectives are increasingly being told 'sorry you haven’t got the time to do that', 'sorry we haven’t got the budget', or 'something else has come up and there’s simply no one else to do it'.” He said the days of most officers wanting to become detectives were long gone, with what he calls “the hardest job in policing” becoming one which people know they will be under increasing pressure from management, as well as CPS, other partners and potentially the IPCC. In its report, HMIC identified the excessive workloads of those remaining in detective roles as a problem for policing. Chiefs have asked the independent remuneration body to allow them to give specialist bonuses to detectives in order to address the issue. The Met’s submission to the body states: “We know that monetary reward is not the only lever available but to have no reward options to attract officers into a particular career path remains deeply problematic, particularly as the operational structure becomes flatter with decreased opportunity for rank progression.” Mr Plummer says he would support extra payments, but points out that the issue is not primarily about personal finances. “The way you can solve this is simply that you need a career as a detective to become once again popular and attractive,” he said. “If you look back to the day where we had a mainstream CID that mainstream CID had their specialisms, they weren’t asking for extra payments for added responsibility they loved what they did. They had the time and resources to get the results. “Where we are now is that the good will has been eroded over the years. Detectives saying they’re not prepared to take on extra cases I’ve got the IPCC knocking on the door, victims, witnesses wanting to know how their cases are going, the CPS wanting things done yesterday. The support and backing is not there. “I’m not saying they want a pat on the back, what detectives have always wanted is to bring criminals to justice,” he added. Responding to the HMIC report, the NPCC pointed out that having 32,334 fewer officers and a 22 per cent budget cut had been difficult as crime “changes”. National lead for crime operations CC Mike Barton said: “Difficult decisions are being made between resourcing neighbourhood teams, response units, specialist investigations, and digital and cyber-enabled crime. “Police chiefs around the country will be looking at their local assessment to consider the impact of resourcing decisions, which may have been hidden from view.” View on Police Oracle
  19. Transport workers union leader accuses railways force of 'turfing staff onto the streets'. British Transport Police PCSOs are considering strike action over changes to their shifts. The TSSA union is balloting the force’s community support officers ahead of the imposition of a 1am shift finish which it says “jeopardises [their] safety” in London. According to a statement from the union, the force is attempting to save money by changing shift patterns – but the workforce wll not be able to get home by public transport as a result. The force employs 330 PCSOs, with half of them London-based, but the union says: “because they can't afford London housing, London PCSOs themselves depend on trains in and out of home counties to the commute to work.”. PCSOs voiced their concerns that the new rosters are not practical during BTP's staff consultation process, but the TSSA says a proposal to finish the shift at midnight to enable members to make the last train home was rejected and PCSOs will now finish at 1am on one in three of their shifts. General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: "BTP have made a sham of their own consultation process by ignoring the valid concerns of their staff who simply can't get home at 1am. Are they supposed to sleep at the station? “No employer should turf their staff out at 1am onto the streets of London with no way to get home. But that's what BTP, the very people charged with ensuring the public travel safely, are now doing to their own staff. Frankly, it beggars belief and it's causing a lot of unnecessary upset." The new rotas will be introduced from April. The union is calling for shifts to be put back to midnight or to end at 7am instead, and will be balloting members over the issue. Mr Cortes added: "Our PCSO members are professional police support staff dedicated to keeping commuters safe. So a failure by their bosses to protect them is insulting as is their unwillingness to negotiate with our reps over this easily resolvable issue.” He added he will be calling on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to intervene to help the PCSOs. BTP Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock said: “It is disappointing to learn of this proposal by TSSA to ballot our PCSOs on plans for industrial action, which feels somewhat premature and excessive when we are still engaged in discussions with those few employees affected by our planned shift changes. “I must also contradict the suggestion that this is an exercise in cost-cutting by ruthlessly cutting shift allowances.” He added that the shift patterns were last reviewed in 2009 demand on the force has changed, and that staff had asked for a more reliable and consistent shift patterns. “In addition we have sought to ensure fewer officers and staff are working on their own across the national network, as well as build in sufficient capacity to minimise the impact of abstractions when officers are absent through training, court appearances, sickness and annual leave. “As the demand has changed, invariably it means the times of day we must be available to respond to incidents and manage large volumes of people travelling around the country must also change,” he said. There have been claims in the past that warranted police officers in London have resorted to breaking into property because of their shift patterns and inability to get to their homes outside the capital when they have gone off duty. View on Police Oracle
