Former D.I. goes mad…sort of…


Hungry for anti-police stories in the midst of an admittedly short, ‘we love the police’ era from UK MOPS and johnny foreigner the ever reliable DM have got a DI out of retirement (lol…cop cliche) to give his wisdom… albeit his 17-years out of date wisdom…

The Police have won praise for their smooth organisation and good humoured efficiency at the London Olympics.

But away from the razzmatazz of the Games, they have come in for severe criticism for their handling of the case of Tia Sharp, the 12-year-old schoolgirl whose body was found in the loft of her grandmother’s home in Croydon.

The subsequent murder charge brought against Stuart Hazell, the partner of Tia’s grandmother, has thrown into question the catalogue of errors the police seem to have made in this grim saga.Amazingly, no fewer than three previous searches of the house had failed to locate the body, despite the use of specialist teams and sniffer dogs.

The Metropolitan Police have now issued an apology over the initial mismanagement of the investigation, which has caused anguish to relatives and residents of the New Addington area where Tia lived.

It can only be hoped these errors did not compromise any vital evidence. But, beyond the murder inquiry itself, this episode raises troubling questions about the approach of the police in such cases.

For all too often it appears common sense and a robust spirit of justice has been replaced by a slavish attachment to arbitrary procedures and political correctness. As a result, some investigations seem paralysed by bureaucracy and rule-bound anxiety.

The prevailing mood was very different when I was a detective inspector in the Met. Then the needs of the victim held the highest priority. The emphasis was on finding out the truth about what had happened, not on ticking boxes or following academic theories.

I served 30 years in the Met until retiring 1995, and latterly my career was spent in child protection. So I developed a rich store of experience in dealing with missing persons and, sadly, murder inquiries.

Moreover, I have known the New Addington area all my life, for I not only grew up in Croydon but was also a detective covering that large housing estate during spells in the Seventies and Eighties.

In defence, it should be recognised that there are huge numbers of excellent officers who are simply hidebound by an intolerable management system. Furthermore, we should all accept that working on murder investigations and cases of missing persons can be extremely demanding, both mentally and physically.

I will never forget my first sight of a dead body. The manager of one of the police canteens had been missing for a couple of weeks, so a team was sent to search his flat in Paddington. As I was the youngest and smallest member of the team, I was told to manoeuvre myself through a small window to reach his bedroom.

Immediately I prised open the window, an appalling smell of decomposition hit my nose.

Having climbed inside, I discovered the disfigured corpse of the victim who had been tortured and murdered by a gang of robbers after his money.

But the difficulties of the job can be made worse by excessive caution. The needs of the investigation have to come first, not the sensitivities of the family — even one that is grieving.

In the field of social work, we have seen all too often in cases like those of Victoria Climbie or Baby Peter that investigators felt inhibited from intruding on the family environment, no matter how serious the evidence of wrong-doing.

Disturbingly, there seems to be a whiff of that social services outlook in this New Addington murder investigation.

What was needed from the start was more rigour. The absolute golden rule I was taught in missing persons cases was to secure the family home or the premises where the victim was last seen.

Such places had to be searched properly as soon as a report of a disappearance was made, if only just to rule out any foul play. This approach also meant that precious police time and resources were not squandered on covering a wide geographical area.

In the Tia case, it was reported that 80 officers were involved in the search, while 800 hours of CCTV footage were gathered, and around 200 volunteers helped the police to scour a local woodland. A proper initial search of her grandmother’s house would surely have discovered her body — and vital resources would not have been wasted.

Tia’s case appears to highlight a worrying breakdown in common sense, once regarded as the most valuable attribute of British coppers. An insidious process is at work within the police, where experience is valued less than academic qualifications and where adherence to fashionable dogma counts more than results.

The Tia Sharp case seems to highlight a breakdown of common sense within the police

This development has a number of causes.

One is the retreat from local policing. This used to be the central pillar of British crime fighting, with officers and detectives renowned for their grasp of their neighbourhoods. But all that has disappeared.

When I began in the mid-Sixties at Harrow Road police station, working the beat was by far the most important part of the job. Officers on duty were expected to be out on patrol at all times, unless there were exceptional circumstances.

The beat provided the best police intelligence of all, because officers really got to know the people and problems of the area.

Today, local policing has all but disappeared — and with it that vital local knowledge. Police no longer carry out routine foot patrols, their role now being performed by less experienced, poorly-trained Police Community Support Officers.

Huge numbers of stations have closed throughout the country, and detectives are no longer encouraged to remain in one place for years, partly because their bosses fear that this can lead to an unhealthily cosy relationship with the local underworld.

In addition, the fashionable emphasis on ‘career development’ means officers have to acquire a wide range of paper qualifications to advance — so they move rapidly from one position to another without gaining any in-depth understanding of their local area.

Another problem is the prevailing corporate ethos, with its emphasis on procedures rather than initiative.

Police officers now inhabit a world of safety guidelines and risk assessments, which restrict their scope for action.

I remember once, in my early days with the Met, when there was a siege at a basement flat in the West End of London. A gunman was holed up and occasionally opening fire through the windows. Without any regard for personal safety, a group of officers drove him out of his lair by running at the flat and hurling snooker balls through the windows. The strategy worked but it would be unthinkable today.

On top of all this is the police’s obsession with diversity. For some highly-politicised police chiefs, brimming with rhetoric about social exclusion and eager to please their masters at Westminster, the composition of the workforce has become more important than fighting crime.

