Attacked, vilified, exhausted: Is the world’s finest police force sinking to its knees?
At the time of writing, one of the most distressing YouTube videos I have seen is still showing the footage of a man dying on a London street having been stabbed. In fairness, other young men are trying to help and as the tragic victim sits up we see evidence of catastrophic blood loss in the form of blood-soaked jeans; the inevitable result of a punctured artery.
Sadly, the helpers are clearly unaware of how to stem the flow of blood but then, as is frequently the case, police officers are the first 999 service on the scene. Police will, of course, do their best for the victim regardless of race, colour, sexual orientation, political views or the degree of hostility that individual or the crowd may show towards them. These efforts are never, of course, acknowledged by those activists who consistently pursue an agenda of hostility against officers.
This tragic incident took place in the days before London saw one of its bloodiest weekends with four ‘street’ murders and a number of stabbings as well as a serious assault on a female officer whose head was ‘bashed’ against a wall by a 15 year old and an incident at Stratford which saw 100 youths pelt police with missiles after an arrest was made for weapons possession.
Also visible on social media over the past week or so, was an attack by a group of schoolchildren on a Wetherspoons pub in Croydon. More recent footage that has gone viral, shows a mob of schoolchildren attempting to rob a pizza delivery rider of his moped in the troubled London Borough of Newham.
For hard pressed police officers today in London and other major cities, attending stabbings in now a matter of routine. Comparisons with knife and gun crime murders ten years ago are rendered meaningless thanks to the advances in trauma first-aid and surgery partially the result of British forces being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan while details of many stabbings never come to the attention of police.
Amidst the carnage, it took BBC London’s Katharine Carpenter to point out that London’s murder rate had actually fallen during the last twelve months. However, this has come at a cost. The Met has thrown significant resources in order to stem the flow of blood on London’s streets which included the creation of a Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF).
Front line officers across the Met and indeed the country, could be forgiven for being somewhat confused as instructions from above moved from actively discouraging stop and search following criticism and threats from Theresa May to encouraging the tactic. Even London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has performed a total somersault on the issue.
Yet, as priorities changed in terms of knife and indeed moped crime, those criminals ‘specialising’ in other fields found even fewer law enforcement obstacles being placed in their way.
Burglary used to be a high priority crime; now, whatever police forces say, it quite simply isn’t. As a young probationer I saw that a burglary victim could expect as many as four visits from police. Now many will be lucky to get even one. The ‘clear-up’ rate in London and indeed across the country is a mere 5%.
Shoplifting is rampant yet even where there is CCTV footage which clearly shows the suspect, a police investigation in many cases is unlikely; indeed, there are even restrictions in some forces as to how long officers will sit in front of a screen viewing CCTV.
Robbery ‘clear-ups’ are on a par with burglaries in terms of a miserly figure of 5%, car crime is soaring while fraud is off the scale. None of this sits well with frustrated, overworked officers who spend much of their time across the UK dealing with the repercussions resulting from the collapse in our mental health and social services. Some estimates place police involvement in actual crime as low as 20%.
Finally, and perhaps most alarming, is the fact that, depending on which set of figures are to be believed, in the Met between 66 and 75% of non-fatal stabbings remain unsolved. Most actual murders are solved although the percentage is expected to reduce due to the sheer volume of investigations.
If, however, similar resources could be allocated to a non-fatal stabbing as to a murder, then we would, of course, see a similar clear-up rate. That is, of course, is not going to happen.
There has, quite simply, never been a better time to be a criminal in Britain.
Activists and attacks on police
Those academics who spend much of their time ‘proving’ that stop and search is ineffective or crime isn’t really increasing, could perhaps earn some credibility from police if they were to undertake research into any correlation between constant denigration at the hands of so called community activists, politicians and sections of the media and the frequent, physical, often brutal attacks we are now seeing upon police officers.
Even the most ‘government acquiescent’ of chief constables would agree that assaults on police are increasing in both number and severity. The question is whether the constant criticism by those referred to above emboldens criminal elements to abuse and attack officers.
Recently at Waterloo station, community activists would have had a field day if anyone had taken footage of a black male being restrained on the floor by British Transport Police officers plus apparently one plain clothes officer (who was in fact me). The male was struggling and screaming abuse at officers who were trying to handcuff him to the rear; never an easy task. Had relevant footage showing the incident from that moment in time, appeared on social media, the cry would have been long and loud from so called activists proclaiming another example of racist police brutality.
In fact, the BTP officers had sprinted across the station concourse to assist a security guard who was detaining this suspect; the grateful security guard was black and stolen goods, cannabis and a knife were recovered from this individual.
Using mobile phone footage of ‘violent, racist’ police officers without showing the full context of what had led up to the arrest is a favourite tactic of activists and encourages hundreds of anti-police comments on social media thus reinforcing the perception of ‘racist’ police.