  20. Addicts would be given the drug to inject under supervision. Drug addicts could be given heroin paid for by the police under plans put forward by one police and crime commissioner. Durham PCC Ron Hogg, who along with Chief Constable Mike Barton has spoken out in support of decriminalisation, said he has now asked the region’s public health departments to examine ways to introduce Heroin Assisted Treatment. Although plans for a “fix room” are being developed in Glasgow, this would be the first of its kind in England following similar schemes in a number of European countries. “The aim would be to enable people who have become addicted to heroin to follow a programme that would stabilise their addiction in a controlled environment, and reduce their dependency on heroin until they stop taking it,” said Mr Hogg. “The aim of the initiative is to save the lives of addicts, shut down drug dealers and reduce acquisitive crime. Instead of stealing in order to fund their habit, and money flowing the organised crime gangs, addicts will be helped to recover.” The scheme would focus on the most prolific at-risk offenders who would be provided with pharmaceutical heroin, with Mr Hogg adding that it would save money in the long run through reduced costs to courts, prisons, the police and wider society. The number of reported drug misuse deaths involving opioids including heroin rose by 58 per cent in England over the last four years, with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommending last December that the government should consider the provision of medically supervised drug consumption clinics in locations with a high concentration of injecting drug use. View on Police Oracle
  21. Idea is not being ruled out at present. Following the appointment of Cressida Dick as the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police speculation has turned to which issues take priority in her burgeoning in-tray. One which the government has hinted previously could be removed from the force is national responsibility for coordinating counter-terrorism. The Home Affairs Select Committee has previously called for this change to happen, and although the government said in 2015 it would not imminently change anything, the Home Office is currently not ruling out such a change. Terrorism analyst Dr Dave Sloggett was formerly opposed to the idea of transferring responsibility, but he now thinks there is a “good case” for it. He said: “I was against the idea some time ago when the National Crime Agency was struggling. Since that time it has improved. “When you consider the overlap which exists between terrorism and organised crime, you can see an emerging argument for the idea and that it should be given to ‘Britain’s FBI’. “While Cressida Dick has expertise on terrorism, she actually has a very good understanding of the many challenges the Met faces other than terrorism, which is a national issue dealt with across the entire country, and which it could be better for a Commissioner to do without.” But retired head of the National Counter Terrorism and Security Office Chris Phillips disagrees. He told PoliceOracle.com: “We’ve got an arrangement under which things have worked for many years as they are, I can understand why they might want to change it, it’s a cross-border role, but the system we’ve got is tried and tested, we’ve had it in place for many years and we’ve not had a major terrorist attack for years.” Former Thames Valley deputy chief constable Brian Langston said community relationships must be preserved, whatever the model. He said: “Whilst shifting the responsibility for counter-terrorism to the National Crime Agency is worthy of serious consideration, it must be remembered that the seeds of terrorism often lie within disaffected communities. “Misguided and vulnerable young people are often targeted for radicalisation and groomed to carry out acts of violent extremism. “There would need to remain a strong bond between any national agency charged with this responsibility, and local neighbourhood teams to ensure that community intelligence is not lost. Terrorism is both a local and global issue." When asked if changing the national responsibility for counter-terrorism to the National Crime Agency was on the agenda, a Home Office spokesman simply replied: “This government is committed to do doing everything we can to keep our families, communities and country safe, so will always look to ensure that collaboration between police and the agencies working on counter-terrorism and organised crime is as effective as possible." Last week the NCA announced five new appointments to its leadership team including the hiring of Essex Deputy Chief Constable Matthew Horne as a deputy director and Merseyside Assistant Chief Nikki Holland as director of investigations. Current deputy David Armond has announced his retirement from the organisation. Read on Police Oracle