It is true that in urban forces we need more black and Asian coppers, but I cannot understand the neurosis about a gender balance in the police. After all, the overwhelming majority of crime is perpetrated by men. Crime is not an equal opportunities activity.

The negative side of the fixation with diversity can also been seen in the fear of tackling criminal behaviour by ethnic minorities, whether it is rioting youths in London, predatory Muslim gangs in the industrial north or trespassing travellers in Essex.

In all these cases, the language of victimhood and social oppression prevented the police from vigorously upholding the law. My fear is that the same querulous spirit might have prevailed in the New Addington case, with the police anxious about appearing too judgemental towards what is obviously a highly dysfunctional family.

This is no way to maintain the cohesion of our society. All of us, regardless of class or race, deserve to be protected from the forces of disorder.

Indeed, it is the most vulnerable who are in the greatest danger when the police become instruments of social engineering rather than determined fighters against crime.

***********

OK…

from the top…Thanks for the thumbs up for the games… It’s nice to see a former officer praising instead of sticking the knife in and saying how good they used to be…

err…and then…

“catalogue of errors”? what are the others then?

If a dog that has a sense of smell in the order of a million times more sensitive than a human’s (remember, a dog can smell where you walked!) can’t smell a well concealed body- we won’t. This body wasn’t on the sofa (poor kid) she was wrapped up, in a bag and in the loft-no doubt under a fair amount of other junk. When we do searches of people’s home under these circs-we don’t rip up floorboards, we don’t open boxes and bags in the loft-because the Supt doesn’t like complaints. I guess we will be now though eh? ‘Cos he likes being in trouble on telly even less…

“common sense and a robust spirit of justice has been replaced by a slavish attachment to arbitrary procedures”

Indeed… put in place by people of the rank of inspector and above…sir…

“The prevailing mood was very different when I was a detective inspector in the Met. Then the needs of the victim held the highest priority”

I nearly spat my cheese on toast out at that one!

Err… I don’t know what type of crew you worked on guv, but the CID teams I worked on were only interested in three things:

1.detections, 2. TICS 3.Going to the pub.

I served 30 years in the Met until retiring 1995, and latterly my career was spent in child protection. So I developed a rich store of experience in dealing with missing persons and, sadly, murder inquiries.

Oh, right… I get it now… you were a PPU DC… those DCs that think crime stops after 4pm on a Friday and starts up again at 9am on a Monday…

But the difficulties of the job can be made worse by excessive caution.

Oh right…the caution that is generated by the knowledge that every mistake you make is going to be put in the DM and pondered over by ex DI’s you mean? That caution?
Can you believe the front of an ex DI saying something so stupid? And by you, sir, saying things like “What was needed from the start was more rigour. The absolute golden rule I was taught in missing persons cases was to secure the family home or the premises where the victim was last seen” … it will improve? Do you think that the scrabbled egg at the HQ will be more risk adverse or less at the thought of being critacised is the national media for every failure? Perceived or otherwise…

You see sir…your attitude is fine until it goes wrong… then it’s curtains for everyone involved.

The rest of the rant sorry opinion is a bizarre mix of ‘when I were a lad’ and a rather odd understanding of the demographic of our country (50% are women sir… I hate to break it to you-that and that WPC are quite good at police work…I know it was different in your day-‘be a love and put the kettle on…etc’ but…we are past that now…).

Here is a little poem about children:

Children Learn What They Live

If a child lives with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive,
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves,
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
But do not despair …
If a child lives with tolerance, they learn to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If a child lives with praise, they learn to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness, they live with justice.
If a child lives with security, they live to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, they learn to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship.
they learn to find love in the world.

See what I did there?

Here is another bit of wisdom…

The Japanese have a saying, “Fix the problem, not the blame.” Find out what’s fucked up and fix it. Nobody gets blamed. We’re always after who fucked up. Their way is better.”

Finally…

I love the story about how his mates sorted a firearms incident out by throwing snooker balls at the window where a nutcase was shooting from…

Quite simply the dumbest thing I have ever read, everyone that read that is now slightly dumber for reading it too.

Go back to your crosswords, Spanish villa and getting upset about the cricket… leave the policing to us still unlucky enough to be working…

Support your Police…

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7 responses to “Former D.I. goes mad…sort of…

  1. Top marks shij glad i dont read the whale i had a fry up this morning and now i have to work in a dark damp dungeon with only a spluttering candle to see by !!! I once had a client who used to be a sparkie like me but had been retired many years he was going on about his old hand cranked megger and how they used to give the apprentices a shock then he starts playing with my state of tje art test set i told him not too !!! It threw him right across the kitchen his wife said tjats why you retired sillybollocks

  2. And the DM will not alow comments on this drivel. Wonder why??

  3. I suggest at the next armed siege we all start throwing snooker balls. The Daily Mail won’t complain !!!!
    One of the few/only things i can agree with him over is experience over qualifications. But the govt want us all taking exams.

  4. I think you are all mean. There are lessons to be learned from this sad incident. I for one will be ripping up the floorboards and requesting a body recovery dog 5 times a week when young scamps from our local children’s home go missing!

  5. dont bother ripping floorboards up get trumpton round they do a bloody good job of trashing places they enter with considerable force and they have bigger tools than you
    also you wont get the blame !!!

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