In fact, taking suspects to the floor is a routine tactic I was using with other officers as a probationary PC back in 1978. Ideally, if the suspect is violent, five officers is the optimum number; four to take control of each limb to avoid punching and kicking while one officer controls the head, to prevent head-butting, biting or spitting. The more officers, the less chance of injury to the suspect.
It conveniently escapes the attention of those stirring up anti-police sentiments, that similar arrests where suspects are taken to the floor can be frequently seen on the numerous police fly-on-the wall documentaries and are especially prevalent on Friday and Saturday nights across the country when the suspects are predominately white, drunken thugs.
One characteristic possessed by community activists is that they will never actually praise police officers. Rendering life-saving first aid at the scene of a stabbing or shooting, tackling those with knives or guns or securing convictions of violent criminals including murderers thus obtaining justice for victims and families, never elicits praise.
Of course, bile and hatred directed against police officers doesn’t simply come from those aligned to the political hard left or violent street gangs; those on the far right hold similar views. Look at ‘comments’ under any YouTube footage featuring Tommy Robinson and the sheer loathing and hatred of police quickly becomes apparent.
During Tommy Robinson’s campaign to become a MEP, police were accused by Robinson supporters of orchestrating an attack by Muslim youths on his meeting in the midst of an ‘all-white’ Bradford council estate. Such is the lot of police, that at a meeting the next day on Merseyside, police were protecting one of his closest allies, James Goddard, from local residents.
I’ve personally seen Robinson supporters hurl ‘face to face’ foul mouthed abuse in the faces of Metropolitan police officers on the grounds that London uniform officers were somehow complicit in the failure of those CID officers in Rochdale and Rotherham to deal with child abuse allegations. Since then child abuse gangs and individuals from all races and religions, have been arrested hand-over-fist across the length and breadth of the country.
In addition to the ‘face to face’ abuse, those on the right have also launched violent attacks on police officers again, as I’ve personally witnessed. Twelve have received custodial sentences following attacks on police officers a year ago in the protest held after Robinson’s imprisonment for contempt of court.
Even during the two pro-Brexit demonstrations in Parliament Square, a number of those attending the Tommy Robinson/UKIP/Democratic Football Lads Alliance meeting taunted police with chants of ‘shame on you’ and ‘paedophile protectors.’
Joining the ranks of those hostile to police is Jeremy Clarkson who recently provoked outrage by criticising the length of time police took to reopen a major road after a fatal accident. The fact that the circumstances were extremely complex was totally lost on Clarkson and even an explanatory blog by police sergeant Harry Tangye, who has attended numerous such tragic road accidents, failed to secure an apology.
Clarkson clearly was less than humbled by his foray into policing. Days later he tweeted the following in relation to the London Bridge/Borough Market terror attack.
An hour previously Clarkson decided to make a reference to another road traffic incident and succumbed to temptation by including the inevitable derogatory term.
Perhaps the academics referred above would be able to confirm whether the constant drip, drip of bile against police actively encourages and serves to justify physical attacks on police officers.
Perhaps also as part of this research, they could view last Monday’s ‘999. What’s your emergency’ which featured Northamptonshire police dealing with exceptionally foul mouthed, violent individuals who clearly had no respect for police. It says much for Chief Constable Nick Adderley that he specifically wanted the programme’s producers to show exactly the levels of appalling behaviour faced by officers today.
BBC1’s current series entitled ‘Critical Incident’ also shows some horrendous attacks on police officers and other emergency workers. Sadly, its absurd slot is 9.15am.
If you’ve attacked police and are going to court, don’t worry too much about it
There is little doubt that we have a prison system that has descended into chaos thanks to this government. Announcements that sentences of six months or less are to be abolished on the grounds of prison reform is of course arrant nonsense.
Neglect has meant that our prison system is not fit for purpose and as a result judges and magistrates are under pressure not to send convicted individuals to prison. The term ‘tough community sentences’ inevitably results in ridicule by police similar to that seen when Theresa May’s assertions that, ‘police reform is working, crime is down’ are quoted.
The recent ‘Assaults on Emergency Workers Act,’ which increases maximum sentences from six to twelve months will be of little use unless custodial sentences become almost a matter of routine or are made mandatory.
There is much bitterness amongst police who believe that serious, debilitating assaults on officers are attracting sentences which are regarded frankly as a bad joke and this inconsistency in terms of sentencing only serves to reduce morale still further.
The ‘abolition’ of six-month sentences will of course mean that those assaulting police and other emergency workers are even less likely to receive a custodial sentence than they are now and even when a custodial sentence is imposed, it can still seem like a betrayal to the injured officer.
Part 2 next week deals primarily, but not exclusively, with the lot of the PBR officer (Poor Bloody Response). In the interim, officers will continue to be abused, assaulted and ridiculed whilst doing their best to assist the public regardless of whether those who need help like, or habitually loathe, the police: That includes Jeremy Clarkson.