  22. Sergeant Julia Martin-Jones had just watched her daughter tie the knot. An off-duty officer showed her dedication to her role when she detained a suspected burglar on her daughter’s wedding day. Gloucestershire Sergeant Julia Martin-Jones was returning home after watching her child – who is also an officer with the force – tie the knot when she spotted someone leaving a neighbour’s house acting suspiciously. Without hesitation she leapt into action to apprehend the figure and called colleagues to the scene. “It was around 1am on Sunday morning and I’d just returned home from the wedding with family and friends,” she said. “I saw a youth in dark clothing emerge from a neighbour's driveway and I didn't recognise him. I knew there had been burglaries in the area so went and stopped him. My colleagues later found my neighbour's garage had been broken into. “There I was in my sparkly dress, high heels and all my finery - I think he thought I was some kind of crazy woman!” A 15-year-old boy from Manchester arrested on suspicion of burglary in connection with the case has been bailed to return to police on March 25, pending further inquiries. View on Police Oracle
  23. Push-to-talk functionality on the London Underground has been a hard won police radio capability, but its future on the new LTE network faces serious hurdles. Gary Mason reports. It is somewhat ironic that in a multi-billion pound public safety communication project investing in cutting edge long-term evolution (LTE) technology, a major sticking point is the reliability of push-to-talk voice messages – a capability that has been around since the days of analogue police radios. This is just the latest problem facing the Emergency Services Network (ESN) project, which at least two recent reports have predicted would not be ready on time. This means the existing system, Airwave, is expected to be maintained for an unknown period after its expensive contract with the Home Office and the UK’s blue light first-responder services expires. Police concerns about the voice function on the new LTE handsets, whenever they emerge, have been highlighted in the latest Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report, published in January. Push-to-talk allows users to contact their colleagues with only the press of one button. The function must be reliable and work in remote areas – not just rural environments, but also the underground tunnels of the metro systems in London and Glasgow. Devices with the appropriate levels of robustness, voice and dual-mode capabilities are currently under development. The Home Office told the PAC it had already received prototype devices and was confident a good selection would be available for users to choose from by next year. But the devil, as usual, is in the detail. Some of the technical challenges in developing mission critical push-to-talk capability on LTE handsets were spelled out in oral evidence to the committee. Under the terms of the ESN contract with the Home Office, Motorola Solutions is responsible for delivering user services, such as data centres, help desks and SIM card management. While the scope of its contract does not include devices, Vincent Kennedy, vice-president and general manager of Motorola Solutions UK, gave the committee an insight into some of the technical challenges that had emerged with prototype LTE handsets. Push-to-talk latency The ESN envisages two types of device that will run on the network: 4G data devices and voice devices. The 4G handsets can attach to the new network relatively easily, but voice handling is more complex. “When you move the voice service on to a commercial mobile phone network, the device has to act in a specialised way,” Kennedy told the committee. “If I picked up my phone and dialled your number, it would take a few seconds to ring. It might take six seconds to you or five seconds [to someone else]. In this world, when I am the commander of a team at a firearms incident and I press the button on the device and say, “Don’t fire”, you instantly all have to hear the same thing. It is a big problem if you hear, “Don’t fire”, and another person hears, “Fire.” That is just an example, but the voice piece makes the device more specialised, and it has to work in a special way.” The technical term for this issue is push-to-talk latency. Police using the system need to be confident that the latency can be low enough with 4G that it won’t be a problem, and that the voice message received by everyone during an incident will be as near to instantaneous as possible, which it isn’t right now. Kennedy said Motorola been investing in the research and development of mobile LTE technology for public safety since 2010. He said: “It [LTE] is where the public safety market is going. They will eventually all be using mobile broadband, mobile data and voice. If it works to design, the latency can be solved, but that is why the design is so strict around the devices and the network.” He told the committee that the latency issue can currently be proved in a lab environment, but it needed to be tested in the field under extreme conditions. A testing regime will continue all through the spring and summer. Operational trials could commence in the autumn of 2017 and will go on for several months. “These are big technology projects, but they are not like regular IT projects. The people who use this technology – their lives depend on the technology working,” he added. The example Kennedy gave during the committee hearings bears a chilling reminder of the shooting of electrician Jean Charles de Menezes by Met firearms officers in July 2005 at Stockwell underground station after he was mistaken for a terrorist suspect. At the inquest into the killing, a firearms officer told the court he could have missed important messages over the radio and told the inquest that the signal was weak, faint and fuzzy and would sometimes cut out altogether. Given such real life examples, why has the Home Office chosen to go with unproven technology? In a previous report published last year outlining problems with the ESN project the National Audit Office said that it is ambitious and the first of its kind in the world. A world first Other countries are pursuing solutions either fully or partly based on older terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA) technology and dedicated networks, such as Airwave. The Home Office told the PAC that, in an ideal world, it would not want to be first to adopt unproven technology. But it considered that the other options it had for replacing Airwave, such as a hybrid system that uses radio for voice communications and 4G mobile for data, were “equally risky” and that it had to consider a wide range of financial, operational, technological and legal factors when making its decision. The programme also faces a number of other technical challenges. The new system will operate across a commercial 4G network requiring new software to allow emergency services users priority over commercial customers. EE, who have been awarded the network contract, told the committee it had completed system testing to prove the prioritisation technology would work and that during an emergency its network would be able to prioritise all 300,000 emergency service users, if necessary. Meanwhile, Motorola has responsibility for setting the specifications and approving devices for use on the ESN. Since it is also a supplier of devices, the Home Office told the PAC committee it had “been very careful to make sure the specifications do not exclude other providers and are not bespoke. It is a standards-based process”. One of the biggest risks with the new system is ensuring coverage in remote areas and in hard to reach places, such as the London Underground. The Home Office says that using 4G mobile data technology instead of radio opens up more options for plugging gaps in coverage, such as by using temporary masts. Time is a factor Discussions are still ongoing between the Home Office and Transport for London (TfL) on how best to extend coverage into the Underground, as well as contingencies and options for the transition process. The Home Office hopes to make an announcement in the next couple of months on this issue. Time is a factor, since the rollout of the ESN is just two years away. If TfL cannot roll-out the technology in that time, the Home Office would need to agree an alternative solution with TfL. This is a crucial issue for the police and fire service in London in particular, as a fully functioning emergency services communications system was a hard fought and long awaited upgrade. The lack of such a system was first highlighted by the inquiry into the response to the King’s Cross fire in 1987. These concerns were then reiterated after the 7 July 2005 terrorist attacks, which centred on London’s transport system. Airwave was eventually rolled out fully in January 2009 to all 125 below ground London Underground stations. This meant that British Transport Police (BTP), the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the City of London Police are able to use the same radios underground. The rollout linked the emergency services network to London Underground’s Connect digital radio system, part of the Transport for London’s £10bn investment programme. Natural disasters The vulnerability of city subway systems not just to terrorist attack, but also to natural disasters is well documented. The need for a robust emergency services communications system that links into the network operated by the transport authority is also well recognised. When Hurricane Sandy swept through the New York metropolitan area in October 2012, it left behind extensive damage to New York City Transit facilities throughout the subway system. A record storm surge inundated tunnels, filling critical operations rooms that housed electric equipment for signals, relays and communications with highly corrosive saltwater. The storm also exposed a need for a better and faster way for supervisors to communicate with crew members and customers in times of emergency. Even after three years and thousands of hours of labour spent repairing and restoring service to pre-Sandy levels, the subway system has yet to fully recover, with many related repairs still to be made. In 2015, MTA New York City Transit received two Federal Transit Administration grants totaling $57.1m (£45.7m) for two major storm resiliency projects in subway stations: a new emergency communications system and a hardening project to protect station rooms critical to service delivery. Until March 2016 police officers in the transit system could only communicate with each other underground because police were on two different radio frequencies. Using a $100m grant, mostly spent upgrading existing technology, all officers’ radios were reprogrammed to allow them to communicate over ultra-high frequencies on the street and in the subway. Their use was delayed for years, mainly for reasons that had nothing to do with technology, but bureaucratic inertia. Read on Police Oracle
  24. An inquest found the woman, who was found hanged, died before the police were called. A pair of Met PCs have been found to have committed misconduct when they failed to immediately attend a suicide incident. PCs Tony Stephenson and Gavin Bateman were on duty together on April 15, 2015, when a call came in for a vulnerable woman who was classed as a danger to herself and others. The 22-year-old woman had sent suicidal texts to a friend and was not answering her door, the call was graded 'S' for 'significant risk' meaning officers are required to attend as soon as possible and in a maximum of 60 minutes. Instead of going straight to the call, PCs Bateman and Stephenson went to a nearby branch of McDonalds and bought cups of tea before heading to Leamouth Road Roundabout in east London. Whilst there they completed paperwork from an earlier incident and made a call to the informant to obtain more detail about the vulnerable young woman. At a misconduct hearing at the Empress State Building today a panel chaired by Akbar Khan found the officers had committed misconduct, rather than the more serious charge of gross misconduct, increasing their chances of remaining in the service. Mr Khan said: "The officers accepted that they breached standards of professional behaviour. "From the outset the panel wishes to state that it accepts that the late attendance must not be conflated with the sad death (of the vulnerable woman). "Both officers did not adequately or properly asses the information on the CAD in terms of the risk posed to her. "The delay in attending was not justified and was not in accordance with the guidance, you should have proceeded (to the incident) straight away. "It was accepted that the IPCC concluded that the call should have been graded as an 'I' call but the panel noted this has no bearing on its findings in this case. "It was submitted by both representatives that the basis of their clients understanding of the grading was the MDT user manual of guidance policy and their training in it. "Accordingly the panel finds that there was an absence of evidence to find that both officers were trained adequately. "Given the inconsistencies between the NCTS and the MDT guidance the panel finds there was a gap in their knowledge in that they should have understood they should have attended within a maximum of 60 minutes rather than up to 60 minutes. "The panel accepts that the delay was 22 minutes rather than 33 minutes. "The panel has also accepted evidence of good character on behalf of both officers and has taken into account their conscientiousness to their duties since the incident and that this was an isolated incident. "The panel finds on the balance of probabilities that the officers have breached the standards as alleged by the appropriate authority. "In all of the circumstances the panel finds the breaches of standards by both officers amount to misconduct only and not gross misconduct." The panel is due to make a decision on sanctions, if any, against both officers tomorrow. The hearing continues. View on Police Oracle
  25. Police Federation says it has worked to ensure the form is beneficial for officers and the service. A new form which must be used by all officers will help ensure they are not placed in a difficult position after a use of force incident, the Police Federation says. The Home Office says from April 1 2017, all officers must record any use of force in the same way, regardless of where they work. During the consultation process for the new form the Fed adds it has worked to ensure the burden on members is as minimal as possible. “We also wanted to make sure that once all this data is collected, it will be used as constructively as possible for officers across the country,” said Simon Kempton, the Federation’s lead for operational policing. “For the first time, we will have robust data from all forces demonstrating which techniques and equipment really work and which do not. “We will make sure that this information is used to change things like Officer Safety Training to reflect what we – the members – need to do our job properly. At the same time, if certain equipment isn’t up to the standard we need, we will now have an evidence base to show this.” Changes to the form made by the Federation included ‘were you injured during the incident?’ being amended to ‘do you believe you were injured during the incident?’ which it states protects officers if they subsequently learn they were injured but it wasn’t apparent at the time and they have a potential claim which could be undermined. It also insisted changing ‘was the subject suffering from a mental illness at the time of the incident?’ to ‘do you think the subject may have been suffering from some form of mental illness?’ as officers should not be expected to make such an assessment. The new form asks whether the officer is authorised to carry Taser, whether it was being carried at the time and whether the officer was single crewed, questions which the federation states will provide “invaluable evidence” when they argue that single crewing and a lack of Taser is dangerous for both the public and the officer. “When refuting accusations levelled at us of using excessive force, we will now be able to argue, with solid evidence, that in comparison to the huge numbers of incidents we attend, we rarely have to resort to using force,” said Mr Kempton. “Furthermore, the Federation will be able to use this data to demonstrate that if we are placed in a position when we must use force that we always try to use the lowest level of force available to us.” HMIC will be measuring whether the forms are being completed as part of their inspection schedule. View on Police Oracle